|Description:||This highly magnified 2005 scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image depicts the morphological characteristics seen on the surface of a domesticated cat’s, Felis domesticus, claw; Magnified 1310x. The cat’s needle-sharp claws are highly specialized structures specifically designed for grasping prey, and assisting in exercises that demand a great degree of traction such as climbing trees, running, and even grooming. Its claws are retractable, which allows the animal to pull the structures back into the skin of its paws, thereby, reducing the degree of daily wear and tear. The irregularly shaped particulates include bits of foreign debris, and dead, sloughing keratinized cells, which are the building blocks that form the nail. This claw nail was found in the home of a cat owner after having been sloughed off of the paw of a house cat in the course of his everyday activities.|
In the more highly magnified SEMs, (see PHIL# ), the claw is designed in a lamellar, or layered configuration, much the same way as an onion, whereupon, growing from the inside outward, the older, or outermost layers are sloughed off as the nail ages. This sloughing process produces what are termed “claw husks”, which are ghost-like remnants reflecting the overall shape of the original nail. The claw is constructed from “keratin”, a dense, durable protein, which is also the primary constituent of structures such skin and hair. The outer, hard layered portion of the claw is called the ”unguis”, and the inner softer underside layer is termed the ”subunguis”.