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

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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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  • http://myhouseholdzoo.blogspot.com/ Cynthia Downer

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

  • Amy Orvin

    I have never heard of that either.

  • Christi Sabol

    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.

  • Shelley

    Very interesting! Are these cats born this way?

    • Paris and John

      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!