One day I was walking through the house barefoot and all of a sudden, PINCH! Something sharp stabbed the bottom of my foot! Thoughts flashed through my mind how Fred was working on a project the day before and dang it, he didn’t pick everything up! I looked at my foot and a cat nail was sticking in my foot. Do cats shed their claws? Heck yeah they do!

Dogs and Cats Living in Harmony

Lilly, our 3 year old cat has not been declawed and she is very skittish around my mom’s 1 year old puppy, Henry. But I was hanging out at home, playing with Henry and noticed something matted in the hair on top of his nose. Do you see where I’m going with this? At some point, Henry and Lilly came into contact and Lilly left a claw shedding in Henry. Oops.

The Facts

So finding one of my cat’s claws in my foot scared the death out of me. I didn’t see any skin or blood but still. I scooped Lilly up and looked at all her toes to make sure she was fine and yup, she was. But what exactly happened?

Well, just like us humans, our cat’s nails grow. The claws only come out to visit when you play with them, when they hunt, climb and stretch. When used with the right amount of force (climbing my screen or to get out of a box…please see the about Dusty, Lilly and Henry section), small cracks form in the nail. Eventually, the top portion loosens and falls off.

This actually doesn’t hurt. It is a totally normal process and cats aren’t the only ones that do this. Larger cats (lions and tigers), horses and even dogs can shed their claws too. Weird right?

But What Happens if They Don’t Shed?

Lilly can be a little temperamental (putting it lightly) and not the most patient. She only lets me clip her nails when she’s sleepy or relaxed. When she was little we tried to consistently touch her feet so she would be comfortable enough so I could trim her nails for the long haul.

When she was about 8 months old, I got her settled down to clip, but one of her nails had grown so long that it had pierced the pad behind it. This happens a lot when cats don’t naturally shed their claws. They get overgrown, start to curl underneath and grow into the paw. Of course, if this happens, please consult your vet.

We then took her in to have her looked at, but that was the one and only time that happened. Thank goodness because it looked terrible.

Helpful Ideas

So, if one way for cats to naturally shed or file their nails down is to scratch, what the heck happens to my furniture? Scratching boards and posts sprinkled with a little cat nip might do the trick. If your cat is relaxed, you may be able to clip them too.

What if your cat doesn’t like these options though? There’s a product out there called cat caps. They glue directly on to the nail, and as the nail sheds, the cap comes off too. The cap blunts out the sharpness of your cats nails so they don’t rip up the carpet when they do their favorite stretch or trick.

Now, I am not an expert on these products, so I would recommend doing a little research and checking with your vet first before use. Some vet offices may even apply them for you. But hey, if they are good enough for Aunt Gayle on Bob’s Burgers…heck they are good enough for any cat!

So in a Cat Nail Shell (or Nut Shell)

If you happen to come across these sharp little buggers, don’t freak out. Totally normal. There’re some options out there to help, but if you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Thanks!

  1. I have a rescue cat, she is 13 years old and has here front claws removed and has never been outside. I did notice on several occasions a claw on the floor around the house. She still has rear claws.
    Yes you are right that cats do loose a claw when it is needed.
    I don’t think that she would hold still for clipping her nails, I am happy that she sheds them when needed.
    How often do you think that a cat will shed their nails.

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