why do cats like nail files

Why Do Cats Like Nail Files?

If you’ve noticed that your cat seems to love rubbing themselves on nail files and always makes an appearance when you are using yours then you may be wondering “Why do cats like nail files?”

There are several theories regarding cats’ love of nail files which may or may not be true, these theories include:

  • Cats are attracted to nail files because they have a mineral deficiency, nail files or emery boards are full of minerals from your nails including things like iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and calcium so the theory is that cats lick or rub nail files to top up their supplies of these minerals.
  • Another reason is that their texture somewhat resembles that of a cat’s tongue. Rubbing their face against a coarse surface may soothe some cats. 
  • Cats like marking their territory and will rub their face against a lot of surfaces and objects that are present in their living environment. 

If you ever happen to be filing your nails, you might notice that your cat is unusually interested in the process and the tool. 

This can happen more frequently with cats that like to spend a lot of time in their owner’s lap or at least close by their owner. These pets are always interested in finding out what their human friend is doing, so they’ll naturally be curious about nail files, too. 

Can You Use A Nail File On Your Cat?

While the procedure itself will not harm your pet in any way, using a nail file on your feline friend will most likely result in a lot of frustration on both ends. 

Most cats don’t like the feeling of having their nails trimmed, so they are not going to appreciate your efforts to file their nails, especially since you’re likely to want to hold onto your cat’s leg or paw so that it’s in the right position. 

emery boards-nail files

And we all know how much cats love being handled or having their paws touched. 

Filing your cat’s claws using a nail file is an overly complicated and unnecessary procedure when there are many other things that you can do to get the same result with less effort and hardship for yourself and your cat. 

Keeping Your Cat’s Nails Dull 

A cat that has access to a scratching post, whether large or small, will have duller nails compared to one that doesn’t have the opportunity to ‘sharpen’ her nails anywhere in your home.

These days, there are even special protective corners for couches and other pieces of furniture, and they are uniquely designed for cats that love to scratch upholstery pieces like armchairs. 

There’s always the option of you applying plastic nail caps on your cat’s nails.

Naturally, if your feline friend seems to be alright with the procedure and with wearing the protectors at all times, this could be a solution for protecting your home. 

Declawing is illegal in the UK but even in places where it is permitted most vets are against it for a number of reasons; the operation itself presents several risks, including general anesthesia, but it can also lead to tissue death, lameness, local infections, and paw pain. 

cat getting nails clipped by vet

On top of everything, a cat’s claws are essential to her with regard to how she interacts with the world around her.

It is a way that your pet can defend herself in case she also lives outdoors, not just indoors. 

Moreover, declawed cats are said to become insecure, which inevitably leads to aggression. It also takes a lot of time for a cat to learn how to walk again, since the surgery basically involves cutting some ligaments and rendering the fingertips immobile. 

The best products that you can use to keep your cat’s nails trimmed and dull are the following:

  • Cat nail clippers
  • Scratching posts
  • Couch guards (sofa scratchers)
  • Nail caps

Are There Nail Files Specifically Made For Cats?

There are pet-safe nail files available for sale both online and in pet shops across the world. However, few cats actually like to have their nails filed. 

The nail files that most cat owners can purchase actually resemble those initially designed for people. 

The nail files available in pet salons, on the other hand, are quite different. They are usually small devices that are equipped with grinders at the tips. The noise can be off-putting for cats, so we advise steering clear of this design. 

cat claws

The only way such a gadget can be used on cats would be when they are sedated and a professional is also giving them a haircut, so it would be a shame not to use the opportunity also to trim and file their nails. 

Can You Use Human Nail Clippers On Cats?

Yes, but it largely depends on the tool size. Large nail clippers designed for people can not only be cumbersome to use, but they can also hurt your cat’s paws by accident. 

For example, while you might be focusing on trimming the nail using one of the clippers’ sharp ends, the other one might be piercing one of your feline friend’s paw pads (also named toe beans). 

But if you use a very small model, you can get almost the same results that you would from using a pair of cat-safe nail clippers. By the way, there are roughly two types of pet nail clippers out there:

  • Scissor clippers
  • Guillotine clippers

The first are far safer to use than the second. Guillotine clippers are better for dogs due to their nail anatomy. 

Plus, since they are usually thicker, you might accidentally trim too much of your cat’s nails and cause a small hemorrhage.  

Also Read: Do Cats’ Claws Grow Back?


Cats like nail files for the same reason they seem to like a variety of items around your home, for no logical explanation whatsoever!

They like to mark their territory, so they will rub against your nail file as you use it. 

By doing this, they are not necessarily extending an invitation for you to use the nail file on them. 

Make sure to trim your pet’s nails using the appropriate equipment. If you have any doubts, you can ask your veterinarian or your pet groomer about what tools you should opt for.

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