Can Cats Get Ingrown Nails?

Yes, cats can very definitely get ingrown nails. Pretty much all you can do is to (a) remove that part of the claw which has penetrated the paw pad and (b) make sure that there is no infection in the pad and that no infection takes hold and (c) prevent it happening again by regular claw trimming or by making sure the claws are worn down through use.

Ingrown cat claw

Ingrown cat claw

Ingrown claws are particularly likely to happen in older cats for the obvious reason that they are far less active therefore their claws are much less likely to be worn down. In normal use the claws of a cat are worn down and therefore there is little or no likelihood of the claw growing long enough to turn into the paw pad.

However, I am sure that it is quite common for older cats to develop an ingrown toenail which is long enough to pierce the paw pad. Sometimes it can pierce quite deeply into the pad causing considerable discomfort and pain. It is remarkable that a cat will not show discomfort in his/her paw until quite late in the day.

Today, a lady visitor to this website, Signe, had this problem to deal with. Her cat is 17 years of age. All of his claws are too long and one had grown into the paw pad causing much pain, she said.

I, myself, had to deal with this some years ago. My female cat who is now deceased developed an ingrown toenail. This was my fault because quite obviously prevention of ingrown toenails is far better than fixing the problem. The lesson is that in an older cat the owner should regularly, at least once a week or perhaps more frequently, check their cat’s toenails and trim them.

In my case, I decided to trim the offending toenail. I asked a close friend to hold my cat in a towel and I used cat nail clippers to cut off the end of the claw which had pierced the paw pad. This caused a lot of discomfort and my cat objected to it but the job was done. The paw pad healed on its own without treatment. The problem was solved. Note: this mini-operation needs to be done with precision, obviously. You can’t cut off too much of the claw otherwise you’ll cut into the living part of the claw and neither can you cut the paw pad. If you are honestly unable to be precise enough for whatever reason, don’t attempt it. The fact that the end of the claw is in the paw pad makes this procedure tricky.

Perhaps the best or safest advice is probably to consider taking your cat to a vet to deal with this because it is possible that the paw pad may have become infected.

As for painkillers, as soon as I had removed the offending part of the claw, my cat was no longer in discomfort so pain medication was not required and the wound healed quickly without treatment. If you think that pain medication is required I would avoid giving your cat a drug called Metacam as it can cause kidney damage. In an older cat who may be developing kidney failure in any case, to give this drug to him/may prove fatal.

As to any other painkillers I would always seek veterinary advice because as we all know giving painkillers to cat is a tricky procedure and great care must be taken.

If visitors can add to this please do so in a comment. Thanks.




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Comments

Can Cats Get Ingrown Nails? — 6 Comments

  1. Very good article, Michael. Ingrown nails in cats are more common than you would think. The treatment is exactly as you stated. Prevention is the key.

  2. YES! I adopted a cat from a shelter that had an ingrown nail which had to be removed at the vet. I know how painful the slightest nail problems I have had, and though cats act to hide their pain, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Very painful, and so are dental issues. The last cat I took in for complete dental work, the vet said that a couple of his teeth must have been excruciating, but he never let on. Both of my cats were definitely happier AFTER the surgeries, and that’s what counts.

  3. P.S. Michael, I considered trimming my cats’ nail but it was too deep. I can’t (well, I can) believe the shelter adopted him out like that (these guys just don’t care anymore).
    Post P.S. For any newbies, do not give a cat any people medicine especially aspirin which is deadly to them.

    • Thanks Albert. When I cut the offending ingrown claw of my late lady cat I had to take a deep breath beforehand! I knew it would be tricky and tough for her. As usual after it was done she was back to normal in no time.

  4. Many years ago we had a cat come into the clinic where I was working with, according to Mom, inability to walk. I took the cat back to the surgery and with the aid of a fellow tech discovered the cat had the newfangled nail covers over her nails and the whole thing grew into the cat’s pads-all nails on all four feet. We managed to cut and remove the mess and make sure we got all the pieces of the nail covers. Soaked the cat’s feet in an epsom salt bath for several minutes. I guess it felt good, as she didn’t want to take her feet out of the bath. Cleaned each pad with an antiseptic, gave her an antibiotic shot and brought her back to Mom. I asked Mom why she didn’t have the nail covers replaced and the cat’s nails trimmed. Her response was that she thought the nail covers would retard the nail growth. With great restraint I didn’t read her the riot act. To my surprise, Mom didn’t have the nail covers replaced and brought her kitty back regularly for a nail trim. My own cats are badly abused domestic and 4 are deaf ferals. They use the many scratching pads and posts and occasionally the rugs. It’s taken many years for some to accept my touching their feet and there are those who would have a fit if I even looked at their feet.

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