Nail biting is often seen as a nervous habit in humans, but did you know that it’s actually a normal grooming behavior for cats? While it may seem unusual to us, cats chewing on their nails is a regular part of their grooming routine. However, excessive chewing could be a sign of underlying issues that need attention.
Normal Nail Chewing and Maintenance
When cats groom themselves, it’s not uncommon for them to chew on their nails and paw pads to remove dirt, litter, or debris. Additionally, if a cat’s nail breaks or sheds, they may chew off the hanging piece to prevent it from catching on things. It’s important to note that not all cats exhibit this behavior in front of their owners, as some prefer to groom in private. Cats are quite adept at maintaining their nails through scratching on appropriate surfaces like scratching posts or carpets. Providing a variety of scratching options can keep your cat engaged and their nails healthy.
Abnormal Nail Chewing and What Causes It
However, there are instances when nail biting in cats becomes abnormal. Excessive and obsessive chewing is a clear indication that something is amiss. According to Dr. Nicolas Dodman, a renowned pet behavior expert, abnormal nail chewing behavior is usually linked to either an injury or infection, or anxiety.
Anxiety-related nail chewing is comparable to humans who compulsively chew their nails. Cats can experience anxiety for various reasons, such as the presence of other animals, separation anxiety, or environmental challenges. Dodman suggests establishing a reliable routine for your cat and ensuring they get enough exercise to help minimize anxiety. If these measures don’t alleviate the cat’s anxiety, mood-stabilizing medications can also be considered.
Infections or injuries can also cause cats to pick at their paws and nails. Bacterial or yeast infections are common culprits, especially in cats who are genetically predisposed to skin problems. Additionally, contact with irritating chemicals can lead to infections. Owners should be cautious while trimming their cat’s nails, as cutting them too short can expose the sensitive blood vessels and increase the risk of infection.
Knowing Your Cat
In most cases, nail chewing in cats is not a cause for concern. However, if you notice any accompanying injuries or a significant increase in nail biting frequency, it’s advisable to consult your veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with your cat’s behaviors and be attentive to any new and obsessive habits. As Dr. Dodman wisely states, “When a new behavior manifests—especially an obsessive one—it is always a good idea to go to the vet for a checkup.”
Remember, providing your cat with appropriate scratching surfaces and ensuring they have a calm and enriched environment can go a long way in preventing excessive nail chewing. So, embrace your cat’s unique grooming habits while keeping an eye out for any signs of trouble!
About Katten TrimSalon:
At Katten TrimSalon, we understand the importance of caring for your feline companions. Our team of experts is dedicated to providing professional grooming services to keep your cats happy and healthy. Visit Katten TrimSalon to learn more about our services and how we can assist you in providing the best care for your beloved cats.