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Why are my cat's nails splitting?

Cats regularly shed the outer layers of their nails. They typically remove the outer layer by scratching something and leaving a small claw-shaped nail behind, revealing the shiny and sharp new claw beneath. However, this is sometimes not the case, and your cat's nails could be splintering for other reasons. Today, our Orange Park vets will go over other reasons your cat's nails might split.

It can be concerning to notice your cat's nails becoming thin or misshapen. While there are reasons that are harmless enough, there are other possible causes that require our attention. Here are some reasons why your cat's nails might be splitting.

1. Shedding The Old Nail

When your cat's nail grows past the blood supply, the surrounding layer begins to crack to make room for the new nail. Each claw's nail splits and falls every two to three months on average. The old layer either falls off on its own or is most likely removed by your cat's scratching.

2. Bad Nail Clippers

Cutting a cat's nail is not the same as cutting our own, and we can also injure ourselves if we use blunt tools. The pressure from the blade can split, break, and bleed the nail, and if left untreated, such tears can lead to infection. So, keep the clippers clean at all times and replace them when they lose their sharpness.

3. Old Age

As your cat ages, you may notice that they have difficulty using the litterbox, forget to groom themselves, and scratching posts become less important to them. This neglect of the nails can result in split ends, overgrown nails, discomfort, and increased scratching post avoidance.

Osteoarthritis is a joint degenerative condition in which the normal cartilage cushion in the joints degrades. The bones in the joint eventually rub against each other, causing pain, reduced joint movement, and the formation of bone spurs or other changes in and around the joint. This discomfort can make it difficult for cats to trim their nails.

That's why it's critical to start introducing nail clippers to your cat as soon as possible. As they get older, they'll have no problem trusting you with their paws, and they won't have to worry about nail consequences if they stop scratching their nails entirely!

4. Nail-Biting

Cats clean their paws and nails during their daily grooming sessions, and if they find a split nail, they will chew and bite it to allow the new nail to grow through. Chronic nail biting in cats can be caused by a variety of health issues, the most common of which is ringworm, a fungal infection that causes skin irritation and dandruff. Excessive grooming is another common symptom of anxiety in cats, as is intense chewing on their nails.

5. Poor Health

Finding a split nail isn't always a bad thing unless it happens frequently. The condition of your cat's nails can also be an indication of its overall health. A broken or injured limb can make scratching your cat's nails on the cat tree difficult. A medical condition that kept them sedentary for an extended period could leave their nails untrimmed and full.

The condition of your cat's nails, coat, and skin may also reflect its nutritional status. Dietary protein is used to develop and maintain muscle, skin, fur, nails, tendons, ligaments, enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and more. Making sure your kitty gets enough and healthy food will benefit them in all aspects of their life.

6. Nailbed Disorders

If your cat's nails are splitting or do not appear to be healthy, it is critical to examine every inch of its claws as well as the paw itself. A traumatic injury can cause nail disease; for example, they may have broken the nail because they were stuck to a surface they were scratching or they had a bad landing. It's also possible that the nail splitting was caused by a fungal, bacterial, or viral infection.

Several nail diseases can cause splitting, including Onycholysis, which causes the nail to separate from the underlying structures. While nail bed tumors are uncommon in cats, other types of cancer may spread to the nail bed. This is why we must monitor our cat's overall health, from the tips of their ears to the sharp tips of their nails.

When should I be worried about my cat's nails splitting?

If you're worried about your cat's claws, keep an eye out for any behavioral changes, which usually occur when a cat is in pain. Physical discomfort can cause different reactions in different cats; some may become quiet and avoid contact, while others may begin mewing more than usual. There are obvious physical signs, such as limping, licking their paws, or keeping them tucked in at all times.

Are you concerned about your cat's nails and paws? Contact our Orange Park vet today for a consultation.

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