why do cats extend their claws when you pet them

How to Teach a Cat to Retract Claws? Easy Guide

If you are searching for material about teaching your cat to retract its claws, you are landing on the right page. You will know How to Teach a Cat to Retract Claws? Cats are the only domesticated mammal species and a member of the carnivore family in the wild. 

Carnivores have distinctive teeth and claws for hunting smaller animals, digging and shredding flesh or meat, marking territory with scent, climbing, and as a defensive mechanism in this carnivore form.

Five clawed digits are found on the front paws and four on the back paws. The front claws, referred to as “declaws,” enhance a hunter’s ability to cling on to prey. The utility of a cat’s claws grows along with the feline’s height and weight.

Yes! Playing with your cat can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a lot of work for both of you. Invariably, a cat’s fangs or claws will pinch or scratch you, which can be rather painful. 

Those claws are sharp and painful, and there’s no doubt about that. You may not be the only one whose skin is damaged by your cat’s claws over time, as home goods and furniture might be damaged as a result.

Your cat’s claws may be bothering it. That’s something to keep in mind. Claw retraction may become impossible. In this instance, declawing or selling your cat is not an option. It’s best to start by showing or teaching your cat How to Teach a Cat to Retract Claws properly.

Why Do Cats Retract Their Claws?

For the following causes, cats shed their claws:


With teeth and claws, a creature’s primary defense mechanism is self-defense. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice explains that cats show their claws as a symptom of fear.

Because of this, cats sometimes prefer to rest on their backsides. Not only does this allow the cat easy access to all four claws, but this also serves as a request for a belly rub. When threatened, a cat in this position can fight back.

When your cat’s claws are frequently unsheathed, it indicates that it is afraid.


Typically, a cat will bite the neck of its victim to hinder it. Claws are employed to keep the prey in place until you can do this. For birds and rodents, the claws are utilized to cut flesh from bone.


Most felines have an instinct to scratch with their claws. According to the Canadian Journal of Zoology, this is a sort of smell marking. When your cat scratches the carpet on the stairs and your furniture, it’s claiming these items and regions as its own.

A scratching post, for example, is the only method to stop your cat from scratching your sofa or bed.


Climbing to high areas is a favorite pastime of cats since it gives them a better view. There are no dangers or prey to worry about from this vantage point.

To get to this height, your cat will need to lie on top of a closet, which most cats do. There’s more scrambling and agility involved in scaling a tree or fence. Traction is provided by a cat’s claws, particularly the dewclaws on its front paws.

What Is the Purpose of a Kitten’s Claws?

A kitten’s claws play a vital role in its overall appearance. A non-retractable nail may help the mother massage the baby to boost milk supply during the first month of life. The capacity to retract the claws into the paw emerges in a kitten around the age of four weeks. 

When a kitten scratches and grooms itself or stretches or balances or uses its claws for self-defense or to investigate its environment, it uses its claws. Most importantly, a cat’s claws offer them a sense of security and self-assurance that they can protect themselves and securely navigate their environment.

Because of this, it should go without saying that you should never declaw a cat! As a result of the cat’s declawing procedure, it may suffer from emotional and behavioral problems. 

Instead of using brutal methods like declawing, start clipping your kitten’s nails at the age of 4 weeks to help her get acclimated to regular nail trimming.

How to Teach a Cat to Retract Claws

How to Teach a Cat to Retract Claws

Make Clearly Defined Boundaries

The sharpness of a cat’s claws makes them deadly to anyone who comes into contact with them. They can be devastating if it gets itchy.

You can accomplish this by ignoring the cat when it swipes its claws. These will help the cat learn how to act more naturally over time. They will be able to tell that anything is amiss.

Train Your Cat

Cats learn to retract as kittens, but they are prone to forgetting this vital skill. Older cats, in particular, should be trained by you.

After four weeks, kittens can retract their claws of their own will.

Play With Your Cat!

Play with your cat as usual, but make sure they understand how unpleasant it is when it grabs you with its claws. After the first time, you have the option to leave and return.

You should stop playing with it and put up the toys if it does that again, as this will help it realize what it did was improper. You can play the same way until it learns its lesson for the next hour.

It is being done to make the cat comprehend that the claws are bad and are ruining the fun. If you keep playing, it will get the hang of retraction.

Make An Investment In Cat Scratching Supplies

Investing in cat scratching furniture will help keep the cat’s claws under control, making retracting the claws go more smoothly for both you and your cat. If the cat’s claws are a problem, it will have a hard time.

Get In Touch With A Veterinary Professional

Consult a veterinarian or cat behavioral expert if the problem worsens, and you don’t know what’s wrong. The problem may not be under your control.

How to Teach a Cat to Play Without Using its Claws

A cat can inflict minor injuries, such as scratches or minor injuries when playing. The fact that injuries are the final result, even if that isn’t the aim, cannot be changed. 

Not to diminish the value of play for cats of all ages, but this is not the case. Aside from being fun, these kinds of activities are healthy for your health and can help you develop your natural hunting instincts. 

A cat’s claws can be deadly to those around it if they’re not appropriately sheathed in times of excitement. The following procedures will help you teach your cat to play without using its claws:

  • Play with the cat when you have some downtime.
  • Allow it to go about its business with its claws bare.
  • Be ready to unleash a high-pitched scream as soon as its claws come within touching distance.
  • Play should be put on hold for roughly 30 seconds while you step away from your cat.
  • Keep playing and watch out for the cat’s claws being unsheathed. Whenever there is a repeat, the game is paused for two minutes.
  • It’s time to give the cat another chance. Play is halted for 24 hours if claws are still exposed.

How Old Are Cats When They Learn to Retract Their Claws?

When a kitten is exactly one month old, it will voluntarily retract its claws. If you’ve just had a litter of kittens, you’ll want to make sure their claws are out. The first four weeks of development appear to be permanent.

Sucking on its mother’s teats is made easier by uncoiling its claws at this stage. Once they’ve mastered the skill of retracting, they’ll be able to explore their surroundings better, groom themselves, scratch, stretch, climb, and protect themselves as they gain confidence in their newfound retracting ability.

Usually, kittens follow the lead of their moms or adult cats. In addition, they do it naturally. Cats take great care to safeguard their front claws, which are extremely important. Furthermore, cats can communicate with each other and have a “language” of their own. A mother cat’s cues to her kittens about when to unsheathe her claws are valuable.

As previously mentioned, you can also learn the ability to retract in cats through play. Injuries can occur, even if they are unintentional, during play.

How Do I Know If My Cat Is Spayed or Neutered?

More drastic options are available if your cat refuses to retract its claws. An onychectomy is the act of declawing a cat; this is an aggressive treatment that many veterinarians refuse to carry out.

Cat claws aren’t nails. Therefore, an onychectomy isn’t a manicure either. An onychectomy is a procedure that removes the toe bone’s tip. Cats are digitigrade, which means that a declawed cat may have difficulty walking due to its inability to maintain balance.

You can fit claw tips to your cat instead of an onychectomy. Your cat’s claws will be protected from sharp edges by these plastic coverings. In the future, a cat will be able to retract its claws without claw tips.

FAQs – How to Teach a Cat to Retract Claws

Can cats retract their claws individually?

Despite popular belief, cat claws don’t retract into the paw-like many people think they do. It is common for cats to rest their claws in the fur surrounding their toes while not in use.

Should I cut my cat’s hind nails?

It will help if you trim claws regularly to keep your cat healthy. Declawing requires surgical amputation and can lead to behavioral and health problems. Nail trimming is a quick and painless option.

Should I cut my cat’s back claws?

Both the front and hind legs of your cat need to be trimmed. Trimming your cat’s rear claws is an essential part of keeping them in good health. It’s best to begin nail trimming with your cat as soon as possible. It will make them more familiar with the handling that nail trimmings necessitate.

Do cats know their claws hurt?

Young cats aren’t aware that their claws are hurting you. To protect you from being scratched, most cats eventually learn that their claws may inflict pain.


I hope that after reading the above guideline, you will understand How to Teach a Cat to Retract Claws? Your cat can attack you with its claws without any apparent reason. In part, this is because the cat is amusing itself, and if you move, it will assume you’re a target for prey.

However, keep an eye on your cat to ensure that you aren’t injured. As a result, play more often with your cat to help establish a boundary. If your cat is showing indications of stress or anxiety in the course of its routine, speak with your veterinarian right away.

Always trim your cat’s nails rather than declaw them, even if you don’t want to remove the entire claw. It may create tension, worry, or abnormalities.

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