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We're terribly sorry aboutWe're terribly sorry about your cat, and hope that she will be able to feel better soon. Cats normally pull on their claw sheaths to take off the top layer, which sheds. It sounds as if, however, there was an infection in the surrounding tissue. Older cats do tend to have claws that are overgrown and brittle. They may not use the scratching post as often, which means that their claws may get too long and there might be more chance of infection. Nail bed infections can occur for various reasons, including fungal or bacterial infections, cancer, feline leukemia, immune system diseases, hyperthyroidism, ringworm, injury to the area, or cutting the nail too close to the nail bed (if you trim your cat's nails, make sure that your cut doesn't travel into the pink area of the claw, called the quick). If the infection occurs on different feet, from what we are reading, it appears likely that it might be another illness/problem that is causing the nail bed infection, which appears to be along the same lines of what your veterinarian is thinking. You might talk to your vet about which (if any) of the above illnesses, as well as any others, could be possibilities in your cat's situation. You are certainly free to get a second opinion from another veterinarian, if you feel you should. Or, you can ask your vet if s/he could recommend a feline dermatologist, a specialist who might be more familiar with diseases of the nail bed and underlying causes. As an alternative, you might try calling an emergency veterinary clinic in your area. They often can talk to you over the phone about what certain possibilities might be, although to make the best diagnosis, they'd have to see the cat. Also, if there is a veterinary school in your area, you might try calling them for advice. For example, the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York, is a well-respected school for veterinary medicine. It appears to be linked to the following service (we have no knowledge about it, but it looks like something to consider): The Dr. Louis J. Camuti Memorial Feline Consultation Service offers a phone consultation for a fee. After talking with you about your cat's health, they would make some recommendations of which you would then talk over with your local veterinarian. (Consultants cannot diagnose or treat your pet over the telephone.) To learn more about this service, see: http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/camuti.cfm A veterinary university near you might offer a similar service to the public. Hope this helps! Our thoughts are with you and your cat.

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