Why Do Cats Pull At Their Claws?

Feline claw care is an important part of owning a cat. Cats are natural predators who use their claws to catch prey, so they need them in tip-top conditions. Unfortunately, many cats will start to pull at their claws which can lead to problems with the nails and skin around the paw. If left untreated, this behavior can develop into a habit that is difficult or impossible for owners to break – but it doesn’t have to be!

Cats are independent by nature, but they also crave human affection. Cats will instinctively groom themselves and the pulling gives them a sense of relief that mimics what we feel when we give ourselves a manicure or pedicure.

This article will explore the topic of why cats pull at their claws and what you can do about it.

Your Cat Is Just Grooming

Your Cat Is Just Grooming

The cat claws develop in layers from the inside out. The outer layer can fracture, peel, and shed at times. You’ll see your cat tugging on their nails with their teeth to help things along. They’re attempting to peel away the old upper layers in order to show a sharp claw underneath.

Cats groom their paws by spreading their toes and licking between them to remove any dirt, litter, or other material that has been trapped. For the same reason, they will lick and gnaw their nails. If your Cat pulling and biting its nails, don’t worry because these are normal grooming methods that are not harmful.

This will happen from time to time as part of your cat’s routine day. If you observe it happening more frequently or at times other than grooming, it might indicate a problem.

Your Cat Has Problems With Behavior

Your Cat Has Problems With Behavior

When cats chew and pluck their nails excessively and it is not due to regular grooming or health concern, the problem might be behavioral. Anxious, and irritated cats overgroom themselves in an attempt to relax. Stress can be caused by a relocation to a new home, a change in habit, or even something as simple as switching a cat’s food bowls.

Cats are creatures of habit, and certain breeds are more sensitive than others. If you see your healthy cat overgrooming or aberrant nail-biting, attempt to figure out what’s causing the distress. The problem might also be caused by bored or lonely cats that want more to do.

the problem can be solved by engaging with your cat more frequently via affection and fun. More toys, a new bed, or a new cat tree might help your cat become less bored.

Your Cat Has Some Medical Problems

Your Cat Has Some Medical Problems

Some medical problems can cause excessive and irregular claw plucking:

  • Ringworm. Ringworm in cats can be difficult to identify. Ringworm is a fungal infection that can cause skin discomfort and dandruff. It gets its name from the red ring that the infection might form on the skin’s surface.
  • Thick nails. Brittle or thick claws in cats can be caused by a variety of factors. Bacterial infections, malignant tumors, and excessive amounts of growth hormone are examples of these. It’s also imaginable that the cat’s claws were chopped too close to the nail bed, making them vulnerable to infection. Brittle and thick nails are often seen in older cats.
  • Pemphigus. The most frequent autoimmune skin condition in cats is pemphigus. It can irritate the skin around the face, ears, and cat’s paws.
  • Bacterial or yeast infections.  The infection forms when there is an overabundance of the fungus Candida albicans. While typically rare in cats, yeast infections can cause redness, inflammation, and swollen skin around the cat’s nails.

Your Cat Is Scratching His Claws

Your Cat Is Scratching His Claws

Cats chew and pull their nails in order to keep them clean and healthy, but they also enjoy scratching. Scratching can aid in the removal of the outer nail coverings. Cats enjoy scratching surfaces that are comfortable for their claws. Scratching posts with various textures, such as rope and carpeting, can allow your cat to naturally maintain their nails healthy.

Cats scratch to mark their territory as well. Every time they scratch, the scent glands on their paws leave their imprint. To them, this is an innate behavior. Wild cats mark their territories to alert other cats of their presence.

How Can You Help?

How Can You Help

If you’re trying to help a cat that’s having problems with overgrooming or abnormal nail chewing, there are a few things you can do:

  • Keep your cat’s nails trimmed. This will make them less likely to chew on them. Trim your cat’s claws between 2 to 3 weeks with a cat nail clipper.
  • If your cat is scratching furniture, provide them with a designated scratching post. This will help redirect their behavior and protect your furniture.
  • Make sure your cat has plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied and out of trouble. Also, provide cat trees so that your feline has a place to climb. Bored cats are more likely to groom themselves excessively.
  • If your cat is scratching itself due to a medical condition, take them to the vet for treatment.
  • Spay or neuter your cat. This will help reduce their desire to mark their territory.
  • Provide your cat with a high-quality diet and plenty of freshwaters. A healthy diet will help keep their skin and coat healthy, minimizing the amount of self-grooming needed.
  • Keep your home free of poisons and chemicals that might harm your cat. Cleaning products, pesticides, and rodenticides can be deadly if ingested by cats.
  • Has your cat been examined by a vet regularly to ensure they’re in good health? Early detection of health problems can minimize their effects on the cat.

Speak to Your Vet

Speak to Your Vet

When you notice such symptoms, you should speak to your vet:

  • Redness
  • Raw skin
  • Hair loss
  • Bleeding

Furthermore, there is no reason to be alarmed if your cat is grooming normally and there are no indicators of any health problems. If you see any indicators of a health condition, you should take your pet to the veterinarian so that the problem may be diagnosed and treated.

Including scratching posts in your home will provide your cat with a place to scratch while also keeping its claws healthy. Scratching may minimize their urge to chew and pull their nails by shedding the outer layers of the nails. Keeping your cat’s claws clipped can keep them healthy as well.

Claws that are too long might annoy and hurt your cat. They might become so long that walking becomes difficult, or they can grow uncomfortably into the paw pads.

These are a couple of issues that can make your cat pull at his or her claws. However, it is important to look for a medical check-up by your vet. Your cat’s nail biting is not normal, so you should speak to your vet immediately.  

Final Words

Why do cats bite their nails and pull at their claws? Cats are very clean animals, and the act of pulling their claws is a natural behavior that keeps them groomed. It also removes any dirt or debris from underneath their nails which can help prevent infection. If your cat has an issue with scratching itself excessively, it may be due to some other ailment like arthritis or allergies.

It is time to find a solution that will work best for you and your pet. Be sure to check with your vet or an animal behaviorist before trying any kind of home remedy on your own!


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Q. Is it normal for cats to pull at their nails?

Ans: It is completely normal for cats to pull at their nails and chew on them from time to time. In fact, it is a regular part of their grooming routine. If your cat starts to overgroom themselves or bite their nails excessively, there might be an underlying behavioral or medical problem. However, most of the time this behavior is nothing to worry about. By keeping a close eye on your cat, you can help figure out if there is a problem that needs solving.

Q. Why is my cat chewing on her feet?

Ans: There can be a number of reasons why your cat is chewing on her feet. It could be a sign of an underlying medical problem, such as an infection, or it might be due to stress. If you think your cat’s behavior might be caused by something other than regular grooming, take a closer look and try to determine the cause. With some simple changes, you might be able to help relieve your cat’s discomfort and stop chewing.

Q. What does it mean when a cat bites its nails?

Ans: There can be a number of reasons why a cat might start biting its nails. It could be a sign that the cat is stressed or anxious, or it might indicate that the cat has an underlying medical problem. If you see your cat biting their nails excessively, try to determine the cause and take steps to fix it. With some simple changes, you might be able to help relieve your cat’s discomfort and stop the biting.

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