These days, it's not unusual for our feline companions to reach their late teens or even their twenties, but they need lots of love and care from us to do so. As cats get older, their claws often become thickened, and dirt, hair, and kitty litter may become trapped underneath them. Because of both this thickening and an elderly cat's decreased activity, it is sometimes difficult for cats to shed their claws properly, and they need help from us -- their caregivers and veterinarians. It is probably a good idea to have your veterinarian check your cat's claws and trim them. Ask him or her to show you how to trim them properly, and then begin examining and trimming them every 2 to 4 weeks.
A couple of hints: Use a new sharp nail trimmer; a dull one will only split and crack an older cat's claws, causing them to bleed and exposing them to infection. Also, be especially gentle when restraining your cat and when handling his toes; older cats might be slightly stiff or arthritic. And be sure to give him some special attention after the trimming!