Paws for Thought

Is it important to trim my cat’s claws?

  Scratching is a normal behaviour for cats.  When a cat is anxious, happy, excited or frustrated, he can release some of the build-up of emotion by scratching. When relaxed, the cat’s claw is in its natural position, as though ‘retracted’.  The claws don’t really retract.  The claw is actually part of the bone of the distal phalanx (the last bone on the cat’s toe).  There are tendons and ligaments attached to the bones of the toe and when the cat is relaxed, the attached tendons naturally shorten and the distal phalanx is ‘pulled’ back so that the claws are not seen. When the claws are visible, the digital flexor tendon and the superficial flexor tendon extend the distal phalanx thus extending the claw so they are visible.  When extended, the cat can grab onto things (scratching post, trees, carpet and, yes, furniture) to stretch. Cat claws grow in layers and eventually they shed the outer layer, known as the sheath.  This is another reason a cat scratches, to ‘slough off’ the old sheath, which then exposes a new sharp claw.  This also is usually what is happening when you notice your cat biting and pulling on his back claws. A cat with nails that are not regularly trimmed is at risk for getting them caught in fabric and in the carpet and subsequently twisting and spraining their paw or leg. Trimming them can prevent painful broken claws.  Cats’ claws also splinter sometimes and these can be cleaned up by having a nail trim, which will help prevent them from splitting down to the nail bed and ripping off....
Whisker Tales | Cat Grooming | Victoria, BC