Ask Dr. Audrey: My Cat’s Claws Won’t Retract!

Dear Dr. Audrey,

My cat has two claws that won’t retract! I hear them clicking when he walks across the floor. Should I just keep them trimmed or should I be taking any other precaution to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself?

There’s nothing that can be done to make your cat’s nails retract, and I don’t think declawing is a good idea under these circumstances – there can be complications from this surgery and it is very painful. The best option is to just keep trimming them as you need to.

If he is scratching your floor or furnishings then you could put on some Soft Paws. These are soft rubber tips that are glued on a cat’s claws. They cause no pain, and prevent scratching. This may be something you and your cat just have to manage with a set of nail clippers when your boy’s nails get too long. Most cats tolerate a manicure very well, and it shouldn’t cause him too much stress.

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  1. Hm, what causes a cat’s claws not to retract? I’ve never heard of that.

  2. Amy Orvin says:

    I have never heard of that either.

  3. Christi Sabol says:

    My kitten is 5 months old and has 6 toes on both front paws….the 6th toe doesn’t retract on one of his paws. I wish I knew what caused this and hope its ok to be like that.

  4. Very interesting! Are these cats born this way?

    • Paris and John says:

      I think usually it’s an injury that causes this…a nail gets snagged and then it can no longer retract. We’ve had two cats with at least one non-retracting claw. It never seemed to them…but you can hear the nail clicking as they walk up!

      • Jessica M Svensson says:

        I have a hemmingway ship cat with this same issue, tried soft paws but they seem to really bug him lol
        So I just keep him trimmed .

  5. Michael Morgan says:

    My cat is 16plus yrs. Old and her claws haven’t retracted for about five months, she gets stuck on everything

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