How do feral cats trim their claws?

The question in the title was thrown up by Google search. It doesn’t make a lot of sense because cats don’t trim their claws, people do. But the question is interesting in one respect. Feral cats don’t need their claws trimmed because they are worn down during normal use. The normal state of affairs for domestic and feral cats is that their claws don’t need trimming. They are self-maintaining which makes sense.

Trimming a cat's claws diagram
Trimming a cat’s claws diagram. Illustration: PoC based on image in public domain.
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However, the domestication of the cat has created this artificial world for them which sometimes allows the claws to grow too long. This happens in elderly cats who are far more static; less active. It is essential that cat caregivers check their elderly cat’s claws to make sure that they are not growing into the paw pads.

Ingrown cat claw
Ingrown cat claw. Photo: PoC.

And, of course, many cat owners like to trim their cat’s claws in order to minimise the damage done if they are scratched. Trimming claws blunts the claw dramatically and makes it far less likely that it will penetrate the skin.

Feral cats in winter. Image: MikeB from images by Pixabay.

Many people adopt feral cats to socialise them or they’ve been part domesticated under TNR programs. They’ll need their claws trimmed at some time in their future.

That’s about it really. There’s not much more to say in answering the question in the title. Perhaps one or two things! If you adopt a kitten, it makes a lot of sense to get them used to 2 things (1) teeth cleaning and (2) claw trimming. Clean your kitten’s teeth gently at a very early age. It will pay dividends in the future as it will help prevent periodontal disease, improve oral health and perhaps avoid that nervous visit to the veterinarian when they administer a general anaesthetic to your cat in order to clean her teeth. This minor operation carries a potential major health risk.

And we know that trimming a cat’s claw is a nightmare because they dislike it. However, they will be far more accepting of it if you acclimatise them to it when they are a matter of weeks old.


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