If you’ve found yourself at your wit’s end when it comes to cat scratching, you may be wondering what your options are. So today we will look at cat nail caps – pros and cons of this innovative and somewhat mysterious product.
So what are cat nail caps, exactly?
Cat nail caps are specially designed little plastic pieces that fit over a cat’s nail. They are adhered to the nail with glue. A cat’s nails must be trimmed before applying nail caps to allow room for growth. Once the cat’s nails have grown back to their full length, the nail caps will usually fall off naturally. They can be applied to both the front and the back claws.
Do cat nail caps hurt cats?
Nope. Many people wonder about this because it seems so unnatural and looks just plain weird to see a cat with brightly colored plastic pieces sheathing their nails. But the answer is that no, cat nail caps do not hurt cats. They are still able to extend and retract their claws normally, as long as the nail caps are applied properly.
Cats should be able to walk, run, climb, and play normally while wearing the nail caps. This is because a cat’s front nails retract while they are walking, to keep them sharp. So having the nails covered with little plastic caps shouldn’t affect their movements. The back claws however, do not retract, which is why kitty’s back nails are naturally a bit shorter and don’t need trimming as often.
All that being said, remember that all cats are unique individuals with their own habits and preferences. While most laid back cats may not have a problem with nail caps, others might have trouble adjusting or try to chew them off. That’s why cat nail caps are typically used as a last resort when all other scratch training attempts have failed.
Read also: How to Stop Cats From Scratching the Carpet
Pros and Cons of Cat Nail Caps
This leads us into our comparison chart. There are many factors to consider before making the decision to go ahead and apply this specialty product to your cat’s claws. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of cat nail caps to determine if they are right for you and your fur baby.
- Safe and painless for cats.
- Humane alternative to declawing.
- Prevents cats from scratching and hurting people, especially the thin-skinned elderly, children, and guests in your home.
- Can be a short or long term solution, depending on the situation and your needs.
- Protects furniture, carpet, and other household items from being destroyed by scratching.
- Cats can still scratch on posts and such, allowing them to stretch their muscles and spread their scent normally.
- While not painful, some cats may be bothered by their presence.
- You need to be mindful of the nail caps and monitor your cat’s claws for any sign of infection.
- Squirmy or sensitive cats may not tolerate the process of putting the nail caps on, especially cats who don’t like their paws being touched.
- Nail caps must be replaced every 4 to 6 weeks. You may need to have them put on at a groomer’s, if it proves too tricky to manage yourself.
- Renders cats defenseless in fights. Can be used on indoor cats only.
- Some cats may chew off the nail caps and swallow them, which could result in a costly vet visit.
How to Apply Cat Nail Caps
The first step you will need to do before applying cat nail caps is to trim the cat’s claws. For tips and advice on this process, read our article How to Trim a Cat’s Nails at Home – A Guide to Success.
Next you will lay out the nail caps and the glue applicator that they come with, so they’re all ready to go. Squeeze enough glue down inside the nail cap so that it will adhere, but not so much that it will ooze out when applied. Then you will simply hold the cat calmly, extend the claw with your thumb and forefinger, and slide the cap on. Hold it in place for a few seconds to make sure it’s thoroughly attached.
And that’s about it. How easy or difficult the process is will completely depend upon the personality of the cat. I found this Youtube video extremely helpful when learning how to apply cat nail caps.
What are the best cat nail cap brands?
There are two brands of cat nail caps that stand out as being the best on the market – Kitty Caps, and Soft Claws (aka Soft Paws.)
1. Kitty Caps
This is the brand that is used in the video above. Each box of Kitty Caps contains 40 caps, 2 adhesive tubes, and 2 applicator tips. They come in four sizes – XS, S, M, and L. Each size has a weight designation, so it’s easy to determine what is the best size for your cat.
Several reviewers say that this brand works better for their cat than more expensive brands. At around $10 a pack, the Kitty Caps brand is extremely affordable and might be a good place to start if you are experimenting with cat nail caps for the first time. Find them here.
2. Soft Claws
Soft Claws were developed by a veterinarian as a safe and humane alternative to declawing. They are made out of nontoxic vinyl, and manufactured in the United States. They are the same exact product as Soft Paws, with the only apparent difference being in the way they are advertised. Soft Paws currently appears to be available primarily through their website, while Soft Claws is more widely sold. You can purchase them here, on Amazon.
Like Kitty Caps, they come in packs of 40. If using on only the front paws, the pack should last 4 – 6 months (4 – 6 weeks per set of 10.) Soft Claws features a Cleat Lock System, which means that there are grooves on this inside of the caps designed for a better hold.
Tips for Using Cat Nail Caps
The best way to determine if cat nail caps are right for you and your cat is simply to try them out. But there are several tips and pieces of advice that can increase your chance of success.
- Cat nail caps can be put on yourself at home, but it may prove more challenging for some depending on the temperment of the cat and your own dexterity. If the task is too difficult for you to manage alone, try enlisting the help of another person. You can also always take your cat to the groomer and have it done there.
- Choose the right size caps. Each size has a weight chart on the package for your convenience.
- When squeezing the glue into the cap, fill it enough so that when you squeeze it between your thumb and forefinger a little glue starts to come out. If no glue starts to come out, you’ll need to add more (about 1/3 of the way full.)
- Hold your cat in your lap for a little while after all the caps are applied to allow the glue to fully set. You could also try keeping them distracted for a bit on a linoleum or hardwood floor. Their nails tapping on the hard floor can help the caps set.
- If the caps don’t fall off themselves after 6 -8 weeks you’ll need to remove them yourself. This can be done by trimming the end with a cat nail clipper, and then gently flexing and pulling off the remaining plastic.
- Be patient. Some cats will have trouble adjusting to the nail caps at first, but a lot of them get used to it after a few days or a few weeks.
- Sometimes cats will chew the caps off. If that happens, you can re-apply individual caps as needed.
- Don’t forget about positive reinforcement! Be sure to reward your cat with praise and treats after applying nail caps.
For more options and ideas for how to deal with inappropriate scratching behavior, read our article Humane Alternatives To Declawing a Cat.