Cat Biting Nails

A cat biting his nails may not be cause for alarm. Cats are normally fastidious in their grooming habits and this includes their nails. However, continual nail biting can be an indication of anxiety, injury, infection or of old nail sheaths remaining longer than they should.


Sometimes a cat becomes anxious over something–food, other cats, family members, children or other factors. It is important to try and determine the root cause of this anxiety and eliminate it or modify it enough to alleviate the anxiety. For example, if there are children in the home and they play continually with the cat, you may have to limit playtime. The cat may feel outnumbered and overwhelmed by all of the attention. This translates into excessive grooming or nail biting.

Cats as they age need more space. They do not want to be "bothered" as often as they had tolerated before. Sometimes it is age related in the sense that the arthritis is kicking in and the constant attention actually causes pain. During one of the regular visits to the veterinarian, the cat should be checked for any indications of arthritis.

While at the veterinarian's office, thyroid levels should be checked as well, since thyroid problems can cause anxiety and nail biting. The test is simple and does not take much time. If there is a thyroid cause for the nail biting, medications can be prescribed that will help the cat cope with the anxiety and any other medical conditions caused by the thyroid condition.

Dental Health

Sometimes a cat biting his nails can be caused by dental health problems. It is a good idea to periodically check the teeth as well as the entire body of the cat for lumps or other skin abnormalities, including infections.

Injuries or Infections

Regular home checkups should include inspecting the paws between the toes and the footpads. Cracking of the footpads can indicate infections or diminished levels of vitamins and minerals. The incessant licking of the paws and the biting of the nails can indicate irritations brought about by infections or injuries.


Cats groom their fur regularly. They also have to "groom" their nails. Usually this is done using scratch posts or unfortunately, furniture. This scratching strips the old nail sheaths off of the nails for the new ones to take over. Sometimes the nail sheaths refuse to come off, which causes irritation and then the nail biting. The cat biting his nails is an attempt to strip the old nail sheaths off. Sometimes this works, and sometimes not. Be sure there is a scratch post available so that the nail sheaths can be stripped away naturally.

Regular visits to a professional groomer can ensure that the fur and the nails are properly taken care of. If you are the type to do this yourself, make sure you know how to trim nails properly. Improper trimming can cause the nail to bleed by cutting in too deeply. If you cannot stop the bleeding, you must go to a veterinarian who can stop the bleeding.