Why Can’t My Cat Retract Its Claws?

 There are five clawed digits in cats; the front paws and four on each rear.

Cat’s claws are essential for catching prey, tearing meat, defense, and climbing trees. 

The shorter claws on the front paws are called dewclaws, which are essential for holding prey.

How To Know Whether Your Cat Has Retracted Its Claws

Remember that a cat’s claws do not completely retract inside the paw.

The claws stay resting up off the ground. Claws rest in the fur around the toes and still protrude outward and are visible.

When cats want to use the claws, they contract a tendon that extends them out and down.

why can't my cat retract its claws

Cats do not wear and tear anything while touching the ground with retracted claws.

This ability makes sure that claws retain their sharpness.

A quick tip: It is not important to trim a cat’s claws because they are worn down during normal walking.

When cat claws curve at the ends, it helps them catch, hold prey, and climb.

The habit of a cat scratching surfaces aids in shedding its claws.

Scratching enables the continued growth of the claws after getting rid of the worn-out.

Reasons Why Your Cat Doesn’t Retract Its Claws

Older Age

Cats learn to retract claws at an early age. As they continue to age, they may forget the habit.

You must train your old cat to retract its claws often.

Moreover, they also lose interest in scratching posts because of the weakness of their claws.

Thus, the absence of the ability to retract claws in cats leads to several issues.

The claws easily catch furniture and clothing, causing destruction.

Moreover, too much growth of the claws leads to curling in the paw pad, which causes cat injuries.

Thus, helping younger cats, who are less than ten years old, trim their claws is important.

Playing Mood

Cats play by exercising their hunting instincts using their claws.

Thus, cats don’t like retracting their claws while in this playing mood, and if you are playing with them, you can easily get your claws scratched.

This behavior is because of their hunting mentality and nature.

At a tender age, you must train your cat on the occasions they need to retrain their claws for everyone’s safety.

Lack Of Socialization

Cats are naturally trained by their mother or siblings on how to retract their claws.

Thus, if you adopt a young kitten, it might be troublesome for them to learn.

Claw retraction in cats will need your intervention or the intervention of a pet trainer to ensure they learn the art.

Initial socialization is vital for every kitten during training sessions.

Insecurity Or Defense

In other cases, cats fail to retract their claws because of feeling insecure; this is usually an act of defense.

Insecurity mainly happens if you introduce another cat to your home before they adapt to each other.

While watching them, it would help if you were keen; ensuring they aren’t aggressive around each other helps prevent injuries.

Thus, giving each cat its room or sleeping area is important, so they don’t feel the other is interfering with their territory.

They also need to have their bed, scratching posts, and toys.


A cat may also refuse to retract its claws around your baby because it wants to protect them from any intruder.

Another reason may be that the cat is jealous of the baby, receiving much more attention than them.

Lack of attention ends up stressing the cat.

Therefore, give your cat enough time and avoid neglecting or abandoning it.

Disease Or Infection

A cat may refuse to retract its claws because of an infection, bacteria, or disease.

However, you can manage this by getting the right anti-bacterial to treat it or by visiting a vet for consultation.

It would help if we handled the claw infection earlier because it can lead to autoimmune disorders or trauma.

Claw infections can also be caused by the nails being too long and needing trimming.


Trauma may occur if the cat recently fought with another cat, got hurt, or was involved in an accident.

Chemical burns, frostbite, and thermal burns can cause claw trauma and make your cat not retract its claws.

Whenever your cat is hurt, seek medical help and immediate attendance.

How To Teach A Cat To Retract Claws (Velvet Paw Training)

Make Clear Boundaries

 It is dangerous for anyone because of the sharpness when a cat’s claws are out.

If cats get scratchy, it can be disastrous for other pets, furniture, and people in the same vicinity as the cat.

You make clear boundaries by not paying attention to the cat whenever it swipes these claws.

This strategy teaches the cat to behave naturally.

With time, your cat will sense that all is not well.

Train Your Cat

Cats learn to retract claws when they are tender little kittens; however, they can easily forget.

You should take up the role and train them how to retract their claws, especially older cats.

Kittens learn to retract their claws when they are 4weeks, and from then on, they can retract claws at their own will.

Play With Your Cat

Play with your cat as usual, and the next time it catches you with its claws, make sure they realize how painful the experience is.

The second time this scenario happens, you can decide to walk away and return after a while.

If your cat retracts its claws again, stop the game, pack the toys, and keep them away. These actions make the cat realize it was wrong.

After an hour, you may play again and do the same until it learns its lesson.

This training strategy helps to make the cat realize the claws are not good and spoil the fun.

With time, your cat will learn to retract its claws while playing.

Buy A Cat Scratching Post

You should invest in cat scratching furniture that will help keep the cat’s claws in check, easing the retracting process.

If the claws are troublesome, the cat will scratch on anything they come across, causing massive destruction.

See Also: Best 6 Anti Cat Scratch Sprays That Work – Review

Consult A Veterinary

When the case becomes severe, consult a veterinary or cat behavioral specialist for examination to know what the issue is.

It may be something out of your control.


In some cases, your cat will easily attack you with its claws without any reason.

Generally, it is because the cat is playing, and when it sees you in motion, it will think it is fair game for hunting.

Also, your cat might be under stress or in ill health.

However, caution your cat so that you don’t get hurt. Playing with your cat more often helps create claw retracting boundaries.

Check your cat’s routine to see if anything makes it anxious, or seek veterinary advice in severe claw retracting cases.

Trim the nails once in a while without removing the whole claws because this action can cause anxiety, stress, or abnormality.

No matter what, never opt to declaw your cat’s claws!