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Claw and Nail Disorders in Cats


Nail and Nailbed Disorders in Cats


Nail and nail bed disorders may refer to any abnormality or disease that affects the claws or the surrounding area. The disorders are generally known as dystrophies. One type of nail disorder, paronychia, is an infection that causes inflammation of the tissue around the nail or claw. Onychomycosis, or fungal infection, can also occur in and around the nail bed.


Cats may exhibit extremely brittle nails (onychorrhexis), or have nails that separate, peel, and slough excessively (onychomadesis). Most nail or nail bed disorders have an excellent treatment prognosis and can be remedied in a relatively short amount of time.


Symptoms and Types


Common signs of nail or nail bed disorders can include:


  • Licking at the paws
  • Lameness, difficulty walking
  • Pain in the feet
  • Swelling or redness of the tissues surrounding the nails
  • Nail plate deformity (the part of the nail that overlays the nail bed)
  • Abnormal nail color




Some of the most common causes for nail or nail bed disorders can include:


  • Infection
  • Bacteria or fungus
  • Tumor or cancer
  • Trauma
  • Immune system (immune-mediated) diseases
  • Excessive levels of growth hormone
  • Disorders present at birth (congenital)
  • Cutting the nails too close to the nail bed (making them susceptible to infection)
  • Neoplasia




In the event that your cat is suffering from a trauma to the nail bed, you will want to check to see if it has affected only a single nail. If multiple nails are being affected, a serious underlying medical condition is the more likely cause for the disorder. A skin scraping may be taken to determine what type of a skin condition your cat is experiencing, and a bacterial or fungal culture may also be taken for further analysis.




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