If you’ve been a cat parent for some time now, you might have noticed one or more of your pet’s claws on the floor of your home. But should you be worried, or is this shedding natural? We’re answering this question and more in today’s article, so keep on reading!
Is it normal for cats to shed their claws?
The short answer to this question is yes.
Cats’ claws grow in layers, which means that by the time the new and fresh layer is produced, the older one at the tip will basically stop being irrigated by blood vessels and will be made up of dead tissue.
As you may know, cats have scratching mechanisms that we, as pet parents, just can’t seem to manage.
Although they do it instinctively by sharpening their claws on your couch or a cat tree, they also contribute to the shedding process. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be more claws shed around the cat tree, for example – sometimes the tip sustains a superficial cut, and it gets completely broken later on.
Besides, cats have to maintain their claws sharp as this is what they are genetically designed to do. When they weren’t kept inside our homes and lived in the wild, they had to fend off the attacks of potentially larger and dangerous predators or just other cats that were in competition with them for sexual mates or food.
In other words, sharpening and, therefore, shedding their claws is a completely natural process, and you shouldn’t worry if you find several nails scattered across your floors. It’s just as normal for both outdoor and indoor cats – the second category hasn’t yet managed to get rid of their instincts, so you have no way to deter your cat from wanting to scratch a surface.
Claw breakage and when it’s time to get worried
Most pet owners trim their pets’ nails either because they don’t want their furniture to be damaged too much or because it can be uncomfortable to have their cat sit on their lap and knead when they have sharp claws.
And while trimming your cat’s nails is usually easy enough, especially if you ask your vet to show you how to do it, sometimes accidents can happen.
Normally, cats don’t tend to break their claws to the point that they hurt their local blood vessels too much – especially if the nail is in an overall healthy condition. However, if you’ve recently clipped their nails very close to the blood vessel and they go and engage in a very hard scratching session, they may rip off a portion and cause a small hemorrhage.
This tends to happen very rarely, though, so it’s not something to be overly concerned about all the time. Any hemorrhage can be a source of infection, so if you notice that your cat is bleeding from one of their claws, try to stop the bleeding as best as possible and then take them to the vet – especially if it doesn’t seem to be stopping.
Does clipping your cat’s claws promote shedding?
When you clip a cat’s claws, you’re not doing it as per the layers and the direction they have grown in.
In fact, in order to trim them, you’re actually cutting them right across the layers, so that means that some of the dead ones at the tip will fall off naturally, especially as the cat then tries to sharpen their claws.
Can cats lose their claws because of separate health issues?
There are quite a bit of additional health complications that could lead to the loss of a cat’s claws, but they’re usually complex and work together. These factors almost never cause shedding individually, unless in cases of severe deficiencies.
Some vitamins and minerals make up the structure of your cat’s coat and nails, so if your pet doesn’t get them from their food or supplements, they could develop skin and hair issues, and they might also shed more claws due to consistent breakage.
While these nutrients can mostly be found in the majority of the commercial cat diets currently available, very cheap varieties are not going to be too rich in them.
Several examples are listed below:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B9
- Vitamin C
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Another nutrient that cats are always supposed to get (since they’re obligate carnivores) and that doesn’t show up in nearly sufficient amounts in cat foods these days is protein.
Believe it or not, there are now varieties being sold as cat food that contain only 10% protein, with the rest being made up of other ingredients.
It is true that cats shouldn’t exclusively eat protein as that would be unhealthy even for them. However, the protein necessities of an adult cat stand at a minimum of 26% protein in their diet (about two grams per pound of body weight).
If any of the nutrients that we have previously mentioned are lacking from your cat’s diet, they could shed their claws more often.
A healthy cat means a healthy set of claws, so you should make sure that you take your feline friend to the local animal clinic at least once or twice a year to have some blood work done and see if everything is normal.
Some cats can suffer from malabsorption caused by IBD, for example, or undiagnosed infections or cancer, so their bodies might not be able to process the right nutrients from their food even if they eat enough.
Finally, if you’re very bothered by your cat’s scratching instincts, you should get a few accessories for this purpose. Do not consider declawing your cat, as the operation is not only unethical but can also lead to complications such as paw pain and tissue necrosis.