Scratched sofas and shredded curtains are a reality faced by many cat owners. Despite what we might occasionally believe, this kind of behavior isn’t some sort of vendetta! Cats naturally scratch to keep their claws in top condition, and can usually be trained to use scratching poles. However, sometimes razor sharp claws can pose a real problem to the humans of the household – if a cat is aggressive or destructive, sharp claws are an effective weapon. If a member of the household suffers from an autoimmune issue, or blood that doesn’t clot well, scratches can prove more than just an inconvenience. A couple of decades ago, declawing wold be the most frequently used solution, but today many consider the practice inhumane, and reserve it for medical necessity only.
Fortunately, there’s a middle ground between declawing your cat and leaving their claws at liberty altogether: cat nail caps. These caps are made from plastic, rubber, or silicone, and are attached to a cat’s nails with an adhesive. The caps have soft, blunted ends, preventing your cat from doing any damage to furniture or skin.
Below we reveal our top picks, helping you choose the right product if you decide to give claw caps a go.
Best Nail Caps for Cats Buying Guide & FAQ
If you think claw caps might be the right solution for your cat, you’re probably wondering how to use them, and how they could benefit both you and your beloved pet. Below we address some common issues, and answer some questions you might have about introducing your feline friend to claw caps.
Things to Consider When Buying Nail Caps for Cats
All cat nail covers are designed along the same principle; they mimic the natural shape of your cat’s claws in order to achieve a snug and comfortable fit, which won’t interfere with their day-to-day feline business. Each is moulded with a blunted tip to prevent destructive scratching, and is attached to the natural nail with an adhesive. Here are a few things to consider when deciding which caps are right for your cat:
Whatever color, size, or material you choose, make sure that your both cat caps and adhesive are non-toxic. Some cats have a tendency to chew their caps off, especially when they haven’t had a chance to become used to them. This can result in the cap being swallowed, so it’s vital to make sure this won’t have a negative impact on your cat’s health.
Most manufacturers will advise you about how long you can expect their caps to last. Generally speaking, longer predictions denote better quality, so try to go for a cap which will last for at least two weeks on your cat’s nail.
Choosing claw caps in the right size is absolutely essential: too small and they won’t slide onto your cat’s claws, too large and they will become loose and fall off much more easily. Generally speaking, kittens aged 16 weeks and up will be able to wear XS, small cats and kittens aged over 6 months will wear S, average sized domestic cats will wear M, and large cats, such as Maine Coons, will wear L. Each manufacturer will provide further advice about their particular product, but sizes are fairly standardized.
If you prefer to steer clear of bright colors, some manufacturers provide clear caps which are not noticeable, but others stick to bright shades. Vivid colors can actually be a practical choice as well as an aesthetic one, since it will be easier to tell when your cat has lost a cap.
Benefits of Using Nail Caps for Cats
It can be tricky to get the hang of applying nail caps – especially if your cat wriggles around –but a little patience can be well worth it when the benefits of using these caps are considered:
- Nail caps provide a safe, reversible, and humane alternative to declawing, which brings the risks of discomfort, pain, and infection
- Nail caps prevent your cat from destroying furniture and fabric around your home
- Nail caps prevent your cat from accidentally injuring you with scratches
- If your cat has a wound or skin condition, nail caps prevent them from doing themselves further damage through scratching
- These caps don’t prevent your cat from extending and retracting their claws as normal when applied correctly
- Nail caps are simple to apply
- Nail caps reduce the frequency with which you’ll need to trim your cat’s nails
Training Techniques You Should Try Before Using Cat Nail Caps
Not all cats will take equally well to nail caps, so you should try and build up to applying them gradually.
- Get your cat used to having their nails handled, clipped, and capped from an early age. Kitten claw caps are available, and if you plan on using caps, starting at a young age will allow your cat to get comfortable with the process.
- Before you apply the caps, begin to gently handle their paws to get them used to the sensation.
- Practice extending your cat’s claws by pressing gently just above where the claw retracts into the paw.
- Get your cat used to having their claws clipped. Clip only one paw at a time at first.
- When your cat is calm during the clipping process, you can try applying caps.
Q: What are cat nail caps?
A: Cat nail caps are plastic, rubber, or silicone caps, which are placed over a cat’s claws to prevent destructive scratching. They offer a safer and more humane alternative to declawing, and can be applied fairly easily at home, or by a vet. Caps put an end to scratching whilst being comfortable to wear, and don’t interfere with a cat’s ability to retract their claws.
Q: How long do they last, and how often do they need to be reapplied?
A: How long nail caps last will depend partly upon which brand you choose, but largely on your cat’s behavior. Some cats get used to the caps quickly, and forget about trying to remove them, but others may chew their caps at first, which could cause them to pop off. When a cat is used to wearing nail caps, they will only need to be changed every four to six weeks.
Q: How to apply the cat nail caps?
A: You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but nail caps are generally applied by:
- Clipping your cat’s nails
- Ensuring the cap is a good fit (it should stop just short of your cat’s cuticle)
- Placing a few drops of adhesive into a cap
- Waiting for a moment, before sliding the cap onto the claw
- Distracting your cat – for example with food – to allow the glue time to set
Q: Can cats get infections from nail caps like humans can from acrylic nails?
A: No. As long as you apply claw caps correctly, they won’t promote infection. The cap sits on the tip of the claw, which is naturally shed as they grow, so there is nowhere for an infection to form.
Q: Should nail caps only be used on indoor cats?
A: Generally, yes. If your cat spends the majority of their time outdoors, they’re much more likely to need sharp claws to hunt, defend themselves, and climb. If your cat only spends a small amount of time outdoors, whilst supervised, then nail caps could still be an option, but you should be cautious. Nail caps are mainly intended for use by indoor cats.
Q: Can cats still retract their claws while wearing nail caps?
A: Yes. The caps only cover the part of the claw which is always exposed, meaning their claws can be extended and retracted as usual. This is vital for comfort, and many cats extend and retract their claws repeatedly as a stress-release mechanism.
Our Top Pick
Our prize for the best nail caps for cats has to go to Soft Claws. Their set of 40 claw caps are bright and fun, as well as being durable and easy to apply. The set can be had for under 13 dollars so is a great, cost-effective solution to scratching problems. Soft Claw are definitely the best-known brand of claw caps for a reason!