One of the most important issues in caring for cats is proper claw care. An ingrown claw is one particular problem that can be very painful and will interrupt your cat's ability to walk comfortably if not dealt with in time. There are several things you should understand about ingrown claws in cats and how to treat the problem.
An ingrown claw on a cat is similar to an ingrown toenail on a human. The nail grows into the flesh on a cat's paw in the same way that a toenail grows into the skin on a person's foot. This problem does not occur very frequently with most cats, but when it does, it should be treated immediately because the ingrown claw can open up a wound through which bacteria can enter, causing an infection.
Signs and Symptoms
A cat that has an ingrown claw will show several signs of the problem. The cat may walk awkwardly, stepping lightly on the paw with the ingrown claw. The cat will appear more agitated and irritable if the claw is causing it pain. Upon examining the cat's paws, you will notice the ingrown claw as the cat will not be able to comfortably retract it and the area around it may appear damaged, bruised or infected.
The best way to treat an ingrown claw on a cat is to have a veterinarian look at it and recommend a procedure. The veterinarian can safely trim or, if necessary, remove the troublesome claw. She will also be able to tell you if an infection has set in. Do not attempt to remove the ingrown claw yourself with your cat claw clippers because in addition to causing the cat further pain, you may damage the cat's claw permanently.
The only absolutely certain way to prevent an ingrown claw on your cat is to have the cat surgically declawed (removing all of the cat claws). However, some cat owners find this to be an inhumane practice. If you belong to that group, then regular claw inspection and trimming are your best options. Be sure not to trim below the quick of the cat's claw. (The quick is the pink flesh inside the nail at the base of the nail.) This will cause the cat much pain and may actually cause the claw to regrow improperly and become ingrown.