Cat claw sheaths can look like a complete claw and I can remember one nice visitor thinking that her cat had lost his claws because she could see claw sheaths lying on the ground. She had thought that they were whole claws.
Well, my 18 year old cat shed a complete claw sheath from one of her hind claws today (1st Dec. 2010). She did this climbing onto the bed as she can’t jump up any more due to her age. She would have pushed off from the wooden frame of the bed causing the claws to be a bit stressed and forcing the old sheath off. It is completely normal for a cat to shed claw sheaths. You will see them around the home from time to time.
I thought I would photograph it as it is large, complete and it clearly shows how it snapped off at its base and then slid off the claw as if it was a cover. Here is the photo:
You can scale it by comparing it to my hand. This gives a clear idea how big it is, actually. Most often the sheath is not as complete as this one, in my experience. When trimming claws you sometimes get shattering or cracking of the outer sheath if it is old.
You can also see how the tip has been clipped by me. This was done about a week before the cat claw sheath fell off.
I hope some visitors find this useful, particularly new cat owners/keepers. There is quite a lot to learn about cat caretaking. It occurs to me that a lot of people go into cat adoption as if it is all commonsense. A lot of it is but knowledge acquired before adopting and used wisely during cat caretaking, is the best course of action.
Claws should never be removed by a vet, incidentally. This page: Declawing Alternatives tell you why.
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