My Cat Lost His Claws Please Help

by Eve Atton
(winnipeg, mb, canada)

Over night my cat, Ace, lost all but one claw on his front paws. I was able to located 3 out of the 7. Ace is an 8 year old, indoor, neutered cat.

No blood on his paw, no infection, no swelling. He didn’t eat today and is taking it easy, looking annoyed.

I put cold a cold compress on his paw, but he just won’t tolerate it. What causes that?

He is a vivid scratcher on wood and furniture and to clip his nail is a task that I avoid as much as I can.

Will the claws grow back? Is there an underlying medical condition that causes it?

I just recently got laid off and waiting for my first EI check, taking him to the vet right now is not an option for another 3-4 weeks.

Please help. thank you, I am very concerned.


Hi Eve… thanks for visiting and asking. My best to Ace.

It is possible for a cat to lose a whole claw under certain relatively extreme circumstances such as a jump that went wring or a fight. Perhaps a claw can be broken or even ripped out.

This would normally apply to one individual claw. But to lose a number of claws without blood and to find them as has happened here strongly indicates that Ace is simply shedding an outer sheath of claw during scratching.

Claw sheath
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Claw sheath – Photo by
Ivers McGraw (FLickr)

This is totally normal and is one reason why cats scratch. I often find the outer whole sheaths of my lady cat’s claws on the carpet.

The outer sheath of a claw looks like a claw but is hollow and about two thirds to three quarters of the entire length of a claw.

What goes against my assessment is that you positively say that Ace has lost his claws. Can you see claws? He may not like you fiddling around with his claws and as they are retracted it can be a little hard to see them sometimes.

Cat claw sheath
by Alice Wiegand (Lyzzy)

I would double check. All his claws should be in place and a little sharper!

If not please get back and make a comment. As there in no blood or infection, on the face of it, there is not need for a vet.

I have checked the best books on cat health that I have and there is no references to a cat losing its claws through an underlying medical condition in any of them. This supports my assessment.

As Ace is a passionate scratcher (good for him) it is likely that an outer sheath will be sloughed off from time to time.

All should be well but please make a comment if you think I am wide of the mark in my assessment.

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My Cat Lost His Claws Please Help to Cat Health Problems

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My Cat Lost His Claws Please Help

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Mar 03, 2011 limping pussy!
by: maysie

Anybody help me please? My very large cat caught its claw whilst falling off the bed, she now won’t walk on it, I am presuming that rest is what she needs and has 5 days of it now, but still won’t walk on it, she will allow me to massage it and it doesn’t feel broken or sprained – any suggestions other than taking her to the vet – bit penniless at the moment.

Many thanks

Jul 21, 2010 hi gail πŸ™‚
by: Anonymous

Actually I lived in Tammy Brooke, King Ave. Same set up, but no pool.

Cassie is on no meds at all, she is thin and very active. She is going good.

Cute story about the skunk. πŸ™‚

Not sure if its true, but kids used to swear they saw coyotes in the woods “back there” at Tammy Brooke.

Each one of my kids had a dog…and i had my own. They moved away and didn’t take them with them. So now the are my babies.

I am still sad about Ace.

Funny you should mention Weymouth Commons. I was looking at apartment listings online today, since I am moving back to the Quincy area in 2-3 years.

I lived for 20 years prior to Weymouth in South Boston, until the rich people discovered how nice southie really was and starting buying up property, renovating and doubling the rent. In 1996 I was forced to move South.

I talk to you soon “fellow” animal lover πŸ™‚


Jul 21, 2010 Cassie and Friends
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Eve, What a small world it is! If you lived in a Weymouth complex with a wooded area, I would be willing to bet it was either Weymouth Commons or Mediterranean Place! Whoa… I lived at Weymouth Commons for around 6-7 years in a ground-floor unit in the rear, last building in the complex. It was a wooded area with a huge rock behind the slider and a short distance from the clubhouse and pool.

Once, I found a litter of baby skunks outside the slider – Momma skunk was nowhere to be found. I called animal control, but it took them 2 days to get there to relocate them. In the meantime, I fed them cat food and they ate it greedily, albeit while they were raising their tails at me in a defensive gesture. Thank goodness their stink sacks hadn’t developed yet. Animal control said they were taken to a rehab facility to grow a bit more before they were let loose in the wild.

Is Cassie on any type of meds now? Sadie is on Methimazole, taken once daily in a chicken and tuna flavored soft chewy treat. She comes running each morning for her “special treat” and takes it without issue. We never use the word ‘medicine’ around her since she knows what it means and runs!

You have quite a brood there in your home. Did you have to put your furry friends in quarantine when you first arrived in Canada?

I’m glad you are feeling better. Your other little ones depend on you. I’m sure they miss Ace too, but life goes on. It’s just part of the circle called Life.

Jul 20, 2010 About Cassie
by: ace’s negletive mom

hi again

I was never sure how old cassie was when I took her in one Stormy Night in 1999. We lived in Weymouth in an Apartment Complex. She had belong to neighbors who left her behind when they moved. She was stray. We watched her the whole previous summer scouting for food and yes I fed her from my stairs. Not knowing if she had some disease to pass on to Blizzard (a cat that die 3 years ago he was 14). She would eat and run back to the wooded area. I followed her once and she had a litter of kittens under a tree she was nursing. I didn’t get a chance to call the Animal Rescue Center in time. By the time they got there 4 days later, the kittens where gone and a couple were found “mauled” around the tree where she was nursing them. From that point on she kept on waiting for my daughter at the school bus, followed her home and we fed her. I guess she was about 2-3 years old back in 1999. Then one rainy day in the fall, she was soaking wet. I took her in, seperated her from my other cat and the next day took her to the vet to have her checked and get her shots done. So after we moved from boston to canada (yes i took my cats with me), we lived in a place where she moused under the ceiling so i guess she was about 4-5 years old. Which makes her now between 13 and 15 years old.

Cassie was never a cuddle cat, independent spirit who just needs food, water and occassionally a brush against me. Regardless, she also is close to my heart. She had been diagnosed with thyroid problems when I first had her checked out. I choose not to medicate her (i forgot the reason, back then it was not money related, because i had a good job, etc.). She is “indoor” but i get her the shots because she is an escape artist (just in case).

I never told you, I also have 4 dogs, and my cat and dogs always lived in harmony with each other. However, when the dogs are out on my property now and a “strange cat” visits, that cat is subjective to a “pack hunt”. My dogs won’t hurt other cats, just like to chase them around.

Its really good for me that you are keeping my mind off Ace a little, now i appreciate cassie more, his illness made me neglect a bit (in the sense of paying attention)to cassie, devin, sasha, kairo and shimo. They want to talk you with a paw and a wag of their tail and cassie gives you a high pitched “meow”. πŸ™‚


Jul 20, 2010 Feline Disease
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

How old was Cassie when she fell thru the ceiling? (That still makes me laugh!) Since she’s still actively chasing mice, that just goes to show you that even thyroid disease won’t slow her down.

Thank you Eve for your kind words. When Sadie got sick, she was around 14.5/yrs old. At the time, I was changing vets due to indifference from the original vet staff. All they cared about was surgery and money, despite Sadie’s age. The new vet agreed with me that it was too risky. Sadie loves her new vet; he’s been wonderful. He says providing Sadie’s quality of life is good, enjoy each day now since disease will have its own way eventually.

Like Cassie, Sadie becomes like a kitten again when she’s mousing – fast as lightning! In 2 weeks, Sadie = 4, Mice = 0. She loves the praise, her eyes light up and she goes back on patrol. Like Cassie, you’d never know anything was wrong with her.

Time will help ease the pain of Ace’s passing. The wonderful memories you shared will surface. Ace was like a child. Eventually, something will remind you of him and it will bring a smile to your face. When that happens, you’ll know the healing process has begun.

Jul 20, 2010 Ace was put to sleep today 7/19/2010
by: Anonymous

Thank you Gail for your thoughts on that.

I am feeling less guilt now, knowing ace would have ended up dying anyhow from the complications of the diabetes. Now he doesn’t have to endure the pain of 3x a day needs and other medicines which i am sure would have had ill side effects, just to keep him alive. and he hated diet foods so much.

still i grief.

sorry to hear about your cat and thyroid problems. cassie has the same condition, all her life, but she is 13 now and i have a hard time keeping her from getting outside. the other day i had a window open and she actually leaped out of the window, 1 floor down, jumped the fence an harassed the neighbors puppy! i give her her favorite food for years now and treats. she keeps her wait around 6-7 lbs, she looks so thin, but what energy in her! wish she could pass some on. Also noticed about her, after a night of “escaping from mom” bliss, she seems fatter and happier. must the the mousing she does.

Take care and thanks again for the pep talk.


Jul 20, 2010 Condolences for Ace
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Eve, Please don’t blame yourself. Ruth is absolutely correct – you couldn’t have known Ace had diabetes. Some diseases just show up unannounced – one day kitty is fine, the next day, not so much.

My Sadie went from a 12-lb. cat to a 5.6-lb. cat seemingly overnight. I was distraught at the time wondering how I could not have seen it. Even her vet said hyperthyroidism presents itself in cats without warning. It just happens. Rather than the agony of surgery (USD $5,000+) that I couldn’t afford and she probably wouldn’t survive at her age (16/yrs), I opted for daily meds via chewy treat. Although she’s gained a couple pounds back, it’s only a matter of time before she joins the Rainbow Bridge as well. Knowing that, each and every day is very special for us.

That being said, please take comfort in the fact that Ace was a very much loved companion. You did what was in his best interest, rather than subject him to torturous surgery that would only prolong the inevitable and make you much poorer. Eve, it is not your fault. It just is. Grieve? Sure. Suffer with guilt? No. Ace is at peace now and no longer in pain. R.I.P. Ace. Mommie loves you and misses you. Take care, Eve.

Jul 20, 2010 To Ruth
by: Anonymous

Thank you so much. Your reasoning is making me feel better.

I appreciate your comment more then you know.

Thank you again.

Jul 20, 2010 To Eve
by: Ruth

Eve please stop beating yourswelf up ! There is no way you could have known Ace had diabetes.
It sounds to me as if it was the type that comes on very quickly without the drinking a lot of water and weeing a lot, symptoms.
As he had kidney and liver damage you did the kindest thing by letting him go peacefully.
People can fork out for all the expensive treatments that exist, but in the end fate decides if a cat(or a person) lives or dies.
Ace was only 8 and too young to die and although it’s just as heartbreaking you can accept losing a cat to old age,better than losing young cats.
Over 36 years of many cats we’ve lost one at only 3 years old(brain tumour) one at 5 years old(chest problems) and one at 10 years old (cancer) but all the rest lived to old age.
We have two 8 years old now so I know how you must feel,we care for and worship our cats and make the most of every moment we have them and hope and pray they live long lives.
But we can’t change fate, no one can.
You did your best, please don’t feel guilty any more.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jul 19, 2010 about cassie
by: Anonymous

foot? i mean food! well she likes feet too πŸ™‚

Jul 19, 2010 Ace was put to sleep today 7/19/2010
by: ace’s negletive mom

I am devastated right now. Turns out when I had Ace put on a diet back in January and he was at excellent health then, shortly thereafter he contract diabetes. Unknown to me his weightloss was not from the diet, it was from the illness. And I was so proud of myself making him feel better.

He had kidney and liver damage. The said they could try to fix him up but it would cost $1000.00 and there was no guarantee he wouldn’t die anyhow. So to prevent him for suffering any further, I made the grave decision to let him go.

I am heartbroken, I feel its my fault, not recognizing he was getting stick from it. His next checkup was schedule for December. I wish I knew. But hindsight is always 20/20 and solve nothing.

Back to crying for the next couple of days.

Thanks for all your responses.

Jul 19, 2010 Cassie – What a Mouser!
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

OMG! Thank you for making my morning! I laughed so hard…I’m still giggling! That is definitely a visual, LOL!

Due to the hot, humid and thunderstorm weather recently, we’ve seen a lot of field mice activity. Sadie has caught 4 mice in 2 weeks, with a couple more getting away. She’s 16, but you’d never know it. She positions herself in a couple places on “mouse patrol” and sooner or later, she gets lucky. (Over the weekend, I got mice pellets, steel wool and insulation foam to seal up the holes. Hate to do it, but we cannot have mice running around inside.)

Jul 16, 2010 Ace and Gail and everyone else
by: ace’s negletive mom

Last house i lived in my other cat, cassie, she disappeared for 2 weeks within the house. however, i foot out and the foot/water was gone every morning…one day i heard weird noises as i set in bathroom “doing my thing”. suddently the suspended ceiling came crashing down, and yes you guess right, cassie fell down out of the sky with the rest of the junk. she was living between the houses 2 floor and we found out later, she was mouse hunting there.

cats, gotta love them πŸ™‚

Jul 16, 2010 Ace the Mystery Cat
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Ace really sounds like a character!

Perhaps the ‘dirty looks’ he’s giving you when you ask him what happened is ‘cuz he probably figures you should already know…and if you don’t, phooey on you! Cats are great, aren’t they?

The fact that he’s eating bits here and there is great. Ruth’s cat sounds like a character too. Cats get in the strangest places. I could go on ad nauseum on how many weird places I’ve found Sadie. She’s also lost a few claws at once by catching them on something, but not as many as Ace. I’d bet that’s what happened, though.

Jul 16, 2010 ty again for another feed back
by: Anonymous

ace has took today some of his food, not much, and he is drinking, so i think he is feeling better now. slowly. yesterday he gave me dirty looks, today a couple of times he came cuddling.

i didn’t hear him cry and i am home always with a few exceptions. only thing i could think off is he likes to jump on the kitchen counter when i am not “visible” to him. he selects to jump where the sink its and pulls himself up into the sink, then walks on the counter, maybe he slipped, couldn’t grasp and struggled to hard and broke of his claws that way. funny, i ask him how he did it, but he just looks at me with sleepy eyes and turns his head, like its my fault, whatever happened to him. i did to the neck pinching test and he is not dehydrated yet.

i will keep a close eye on him, he took also a couple of small chunks of tuna fish and i will try later to offer him chicken breast again.

thanks a million for giving me some insight.

Jul 16, 2010 Ace
by: Ruth

This is a bit of a mystery that Ace lost so many claws overnight and I’m wondering if he caught his paws in something and had a struggle to get them free ?
That happened to one of our cats once,he got a paw stuck in the back of the microwave,how he got behind it we don’t know,he was a real terror when he was young lol
Luckily I was in and unhooked each claw, as he was panicking and pulling and would have pulled them out.
Yes claws do grow back but if he hasn’t done anything drastic to himself I think Michael is right and he’s shed the outer shards,although it seems a lot to shed overnight and he has short claws underneath.
He sounds a real character !
More worrying is that he isn’t eating much, if he stops altogether you really should borrow some money and get him to a vet as if a cat goes more than 2 days without any food it can lead to organ failure. It’s good he’s drinking. Try to tempt him to eat with very strong smelling food such as pilchards in tomato sauce.
I hope he is OK.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jul 16, 2010 ty so much for the feedback
by: Anonymous

i currently live in canada, and last 2 weeks it been oppressively humid and hotter then usual. ace is a “canadian” cat and not good with heat in general. temperature here for over 2 weeks been hovering between 80 and 95 with it feeling like 105 at times.

also i switch 6 months ago from iams dry to a mix other brand and some wet food, he lost some weight, which is good, he was very fat.

thanks again. i love this cat so much, if you know what i mean πŸ™‚ he was my son’s cat who moved away and he only remains (ace) what it was like when my kids were still living at home, everything changes, except for him, he is still the same old ace.

i am originally from new england myself (boston) and i be moving back home within the next 2-3 years. living in canada is ‘temporary’. can’t adjust, need to get back home, economy is bad everywhere, i rather suffer with my friends and family around then alone πŸ˜‰

thank you again



Jul 16, 2010 Ace – Claws & Food Disinterest
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

If you can feel Ace’s claws, albeit tiny, I wouldn’t worry much. I find my Sadie’s claw sheathings all over the place all of the time. That’s why I wear slippers at home; otherwise, I’d end up stepping on one! As Michael said, this is perfectly normal. Since Ace is such a great scratcher, it stands to reason that you’ll find the disgarded sheathings everywhere.

As for his lack of interest in eating, how’s the weather been there? Here in New England, we’ve had sweltering temps and horrific humidity. Sadie doesn’t eat much, although I put down dry and a couple tablespoons of wet. Eventually she will nibble, but not so much during the day. She eats more at night, even though we air conditioning.

The important thing right now is to make sure that Ace stays hydrated. A quick tip is to gently pinch the fur between his shoulders. If the fur bounces back, he’s OK. If the fur stays in the pinched position for a few seconds, that means that Ace is dehydrated and needs fluids fast. (If Ace is eating his wet food, even tiny bits at a time, the odds are he’s probably fine.)

When that happened to my Sadie, I had to rush her to the vet and he ended up having to put her on an IV drip to get fluids in her. (She was also very lethargic.) After about an hour with the IV, she was OK again.

Please let us know how Ace is doing.

Jul 16, 2010 Ty for the reply about Ace
by: Anonymous

I checked his two paws last night and i do feel when pushing down on his paw, there is a tiny sharp nail on all of them very short, i can feel. i just cannot explain his disinterest in food the last 36 hours, he eats a bit or two and lays back down. he does drink water. could it be having currently no “visible claws” that he is in pain?

ace is a very vivid scratcher. just looked at my wood trimmings! πŸ™‚ only way i can have his nail clipped is go to the vet and have him subdued, he just acts like a lion when anyone tried to do that. in the past he had an alergic reaction to the meds that calm him done, so i was adviced instead to give him a post to scratch at, he still preferes my wood trimmings…

10 thoughts on “My Cat Lost His Claws Please Help”

  1. Really worried my cat looks like his lost his toe/claw. There’s no blood and he is walking ok. But keeps licking it. Please please advise. I’m worried

    • Hi Janice, it is very unusual for a cat to lose a toe/claw. There is a difference between the toe and the claw. The toe is made up of several phallages whereas the claw is attached to the last phalange, the piece of bone and the claw beyond the last joint. And you say he has lost one of his toes. That would be highly unusual because if he was injured and lost a toe as a consequence, there would be signs of injury on his paw, in general, in my opinion.

      Can you provide a photograph? It may simply be that you are looking at a piece of the sloughed off nail of one of the toes as described in the article. If that is the case then there is nothing to worry about.

      However, if he’s injured and he has genuinely suffered an injury to his toe then clearly you will have to take him to a veterinarian. If at all possible, please provide a photograph and the answer will become very clear to me I suspect.

  2. my 17year old cat lost her claws on the right foot. It also looks like part of the skin has retracted and there are definitely no claws. No bleeding or infection it just puzzles me why she lost them

    • My first thought is that she has been involved in an accident of some sort but you say there is no bleeding so that seems to rule out this idea. Have you tried to extend them by gently squeezing the toes? This forces the claw out. I don’t know of any disease that causes claws to be lost and I don’t think one exists. Please double check. Thanks for visiting.

  3. Hi would love some help – our 12 year old cat came home last night with a huge gouge above her eye and all her claws missing from 3 paws. We can’t figure out what on earth happened to cause this – do you think she’s been in a fight?

    She’s been asleep all day and tonight came down to see us and looked so happy, purring and letting us stroke her. her eye looks so much better and the cut is clean and healing. She let us look at her paws but doesn’t really want us to touch them. She hates going to the vet, is she ok for us to leave her? Do we need to do anything with her paws?

    • Sarah, I will have a wild guess and say that she has been involved in an accident of some sort perhaps a road traffic accident. She has certainly suffered some sort of trauma in an accident. Are you sure that she has lost all her claws? Are her paw pads injured? Are there any other areas of the paws which are injured? Personally, I think it would be wise to take your cat to a vet to have a checkup to make sure that she has not suffered any internal injuries.

      An alternative possibility and one which is difficult to accept and probably unlikely is that she has been abused by a person. There are quite a lot of people out there who like to hurt cats. Either way a vet check I think would be sensible because you just don’t know whether she has suffered injuries that are more extensive than you can see.

      Good luck to you both.

      • Hi Michael

        Thank you so much for your reply. We will take her to the vet today – I was wondering if she had been hit by a car too.

        I managed to get a better look at her paws last night – no other sign of injury and some of her claws are still bearly there but are completely shredded.

        The cut over her eye is looking so much better today too and she’s a much happier cat purring and coming to us for strokes and cuddles.

        However, I’m still worried about internal injuries because she was struggling to drink water last night and making a funny rasping sound and doing funny almost sneezy noises.

        Trip to the vet today to get her checked out for sure.

  4. I have just found 2 of my cats claws on the floor she is only 2 years old she’s an indoor cat I’m worried she’s eating and walking around ok thanks for reading

    • It is okay Tina. It seems that what you are seeing is the sloughed off outer sheath of two of her claws. This is normal. The claws shed this “outer skin” regularly. Don’t worry about it. Thanks for commenting.


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