Why Do Cats Bite Their Paws?

Last updated on December 12th, 2021

If you’re a pet owner, you may have already been aware of this strange behavior that your feline friend displays. However, if you’re a newbie and worried about whether cats biting their paws is normal or if you need to be concerned about anything.

You’ll be happy to know that cats biting their paws is quite normal and there’s nothing for you to worry about, at least in most cases. Let’s learn the possible reasons behind these paw-biting habits.

dark brown cat licking paws

Table of Contents

3 Reasons Why Cats Bite Their Paws

Cats bite their paws for the 3 following reasons, they include 

Normal Grooming:

Cats are crazy about grooming and keeping themselves clean all the time. And they do so through activities like biting, chewing, licking, or scratching their nails and paws.

This is why you’ll find your feline pet involved in such extensive grooming sessions for most of the day.

But why does your cat need so much cleaning? If you have multiple pets, you may have seen how your kitty manages to keep themselves clean almost all the time, even without having a bath for weeks.

However, on the contrary, your dog is surprisingly dirty all the time, no matter how frequently they take a bath.

The claws of your kitty have several layers, which start wearing out over time and cats attempt to remove those frayed outer sheath layers that have decayed. This grooming process includes biting, chewing, licking, or scratching off those unwanted layers so that their paws are neat and tidy!

Yes, your beauty queen is extremely conscious about her cleanliness.

Cats bite their paws in order to keep their claws sharp and functional so that they can be nicely exposed. Otherwise,

If cats don’t maintain their paws and claws, they won’t be able to use it to protect themselves against attackers and predators.

Behavioral

Because our feline pets groom themselves on a regular basis, they may start chewing or biting their claws excessively, and this is where your concerns begin. You need to know that there’s a subtle difference between normal chewing versus abnormal or excessive chewing of their paws.

Therefore, we advise you to watch your pet closely and report any abnormal behavior to your vet.

Medical

While some grooming habits are behavioral, others indicate some medical conditions that may be causing irritation or other distress to the cat.

Most of the nail-biting cases seen in cats are normal and need no treatment. However, a few others may signify that there may be some underlying medical issue that’s causing such chronic nail-chewing and biting habits in cats.

Some of these health conditions may include –

Ringworm:

Ringworm is one of the most common yet one of the most challenging medical conditions to detect or diagnose in cats.

This is basically a fungal infection that may cause frequent skin irritations and even dandruff. A combination of topical therapy or systemic oral therapy can be effective in treating ringworm in cats.

Thick and brittle nails:

This is mostly seen in older cats, and there may be multiple causes for this brittleness or thickness of nails.

It may arise from some bacterial infections, excessively high growth hormone levels, or cancerous tumors, which is alarming!

Sometimes, bacterial infections may also happen when owners mistakenly cut their cats’ nails too close to the skin.

Pemphigus:

This is a common autoimmune skin disease that’s mostly found in cats. Pemphigus may cause lesions and other irritations in and around the paws, eyelids, ears, lips, nostrils, face, and anus.

Treatment options for pemphigus in cats include immunosuppressive therapy while also observing remission.

Always seek medical advice from your veterinarian because certain serious health conditions need urgent treatment.

Other symptoms accompanied by excessive nail-chewing include difficulty walking, abnormal licking of the paws, or feeling pain in the paws. 

How Can You Help With Excessive Nail Biting Seen in Cats?

You can try to help your furry friend reduce this abnormal chewing of her paws by trying the following.

Follow a Routine

Maintain a routine, because most of these feline creatures like that. Try to keep every day as predictable as possible by scheduling your cat’s activities at the same time each day. For instance, try to feed your kitty or let her play at the same time every day.

Provide Mental Stimulation

If your cat stays indoors most of the time (that is, if she’s an indoor cat), then ensure that you offer her enough mental stimulation and support.

Try to involve your cat in important activities or events going on in your life. In this way, she won’t feel lonely and will even minimize this peculiar habit of over-biting her paws.

Schedule your cat’s playtime and spend at least 2-3 hours in a day to lift her spirits and make her feel happy and enthusiastic.

Otherwise, cats will start playing with their own body parts out of boredom to the extent of unintentionally inflicting harm on themselves!

Better yet, give your cat some errands to complete and keep her engaged. This will form a habit for your pet, and now your cat knows that she has some vital job to do rather than simply biting her paws all day long!

Reduce Stress

Yes, cats too can have stress and may even suffer from anxiety or depression! There are several causes that lead to feline stress, including –

  1. Changes in routine
  2. Shifting to a new house or environment
  3. Change or loss of owners
  4. Adding other pets to the family
  5. Not taking proper care of your cat
  6. Potential threats by attackers or predators in and around the house
  7. Competition for resources when there are several cats in your home

After you’ve identified what’s causing stress in your feline pet, try to provide mental peace and harmony for your adorable furball as much as you can.

If there are multiple cats in your home, try to separate each of them, especially the ones that are more emotionally vulnerable.

Instead, try introducing each other slowly and gradually to reduce the chances of aggressive attitudes towards each other and also to restore the mental peace of each of these naughty little creatures.

Also, every multi-cat homeowner must provide enough resources for each of their cats, including ample amounts of food, water bowls, litter trays, toys, and so on.

It ensures that there’s no competition between your cats, and each will be well fed after eating their share.

In fact, keep one extra bag of cat food in case the resources run out before you restock them. This reduces fights and violence amongst your pet cats.

You can also try to neuter or spay your adult cat after hitting puberty to reduce aggression, which often happens due to hormonal changes.

This is the time when they are sexually receptive and desperately looking for partners during the mating season.

Neutering your cat will reduce such issues and keep your pet stress-free.

Train Your Cat

Cats may spend anywhere between 15-50% of their waking time grooming and cleaning themselves. But anything beyond that is considered abnormal!

The next time you see your kitty busy scratching herself even after she’s done it all day, set a harmless punishment for her.

For example, you can use a spray bottle to spray water on her face whenever she does that, or give her a light spank on the back (without inflicting any pain or causing any injuries). 

Talk To Your Vet

This is the best thing you can do to ensure your beloved pet is healthy.

A routine checkup is necessary to diagnose any possible health issues before it’s too late!

If you notice your pet is suffering from any health problem that’s causing her to chew or bite her paws too much, only your vet can help your kitty get over such issues.

Since cats cannot communicate verbally, their behavior tells numerous things about their health conditions, fitness, mental well-being, and so on.

As long as things look normal, it’s fine, but when your pet starts showing such acts of aggression to the point of harming herself by unrestrained biting, then it’s something that you need to worry about!

You’ll also need to keep an eye on your cat and note down any cases of abnormal paw-chewing or nail-biting.

There may be other symptoms associated with such issues, such as raw skin, redness, swelling, or inflammation, bleeding, and hair loss.

If you feel your feline member is suffering from any injury, pain, or infection in the nails or paws, take your vet’s opinion.

Your veterinarian is the best person who can diagnose any problems and follow a treatment procedure if necessary.

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