"Cat claws need to be cared for to prevent them from growing into the paw. Weekly trimming, covers or behavior modification can help prevent damage to your home. While not encouraged, declawing is an option for the front claws. It is not an option for outdoor cats who need their claws for climbing and protection. Scratching is a normal behavior."
Cat claws are normally in a retracted position when your cat is walking around. As the claws grow, your cat will want to remove the outer layer (sheath) which requires that your cat scratch against something. Scratching is a normal behavior which is why owners train their cats to scratch acceptable surfaces such as a scratching post.
To remove the sheath from the nail your cat will try and stretch as high as possible and then pull down. Because of this cat's require a tall scratching poll.
Common problems associated with feline claw care include:
- Cat Scratching Furniture
- Claw Trimming
- Declawing a Cat
- Extra Toes (polydactyly)
Solutions for scratching include cat claw covers, behavior modification, cats scratching posts and in extreme cases declawing.
Stop Cat Scratching Furniture
Cat's scratch different areas when leaving behind a scent that marks the area scratched. Cats will return to these areas to replenish the scent.
To change this behavior, attract your cat to an alternative location for scratching such as a cat scratching post or cat tree. Use catnip on the pole to get your cat to the area. At the same time thoroughly clean the area where the scratching occurred. This will replace the original area scratched such as the furniture with a place where scratching is acceptable.
You could also try cat claw covers which are described below.
Cat Claw Trimming
Many owners trim their cat's claws every week. By starting when your cat is a kitten, she will quickly get used to the routine. Unfortunately, most cats do not like having the claws trimmed. You may need to restrain your cat during the process by holding your cat on your lap with a forearm over the neck and hindquarters.
There are several types of clippers including a standard human fingernail cutter, guillotine type clipper or Claw Scissors Usually the JW Pet Company Deluxe Nail Trimmer and human clippers are preferred.
To get the claw to come out you will need to squeeze between the between thumb and forefinger.
See our instructions for trimming claws. It is important not to cut the blood vessels and nerves that supply the nail since this could cause pain and bleeding. Cut 2 millimeters above this area.
Cat Claw Covers
Another approach to minimizing the damage from cat claws is to apply Soft Claws Cat Nail Caps to each toe . A kit will contain nail caps, adhesive for applying the caps and instructions for use. The cat nail covers will not prevent the claws from coming out, but will keep them from scratching your home and ruining furniture such as leather couches.
Different sized caps are used based on the size of your cat's claws and a pack costs approximately $22. They can be applied to front claws (usually the front are the ones causing the harm to your home) and to the rear if your cat has been declawed.
Declawing a Cat
If caps and training do not help, then some owners opt to have their cat or kitten declawed. Declawing a cat is not recommended for cats that live outdoors since the claws help them function in terms of fighting and climbing. Cats need to be older than 3 months to undergo the procedure.
Your veterinarian will surgically remove the claw by clipping off the claw at the point where the toe holds the claw. Most owners only remove the front claws since the rear claws are used for climbing and for defense if another animal attacks your cat.
Some veterinarians will use cat claw laser surgery to remove the claw. The operation is similar to removing a human finger at the point of the last joint.
After declawing your cats paws will be bandaged for few days.
Extra Cat Toes
Cat have five toes on each front paw and four on each rear paw. Extra toes are usually on the front paws. The extra toes should not be a problem for your cat if you keep the claws trimmed so that they do not grow into the pads.
Cat Nail Diseases
It is rare for a cat to contract a nail disease. Common causes include nail fracture, fungal infection and bacterial infection. Once diagnosed common antibiotics or anti inflammatory drugs such as predisone will be prescribed by your veterinarian.
Other treatments include fatty acids, gelatine, biotin, retinoids, Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and keeping your cat properly hydrated (making sure your cat drinks enough).
Canine and Feline Nail Diseases
Dr. Maite Verde, DVM, PhD
Dermatology Services. Teaching Hospital. Veterinary Faculty
University of Zaragoza. Spain