Have you been wondering why small, mysterious specks of blood have been appearing around your home only to realize that your cat is making them as she walks? If you've checked your cat for serious wounds and she seems fine, it may be her paws that are leaving blood behind. This guide will explain the common problem that could be putting your cat through pain and an increased risk of infection: ingrown claws.
You've undoubtedly noticed that your cat's claws don't stick straight out like human nails, but instead curve inward. This makes it easier for her to scratch things, cling to vertical surfaces, and defend herself. However, it can sometimes backfire and cause serious problems, too.
Cats, especially when kept exclusively indoors, are often at risk of ingrown claws. When a cat doesn't have rough surfaces like trees to scratch, her claws become longer and run the risk of growing so long that they puncture her pads. In the early stages, this may not be visibly obvious as her pads may only get punctured when she flexes her toes to grip surfaces or knead. As they continue to grow, however, they will eventually grow into the pad and stay there, and they'll be pushed further in when she walks or puts pressure on her paws. This problem can cause her to leave specks of blood on any surface she's walked on and limp when walking. Also, it can potentially cause an infection in her pads.
Preventing Ingrown Claws
Unfortunately, there's nothing she can do on her own to stop this problem, so she'll need your help to keep her claws at a healthy length. Here are three easy ways to prevent this problem:
- Introduce acceptable scratching options - Simply punishing her or scolding her for trying to scratch will result in long, ingrown claws and an unhappy cat. Instead, offer plenty of substitutes like cat trees and hanging scratching posts. Place these alternatives in her favorite naughty places to scratch and encourage her to use the new choices instead.
- Trim her claws - Whether you trim her claws or have a groomer do it, this step is one of the best ways to stop her from stabbing herself in the pad. Simply trim her claws regularly so they don't become too long.
- Try Capping Her Nails - Pet stores offer plastic caps that you can place over her claws like a sheath. These offer a safe and humane way to prevent her from inappropriately scratching, and are blunt enough to protect her pads from injury.
If your cat is currently leaving blood behind and her claws have visibly punctured her pads, take her to a veterinarian like My Pet's Vet Clinic. A vet can remove the excess claw safely and treat the wounds to make sure that they don't become infected.
Training your cat to stop scratching inappropriately is a great idea, but if you're not giving her things that she can scratch, it's up to you to keep her claws under control. If your cat is leaving behind specks of blood, it means she's already experiencing discomfort, so don't wait to get her veterinary attention.