Why Do Cats Like Nail Files?

Why Do Cats Like Nail Files

Are you wondering why your nail files miraculously disappear? Have you noticed your cat acting queerly each time she plays with one and it looks like she just had catnip? Before you start to worry about why your cat is acting weird in the company of nail files, read on and let us get to know the reasons behind this. 

Why do cats like nail files?

Cats like nail files for the following reasons:

1. It may be due to instinct. 

Cats may be attracted to nail files as it is attuned to their instinct of filing and sharpening their claws on a scratching post.  A nail file’s purpose is quite similar which may be the reason why cats are drawn to it since it is something that may help grind down their claws. 

These are the benefits of scratching posts for cats:

  • promotes nail health 
  • to stretch their bodies 
  • to burn excess energy 
  • stimulates feel-good hormones 
  • to mark territory 
  • to divert them from scratching furniture 
  • a way to convene and interact with other cats in a multi-cat home

2. It may be due to the texture. 

Nail files have a coarse and gritty texture like sandpaper which may be one of the reasons why cats are drawn to them. It may be because it shares the same characteristic as their tongues which feel like sandpaper to the skin. When they lick a nail file its texture is much the same as the sensation they get when their tongue goes through their fur while grooming. 

3. Cats like the sound it makes. 

Cats are fascinated by the sound of nails being rubbed against a nail file. Many cat owners observe that the sound of nails being filed on a nail file never fails to catch the attention of their kitties. The scratchy sound that comes from the nail files may also remind them of their scratching post.  

4. It may feel like another cat is grooming them. 

Just as cats like a nail file’s texture and sounds when rubbed against nails, they may also be drawn to it because it gives them the familiar sensation of being groomed by another cat. The sandpaper-like sensation may give them the notion that another cat is grooming them.  

5. It may be due to how it smells. 

Cats have a superior sense of smell and they can detect scents that humans are oblivious of.  It turns out that nail files may bear traces of a calcium-like smell that may remind cats of bones.  Also, some types of emery boards may contain fish glue adhesives the smell of which cats may like. 

6. It may be due to its taste. 

Just as cats detect smells that are familiar and calcium-like, they may also be drawn to nail files because of the distinct taste of nail dust.  

7. They think of it as a toy. 

Some cat owners note that their cats become curious about nail files especially if the cat sees the owner using it on their nails. Felines are inquisitive animals and they may play and swat your nail file as they would with their other toys. For them, these nail files are an addition to their toy collection.  

8. It may be due to mineral deficiency.

While most cats tend to like the taste of nail files, there may also be a more serious reason to it like a mineral deficiency. Sometimes cats lack certain minerals in their bodies and as a result, may start to crave them. Nail dust bears hints of what fingernails are made of which generally contain zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Most cats will generally lick, chew or play with nail files but there have also been cases where some of them develop a fetish for it. Some cats may rub their face and body on the nail file as if to transfer their scent glands on it. Others may kick, drag and bat it around or may destroy it by nibbling and chewing on it. Some cats may also extend this weird behavior on your nails after you file them.


Cats are famous for being inquisitive and playful and they may find interest in a plethora of things around the home including your nail files.  Cats like them because they piques their interest when it comes to their smell, texture and taste. They may also see it as a new addition to their toys and because it closely reminds them of sharpening their claws in a scratching post.