Did My Cat Break Its Nail?

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Who better than us would know that a slight injury at the toenail hurts us and causes excruciating pain. Similarly, the pets cannot tolerate the pain of torn nails. For dogs, the toenails grow continually like humans, but for cats, they grow in layers just like onions. Hence, cats ripping off nails are rare unless they are caught in something like carpentering, hitting the furniture, or mischief playing with curtains. If you ever notice that your cat is extra cautious when walking or moving, then that means the nails are hurting or getting torn. In this article, we will discuss the torn nail for cats, how one can treat them and prevent it if possible.


Why are torn nails painful for cats?

Tearing of nails is extremely painful for cats because the hardest portion first comes off, and the healthy soft part is exposed to the external environment. There is a high supply of blood to this base of the nail, and hence when affected, there is a chance for the cats to bleed for a longer time. Also, it will seem like the bleeding has stopped after a time, but yet again, they will start to bleed when they walk or move. If the torn nails are left as an open wound, it may lead to infections and even serious health issues.


Most kittens are prone to tearing their nails as they have extremely sharp claws. Due to their high energy, they wander, and somehow accidentally, they are injured. Therefore you need to be extra careful when you have kittens at home. Similarly, when you are just done with the trimming of nails for cats during grooming, the claw portion becomes highly vulnerable. Even a small nail ripping off will cause them intense pain, and it will take weeks for this wound to heal. You may need veterinary attention during this time.


Common Reason for a Torn nail

When you don’t perform regular grooming, the claws will grow very long and sharp. Once this toenail is overgrown, it can easily get caught between the fabrics, carpet, and furniture. Generally, when this happens, the cat will panic and try to force the body to jump. This impulsive reaction causes the nail to tear, and even the partial nail connected to the paw will also rip off.  Even though this is not a life-threatening situation for cats, the pain is still the same as other reasons.



Your contribution in preventing the cats from nail tearing is limited. You cannot be monitoring them all the time, and sometimes you are even not sure when this has occurred. Since a torn nail may bleed sporadically for hours, it’s necessary that you at least watch the wound before it gets serious. Some common symptoms in cats show they are suffering from the torn nail pain. Some of them are as follows


–         Licking the paw unusually

–         Hide their paws under blanket or carpet

–         Swollen paw

–         Jagged appearance of the claw

–         Continuous crying

–         Limping

–         Bloody paw

These can be easily noticeable by you and treat them then and there. If you need any medical assistance, please feel free to take them to the clinic.


What should you do when your cat has a broken nail?

What can be done?

How to do it?

Make them feel secure Your cat must feel terrible pain, and they tend to bite it when treating them. So the first and foremost thing you can do is hold them and give them a warm hug. Make sure your cat feels secured before you start the first aid.
Bleeding can be stopped If your cat is bleeding, then wrap the toes with gauze or even a towel. Give the slightest pressure for 5-10 minutes until the bleeding stops. You can use cauterizing powder on the nail to stop the flow. Some use baking powder and flour, which needs to be avoided as they could cause infection later.
Removing of nails Sometimes you can see that the nail is hanging in the toe. It is not fully ripped. In this case, you have to remove the nails using the trimmer or clipper at home. If you are under-confident, then take it to the vet directly by just wrapping the foot in a paper towel. As long as the remaining nails are at the toe, the pain will be more.
Protect nail from infection The veterinarian will suggest you apply antibiotics and ointment or powder for the exposed wound. This will help in the contamination or minimize the chance of further bleeding. If you have experience with first aid, then you can perform this yourself. Also, your cat might feel not be panicked if you do it.
Control the pain Since there is no nail, the tissues, blood vessels, and nerves are exposed, which will be very painful. Hence you can give them some prescribed medicines and injections if the cat is comfortable. Kindly do not try this by yourself.



How to stop the bleeding immediately?

Most first-time owners have this question of how to stop the bleeding immediately. Well, there are only two ways you can do this so your cat’s pain can be subsidized at once. Find the table below to understand this better.

Tips to stop the bleeding

How to do it?

Snip away the nail Keep in mind that the cat’s toe is sores, and it is crying already. Just snip the nail hanging from the tear with the towel if the remaining is small. If they are a little longer, then you may have to remove those using clippers.  This is the time when a cat tries to bite, so ensure you hold them properly while doing it.
Using styptic pencil or powder The styptic pencil or powder contains alum or silver nitrate that will help you to seal the wound. The reaction between the compound and capillaries will help in keeping the process painless for the cat. It also stops the bleeding instantly. This styptic comes in powder and solution as well.  Check this Miracle Care Kwik Stop Styptic solution which can prevent the blood instantly.




To avoid the hassle of this broken nail issue, keep them in the right size and length. Short nails are less likely to break easily than long ones. Therefore it is necessary to keep it at the right length. If you are unsure, talk to a veterinarian to demonstrate once about trimming of cat’s nail at home. If you are not comfortable doing this, do take an appointment at the cat clinic or grooming place to keep them in shape.

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