Do big cats have re­tractable claws?

BBC Earth (Asia) - - Q&A -

It de­pends how we de­fine the group of cats re­ferred to as ‘big cats’. Tech­ni­cally, th­ese are the roar­ing cats, like tigers, lions, jaguars and leop­ards, and they all pos­sess fully re­tractable claws like do­mes­tic cats. This adap­ta­tion en­sures their claws are pro­tected by a sheath of skin when they are not be­ing used to catch prey, climb, scratch or pro­vide trac­tion. Chee­tahs are some­times re­ferred to as ‘big cats’, but they have semi-re­tractable claws that look more dog-like than cat-like. As the fastest land mam­mals, reach­ing top speeds of 114km/h (71mph), they need ex­tra trac­tion while run­ning, so their pro­trud­ing claws act like sprint­ers’ shoes. CC

An African lion’s claw is around 38mm in length

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