Cat Nail Biting: Why Do Cats Pull Their Claws?

Behavior October 28, 2021

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Cat Nail Biting: Why Do Cats Pull Their Claws?

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We scold children who bite their nails but should we do the same with our pet cats? Certainly not, as claw pulling is part of the cats’ normal grooming routine.However, when a cat keeps biting its nails excessively, then you should definitely intervene. In order to do so, you should know everything about why cats pull their claws in the first place.

Nail Chewing Is Perfectly Normal

Cats wouldn’t be cats were it not for grooming. They put so much thought and care into licking their claws and cleaning their paws that they’ve made an art out of it. It must be noted that grooming isn’t the same as beatifying, as cleaning the paws has a practical purpose.

Namely, all sorts of debris, from dirt to litter get stuck in-between paw pads. The animal senses this and wishes to clean its paws as quickly as possible. Also, when a nail sheds naturally or it breaks due to trauma, the cat will chew off the remaining bit to prevent it from catching onto things.

A Covert Operation

One of the main reasons why pet owners give so much attention to nail-biting is because they aren’t aware of the frequency of this grooming procedure. Acting like secret spies, grooming is a cover operation for felines, as they prefer to find a private place to groom themselves.

Even though you might share the same living quarters with your cat, you can be sure it has found a grooming spot hidden from plain sight. On the other side, there are cats that pull claws and lick their fur wherever they find themselves, not caring much if someone is watching. So catlike!

The Role Of Scratching Posts

“Like many of the people who compulsively chew their nails, excessive nail chewing behaviors in cats are often related to anxiety,” Dodman says.

Have you ever wondered why humans don’t pluck their nails out (apart from hurting like heck)? It’s because we cut our toenails regularly to prevent them from growing too long. The cats’ equivalent to a pedicure is the scratching post, often found on cat trees or installed in the garden.

Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, the scratching post (or a carpet) will help the cat maintain its claw in a natural manner, without the animal having to chew and bite its nails. As a pet owner, you should look to have several types of scratching posts, even if that means saying goodbye to your favorite carpet.

What Happens When Cats Don’t Bite Their Nails?

The alternative to losing a piece of furniture is far worse, as long nails cause paw lesions that can incapacitate the animal. Yes, when a house cat lacks the means to scratch its claws, then it will experience serious health problems that can even prevent it from walking straight.

If you want to own a healthy feline, you have to provide it with enough room to scratch its nails. Otherwise, it will constantly be biting and chewing its claws.

What Is Considered Abnormal Nail-Biting?

Consequently, your cat will chew or bite at their claws during grooming.

Although nail biting is an integral part of grooming, there are instances when such behavior is considered abnormal. Unlike grooming, which is mostly furtive, pathological claw pulling is quite noticeable, in the sense that the owner can immediately tell that something is wrong.

The Issue Of Anxiety

The usual culprits for such erratic behavior are an injury, an infection, or the cat is experiencing anxiety (yes, cats too suffer from anxiety). When the latter is the problem, then potential causes can range from a new animal in the house to the fear of being left alone.

When searching for the causes of anxiety, be advised that the slightest of discomforts can throw your cat’s mental health off-balance. Stay with them for an entire day to see what the trigger for obsessive nail-biting is. Cats usually became anxious when something irritating is going on in the outside world and they cannot influence it.

Injuries And Infections

The second reason cats might start biting their claws manically is a bacterial or yeast infection. There is little you can do to prevent this scenario since some animals (e.g. Persian cats) are more genetically prone to paw infections.

Of course, an infection can originate from contact with a toxic chemical, such as an abrasive house cleaner. These infections are preventable by simply keeping chemical solutions behind closed doors. Both the cat and your human offspring will be grateful for it.

Always keep in mind that soft paw pads are a wonder of nature but they are also highly sensitive, so try your best to keep irritating compounds away from them.

Finally, go easy when cutting your cat’s nails; cut them too short and infection will develop, as the blood vessels in the paw lose their natural protective membrane.

We can conclude that a cat biting its nails isn’t a bad thing. This is how our furry friends groom themselves, albeit they could use a scratching pole in the house. However, when nail biting becomes obsessive, then the animal might be suffering from anxiety or be in pain as the result of an injury or an infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it normal for cats to bite their nails?

Yes, such behavior is perfectly acceptable as it is part of the animal’s grooming routine. However, if you wish your cat to bite its nails less, then provide it with a scratching pole.

Can cats trim their own nails?

Yes, they can by using a scratching pole. However, you can trim their nails for them every couple of weeks. If you are worried you’ll cut the nails too short, the alternative are professional grooming salons.

How do you get your cat to stop biting its nails?

When the cat is grooming itself, simply let it be. Only when the nail biting becomes obsessive, should you take your feline friend to the vet to determine the cause for such behavior (an injury, an infection, anxiety, etc.).

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