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Recently, when my cat was sitting on my sister's lap, my cat leaped off onto the floor and accidentally scratched my sister under her pants. It was about an hour later that my sister noticed the scratch had been bleeding slightly, but she didn't find any damage to her pants. She's now wondering how cat claws can break a person's skin and make them bleed without causing any visible damage to the clothing covering the scratched area. Given that this is such a specific question, she can't find any information about it anywhere.

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    Its for the exact same reason scratching posts and corners of beds and couches arent destroyed instantly when a cat scratches them. Fabrics are MUCH stronger than skin.
    – Keltari
    Jun 2, 2023 at 23:19

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I'm guessing the pants are made of a woven fabric. Sharp pointy things like claws can get in between the woven threads and go straight through, and no damage is done to the fabric. It's why when you sew a woven fabric, you pin the parts together before you sew them, and no damage is done to the fabric. You don't pin fabrics that aren't a weave, like leather, because you'll make permanent pin holes.

Since the cat was jumping off her lap, the cat was probably instinctively digging its hind claws in to get purchase. This would make the claws more likely to get through the weave of the fabric than with other motions, like swatting with a paw.

I recommend regularly clipping the cat's claws, because the duller they are, the less likely they'll scratch through your clothes.

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    Another aspect is that clothing can move over a person's skin. The claw probably never scratched over the pants, but instead pierced through it and moved the entire fabric over the skin without damaging it.
    – Elmy
    Jun 2, 2023 at 6:07
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    When clipping claws, one should make sure to clip as little as possible, as clipping too much will result in injury. I'd recommend having a vet or professional groomer demonstrate the process properly before making an attempt.
    – bgse
    Jun 2, 2023 at 10:47
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    Girl With The Dogs sometimes calls it either removing their weapons of mass destruction or murder mittens.
    – CGCampbell
    Jun 2, 2023 at 14:31
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    @CGCampbell Weapons of mouse destruction, one might say... Jun 2, 2023 at 18:37
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    And never ever clip the claws of a cat allowed outside. It puts them in danger. Jun 4, 2023 at 6:54

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