If your cat often gets their claws out, this post will show you likely reasons why and how the context matters.
Common causes of cats getting their claws out are that they are kneading, warning you, sharpening their claws, and that they simply like the feeling. 
There are many reasons why cats will get their claws out and the most likely reason will depend a lot on the context. However, there are some things you can consider to help figure out the main reason.

Why do cats get their claws out?

Below are common reasons why cats will get their claws out and what would make each of them more likely.

Kneading

When cats are happy, they will often start to pat their paws and claws up and down while extending their claws. If your cat does this while you are petting it and it also does things such as purr and rub itself against you, it is likely that your cat is showing pleasure.

Wanting you to stop petting it

Cats will also get their claws out as a warning. It could be the case that your cat does it in order to warn you to stop doing something.

For example, if you see your cat get its claws out when you start petting it, it might be a sign that your cat wants you to stop. This would be more likely if your cat also hisses or scratches at you soon after. Otherwise, it could just be the case that your cat is kneading.

It simply likes the feeling

Cats will often get their claws out when they are feeling relaxed. It could be the case that your cat gets its claws out simply because it likes the feeling. This would be more likely if your cat also kneads and purrs.

Sharpening the claws

Cats will also sharpen their claws by scratching and clawing at things. Another reason why your cat will get their claws out is to sharpen their claws. This would be more likely to be the reason when your cat does it while clawing or scratching at things such as walls, scratch posts or sofas.

Feeling threatened

It may also be the case that a cat will get their claws out when they are feeling threatened. This would be more likely to be the reason if your cat does it in situations when it might feel threatened such as when a dog is around. It would also be more likely if your cat shows signs of feeling threatened such as ears pulled back, hissing, growling, fur standing on end.

Play

It may also be the case that your cat gets their claws out because they are actually playing. While this can be painful for us, for cats play can function as a good way to practice their hunting skills and so will naturally get their claws out as a result.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your cat gets their claws out.

The timing of when your cat gets their claws out

It would help to consider the timing of when your cat gets their claws out. If your cat does it when they are lying down and they are purring, it would be more likely that your cat is kneading.

Whereas, if your cat does it when you are petting it, it might be the case that your cat is showing pleasure but it could also be the case that your cat is showing that it wants you to stop petting it depending on the other body language signs your cat shows.

If your cat has started doing it more than usual

If your cat has started getting their claws out more than usual, it would help to consider what else has happened recently. For example, if you recently got a dog, your cat might have started feeling threatened.

What to do about my cat getting their claws out?

Below are options you have when dealing with your cat getting their claws out.

Nothing

If it seems like your cat is doing it due to being happy, the best thing to do would be to just allow your cat to continue doing it.

Get a scratch post

Another option would be to get a scratch post so that your cat can claw on it when it wants to. This would be especially important if your cat has been clawing on things such as your furniture or walls.

Limit reasons why your cat might feel threatened

If it seems like your cat has been doing it due to feeling threatened, it would also help to limit reasons why your cat might be feeling threatened. One option would be to let your cat stay in a different part of the house where other animals can’t get to.

Ensure you are petting your cat right

If your cat does it when you are petting your cat, it would also help to ensure that you are petting your cat right. Often, cats will prefer to be scratched below the chin as opposed to petted on the head.

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.