Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week NEWTON Teachers Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Referencing NEWTON Frequently Asked Questions About Ask A Scientist About NEWTON Education At Argonne Cat and Dog Claws

Name: Sudeshna 
Status: other
Grade: 9-12
Location: Outside U.S.
Country: Australia
Date: Spring 2013
 

Question:
Why do felines have retractable claws? Why don't canines?



Replies:
Hi Sudeshna,

Thanks for the question. I believe that retractable claws allow for better grasping when climbing trees and vines. Retractable claws also wear out at a slower rate than non-retractable claws.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have more questions. Thanks Jeff


Cat claws grow in a way to be sharp, very sharp for they are more efficient to hunt, climb and shred, but will often retract their claws when they run. This fact allows cats to survive by being an effective hunter where almost all dogs are human dependent because their claws are most for negotiating movement and not as effiicent for hunting. Now, if you have these incredible sharp claws, there are times when you do not want them involved in certain behaviors such as handling a liter of kittens, etc. Retracting these efficient tools, can be advantagous. Unlike my dog who will occasionaly unintentioanlly scratch if I do not trim his big, but dull claws, my cats are gentle with humans because their claws are retracted.

Steve Sample


Click here to return to the Veterinary Topics Archive

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 223
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: November 2011
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory