Our young male rescue cat has razor sharp claws: 5 needle sharp spikes on each paw. I've played with lots of cats and never encountered this? We've had him for about 4 months now and he is getting much better at 'soft paw' play and I plan to trim the nails when he get's comfortable being held. His 'sister', a young female rescue we've had for about a year, eats the same food, uses the same scratching post and has 'normally' sharp claws: effective weapons and tools but not razor sharp. They play/fight together often and both are very affectionate with each other and with family members.

Another concern... the male cat's scratches also seem to be more virulent than the female's scratches. A scratch from the male causes more of a reaction. The skin reddens, swells and hurts noticeably more than his sister's scratches and my wife and 2 children have mentioned this as well. Allergic reaction? Infection? Both cat's like to 'mouse' but the reactions were apparent before we let the male outside during the day. Both cats had all the shots mandated in Ontario, Canada when you adopt from the humane society. We aren't having the usual 'cat scratch fever' symptoms. No blistering, no fever, no fatigue, no lymph swelling, etc. My first suspicion was he had some type of bacteria/virus/fungus inside his claw or sheath? Maybe it's just because they pierce the skin more deeply.

He may be the pet equivalent of a ninja assassin but I just want to be sure he and we are okay. Have you encountered this before? Is there a possible nutritional deficiency causing the nails to be SO sharp? Is the skin reaction possibly connected to any common cat pathogen?

1 Answer 1


Based on my two cats, I have a hypothesis about this.

I have two female, spayed cats, both older adults. One has noticeably sharper claws then the other, and scratches received from her also give me a itchy, red, swelling reaction on my skin.

I have always attributed this to a particular habit of hers: She bites her nails. Although I provide scratching posts of various kinds and I do see her use them sometimes, she is much less fond of them than the other cat, and also does not scratch at rugs or furniture. Since she keeps her claws clean and short by chewing them most of the time, they are constantly exposing a new, very sharp fresh claw that is not dulled by scratching on abrasive surfaces often, and also particularly covered in cat saliva.

It's actually a protein in the cat's saliva, not the fur or dander, that is reacted to by people with cat allergies. So I think it's the combination of the extra allergens from cat saliva and the deeper penetration of the frequently sharpened claws that makes scratches from one cat more itchy and inflamed.

Lucky for me, my cat is docile and not prone to scratch often, so I have only have to experience a few minor accidental claw strikes!

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