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A Deep Dive on Cat Nail Caps

Cat scratching furniture

Cat nail caps can work well for the majority of cats, and are a wonderful humane alternative to declawing (or living with shredded furniture). Once you get the hang of them, they can be relatively easy to apply, and most cats don’t seem to find them uncomfortable. They allow your cat to exercise their natural scratching behavior without damaging your belongings, and can protect your skin from scratches as well.

Nail caps are also not a permanent solution for scratching damage, as you’ll have to replace them roughly every 4-6 weeks (and they don’t all fall off at the same time, so you’ll have some claws exposed and some not).

Holding cat paw

Are cat nail caps uncomfortable?

Your cat’s claws will still retract with caps on, so they are able to stretch and make scratching motions. Your cat will also be able to walk normally if the caps are correctly applied.. Nail caps usually come in different sizes so that you can best fit cats from kittens to large adults. Nail caps shouldn’t be used on cats who are allowed to roam outside, as they’re unable to use their claws for defense if needed. 

Some cats may find the caps uncomfortable and will chew them off repeatedly, though this is the exception. The caps normally come off as the cat’s outer nail sheds, but cat parents need to keep an eye on their cat’s paws to ensure this is happening and the claw and cap don’t start to grow into the paw pad. 

How to apply cat nail caps

When using nail caps, try the caps on one at a time without glue first, to check the fit. Follow the application instructions carefully, including trimming your cat’s nails first. Do practice (non glued) sessions a few times if needed. This can help you get the hang of things as well. When gluing caps on, you may need to put one or two on at a time until all claws are covered. If your cat isn’t used to having their paws handled, you can start with getting them used to a nail trim. Use distractions and rewards such as treats or food, and work gradually. If it takes a couple of days to finish, that’s fine. Once your cat is more used to their paws being touched, you can move on to the nail caps. If the task becomes too stressful for you and/or your kitty, talk to your vet’s office or a reputable groomer about having them do the application for you. Most cats may find the caps a bit annoying at first but will adjust. If your cat repeatedly chews or pulls off the caps, they’re not a great candidate for them.

If you still have questions about cat nail caps, please schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians.

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