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7 Reasons Your Cats Claws Have Black Stuff On Them!

As the popularity of keeping cats continues to increase, the number of questions that we see people from the cat keeping community asking each month just keeps increasing.

We have already answered many of the questions that we see people asking but more recently, a number of people have been asking questions about why their cat’s claws have black stuff on them.

With there being so many people asking about this as well as there being a number of different potential causes of this black stuff on your cat’s claws, we wanted to publish a dedicated article on the topic.

Our hope is that we will be able to help our readers better understand the potential causes of the black stuff on their cat’s claws.

Not only can this help you better understand how serious of an issue this may be but it can also help you narrow down the potential treatments for the issue too.

Different causes of the black gunk on your cat’s claws will require different treatments.

Please note, this article is not intended as a replacement for professional advice from a qualified veterinarian though!

A quick check up with a vet will always be the best course of action and be able to help you get an exact diagnosis of the issue as well as how to treat it.

The Most Common Reasons Your Cats Claws Have Black Stuff!

Here is our shortlist of the main reasons that your cat’s claws may have black stuff on them:-

  • Fungus!
  • Sweat!
  • Dirt!
  • Parasites!
  • Scabs!
  • Natural Oil!
  • Bacterial Infection!

Thankfully, they are all relatively easy to treat and although some can be worse than others, none are a real threat to your cat’s life.


The most common cause of black stuff on your cat’s claws is actually a fungus.

Fungi are tiny organisms that live in the environment and can easily be picked up by your cat when they are out and about.

You may not think that your cat goes outside much but even if they only go out for a few minutes each day, they can still easily pick up a fungus.

Fungi love warm, moist environments and so your cat’s claws are the perfect place for them to live!

The good news is that although fungi can be difficult to get rid of, they are not dangerous to your cat and so long as you treat the issue, your cat will be perfectly fine.

There are a number of over the counter treatments that you can buy for treating fungi on your cat’s claws but we would always recommend getting advice from a vet before using any of these.

We know that there are some DIY remedies for the fungal infections that cause black gunk on your cat’s nails but we would not recommend them as some of them can be dangerous to your cat.


Although many people think that cats can’t sweat, this is not correct and just like dogs, cats have sweat glands on their paws.

If your cat sweats lots and on a regular basis then this sweat can build up and result in a build up of black gunk on your cat’s claws.

This is usually easy to remove and you can usually just wipe the black gunk away from your cats claws without issue.

Many people overlook the possibility of this being the reason that they are having problems with their pet cat’s claws having black stuff on them but it is more common than you think.

Heat is not the only reason that your cat may sweat too, some dietary issues can result in excessive sweating in your pet cat.

This means that your pet cat can end up having issues with black gunk building up on its claws even if you live in a cold area.


Another common reason that your cat’s claws may have black gunk on them is that they are just dirty!

This is usually the case if your cat spends a lot of time outside or if they live in an area with a lot of dust and dirt.

If you think that the cause of the black gunk on your cat’s claws is dirt then the best thing to do is to give their paws a good clean.

This can be done using a wet cloth or even just some warm water.

Make sure that you dry your cat’s paws off afterward though as damp paws are the perfect environment for fungi to grow in!


There are a number of different types of parasites that can live on your cat’s skin and in their fur.

These parasites can cause a build up of black gunk on your cat’s claws as they feed off of the natural oils that are produced by your pet.

The most common type of parasite that causes this problem is the flea but there are others too.

Mites can commonly gather on the toes of your cats with the poop of the mites resulting in a build up of black gunk on the toes and claws of your pet cat too.

Thankfully, there are plenty of cheap anti-parasitic treatments available at your local pet store that are easy to use and can quickly deal with this.


Although the nail of your cat can’t scab, an injury to the foot or toes of your cat can and then when the scab falls off, it can land on the claw of your cat.

We know that this is very rare but in some cases, your cat can then retract its claw with the scab getting retracted too and the warmth of your claw sheath can then break the scab down.

This will usually result in the claw of your cat being covered in black stuff that is sticky.

Thankfully, you can just wipe this off as you please with minimal issues in most cases.

Natural Oil!

The natural oil of your cat can quickly build up and gather in certain areas of our cat.

Although most oil will actually gather at other areas of your cat, due to the feed of your cat being in contact with dust and dirt all day, it usually turns black quickly.

If the black stuff on your cat’s claws feels like wax then there is a good chance that it is just natural oil.

Just like many of the other issues on our list, you can usually just wipe this off your cat’s claws, toes, and feet without having any further problems.

Bacterial Infection!

In some very rare cases, a bacterial infection can also cause your cat to have black stuff on its toes too.

This is usually the case if your cat has an injury to their foot or claw that has then got infected.

If you think that your cat’s claws may be infected then you should take them to see a vet as quickly as possible for treatment.