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Does your cat bite his nails?

Does your cat bite his nails?

Posted by Patricia on 7th Aug 2022

Despite being a long-time cat mom, I have to admit I never knew they bit their nails. I was an expert nail-biter in high school, and the adults around me told me it was a bad habit. So is it the same for cats?

Do cats chew on their nails like school girls because they're worried about a math test or how their hair looks? Hardly, say the people at PetMD. For felines, they say, it's part of a typical grooming regime.

However, it's common for pet parents to not see their cat grooming, according to Dr. Carlo Siracusa, clinical assistant professor of behavior medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia. Dr. Siracusa explained, "Many cats like to retreat to a private and comfortable place when they're cleaning themselves, so owners of those cats wouldn't often see their cats grooming."

But, added Dr. Siracusa, there are a few cats who groom right in front of people, sharing their nail care (and more) for all to see. Most cats can keep their nails (which are onion-like with layers), cleaned up with scratching posts. Dr. Siracusa recommends "having several types of posts available, horizontal, vertical—as well as different materials—to keep the cat interested."

Nail biting while grooming isn't an issue for your cat unless he becomes very obsessive with it. Dr. Nicolas Dodman, a pet behavior expert, and professor emeritus at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University said there are two reasons why your cat might pay a lot of attention to his nails:

1. He has an injury or infection in his paw

2. He is dealing with anxiety

Both are relatively common and can be treated with veterinary care, proper medication, and perhaps a change in the cat's environment. According to PetMD, anxiety in cats can be caused by other animals in the house, a dislike of being alone, or not having toys and scratching posts to keep them sufficiently entertained and distracted.

Some cats are prone to bacterial or yeast infections in their paws. Genetics plays a part, as does exposure to chemicals, such as some flea and tick preventatives, or a puncture wound. Infection can also occur if a cat's nails are trimmed too short. You may be unable to tell if your cat has an infection or is just annoyed about something in his surroundings. If you feel your cat is grooming his nails excessively, a visit to your vet should put your mind at ease.

Quote to remember, "People who don't like cats were probably mice in an earlier life." - Anonymous


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