As a general rule, cats have a total of 18 toes: five toes on each front paw and four toes on each back paw. Each toe will have a nail, which makes for a total of 18 nails on a normal cat.
However, there are several genetic disorders that can affect the number of toes and nails that a cat has. Polydactyly is a condition that can result in a cat being born with as many as 30 toes and nails. There are also rare conditions that can result in a cat being born with fewer than 18 toes, but these cats also tend to have other internal organ concerns that should be evaluated by a veterinarian early on.
Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed and healthy can help to ensure that he is happy and comfortable. A scratching post can allow your cat a place to get his frustrations out, and provide a place that he can scratch to his heart’s content. There are many sizes, styles, and types of scratching posts, but try to avoid those that have been constructed using staples. In severe cases, the staples can come lose and potentially hurt your cat.
Cats use all of their nails when they are stalking and hunting their prey. They also use their nails for climbing, but tend to use their front claws more for defensive purposes.