Most of the time while washing herself, she also starts to 'grab' the nail to one of her 'thumbs' with her teeth and it looks like she is pulling it really hard. Don't know if she does it with other nails too, but I have seen it before. The nail doesn't look strange or anything.

Is that normal behavior? Why is she doing that?

EDIT Actually I've observed her doing it at both front paws and at least both 'thumbs'.


Are you able to get a good look at your cat's claws? If there's any redness of the skin around the claw, or discoloration of the claw bed (extend the claw), or your cat acts like he's in pain while walking, then your cat may have a medical problem and need to be looked at by your vet. (here's a brief overiew of the potential problems, but your cat needs to be seen by a vet for treatment).

If there's no problems, then don't worry, it's normal, especially if your cat doesn't have access to a scratching post (or the post is defective in some way, not big enough, wrong material, wrong shape (horizontal or vertical scratching surfaces are preferences).

When cats claws grow, they get longer AND grow layers. The outer layers need to be stripped off. Normally, this is done by clawing something, but if the scratching surfaces are inadequate, she'll try to scrape if off with her teeth.

I've manually removed the outer layers occassionally when trimming claws, but I think it hurts them so I stopped doing it.

  • Nothing really noticed when I took a look. She acts like a happy little cat, wanting to play and sleep. She walks normally, she runs normally. I have several scratching posts (both vertical and round, horizontal and flat, small, big and huge) and she uses them regularly. I do clip the nails myself as the never gets outside and I have hard flat flooring in house. I usually leave the layers if I notice them, because indeed I have the impression they don't like that.
    – jippie
    Nov 18 '13 at 20:42
  • @jippie It may be that the dewclaw doesn't properly reach the scratching surface when she scratches (maybe slightly different anatomy, or technique), so that's why she's biting at it.
    – Zaralynda
    Nov 18 '13 at 21:05
  • 1
    According to the vet it is pretty normal behavior and she tries to remove the outer layer of the nail after it naturally loosened. Clipping nails sometimes causes the outer shell to loosen more quickly.
    – jippie
    Apr 24 '14 at 6:20
  • it is normal cats do often pull off the outer shell of their claws if they dont come off by scratching,take a look below the scratcing post you will probably find several claw shells there. Jan 4 '18 at 18:11
  • This is actually completely normal, as long as no damage is done to the toe. Scratching posts will help dull the claw, but it will not always completely remove a layer in some cats and they will often use their teeth to remove the layer to resharpen the claw. I have a cat that will actually do this after I cut her claws since she likes them to be a bit sharper.
    – Stig Tore
    Jun 13 '18 at 14:06

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