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Why Does My Cat’s Nail Stick Out?

If your cat’s nails are sticking out you may be concerned and wondering why this might be happening…

Why Does My Cat’s Nail Stick Out?

There are several reasons why your cat’s nails stick out. Cats who do not retract their claws could be experiencing several problems such as bacterial infections, one of the main reasons. However, it could be old age. Either way,  they should be treated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

So, now you know. But, how can you prevent this from happening? Do scratching posts help with this? How can you teach your cat to retract its claws? Keep reading for these answers, and so much more…

2 Main Reasons Why Cat’s Nail Stick Out

A cat stretching.

A cat stretching.

Earlier I mentioned a couple of reasons why your cat’s nails may stick out. Therefore, in this section, I will explain each one in more detail…

01. Disease and Illness

Disease and illness are common reasons why your cat’s nails stick out. Infection and viruses are normal, but they should be treated by your veterinarian immediately.

Many infections can come from claw problems. A common infection that comes from nails is called paronychia. Paronychia is an inflammatory disease that impacts nail beds. This disease results from a bacterial infection and may affect more than one claw at a time. It can go away if treated promptly with antibiotics.

02. Age 

Age can cause your cat’s nails to stick out. Older cats may have difficulty retracting their nails because they have become thicker over the years. Thickness prevents cats from pulling their claws to the same extent they could when they were younger. You should expect thickening nails as your cat reaches their senior years.

Kittens may also have difficulty retracting nails because they have not learned how to retract their nails yet. Nursing, watching their mother, and playing will teach kittens how to retract their claws. 

Is it Normal for Cat Claws to Stick Out?

It is normal for claws to stick out, mainly at older ages. Nails thicken with age and extend longer. Claws may thicken in old age, but they may become more brittle as well.

If your cat is not a senior and its claws continue to stick out, visit a veterinarian. There may be a more serious reason for their protruded claws.

What Should You Do if Your Cat’s Claws Won’t Retract? 

If your cat’s claws will not retract, the overall best option is to let your veterinarian look at your cat, but there are a few other things you can do.

A common reason cats may not retract their claws is that they cannot shuck their claws. You can do this by clipping or investing in scratching furniture that helps your cat shed these claws. 

Clipping your cat’s nails is also a great way to help your cat’s claws retract. After seeking veterinary advisory, you can learn to clip your nails easily.

How Do You Prevent Your Cat’s Nails from Sticking Out?

The easiest way to prevent your nails from sticking out is to provide them proper claw scratch posts. Another method that helps is to trim the edge of your cat’s nails. Trimming your cat’s nails prevents your cat from snagging their nails.

Do Scratching Posts Help Your Cat’s Nails?

Scratching posts help your cat remove the outer layer of its nails. Routine use of scratching posts helps your cat form good nail trimming habits. Scratch posts are a fantastic deterrent for your cat from scratching on furniture. Many issues can occur from poor nail maintenance. Cat scratchers prevent future nail problems from happening.

Scratching Posts Trim Nails

The main purpose of scratching is to remove the outer layer of your cat’s claws. This action is similar to a human clipping their nails. Cat scratching posts with coarse materials that your cat’s nails can easily get stuck on, like rope, carpet, or coagulated cardboard, are the best for shucking your cat’s claws.

Purchasing multiple scratching posts is beneficial. That means multiple materials and scratchers in horizontal and vertical. These give your cat a great opportunity to keep their nails manicured in ways that they will enjoy!

Scratching Posts Communicate Emotions

Cats use scratching to communicate, especially with each other. Scratching is a common way for cats to establish dominance. One reason is the aroma released from the sweat glands between a cat’s toe pads (they are called “beans,” let’s be honest). The large claw husks left behind are another reason declawing is a cat’s go-to method for asserting dominance.

Cats vocalize feelings through their bodies like scratching posts after zoomies or wincing after scratching. Pay attention to your cat’s body language while scratching can help you understand what scratching means.

How Can You Teach Your Cat to Retract Its Claws?

A cat lying down.

A cat lying down.

There is no way to teach your cat to retract your claws since cats typically learn to retract their claws by themselves. By four weeks old, a kitten should begin to retract their claws instinctively. Kittens will also learn how to sheath their claws from their mother’s influence. Retracting claws will become second nature by adulthood.

Rarely, an adult cat will not have learned to retract their claws. If your cat is not retracting their claws in adulthood, you might have a reason for concern. A cat that is not retracting its claws may be experiencing infection or injury.

Should You Consider Trimming Your Cat’s Nails?

The average cat should have its claws trimmed every two or two and a half weeks. However, allowing your cat to maintain their nail routine is easier and can mitigate a need for interference. 

Even with plenty of scratchers, you still need to provide nail maintenance when your cat’s nails become too long. Clicking on the ground when they walk is a common sign of long nails. Cats that are in pain when walking should also have their nails trimmed. Excessively long nails create inflammation in the nailbed.

Remember, only clip your cat’s claws if you have the right tools. The many blood vessels inside your cat’s claws make trimming dangerous. Not knowing how to clip your cat’s nails properly is problematic. Let veterinarians trim your cat’s claws to avoid injury. 

Why Can I Hear My Cat’s Claws When it Walks?

A cat will make clicking noises when they walk when its nails are too long. This sound is an immediate indication that your cat requires a nail clipping. Clicking walks are also a sign that the scratcher they have is no longer working.

Cats use scratchers several times per day to trim their claws, establish their territory, express their gratitude, and more. To guarantee that your cat maintains their nails, check for wear and tear on their posts often. Replace scratching posts as they wear down ensures that their nails will not overgrow. 

What Should I Do if My Cat’s Nails are Getting Stuck on Things?

Give your cat new scratching posts if their nails are getting stuck on things. Getting nails stuck on things means that their nails are too long, and they need trimming. Clipping a cat’s nails is a helpful solution for keeping nails from snagging on things. 

When a cat’s nails are too long, they will get stuck on blankets, carpet, and clothing. Snagging claws are signs that your cat is not getting the scratching they need.

Do Cats Know When to Retract Their Nails?

Cats are intelligent animals who typically know when to retract their nails. Retracting nails is a natural feline instinct that cats learn as a kitten. 

The more you play with your cat as a kitten, the more likely they will learn to retract their claws healthily and develop good habits. By adulthood, a cat will have learned to retract its nails. Not retracting claws as an adult is a sign of issues or age.

Lindsey Browlingdon