Cat Claw Cap FAQ – Are Cat Nail Caps Safe?

Cat Claw Caps Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Helps prevent your cat from damaging furniture
  • More humane than declawing your cat

Cons

  • Claw covers must be reapplied every 4 to 6 weeks
  • Cat claw caps should not be applied to claws of outdoor cats.  The caps take away their ability to defend themselves.

If you are looking for a short term solution while you are beginning a training program, then cat claw caps are a great choice.  Putting claw caps on your cat is a last resort option for getting your cat to stop scratching.  The best way to stop your cat from scratching is proper and consistent training.

Training your cat what to scratch is not going to happen overnight.  Cat claw caps are a wise choice to protect your furniture until you see results.

How Do Claw Caps Work?

Claw caps work by covering a cat’s sharp claws with a soft, blunt material.  Vinyl is often used in making claw caps.  The caps are glued directly onto the cat’s existing nail.  The caps fall off when the cat sheds its nail.

Why Are Claw Caps Bad?

Claw caps for cats are a humane alternative to declawing your cat.  However, there are some things to be aware of before deciding if claw caps are for you.

There are two disadvantages of using claw caps on cats.  Claw caps are not a permanent solution and must replaced regularly.  Also, claw caps limit a cat’s ability to defend itself and should not be put on outdoor cats.

Claw caps are not a permanent solution.  They fall off anywhere between 6 weeks to even 1 week, depending on your cat.  If you can put the claw caps on yourself this will not be a large hurdle to overcome.

Remember that cat claw caps are meant to be used as a training tool.  Use claw covers while you are training your cat to practice good scratching habits.  The claw covers protect your furniture until you establish the wanted behavior.

Do not put claw caps on outdoor cats!  Cats use their claws to hunt and defend themselves. Putting claw covers on your outdoor cat  leaves them open to attacks from neighborhood cats and local wildlife.

Do Vets Recommend Cat Claw Caps?

A relaxed cat having light green claw covers applied.

Veterinarians do recommend cat claw caps. When applied properly, claw caps will not prevent a cat’s claw from retracting, will not cause infection, and will not keep a cat from their natural stretching and scratching behavior.

Claw cap vet opinion strongly leans in favor of cat claw covers.  Vets recommend claw covers in place of declawing surgeries.  When paired with proper training, claw caps remove the need to declaw a cat.

An article from The Humane Society of the United States lists claw caps as a tip to stop unwanted scratching.  They recommend you ask your vet about claw caps as an alternative to declawing.

Here’s a quick tip to tell if an article about cat claw caps should be trusted.  If the article talks about how cats scratch on objects to sharpen their claws, move on.  Cats do not scratch to sharpen their claws, per se.  Cats scratch to remove the outer layer of their claw to expose a fresher, sharper edge beneath.  That is why you find hollow little cat claws around your house.  In this way, claw covers actually match a cat’s natural behavior!  When your cat sheds the outer layer, the claw cover comes off with it.

How Long Do Cat Claw Caps Last?

Cat claw caps are stated by the manufacturer to stay on your cat anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks.  Pet owners have found that they can last between 1 to 6 weeks.

How long a cat claw cap will last depends on:

  • If your cat is used to wearing claw caps
  • The age and activity level of your cat

In the end, it depends on your cat.  I know, we all hate that answer.  Without trying them yourself, there is no sure way to know if your cat will like claw covers.

Can You Put Cat Claw Caps On Back Paws?

You can put claw covers on a cat’s hind paws.  Cat’s do most damage to furniture with their front claws, so it might not be necessary.  There are some reasons you might want to consider putting claw covers on your cat’s hind legs.  This includes stopping your cat from scratching due to skin allergies.

If your cat has severe skin allergies and continually scratches themselves, then claw caps on the back paws is a good option. The claw caps decrease self-inflicted damage by preventing their claws from breaking their skin.

Can You Put Claw Caps On Kittens?

You can put claw caps on a kitten.  Kittens generally start scratching between 8 to 12 weeks of age.  Manufacturers say that a kitten should fit into claw caps around the age of 16 weeks, but some can wear them at 12 weeks.  To test, try a nail cap without glue.  If the claw cap seems too large, do not glue it on.  You can try trimming the claw cap at the opening to shorten it.  If it is still too large, wait until your kitten grows.

Soft Claws Feline Cat Nail Caps Take Home Kit, Kitten, Pastel Pink

Purrdy Paws Soft Nail Caps for Cat Claws Lipstick Pink

What Size Claw Caps For My Cat?

Cat Claw Caps are sized by estimating the size of your cat’s claw based on its weight.  If your cat is overweight, look at your cat’s paws to get a better determination of what size you should get.  If you find the claw cover is too big, you can trim the open end to make it smaller.

We checked the websites of two of the major claw cap companies; Soft Claws (Soft Paws) and purrdy paws.  There was no noticeable difference between their sizing charts.

A chart comparing sizes of cat claw covers.

How To Put Claw Caps On

First try to apply a claw cap without adhesive to make sure they properly fit.  You need enough claw surface to allow the glue to adhere, but you do not want to cover the nail bed.

  • Step 1: Trim your cat’s nails so the claw cap will fit to the base of the nail.  NOTE FOR KITTENS: Do not trim before applying.  You’ll need enough surface to glue the claw cover in place.
  • Step 2: Place some glue in the nail cap.  Gently squeeze the cap to spread the glue.  If glue comes out of the top, you used too much glue.  Wipe the excess off with a paper towel.
  • Step 3: Extend your cat’s claws using your fingers and slide the nail cap over the nail.
  • Step 4: Stay with your cat for at least 5 minutes after you finish applying.  This allows for the glue to properly set before your cat has a chance to investigate their new claws.  Do not allow your cat to lick or bite the caps while the glue is setting.

Cat Claw Caps Glue Replacement

For whatever reason, you might need more glue than what comes with your package of cat nail caps.  Oftentimes this is because the bottle dried out or was accidentally spilt.  Luckily, there is glue you can use instead.

The best glue to use for claw caps is the claw cap glue provided by the manufacturer.  Super Glue and nail glue can also be used if no claw cover glue is readily available.

Replacement claw cap glue can be purchased from the same manufacturers of the claw caps.  Super glue and nail glue can be found in pharmacies and supermarkets.  Super Glue and most nail glues are cyanoacrylate.  Cyanoacrylate is non-toxic once cured and will not harm your pet.

We recommend using the manufacturer’s glue first because different glue manufacturers use different curing agents.  Your safest bet would be to use the glue the claw cover manufacturer guarantees if safe for your cat.  If you are using a different glue, be extra careful to allow the glue to set before releasing your kitty.

Will Vets Or Pet Stores Put Claw Caps On?

A person with surgical gloves applies light green claw covers on a cat's paw.

Many vets will apply claw caps for you.  This is great for someone trying claw caps for the first time.  Your vet can explain to you how to properly apply claw covers and share their tips.  Some pet stores will apply claw caps as a part of their grooming package.  If you get your cat regularly groomed this is a great option for you.

Veterinarians and Pet Stores charge for claw cap application. We have found pet stores charging between $10 and $17 for nail cap applications as an upgrade to their grooming rate.  Prices vary based on whether you are applying nail covers to 2 paws or 4.

How To Take Claw Caps Off

Cat claw caps fall off naturally.  There is no need to manually remove the claw caps yourself.

And we are so relieved about that!  However…

If your cat has had a set of claw caps on for more than 6 weeks and the covers do not look like they are going to fall off, you will want to try to help the process.

To remove cat claw caps, use nail trimmers to cut the tip off of the claw cap.  This will help break the glue seal and the cap should fall off.

If your claw cap stayed on too long, you might have used too much glue when you applied the claw covers.  Make sure glue is not coming out over the edges when applying the claw caps.

If your cat’s paw looks irritated after applying the claw covers, but you did not use too much glue, you might have pushed the claw cap onto the skin.  Remember to glue the nail cap only onto the claw.  Do not push the claw cap into or over the skin.

Claw Caps Vs Declawing

If you are weighing claw caps and declawing against each other, then claw caps are the clear winner.  Unless a medical emergency, such as cancerous nail bed tumors, you should not declaw a cat.

The difference between claw caps and declawing is explained best with a simple analogy.  Claw Caps are similar to wearing vinyl nail covers over your own nails.  Declawing is similar to cutting off the tip of your finger to the first knuckle.

This is not trying to overstate how damaging declawing is, this is a fair frame of reference.

Please do not declaw your cat.

Soft Claws for Cats – CLS (Cleat Lock System)

Purrdy Paws 40-Pack Soft Nail Caps for Cat Claws Sky Blue

Should I Get Cat Claw Covers?

We recommend claw covers as a part of a complete training system. 

My cat Maya does not scratch our furniture.  This is not because she has nail caps.  This is because I spent time with Maya explaining what she can and cannot destroy. 

If your furniture needs extra protection while you and your cat are moving through your training, then cat claw caps are highly recommended!

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