Cat Gets Claws Stuck All the Time: 2 Causes and Their Solutions

Besides litter box cleaning, another no-so-fun part of cat parenting is getting your feline unstuck from virtually everything. Cats, especially kittens and playful adults, get their claws hooked on everything from carpets and upholstery to drapery and furniture. If your cat gets claws stuck all the time, it’s natural to find this pattern of events puzzling and wonder how to prevent potential accidents.

Cats get their claws stuck all the time because their front paw nails are curved and have a retractable design. They’re meant for climbing and getting a firm grip on prey when hunting.  Solutions include regular nail clipping and providing opportunities for your pet to wear down its claws naturally.

Read on for in-depth details on why cats get their claws stuck all the time. We’ll also discuss solutions to make life easier for you and your furry friend.

Understanding Why Cat Gets Claws Stuck All the Time—2 Main Reasons

Often, there’s no cause for alarm if your cat’s claws keep getting stuck on everything. While your furry friend may meow and seem frustrated, getting its claws hooked on a fabric merely causes discomfort. 

The only time this may cause injury is if your pet remains stuck for too long and ends up forcefully freeing itself.

Signs of injury that may warrant a vet checkup include the following

  • Limping or changes in walking style
  • Swollen, inflamed, or bleeding claw/paw
  • Aggressive behavior when touched on the injured paw
  • Excessive licking of a specific paw
  • Significant changes in regular routines (especially physical activities)

Let’s look at the two main reasons cats always get their claws stuck.

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Cat Claw Anatomy

Cat gets claws stuck all the time

The number one reason why cats keep getting stuck on everything is the design of their front paw claws. By design, these claws are weapons meant to ensure your furry friend’s survival in the wild.

Each front paw has four claws and a dewclaw positioned slightly higher up the foot. Like human nails, the claws are made of keratinized dead cells and appear at the tip of the toes. However, cat claws are fundamentally different in their shape and functions.

Shape-wise, cat claws look like daggers and emerge at the end of the toe bones before curving downward at the end. They are hunting tools that grow thinner towards the edges and retract into a sheath when not in use. The claws’ retractable design ensures they remain sharp and ready to catch, slash, and hold prey when an opportunity presents itself.

Generally, your cat’s claw design ensures efficiency in the following functions:

  • Climbing: The claws grab parts of the tree trunk to avoid slippage
  • Hunting: Claws are like sharp daggers that can puncture and grip prey firmly.
  • Self-defense: Claws are a cat’s first defense; biting comes second.
  • Scratching: Scratching helps your cat stretch, release pent-up stress, and mark territories.

Although the design of cat claws makes them prone to getting stuck all the time, they are essential for your pet’s well-being. Even indoor cats need their claws to exercise and defend themselves when necessary. While declawing cats is not illegal in all states, it’s painful, cruel, and unnecessary.

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Your Cat’s Claws Are Too Long

Cats have sharp claws capable of getting stuck on upholstery, curtains, and carpets. These claws are not always visible because of their retractable design. Your furry friend draws back its daggers into a protective sheath of skin when they are not in use.

Typically, the hind claws wear down naturally when walking. They are not retractable and not as sharp as the front claws, making them less likely to get stuck on stuff.

The front paws have tendons, muscles, ligaments, and toe bones (phalanges). Your cat’s middle and distal phalanges have a distinctive shape that allows pivoting of the claws when the front paws are resting. This elevates them to ensure they remain sharp and don’t wear down when walking.

Unless your furry friend is playing, climbing, stretching, or scratching, only the end tips of the claws should be visible. Generally, you should not be able to see them because they are tiny and covered by fur. If you can see the nail tips when your pet’s front paws are resting, this indicates a need for nail trimming.

Overgrown front claws are less retractable and will get stuck all the time. Your pet’s nails can overgrow for three main reasons.

  • Lack of sufficient opportunities to wear down the claws naturally
  • Orthopedic problems that limit mobility and physical activities
  • Irregular nail clipping during grooming routines

3 Solutions to Prevent Your Cat’s Claws from Getting Stuck All the Time

Cat's claws

Cats have the potential to turn into the fiercest predators on Earth! Their claws are in-built weapons that can fatally injure potential prey. 

Although your pampered kitty doesn’t need to hunt, the design of its claws ensures its survival if things go south and it has to fend for itself. Before that happens, those sharp daggers can wreak havoc in your home and get stuck on everything.

Here are three proactive steps you can take to lower the risk of accidents caused by your cat’s claws getting caught on fabrics and carpets.

1. Provide Plenty of Scratching Opportunities

Besides the claw design, your kitty can get its nails hooked on everything because they are too long. If you are worried about your cat’s claws getting stuck on your fabrics, you can manage their length by providing scratching opportunities.

Cats love scratching. They scratch to satisfy their hunting instincts and maintain their claws. You can help your furry friend wear down its claws by providing scratching posts.

To get it right, start by discovering the type of scratching material your kitty likes. Some cats prefer cardboard, while others settle for sisal or carpet material. Also, it’s always better to mix vertical scratching posts and horizontal scratching pads.

Here are a few tips to encourage your pet to use its scratching posts:

  • Invest in at least three scratching posts and place them strategically
  • Consider your cat’s favorite spots, like close to a window or near its napping area
  • Use synthetic pheromone products or catnip to draw your kitty to the scratching posts
  • Offer lots of treats, praise, and cuddles whenever it uses its scratching posts, pads, or toys

2. Keep Your Cat’s Claws Trimmed 

According to the Humane Society, you should trim your cat’s claws every two to three weeks. Nail dos are crucial to ensuring your pet’s health by preventing injuries that may occur when they get snagged. Also, your efforts may save your drapery, furniture, and carpets from unsightly scratches.

When clipping your cat’s nails, you only need to trim them to a safe length. If you are worried about nipping the quick, consider using dedicated cat nail clippers with a sensor. It is also perfectly okay to consult a vet or professional groomer.

You need calm nerves and plenty of patience to make nail trimming fast and painless for you and your feline friend. Also, find a quiet spot in your home for the grooming session and gather the following supplies.

  • Nail trimmer, clipper, or grinder
  • Styptic powder
  • Towel
  • Cat treats

Here are the next steps to take:

  1. Pet your cat to make it calm and relaxed
  2. Wrap her in a towel if she refuses to lie down and stay still (don’t use excessive force)
  3. Work on a claw at a time and use your thumb and pointer finger to press down the claw and make it retract
  4. Carefully nick off the sharp tip
  5. Be patient; you don’t have to cut all ten nails in one sitting
  6. Give your cat praise and tasty treats throughout the session to ensure a pleasant experience
  7. If you accidentally nick the quick, apply styptic powder to stop the bleeding and numb the pain.

3. Get Older Cats Checked for Health Issues

Healthy cats maintain fairly active lifestyles; even the laid-back fellows will find time to groom themselves and maintain their claws. 

If your cat is not using its scratching posts to get its daggers ready for the next hunt, climbing to get a vantage point to look down on “prey,” or taking regular walks to explore and survey its surroundings, something could be a miss.

An active lifestyle is crucial to ensuring the claws wear down naturally and have fewer chances of getting stuck all the time. One of the biggest reasons a cat may be unable to maintain its claws is age. With age come health vulnerabilities and an increased risk of conditions like osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is relatively common in older cats. The concern affects the joints and leads to aches, mobility issues, and decreased activities. You have reason to suspect your older cat has osteoarthritis if it is far more sedentary than usual, leading to longer claws that barely retract and seem to get stuck all the time.

Although Osteoarthritis has no cure, your vet can recommend a treatment plan to help manage the condition. Proper care can reduce the risk of the ailment affecting your cat’s life quality and longevity.

Final Thoughts

If your cat gets claws stuck all the time, you are not alone. The front claws of cats are curved and sharp, making them prone to getting hooked on fabrics and carpets.

Let’s wrap up with the steps for helping your stuck kitty.

  • Read your pet’s body language to decipher whether it’s in discomfort or pain.
  • Remain calm and speak softly to provide reassurance.
  • Use one hand to hold the cat’s paw and the other to unhook the stuck claw.
  • Don’t pull or yank the material; if need be, cut it to free your kitty’s claw.

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