Claw injuries are a common occurrence in cats and while painful, most are not life-threatening.
The most common type of claw injury is a torn claw which may be partially or entirely torn off and cause a great deal of pain. Torn claws may occur when the claw becomes snagged on something (carpet, material etc.), or when quickly scrambling up a tree, fence or more seriously, as the result of a motor vehicle accident. In the latter, there are likely to be more severe injuries than just a torn claw.
Even if the claw is completely torn off, it will grow back. However, this will take several months.
Aside from the torn claw, which will look jagged, loose or completely gone.
Other symptoms may include:
- Dry or fresh blood surrounding the area
- Holding the affected paw off the ground
- Pain when touched
Treat at home if the damage is not severe:
- Stop the bleeding: Apply styptic pencil silver nitrate sticks, potassium of permanganate or cornstarch to the claw. If none of these is available, ice the area to constrict the blood vessels and slow down the bleeding.
- Gently trim the claw: if the tear is minor to remove shredded edges will help prevent further damage occurring. Be very careful to avoid cutting too far, or you will cut into the rich
supply of blood vessels and nerves.
- Clean the area: A weak solution of iodine (Betadine) should be applied to the area once bleeding has stopped. Dilute to the colour of weak tea.
- Bandage the paw: This helps to prevent further damage, this should be changed daily and
- Watch for signs of infection: Such as swelling, redness, and pus.
When to see a veterinarian
If the claw is extremely loose, bleeding heavily or entirely gone, your cat will need to see a veterinarian. In the case of a badly damaged claw, he may choose to remove the claw and bandage the foot completely.
Your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics if an infection is present.
Several torn claws suggest the cat has been hit by a vehicle. Even though they may appear well (aside from the torn claws), there could be internal injuries. It is essential to have your cat checked over by a vet.
Regularly trim the claws to make sure they are not overgrown will help reduce the chances of the claws becoming damaged and torn.
Provide your cat with a scratching post; this will encourage the cat to scratch, which helps remove old/loose parts of the claw.
Never give human painkillers to cats; this can be fatal. If your cat is in extreme pain from a torn claw, seek veterinary advice. They may choose to prescribe suitable painkillers.
Frequently asked questions
Do torn claws grow back?
Yes, a torn claw will grow back.
How long does it take for a torn claw to grow back?
It can take several months for the claw to fully grow back.
Why do cats rip their claws out?
Cats will often chew and tug at their nails during grooming to remove the loose outer layer of the nail.