Purpose of cat’s claws these are special features they’re retractable, cats only have their claws out when they mean to, for hunting, gaining traction against the ground or climbing trees this also helps claws against wear and tear. If you take the Cheetah these are sprinters their claws need to be ready at all times in a moment notice especially in high speeds to stop them from slipping, with so much activity they need to rest between heats although with a Cheetah their claws only slightly retract.
The dew claws are attached to vestigial digits these claws are not in line with the other claws and no longer touch the ground, cats may use dew claws while attacking prey.
Claws are not nail’s although they are made up of the same stuff keratin a hardened protein with two layers, the unguis is the harder external layer the subunguis is the softer flaky underside layer whose grain is parallel to the direction of growth, therefore the nail grows outward from the nail matrix at the base of unguis and subunguis grows thicker while travelling across the nail the unguis grows outward faster than the subunguis to produce the curve and the thinner sides of the claw wear away faster than their thicker middle this produces a sharp point where finger nails are flat claws by contrast come out of the front of their paws this is so they can tear meat from bones defend themselves and climb.
Some cats known as polydactyl may have more than five clawed digits, which cats can retract their front claws they do not completely retract inside a sheath or all the way into the paw. When a cat is resting you can see the nail tips protruding from the fur, when a cat wants to use his claws, he contracts a tendon to extend them out and down like the way we point our toes and flex our ankle back. A cat’s claw will wear down normally with walking and running their claws are very sensitive with nerve endings starting where the pink area is and if cut to far up will cause pain and bleeding only trim the edges.
Because of the way cats walk on their toes which is known as being digitigrade, us humans are plantigrade walkers we use the sole of the foot if a cat is declawed for this reason they will have trouble balancing properly.