Do cats bite their nails? Cats may not be so obvious when they are biting their nails, but there are a few times I have caught my cats doing it a few times. I have mainly seen them raising their paws to their mouse and biting something, I thought was another weird thing cats do, but they groomed their nails in reality.
Cats bit their nails like a normal routine in grooming, nails have an outer layer that shed periodically, and cats are determined to remove it when it is time to leave their nails nice and sharp. Therefore there is nothing wrong with cats biting their nails. However, if they become obsessed with it and do it too much, you may suspect your cat has become anxious or a medical condition is present.
Let’s get into it.
DO CATS BITE THEIR NAILS?
You may have seen your cat attacking, or better attempting to groom his paws; often, he has to spread them and lick in between, and sometimes you see biting them; they are actually biting their nails. Cats lick their paws every day, so there is no surprise in this particular action.
There may be a little bit of concern when you see them biting their paws, or at least that what it seems from a distance.
Instead, they are simply trying to bite their nails. Like humans, they need to take care of their nails, especially cats that have a multipurpose tool in nails, and they rely on their nails for survival. Think about what cats do with their nails.
They can climb things as trees if they are being hunted by a dog or so, they need their nails for self-defense if attacked by other animals; they need their nails to grab things and hunt their prey when they need to eat. So nails are of the utmost importance for cats.
We can open a debate about the declawing habit and how dangerous and fatal it can be for cats. However, we are going to get off the topic of this article.
In other words, since nails are essential to a cat’s survival, cats are going to take care of them with routine grooming, they are primarily licking their paws to remove specks of dirt, and by biting their nails, they take out the extra layer in the top of their claws that is shedding. In this way, their nails are going to be much sharper and ready for use.
So if your cat is doing normal and routine grooming and you see him from time to time biting his nails, there is nothing to be worried about. When to be worried then?
EXCESSIVE NAILS BITING IN CATS
When cats seem to be obsessed with their nails, they are just biting and biting repeatedly, and it seems that there is no end to it. Well, cats may start obsessing with their nails in various situations:
Like humans do when they are anxious, cats also target their nails if they are stressed. Cats stress easily; anything can create anxiety, like a change in the schedule, a new person in the house, and an unfriendly new pet, moving house, changing the location of his food, bed and litter box, disturbing sounds, you name it.
If your cat starts to bite his nails too much, check if any change or anything is disturbing in the environment. If you know that he is upset about something and can remedy it, your cat will stop doing it.
It can be as simple as that.
Cats can pick up bacterial or yeast infections in their paws, which then extend to their nails; they may be disturbed by the infection, and therefore, we arrive at the excessive biting.
Here some signs and symptoms of a bacterial infection in the paws: redness, swelling, pain, itching, and drainage. Your veterinarian can prescribe oral or topical antibiotics to treat an infected paw.
Some cats are prone to infections. Some infections can also result from contact with chemicals that have an irritating effect on the paws. There may be ringworms troubling your cat too. Whatever the case, maybe it is better to ask the vet what is the best to do f your cat gets into infections.
Sometimes cats injury their paws or get an insect bite that makes their paw swelling. Whatever the injuries, cats maybe try to lick and bite their paws and nails to remove the problem. Injuries in cats’ paws are obvious; therefore, if your cat starts biting too much, you can easily see if there is an injury or not. A vet can help to resolve injuries in cats’ paws.
- OTHER POSSIBLE REASONS
Other possible reasons can be ringworms and pemphigus.
Pemphigus: Foliaceus (PF) – The term means “leaf-like pemphigus.” This is the most common autoimmune skin disease of cats. With PM, the patient develops crusts (scabs) and ulcers around the eyes, ears, footpads, groin, and bridge of the nose. In cats, lesions also develop at the toenail beds creating crusty sore feet. (Ref. vcahospitals.com)
Ringworm often causes a ring-shaped rash that is itchy, red, scaly, and slightly raised. The rings usually start small and then expand outward. Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis) is a rash caused by a fungal infection. It’s usually a red, itchy, circular rash with clearer skin in the middle. (Ref. www.mayoclinic.org)
In both cases ask for the vet assistance.
- BRITTLE NAILS
Old cats may have brittle nails because they are getting old and may have some nutrition deficiency or health condition that results in weak nails. It can be the result of thyroid or kidney disease, to mention a few causes.
Here some related questions to “Do cats bite their nails?” and related answers:
- Do cats trim their own nails?
Cats naturally take care of their bodies. Even without humans, they are perfectly capable of grooming themselves and their nails. Normally, cats use to scratch surfaces to trim and sharpen their nails, this habit may not be very popular with cats owners since couches and furniture are not safe anymore, but it is a normal cat habit.
If you get your cats scratching posts and places where they can do their job with their nails, you can give a break to furniture. My cat had several posts. I bought him a sort of cat house surrounded by scratching posts. Guess what, and he had grown up to be a very educated cat; when he needed to scratch something, he would go to those posts. Not all cats are like this, but bear with them; they need scratching.
- Why do cats bite their paws when cleaning?
Yes, they may bite their paws when cleaning because some dirt would not go away with just licking. If they can’t get it away in any other way, they will try to bite it off.
- Why do cats bite their fur when cleaning?
Cats bite their fur while cleaning for the same reason they bite their nails; some things cannot be removed with only licking; therefore, they start biting their fur. Pay attention to excessive grooming as well, and if that is the case, you may want to check up on your cat.
- Do indoor cats need their nails trimmed?
If you provide scratching posts for your cat and your cat uses them regularly, your cat is already doing the trimming of his own nails. If you believe that it is not enough and your cat enjoys scratching other things, then one could trim cats nails. I wouldn’t say I like to touch my cat’s claws. I rather spend time educating them. Cats need their claws.
- Why do cats try to pull their claws out?
As mentioned above, claws have an outside layer that becomes old and eventually comes off. When this layer is about to come off, cats are biting on it to remove it even earlier so that the underneath claws are coming out way sharper.
A claw is a curved, pointed appendage found at the end of a toe or finger in most amniotes (mammals, reptiles, birds). Some invertebrates such as beetles and spiders have somewhat similar fine, hooked structures at the end of the leg or tarsus for gripping a surface as they walk. The pincers of crabs, lobsters, and scorpions, more formally known as their chelae, are sometimes called claws. A true claw is made of a hard protein called keratin. Claws are used to catch and hold prey in carnivorous mammals such as cats and dogs but may also be used for such purposes as digging, climbing trees, self-defense, and grooming, in those and other species. (Ref. Wikipedia)
Do cats bite their nails? I hope you find all the answers you needed. If you want to add something write in the comments below.