Cats Claws and Fingernails

Claws, Fingernails and Keratin

The same protein called keratin forms cats claws and human fingernails. What is keratin? According to the Wikipedia “Keratin is one of a family of fibrous structural proteins known as scleroproteins. It is the key structural material for making up hair, nails, feathers, horns, claws, hooves, calluses, and the outer layer of skin among vertebrates.”  This gives us a good idea what this protein is all about. Because of keratin, both fingernails and cats claws are hard and strong.

Cats Claws and Fingernail Differences.

Even though the cats claws and fingernails are produced with the same protein keratin, they are distinctly different. For example, keratin grows continually in both the cat claw and the human fingernail. However , as the keratin grows in humans, our nails grow and attach to the skin of our fingers. This is not so in a cat. Their claws attach directly to the bone. That is why declawing a cat is a terribly painful experience for him.

Secondly, Cats have a unique ability. They retract their claws. Felines have dorsal ligaments which are elastic bands of tissue. When a cat wants to extent his claws, he uses this muscle. The claws return to their embedded position as soon as kitty relaxes. The beautiful thing about his anatomy is that these embedded claws do not touch the floor when he walks. They embed just enough to give him that secretive and quiet walk. In conclusion, cats claws are a beautiful work of art. They are exactly what the cat needs for survival and enjoyment.

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