Why do cats extend their claws when you pet them?

Did you know that cats have retractable claws, and when they pounce or defend themselves, their claws extend and lock into place within 0.1 seconds!!! Amazing, isn’t it ? That’s why cats are such great skilled hunters and agile climbers.

But wait, when we try to pet our cats, they extend their claws, is that because they want to defend themselves, or we become their prey, and they are preparing their tiny claw weapon to grab our faces!!!

Well, understanding these mysterious and unpredictable creatures is like solving puzzles. Each piece reveals something unique and fascinating about them. One piece of the puzzle is when they extend their paws while petting them. What’s the reason behind it? To find it out, you must continue reading…..  

Why do cats extend their claws when you pet them?

You may be wondering whenever you try to pet your little pet, or rub their squeezy belly, their claws just pop out like popcorn. It’s like they’re trying to grab onto something with their paws. But why do their claws do this sharp little action?

Here are the reasons:

  1. Expressing Happiness and Relaxation: Sometimes, a cat’s claws will extend because they’re feeling tooo happy and relaxed. It’s like when you stretch your arms and legs after a good nap. This type of claw extension is a sign that your cat is enjoying your petting, and they are comfortable with your touch.  
  1. Reflection of an Instinctive trait: Another reason for this claw stretching behavior is reflection of their instinct.  They involuntarily extend their paws as a reaction to being touched. It’s like your cats twitch their ears when you touch them. Moreover, it kinda mimics the act of kneading. Cats used to do it as kittens to stimulate their mother’s milk. Therefore, in adulthood, they continue this behavior when they feel safe and content.
  1. Showing Defensive behavior: And the final reason is defensive response. This type of claw extension is a sign that your cat is feeling scared or annoyed and wants you to stop your petting. Especially when you unintentionally touch a sensitive part of their body, as if they are saying, “Enough hooman, back off!”

Is It Normal for Cats to Extend Their Claws During Petting?

So feline lovers, have you ever felt a sharp prick on your skin while petting or stroking your cat ? If so, then you must have thought for once if it is normal for them to extend their paws while we adore them. 

Well, it’s totally fine guys. Extending or stretching claws is a normal and natural behavior for cats. Most of the time they do it when they are having a cozy cuddle or blissful snooze on your lap. 

As you know, cats not only use their claws for climbing, hunting, or scratching, but it’s also a way of communication. They take out their paws to express their emotion like pleasure or comfort.

Some cats are more sensitive to touch or stimulation, which causes them to take out their claws. On the other hand, few breeds like Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats, have bigger paws that make them more noticeable. 

Therefore, claw extension is completely normal for your feline. It’s nothing to worry about unless your cat has other serious issues along with their stretching paws’ behavior. Sometimes it can cause digging claws into you. To learn more about their clawing behavior, just click the link and find out. 

How Can You Train Your Cat to Stop Extending Their Claws During Petting?

So, their extending claws behavior keeps bothering you, right? If you are thinking of stopping this, you can train them. It can be challenging for you as this is their natural instinct.

Therefore, it will take time to teach them not to expand their small, sharp claws during petting. However, here are some steps that will help you to train your kitty to prevent this behavior. 

  1. Gently touch and hold claws: First of all, start by gently rubbing your cat’s paws and hold them, allowing them to get used to your touch. Gradually begin to pet them, and observe whether they are taking out their claws in the first place or after a while. 
  1. Stop petting when they extend their paws: If your pet extends their claws in the first place, then immediately stop petting them. Redirect their attention to playing with other toys. Moreover, you can also make a sound or say “ouch” to let them know that it hurts. Then ignore them for a few seconds before resuming putting. Doing this will teach them that “expanding claws means no petting “. 
  1. Use gentle verbal cues: It’s true that animals don’t understand 100% of our language, but they can feel the tone of our voice and expression. So, use gentle and soft verbal cues like “no claws”, or showing some physical cues using your finger. Cats are quite smart creatures, eventually they will get used to it and learn not to stretch their paws while cuddling with you. 
  1. Avoid being forceful: Never force your cat to retract their paws by pulling or pushing them. It can be counterproductive. If your cat is resisting, it’s a sign that they are uncomfortable, and you should stop teaching them immediately.
  1. Repeat the process : Training your cat to stop extending their claws during petting may take some time and repetition. Do not expect your cat to learn this overnight, as it is a natural instinct for them. However, if you keep practicing these steps regularly, your cat will eventually learn that keeping their claws in means more petting and praise.

The best way to prevent or correct this claw-extending behavior is to start training your cat when they are still a kitten. This is because kittens are more adaptable and receptive, and they can easily learn new skills and habits than adult cats. 

Can Claw Caps Be Used to Prevent Scratching During Petting?

There are a few of you who are wondering if claw caps can be used to prevent your cat’s scratching behavior. Well, before we make a decision about it, let’s first know what claw cap is. 

A claw cap is a small plastic thing that helps to cover your cat paws. Basically, this cover is designed to prevent your pet from scratching by hiding the sharp tip of their claw.

So yeah it can be used. But wait, before that you need to know some pros and cons of this product, and then decide if it’s suitable for your feline or not.   

Pros and cons of using claw caps 


  • It’s a safe and humane alternative to declawing. It reduces the need for trimming your pet’s nails, which can be a hassle for both you and your cat.
  • Furthermore, it’s a lifesaver for your poor furniture, carpets, curtains, or even your skin while you are trying to pet or stroke them. 


  • It will limit their natural behavior like climbing, hunting, or expressing their emotions. They won’t be able to communicate with their paws. 
  • Wearing these caps for too long can cause your cat irritation, inflammation or discomfort. Moreover it not only prevents scratching but also makes them defenseless against predators or other objects. 

Tips to properly use and maintaining claw caps

  • Consult your veterinarian before using claw caps on your cat
  •  Choose the right size and type of claw caps for your cat’s nails
  •  Follow the instructions carefully on how to apply and remove claw caps
  •  Check your cat’s nails regularly for any signs of problems or discomfort

When to seek professional help?

While your cat’s extending paws may seem like they’re having fun, relaxed snooze time on your lap, sometimes they can actually indicate a behavioral problem.

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it’s important to seek professional attention to make sure your furry pal is feeling wholesome. Here are some must follow tips;

  • Excessive stretching:  If your cats keep stretching their claws more than like a yoga instructor, and it’s been going on for a while, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue, such as joint or muscle issues. 
  • Injury or Discomfort:  If your cat seems to be in more pain than Jack Bauer from 24 or discomfort when you try to train your cat not to extend their paws, it could be a sign that they are having infection or inflammation. 
  • Inability to retract claws: Sometimes your cat can be unable to retract their claws. If so, then it could be a sign of a medical condition, such as polydactyly (extra toes), nail bed infection, or nerve damage.

If you notice any of these, don’t waste time thinking what to do, just take them to your nearest veterinarian or expert animal behaviorist. They will help you address the underlying issues, properly diagnose them and provide appropriate treatment.


So that’s it folks. Everything you need to know about your cat’s popping out claws behavior. I hope our article answered all of your questions you were seeking. Follow our training tips, and if you want to use those claw caps then use it with precautions, and not for too long. 

In the meantime, keep on pawing and share this article with all your cat lover friends.  And please don’t forget to leave a comment below if you have any suggestion or opinion about this. 

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