Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Cat Owner Questions: What is this black gunk on my cat's nails?



In the forty some odd years I have been a cat owner, I rarely see this addressed. It pops up from time to time and people make wild assumptions as to what this build up on their cat's claws can be. Often it is thought to be the accumulation of fecal matter from the litter box when they poop or cover it up. People often are highly turned off and disgusted by this type of build up.

So what is this black gunk on my cat's claws? What if that gunk is brown? Does the color of the gunk make a difference?

Not really. That brown gunk on my cat's claws is a build up of oil and skin cells from the cat. I wouldn't doubt that there is some litter box dust in there, but it is not poop or fecal matter. The color seems to depend on the color of the cat.

Should you clean it off? You can. If your cat is older and has mobility issues it might be hard for them to groom it properly and scraping it off will help. I have read that you can also use a baby wipe if you have one handy (unscented, organic if you can, cat-friendly would be better) and that helps remove it but don't be surprised if your cat reacts like you are doing something painful. It is a weird feeling for them and the quick and the claw base are both sensitive areas.


Please note: no cats were harmed in the taking of this photo but Skippy was not amused with me in the least.

Do you have any random questions about cats? Throw them in the comments and I'll see if I can find you the answers.

11 comments:

  1. My human figured that's what it was, but she never bothered to look it up - thanks for the confirmation.

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  2. Hmmmm.... Mom never thought about it before. Thanks for answering that.

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  3. Gees, I never thought about it before, either! Both boys make such an ordeal about getting their nails clipped that I wouldn't be tempted to clean it off anyway.

    Thanks for stopping by, Connie. That "rug" is a very inexpensive faux fur throw from Ikea -- I bought 3 for the boys from "Santa" and have another on my bed (during the days) for them. The third is tucked away at the moment, but I did have it out on another stool when it was so cold earlier this winter. They like them!

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  4. Benny has it quite badly and he gets mad if I try to remove it, so I do a bit if I can but don't try too hard if he gets upset. What bout gunky ears? Lucy has a chronic problem and I need to clean them weekly. They've been swabbed by the vet twice but there's nothing "bad" in them.

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  5. Thank you for the information!

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  6. I bought an extra nail brush at the dollar store, which I use to clean off that gunk when we trim claws. None of the cats are happy about it, but no more so than the entire claw trimming procedure. Since my husband and I tend to work together when trimming, some of the cats get suspicious when we are together and approaching, lol.

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  7. I've noticed this more on Ellie than Bear. It's something I worry about when I see it (claw-clipping time) - but then I forget until the next time. So thank you for explaining the gunk!

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  8. Now the mom is gonna check our nails for that gunk.

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  9. Prancie gets that, but she is a cry baby when I try to scrape it off.

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  10. Huh, I didn't know about this! Going to show your post to The Hubby, since he's the nail trimmer.

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  11. Interesting, I've never noticed gunk on my kitty paws, I'll do some investigating now.

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