Skip to Content

Pet Parent Problems: My Cat’s Nails Are Splitting! Why?!

Pet Parent Problems: My Cat’s Nails Are Splitting! Why?!

“My cat’s nails are splitting! I don’t know why and she doesn’t want me to check what’s going on! What do I do?!” On one hand, there’s nothing we want to do more than to take care of our fluffy friends. On the other, we never know what reaction we’re going to get when we approach them – so we don’t.

Our four-legged friends are known to show attitude when we try to take care of them.

We might be wrong, but we noticed that cats aren’t keen on allowing anyone to groom them, touch them, or bathe them because they’re purrfectly capable of doing that themselves. What happens when we decide to shy away from clipping, trimming, and de-clawing them, though?

While there’s nothing wrong with allowing your fluffers to file their nails themselves using scratch posts, there are times when they’re unable to do so. Whether they’re not as cautious as you would be or they’re not as thorough as you’d want them to be, there’s a chance you might notice your cats’ nails splintering.

Now, a cat’s nails consist of layers – like an onion. Cats shed the outer layers by scratching different surfaces, from scratching posts to brand-new Urban Outfitters sofas. Cats shed on a regular and leave little claw-shaped nails behind.

When you start wondering why your cat’s nails are splitting, check whether she’s shedding one of the layers and keep on reading to uncover a myriad of other reasons why that might be happening.

My cat’s nails are splitting! Why?

Pet Parent Problems: My Cat's Nails Are Splitting! Why?!

1. She might be shedding one of the layers

More often than not, your cat’s nails are going to look like they’re splitting or splintering when they’re shedding the outer layer. When you start suspecting something’s wrong, bribe your cat with a treat and get to work.

First things first, examine her nails and determine whether they’re wounded, bruised, or torn. Furthermore, check whether she’s uncomfortable and upset when you’re touching her nails ( touching healthy ones shouldn’t be painful whatsoever).

When you do that, you can figure out whether or not she’s shedding. Now, shedding takes around three months. During the process, the two layers slowly detach from one another, the outer layer splits down the middle, comes apart from the layer underneath, and falls to the floor.

While that’s happening, the nails might appear like they’re splitting or splintering. With a little patience, your furry friend should be as good as new sometime within the next three months.

2. She might have hurt her nails when you weren’t paying attention

OK, there are times when you’re 100% sure your cat’s nails are splitting, but they’re not.

Cats are curious creatures and they’re fond of running around, hopping on the highest shelves, and chasing after crawling creatures. What’s even more dangerous, they’re keen on pawing at things, scratching different surfaces, and clawing at the concrete.

Cats are great at taking care of themselves, but there are times when they’re not as cautious as they’re supposed to be. That’s precisely when the catastrophe occurs. Actually, that’s what might have happened to your cat, too. She might have caught one of her nails on a woolen blanket, a fluffy rug, or shearling furniture.

Granted that she didn’t think to free her nail before pulling away, she might have suffered a little boo-boo. Go ahead, check whether we’re right, and schedule an appointment with your vet ASAP. Split nails aren’t dangerous, but she might have hurt her quick (or corium), too.

3. She might be getting older

“She’s not, she’s a baby!”

Our four-legged friends are always going to be our babies, but we do have to keep an eye out for the changes that come with age. Older cats, for example, are prone to splitting, splinters, and overgrown nails for a million different reasons.

Sure, they’re getting more fragile and brittle with time which means they’re becoming more prone to breaking off.

However, we can’t forget that they’re not getting enough attention anymore, too. Cats adore grooming themselves, licking themselves clean, and taking care of their nails by scratching them against concrete, scratching posts, and other rough surfaces.

When they get older, though, they become weaker and they face difficulties doing the most mundane things like using the litter box the right way or trimming their nails. While that might not sound serious, nail neglect can cause an array of health problems.

4. Time for new nail clippers, maybe?

Oh, you didn’t see that one coming, did you? But, we do need to mention that there’s a chance your cat’s nails are splitting because you’re using the wrong clippers or trimmers. Before grooming your cat, you need to make sure you’re equipped with the right apparatus.

Whether that’s a hydrating shampoo, a detangling brush, or high-quality, razor-sharp clippers, these tools are going to make all the difference. When you’re trimming your cat’s nails with a blunt trimmer, you’re pretty much crushing them rather than cutting them.

Because of that, your cat’s nails become more prone to splinting, getting caught on things, and breaking off. Who would’ve thought nail clippers were that important?

5. Time for a new trimming technique, too?

Pet Parent Problems: My Cat's Nails Are Splitting! Why?!

Turns out that trimmers don’t come with an extensive Youtube video explaining how to use them the right way…

When you notice your cat’s nails are splitting and splintering, you might need to update your trimming technique because something’s not working.

Unfortunately, we can’t offer you a step-by-step guide that’s going to work for your cat without a doubt because every cat’s different. However, we can provide you with a few tips and tricks that are known to make the clipping experience easier.

Number one, always wait for your cat to calm down to ensure she doesn’t make sudden moves. Number two, try trimming her nails while she’s sitting on your lap, snuggling with you, or doing something she deems relaxing and enjoyable.

Number three, stay persistent and patient. She’s probably not that fond of the trimming process and she might try to escape. Whatever you do, make sure you’re holding onto your cat’s paws as tightly as possible because that’s what’s going to prevent splitting and splintering.

6. She might be stressed out, overwhelmed, and overstimulated because of something

When you catch a glimpse of your cat’s nails splitting, you might want to observe her behavior, too. When a cat becomes stressed out, overwhelmed, or overstimulated, she might start overgrooming as a way of coping with the situation.

Overgrooming can cause a bunch of health problems with split, splintered, or ingrown claws being some of them. Splitting might occur due to excessive biting, scratching, and sharpening, as well as due to chronic nail biting.

Nail biting can be a consequence of stress, but you might want to schedule an appointment with your vet because your cat might suffer from ringworm or other parasitic conditions, too. Whatever the case might be, excessive biting, chewing, and sharpening of the nails means something’s wrong.

7. She might have an underlying health condition

We mentioned that cats shed the outer layer of their nails and there’s nothing wrong with that. We mentioned that shedding occurs over three months, too.

However, when you notice that your cat keeps on shedding over and over (and her nails keep on splitting), there’s a chance she might be suffering from a condition that’s causing her nails to become fragile.

Additionally, she might not be eating enough meat, animal protein, and animal-sourced nutrients which might be the cause of fragile nails, too. We also can’t forget about the fact that cats tend to withdraw when they’re unwell which would explain why she’s suffering from overgrown, brittle, and damaged nails.

8. She might have a nail or nailbed disorder

Nail and nailbed disorders are known to cause splitting and splintering.

When you notice something off with your cat’s nails, try to go through every nook and cranny to check whether there’s some sort of damage you might have missed. Nails can contract diseases, contrary to popular belief, whether that’s from trauma, viruses, bacteria, or even fungi.

Nail disorders can cause damage to your cat’s health when they’re left untreated, which should be reason enough for you to contact your vet and get your cat’s nails sorted out. Whatever you do, don’t turn a blind eye to the health of your cat’s claws.

What do I do to prevent my cat’s nails from splitting?

We could go on and on about everything you could do to prevent your cat’s nails from splitting, but these two tips and tricks take the cake. Get her a scratching tree and keep her nails short and sweet. Right off the bat, a scratching tree ensures that your cat can keep great care of her claws.

With a scratching tree, she can sharpen, file, and trim them within minutes. We’re pretty sure that scratching trees are much more entertaining for her than getting her nails clipped and filed by her overwhelmed mother (we’re kidding, sort of).

Keeping your cat’s claws short prevents her from snagging them on the furniture. At the end of the day, do whatever is most comfortable for you and your four-legged friend!

Pet Parent Problems: My Cat's Nails Are Splitting! Why?!