Did you know that cats are the only animals that walk directly on their claws, not on their paws? If you picture a human, it would be like us walking around on our fingertips.. This is called digitigrades and proves a very useful feature for moving at high speeds. So, cat’s claws are particularly useful for moving at high speeds.
Cats in the home are not being vindictive when sharpening their claws on your lovely furniture – nor are they actually sharpening their claws. What they are in fact doing is tearing off the ragged edges of the sheaths of their talons when scratching.
Claws have layers of skin just as an onion does – the claws are in fact an extension of the cat’s skin. The outer layer of tissue is continually growing and needs to be removed to accommodate new growth so you will often see bits of the claw spread around the area where the cat has been grooming its nails.
They shed their claws throughout the year to expose new sharp ones underneath. The claws are not only for protection but are also responsible for the cat’s delicate balance and amazing feats like climbing, stretching, running, and grooming.
It is not uncommon for cat owners to occasionally want to clip their cat’s nails. Clipping nails is only recommended if you own an indoor cat because claws are your cat’s only defense along with their most versatile tool for survival. Not only that, scratching is a very normal activity and behaviour for cats.
If you are going to trim your cat’s nails, you need to be sure to do it properly. The most important thing is to avoid going anywhere near the “quick”. The quick is the hard pink tissue at the base of each claw.. the nail itself is translucent so you can see all the way through it. Accidentally cutting the “quick” causes pain and bleeding for your cat.
Special claw trimmers are available from vets or pet stores but sharp human nail clippers work just as well. You need to be gentle with your cat and trim the nails when it is sleepy or relaxed.
It is recommended you hold the clippers in a vertical position (up and down, so that the claw is trimmed from bottom to top instead of across the nail). This position helps prevent splitting.
But if you feel uncomfortable in any way trimming your cat’s claws your vet can do the job for you as can a groomer.
In some countries people declaw their cats for the sake of their furniture! Declawing both physically and psychologically affects cats in a major way.
Declawing involved not only removing the claws but also the first joint (the toes) – so in effect it is like a series of amputations.