Why Do Cats Bite Their Nails?

Are you watching your cat bite her nails? She’s chilling on the couch with her back foot in her mouth. Both front paws are holding the foot while she munches on it like a corndog at a ball game.

It’s a hilarious sight to behold, but you can’t stop yourself from wondering why she’s biting her nails in the first place? Why do cats bite their nails? Is it boredom, or is she using her nails as a toothpick?

Cats sure are weird sometimes.

Surely there has to be a purpose for this behavior, right?

The reality is your cat is biting her nails because it’s part of the grooming process. Cats bite their nails to remove the old skin on their nails, revealing a new sharp claw underneath.

Think of it like the rows of teeth in a Great White shark that falls away as they dull, replaced by new teeth pushed out from the rear rows.

Your cat relies on her nails as her greatest survival tool, and they need to be razor-sharp at all times.

The Cat Claw Explained


As a cat owner, we’re sure you noticed abandoned claws lying around the house from time to time? You might find them caught in the curtain fabrics or the couch, or their favorite scratch post.

So, what’s the deal with that?

Human nails grow out from the cuticle, pushing linearly to fill the nail bed. When our nails get too long, we get a manicure and cut them to length.

A cat’s claw grows a sheath around the outside, and the nail gets thicker over time like our nails get longer. When the claw dulls, the cat strips away the exterior layer, revealing a sharp new one underneath.

Other Reasons Cats Bite Their Nails


So, now you know that your cat biting its nails is only a grooming technique and nothing to worry about with your kitty.

However, there are a few other instances where your cat might be overly-excessive with their nail grooming. Some other reasons for cats biting their nails include the following.

Injury Or Infection


Cats are crazy acrobats, and they love playing around indoors or outdoors. Your cat’s flexible spine, shoulders, and clavicles enable it to do some impressive maneuvers in the air and on the ground.

Cats are natural athletes, and they’re always ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey. Did you know your cat can pounce up to nine-times the length of its body when tackling prey?

With cats being natural risk-takers with their acrobatic antics, it’s surprising they don’t experience many injuries.

If you find your cat is chewing on their claw more often than usual and isolating the behavior to a specific paw, it could be a sign of an injury or infection.

Give their paw a look, and if you apply slight pressure and they moan, it’s probably one of the two problems.

If it’s an infection, the area should feel slightly warm. If it’s an injury, your cat will protect severely and may try to bite you, depending on the level of pain they’re dealing with from the problem.

Cats are hardy pets, and they rarely protest for something that’s a minor issue. If you’re not sure about the cause of the problem, consult with your vet for advice.

Anxiety


Some cats are anxious animals. Those cats that don’t get the right amount of socializing when it’s a kitten may develop psychological disorders, such as high anxiety.

The feeling cats get with anxiety is the same sensation they experience when the new owner takes them away from their mother. They worry and experience fear about not getting food or care again from their mom.

As you feed them and care for them, they lose this fear, also known as “separation anxiety.” However, cats that don’t get to play with other cats or people might find themselves afraid of all environmental stimuli as they grow up. As a result, they develop a high-anxiety disorder and start exhibiting strange, related behaviors.

Claw chewing is one of these anxiety-related issues. Sometimes it’s a mild anxiety-related problem, such as you need to play with your cat and speak to them more.

If you find your cat chewing over its anxiety issues, take her to the vet for an examination.

Boredom


Your cat needs emotional and physical stimulation from you. If you don’t exercise or play with your cat, it results in bouts of boredom.

Boredom is a cat’s worst enemy. As curious animals, they need mental stimulation, or they risk changes to their behavior, just as excessive claw chewing, to compensate for the lack of stimulus.

This kind of behavior is preventable through playing with your cat and speaking to them every day. Your cats rely on you for their food and shelter, but they also need your care and support.

Sure, it might look like they don’t need you, but you’re a vital part of their life and their entire reason for existence.

Taking the time to play with your cat every day is a rewarding experience for both of you. It’s a great stress-reliever and a way to bond with your animal.

Compulsive Behavior


Compulsive claw chewing is a related behavior to high-anxiety. However, some cats might find it hard to stop chewing their claws, even if you sort out the underlying health issue.

Once they entrench the behavior, it’s challenging to get them to reverse it. If this is a problem for your cat, we recommend speaking to a vet.

The vet will analyze the extent of the problem and make recommendations on what you can do to reverse it – if it’s possible.

Wrapping Up – Cats Chewing On Their Claws Is Normal Behavior


The reality is claw chewing in completely normal behavior in cats. It’s part of the grooming process and nothing to concern yourself over.

However, if you find your cat is chewing its claws more often than usual, it could be due to related issues. Arrange a consultation with the vet to determine what you can do to prevent your cat from chewing on their claws.

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