Here Is All About How To Prevent And Treat A Cat Split Nail!

The situation of a cat split nail is one of those that can make even the boldest of cats go bonkers with pain. You may tend to underestimate this injury by thinking that the nail is such a small body part but don’t even make that mistake. As you read on, you will realize how excruciating is a nail split for the cats and how you must get ready with the right treatment for it once you see it happen.


Little something about the cat claws

cat split nail

The claws of cats are one of the most instrumental and important parts of their body that helps them to carry out a lot of functions like grooming, holding food, digging, scratching, climbing, defending, etc. What becomes evident here is that the anatomy of these claws is something special that makes it able to help the cats in getting both physical and stimulation tasks done.

Cat claws are pointed and curvy structures that grow at the topmost points of the cat's toes. These horns like growths have two layers- outer and inner. While the outer layer is made of Keratin compound that is a hardened extract of the epidermis layer, the inner layer comprises of a bunch of nerves and blood vessels called ‘quick’ collectively which makes it the more sensitive layer.

The claws of cats are highly complex but extremely adaptable too that makes them do a lot of things without even becoming too obvious. They have a unique quality of being retractable which means that clinch inwards slightly when the cat moves or runs and don’t make any sound in the process.

About nail splits into cats and its causes

Cat split nail can be both normal and harmful when it occurs as it basically involves the breakage of the cat claws. However, we are addressing the problematic situation here that involves the breakage of cat mails to that extent where the inner layer or quick is exposed. This can cause immense pain to the affected cat and even have serious repercussions in the long term if the injury is really bad.

The outer layer doesn’t cause any pain to the cat when damaged because it is all made of dead elements but any damage to the inner layer of the claw can be an extremely painful experience for the cat since it is damage to the living tissues.

There can be many reasons behind the nail of your cat splitting open and here are some of the common ones:

  • Your cat may end up splitting its nail by scratching excessively or scratching on any harder than enough surfaces. It may also happen due to the nail sticking on loose surfaces.
  • cat’s nail split can also be the result of an accident where the cat’s claws get trampled, bent excessively, or broken during a fight.
  • Older cats are more at the risk of getting split nails as their claws become very brittle and might break off even with the slightest of provocation.
  • Poorly trimmed or un-trimmed nails of cats tend to break more and can get very highly damaged.
  • Several nail disorders can also be the reason behind cat claws breaking off often like torn nails, onychorrhexis, onychomadesis, onychomycosis, and several other systemic diseases.

Checking for cat split nail

Sadly, your cat isn’t going to tell you if it has gotten its nails split and might as well hide the pain because that’s what they usually do and are very good at it too. You have to be vigilant and make sure that to check on your cat always to know if it has any problem. You can check for cat nails splitting by observing the following things:

  • Blood spots around the house as it drips off the split nail
  • Cat limping or walking abnormally
  • Swelling in the paws
  • Cat holding up the affected foot
  • Blood on the paws
  • Claw appearing jagged
  • Cat biting or licking its paws excessively
  • Cat crying, whining, or yelping

Tips on treating your cat’s split nail

cat split nail

Once you confirm that your cat has gotten a nail split, then you must immediately get to the treatment of it because it’s excruciating for the cat. Here is how you must go about fixing your cat’s split nail:

Calm down the cat

This is very important as a cat in pain might misunderstand your rescue effort for an attack. Hug your cat gently for making it feel secure or wrap it in a soft towel.

Cutaway the damaged nail

Remove the broken piece of the nail that is still hanging from the axle firstly. This increases the pain as it has a pulling pressure on the nail under the skin. Do it carefully since the wound is sore.

Control the bleeding

This is the first step if the nail is bleeding due to fresh cat nails splitting or even from some time. Choose any of the following ways to stop the blood outpour:

Wrap a piece of clean cloth around the split claw and put very light pressure on the skin to absorb the blood and compress the nerves.

If you can manage styptic pads or pencils, then cover the wound with them for sealing it painlessly and quickly. You can use cornstarch or simple flour for this purpose too.

Clean the area around the wound

Once the bleeding stops, the next step is to clean out the wound in the area and you cannot skip this step at all since it removes infection possibilities. Use warm water to rinse the hurt paw for cleaning all the unwanted dirt and elements. Now, put some pet antiseptic on the wound for relaxing the pain and killing germs.

Repeat this process twice every day and check for any infection symptoms every time.

Bandage the paw

This is very important for preventing your cat from licking the wound as that can cause infection and meddle with the healing. Bandage the wound properly and keep changing the dressing every day.

Monitor infection symptoms

 A cat nail split can give way to crooked nail re-growth or further infection in the paw itself. The best way out of this situation is to get your cat treated by the vet. Rush immediately if you see any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Pus cramming up in the wound
  • Pus and blood outpour even during healing
  • Swelling and redness in the area

Tips on preventing nail split in cats

Like we discussed above, nail spitting is a regular phenomenon with cats too where it’s similar to the shedding of old and dead body cells. The nails of cats also develop an older and dulled outer layer as they grow with time. The self-grooming regime of cats includes the removal of this layer off their nails too by scratching on different surfaces and reveal the sharper nail beneath it.

You can help them with this natural process by providing them with more avenues to scratch like dedicated scratching posts.

However, if this habit turns compulsive or anything goes wrong, the cat nails might get split with serious damage and you must do things to prevent that.

Trim your cat’s nails

This is going to help you a lot in preventing your cat’s nail split. Make nail trimming a regular regime and don’t miss out on the sessions. Follow these steps to cut your cat’s nails properly:

  • Make your cat sit comfortably in your lap or anywhere else where it likes.
  • Take her paw in your hand and then exert light pressure on the toe par for stretching the claw forward.
  • The pink area is quick and you have to avoid it in the whole cutting process for every paw.
  • You need to cut the sharp tip at the end of the nail halfway away from the quick. Hold the clipper vertically.
  • Stop the trimming if your cat becomes restless and continue after a break.

You may also use plastic nail caps to cover the claws of your cat if it is extra mischievous and won’t let you trim peacefully.


This was all about dealing with cat split nail as it can become a serious problem if not treated rightly at the right time. You don’t have to worry about it if it happens regularly but if the situation turns out to be serious, then start the treatment right away. Follow our guide or simply take your cat to the vet if you think the matter is out of your hands.

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Luna Tran

My name is Luna and I am a great cat lover and a cat owner of three lovely cats. I have owned many cats till now and have dedicated many years to nurturing and caring cats. Through this blog, I am here to share my knowledge and experience about cats.