Anyone who has ever had a kitty cat understands what murder mittens are. But the actual anatomy of cat claws and why they are the way there are might surprise you. This post is all about why do cat claws have to be so sharp? Murder mittens.
Cats are fascinating creatures with unique physical traits that aid in their survival and success. One such trait is their claws, which grow in layers to stay sharp and serve as Mother Nature’s hunting tools. So, how do cats’ claws grow?
The base of a cat’s claw is the germinal layer, where new cells are produced, pushing the old cells outwards. This outer layer is the sheath, which protects the delicate inner layers as the claw grows. As cats use their claws for various activities, such as climbing, scratching, and hunting, the outer layer naturally wears down, revealing a fresh, sharp layer underneath.
But why do cats instinctively need to sharpen their nails? Well, it’s not just for their own enjoyment. Scratching also helps cats shed old layers of their claws, allowing new ones to grow. Additionally, it helps them mark their territory, stretch their muscles, and relieve stress.
To help your feline friend satisfy their scratching needs, it’s essential to provide them with appropriate outlets. A scratching post or mat, preferably both vertical and horizontal, can be a real benefit for your cat. It not only helps them maintain their claws but also prevents damage to your furniture and carpets.
Why Do Cat Claws Have To Be So Sharp?
Domestic cats, which evolved from the Felidae family of wild animals including cheetahs, panthers, and leopards, inherit the genetic build of their ancestors, resulting in the presence of sharp claws. These claws serve two main purposes: climbing and hunting. Despite being kept indoors, house cats still have a natural inclination to climb and play with toys that mimic prey, such as a mouse. Although often thought of as a tool for sharpening claws, scratching posts are actually essential for a cat’s health as they allow them to shed the outer layer of their claws and promote the growth of new, healthy layers.
When a cat scratches a cardboard cat scratcher, your furniture or a sisal pole, he is actually trying to ‘shed’ the top layer of his claw. Guess what is underneath waiting to grow through? A pointy little jaguar that is like a little seedling waiting to sprout through! When your cat scratches his post, he is at first dulling his nail. Then it will eventually fall off. Next, murder mitten.
So on the one hand your cat is helping his natural instinct to have a mouse dagger ready and available at any time, but is not sharpening his nails the way one might initially think.
“The “sharpening” of the claw is actually the removal of those worn outer sheaths. As the new inner claw reaches full development, the outer sheath becomes a little loose and a little uncomfortable. The cat keeps working on something like tree bark, or your furniture, until he gets it pried off, and he’s ready to rumble again.”Kennet Veterinary Clinic
If you would like to learn more about why a cat’s claws grow in bending down fashion, I highly recommend watching the video below. In addition, check out our blog The Anatomy Of A Cat Claw.
My cat Finnegan received a pack of SmartyKat mice from my Mom when she came to visit us. (smart move to bring the pet a treat BTW 😉 My cat LOVES these mice and I am almost embarrassed he never had them before.
The reason he loves them so much is the soft squishy sensation they make on his claws.
Much like a real mouse, piercing the toy fills his need to hunt prey and murder it with his razor like claws.
I highly recommend these mice!
As a bonus, the tails is another body part he can dissect. He literally chews their tails off so they are naked mice. He frequently pulls them out of his toy box and flings them across the floor, then chases.
SmartyKat mice are sold on Amazon for $5.33. This includes a pack of 10.
Having cat scratchers available is a must for feline owners. Any cat lover knows the importance of giving your pet the chance to ‘pierce’ and scratch cat attracting material. Unfortunately, the fabric on your couch or chair might also be attractive, IF he doesn’t have options. Giving him options will greatly reduce any furniture shredding issues.
Cat scratches that are vertical and stand at least 30″ high are usually the preferred choice for a feline. You can read up on this in my blog The Ideal Scratching Post For Cats.
RELEVANT: Why Do Cats Purr?
Having claws for a kitty cat is a necessity. Declawing is not an option. Hopefully you had a chance to see the video I put above as Kyle does a great job explaining why, declawing is not an option. This post is also a great reference for tips on keeping your kitty cat’s claws managed: How To Keep Your Cat From Scratching Your (Without Declawing)
Concluding Thoughts About Cat Claws
So the next time those little murder mittens accidentally squeeze your leg a little too tight, think of it as a natural drive, a gesture your cat feels like his authentic self. The fleshy skin on your leg resembles a mouse or other murder mitten prey. Just be sure to gently replace your leg with a toy that will give your cat the outlet she needs. Cat scratchers and poles will also greatly reduce those dagger hugs.
Cats’ claws grow in layers to stay sharp, and they instinctively need to sharpen their nails for various reasons. Providing your cat with appropriate scratching outlets can benefit both you and your feline friend. So, give your kitty the gift of a healthy and happy scratch session today!
Answering a few common questions about cat claws here:
Should I trim my cat claws?
Yes, you should absolutely trim your kitty cats’ claws. You will save yourself from unnecessary scratches and anyone else who comes in contact with him. Your cat will also benefit from regular trims because his claws will not get caught on fabric and other things (like a screened window). By keeping the claws dull, both you and your cat will be much happier. Consider taking your cat to the vet for a professional manicure if you have problems doing it yourself.
Does cutting my cat claws hurt her?
If you stay above your cat’s pink area, known as the ’quick’ your cat will not feel anything. If you go below the pink area or even close to it, your cat will feel it and it will hurt.
Lisa Illman is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity, LLC. She has a tuxedo adult cat and has had him since he was a baby kitten. Before her cat Finnegan, Lisa had had two FIV-positive cats for over a decade. They inspired Lisa to invent a cat enclosure and a portable catio so they could safely sit outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Lisa had a Poodle and a parakeet growing up. She currently loves to pet-sit for her neighbors’ dogs and cats.
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Our mission at Kritter Kommunity is to promote happy and healthy lives for pets and their owners. We specialize in Barkitecture and designing tips for pet-friendly homes, utilizing the natural instincts of cats, dogs, and small critters to create a home life that pets and people love. From tips on pet care to reviews on pet toys and furniture, we are a go-to source for all things cats, dogs and small critters. Join us in celebrating the joys of pet ownership and providing the best possible lives for our furry friends.
Why Is Kritter Kommunity Your Trusted Pet Partner?
Lisa Illman is the Founder of Kritter Kommunity, LLC. Not only does she have one tuxedo male adult cat currently, she has had him since he was a baby kitten; so she knows well the kitten lifecycle, the teenage cat lifecycle and the adult cat lifecycle (he is currently 11 years old). Prior to her cat Finnegan, Lisa had two FIV positive cats for over a decade. Lisa’s love for animals her entire life (she also had a poodle and parakeet growing up plus was a caretaker for her roommate’s 3 pets during college) and networking with the pet community for over a decade, enable her to find top content for her readers.