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Ask the Veterinarian/dew claw "sheath"


Hi! I'm hoping you can give me some clarity on what's going on with my adult male cat. As it's the weekend I can't take him to the vet until Mon. Both dew claws are surrounded by a papery layer, it's almost like the "cuticle" or sheath is overgrown. He isn't avoiding walking, and he let me touch them for a quick look...not long,though. Is this normal??? There's no pus/blood or swelling as far as I can see.
Thank you for your time,

It could be that the nail is just shedding, which it will do. It will then have a thin, papery layer on it that the cat usually pulls off themselves.

I have seen many of these lying on my floor over the years. It seems that the dew claw is the one claw that this happens to the most, probably because they cannot "scratch" with that claw on a post or tree to shorten or help shed the outer nail.

If these don't shed, the nail becomes to thick and if a cat was to rely on their claws to survive, a thickened claw would be a liability to them. Dew claws are used for grabbing prey and "hooking" them as it were, so they are very important to the cat.

So they shed these keratin layers often. None of them like their dew claws touched!
I would have it looked at just to be sure that is all that is going on with it, but it's probably not an emergency.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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