Jump to section

What is Torn Toenail?

Tearing a toenail is extremely painful for a cat. Your cat may cry after suffering from this injury. There is a high supply of blood to the base of the nail, so often the affected toenail will bleed for some time. The bleeding may stop for a period of time and then start again. If left as an open wound, the tear can lead to infection, which can develop into more serious health issues. Kittens are prone to tearing their toenails, as they have very high energy and extremely delicate claws. A similar response may happen if a cat's claws are trimmed too short during grooming. Veterinary attention is needed to ensure the wound heals correctly.

Without regular grooming, a cat's claws will grow long and sharp. Once a toenail is overgrown, it can easily get caught or snagged on carpet, furniture, or even tree bark. Generally, when this happens the cat will panic and jerk its paw towards its body. This reaction can cause the nail to tear, either remaining partially connected to the paw or being torn completely off. This is a common occurrence in cats and is generally not life-threatening. 

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image

Torn Toenail Average Cost

From 249 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

Symptoms of Torn Toenail in Cats

Often, the only way that you will know something is wrong with the cat is by the presence of blood drops around the home. A torn toenail may bleed sporadically for hours. Other signs to watch for include:

  • Licking paw excessively
  • Crying
  • Jagged appearance of claw
  • Bloody paw
  • Limping
  • Pain when affected paw is touched
  • Swollen paw
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Torn Toenail in Cats

Generally, this issue exists due to poor grooming of the cat. Toenails that are not regularly trimmed will grow long and catch on various materials. Outdoor cats may be exposed to more potentially injury-causing scenarios. Possible causes are listed below.

  • Vigorous play indoors on carpets or furniture
  • Tree climbing
  • Traumatic injury (such as a car accident)
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Torn Toenail in Cats

Take action to stop the cat from bleeding before you arrive to the veterinary clinic or animal hospital. Direct pressure should be applied to the wound for five minutes straight. Your vet may have additional recommendations to aid in clotting. Bandage the paw and bring the cat to a veterinarian. 

Once at the clinic or hospital, the veterinarian will complete a physical examination of your cat. If the cat has sustained serious injuries from extreme trauma, all life-threatening injuries will be identified and treated first. The vet will determine whether the torn toenail is showing any signs of infection or inflammation. Swelling, pus, or seeping blood are all signs that a bacterial infection is present. If this is the case, any exudate will be collected and sent to a lab for bacteria identification.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Torn Toenail in Cats

While some veterinarians may advise you to treat and monitor the injury at home, this may not be advisable due to the difficulty of properly removing the affected toenail. A cat experiencing pain will likely bite if it’s injured paw is handled. 

Toenail Removal 

A proper removal of the affected toenail will significantly lessen the chance of infection. Generally, the toenail only needs to be removed from where the tear occurred. The cat may need mild sedation for the veterinarian to properly perform the procedure. Professional nail trimmers work the best for toenail removal, and the wound must be washed afterwards.

Bandaging 

The paw may need to be bandaged until the bleeding stops and the wound starts to heal. The compression can aid the clotting process.

Antibiotics 

If a bacterial infection has been identified, or often for the prevention of such an infection, an antibiotic prescription will be given. This prescription may be from one to four weeks in length.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Torn Toenail in Cats

The best way to promote healing is by keeping the wound clean. This may involve changing bandages daily and monitoring the injury for signs of infection, such as swelling or redness. After the bandage is removed, the paw should be regularly washed until healing is complete. Administer all antibiotics as prescribed. Prevent your cat from licking or biting at its paw during this time. An Elizabethan collar may be needed to ensure the cat leaves the wound alone.

The prognosis for recovery is excellent, especially of no infection develops. A new toenail will grow back within several months. It is best to watch the regrowth to verify that the claw is not ingrown or coming in sideways. This can lead to more pain and the development of a bacterial infection. Trim your cat's nails approximately once a month to prevent a torn toenail from happening. Clip only the tips of the nails to prevent hurting the cat. Providing a scratching post to your cat can also greatly help to keep its nails from overgrowing.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Torn Toenail Average Cost

From 249 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

arrow-up-icon

Top

Torn Toenail Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

russian blue

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

5 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Infected toe nail?? It looks pretty bad but she's still walking just fine & she lets me touch it.

Dec. 6, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

5 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. From your picture, that does look possibly infected, I agree. If she seems comfortable, is walking normally and isn't painful, you can try cleaning the area gently twice a day with an anti-bacterial wash like Hibiclens. If it isn't improving over a day or two, or is getting worse or more painful, then having her seen by your veterinarian would be a good idea.

Dec. 7, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Idk

dog-age-icon

Twelve Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bad Breath And Overgrown Tow Nails That Look Like It’S About To Fall Off

What can I do for the over grown tow nail that’s cracked and about to fall off very soon there are also not any vets that close to where I live.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you do not have a veterinarian in your area, the best thing to do is to leave that nail alone. I cannot see the nail that you are talking about in your pictures, but if it is falling off, as some point the nail bed should grow back with a normal nail.

Oct. 7, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

Seven Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Biting Nail

Cat is biting at nail. Seems to be splintered shell. Looks to be blood at base. Do I trim down not to far oh totally and wrap?

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. . Cats dont tolerate bandages very well, and you can do a lot of damage if the wrap is too tight. It would probably be best to let him chew at the nail, as they tend to remove the damage parts, and monitor the rest of it to see if the bleeding resolves. If it is not getting better, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and help get treatment if it is appropriate.

Oct. 13, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

American Shorthair

dog-age-icon

Four Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Scratching

My cat won't stop biting and chewing her paws. I can't get rid of fleas, either.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There are many good flea products available, and prescription products tend to work better then OTC products. Since I cannot see your pet, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for your pet.

Oct. 13, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair cat

dog-age-icon

Two Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Torn Claw

I noticed one of my cat's nails was a little bloody this morning. It looks like the nail is still attached, and it doesn't seem like she's limping badly, but I am pretty worried because I've never had this happen before. She still wants to play and such, but she does seem to be licking it more and doesn't want me to touch it.

Sept. 27, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. She may take care of this problem on her own, given a little time, but if you notice that she continues to be bothered by the nail, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 14, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Parrot

dog-breed-icon

short hair

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Aggression
Limping
Infection Smell
Hiding Away
Missing Toe Nail

Hi, today I noticed something was up with my cat. Usually she hangs out with us all day and she always cuddles me at night time. But these past 2 days I’ve noticed her hiding under the bed and in the closet, aswell as avoiding me and not sleeping with me. Today I noticed An infectious smell from her back right paw. Upon closer inspection I can See a hole where her nail use to be, it appears to be just a white nub. I’m assuming that’s her bone(knuckle)? She doesn’t let me look very long or close. She’s also been very aggressive towards anyone approaching her. It hurts my heart to see her this way. I will Be taking her to the vet tomorrow to make sure the infection isn’t out of control. I’m not sure on how severe this is but it worries me. Wondering if I should try to clean it and bandage it up before taking her to the vet. Any feedback will be appreciated.

dog-name-icon

Fluffy

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Blood
Smell
No Limping

I think my cat got his nail torn off. There is only the flesh from under the nail and a little blood. There is also a mild smell coming from the nail. Should I take him to a vet or try to treat it at home given the pandemic?

dog-name-icon

Sammy

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness

Hello, I have an indoor male cat that got out and came back home after being gone almost 24 hours. I have noticed over the last 48 hours that he has been mostly sleeping and hiding under my bed. I just noticed his paw is swollen and he is abiding walking on it. Upon closer look, it appears that theclaws are bleeding and a watery fluid is oozing from them. He won’t allow me to touch them but they appear to be infected

dog-name-icon

Fizz

dog-breed-icon

turkish

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Blood

i accidentally nipped the quick part of the nail while trimming my cats nails.so of course i visited the internet to find out what i should do.In all the explanations i found the symptoms include a lot of bleeding, pain and cats crying or limping. my cat did none of these and there was only a dot of blood and no more. so now i am confused as to what to do exactly, please help!!

dog-name-icon

Pepper

dog-breed-icon

European Shorthair

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Claws

My cat isn’t limping or excessively licking his paw, but I noticed that one of his claws has a huge scab over his mutilated nail. I have no idea wether he’s biting it or playing to roughly, but I haven’t found blood anywhere in the house. I don’t know if I should see a vet or not. This has happened twice now, and the second time is worse than the first.

Torn Toenail Average Cost

From 249 quotes ranging from $100 - $300

Average Cost

$200

Compare Pet Insurance & Wellness Plans

Save up to $273 per year

Compare plans
advertisement image
How can we help your pet?