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Cat Nail Caps Pros And Cons – Are They A Safe Solution?

Getting a cat often comes with a few significant concerns, especially when it comes to their nails.The big worry for a lot of new cat owners? How much will they scratch the furniture, people, and other pets? For this reason, you may have considered nail caps for cats. But, what are some of the pros and cons of cat nail tips?

The main pro of nail caps is that they are an effective and safe alternative to declawing for cats that are a little too eager to use their claws. The main con is that they need regular maintenance and can interfere with your cats ability to climb.

Fortunately, nail caps are a standard solution and work well for a wide range of cats. Like any product, though, feline nail caps come with a range of pros and cons, and it’s essential to understand them before you decide if they are a good option for your cat.

If you’re considering nail caps for your cat, you’re in the right place. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of nail caps in detail, as well as talking about some options for getting nail caps applied. Let’s dive in!

Are Nail Caps For Cats Bad

Generally, nail caps are not bad for cats.

There are a lot of differing opinions when it comes to nail caps. Some cat owners see nail caps as a lifesaving solution that allowed them to keep a cat they otherwise might have needed to rehome.

Other cat owners swear that nail caps can make your cat irritable and grumpy, that they don’t work, or that they’re expensive and unnecessary.

Figuring out the truth in the middle of all those opinions can be a struggle. That’s why we’ve cut through the opinions and put together this list of nail cap pros and cons based on the facts. Here’s what you need to know:

Pro – Nail Caps Protect Your Furniture and Drapes

Nail caps are one of the most effective ways to stop your cat clawing fabric, leather, carpeting, curtains, and anything else they can get their paws on. Your cat will still attempt to claw, but the caps prevent damage, keeping both of you happy.

Con – Nail Caps Need Regular Replacement

Nail caps are only a temporary solution and fall off with your cat’s natural claw growth cycle. You’ll need to replace them every 4-6 weeks and may need to replace individual caps even more often.

Pro – Nail Caps Help Prevent Accidental Scratches and Injuries

Nail caps are also a good option for cats with poor claw control, aggression, or that need to be around strangers or small children. The soft tips help prevent scratches, accidental or intentional, keeping you safer.

Con – Not All Cats Tolerate Nail Caps

Nail caps can feel odd to your pet at first, but most cats eventually adjust. Sadly, not all cats will adjust to nail caps, and they can be a severe stressor for some animals.

Pro – Nail Caps Are Usually Very Affordable

Nail caps are typically affordable, especially if you learn to apply them yourself. Several sets of nail caps will still set you back less than professional nail trimming or other solutions.

Con – Nail Caps Can Change How Your Cat Walks

Your cat might not move normally when they first get nail caps. Some will eventually learn to walk normally again, while others don’t seem to get used to the covers.

Pro – Nail Caps Can Be Used As A Scratching Post Training Aid

Nail caps can be a good option if you’re still teaching your cat to use scratching posts and cause no permanent changes to your cat’s paws or claws.

Con – Cats Cannot Be Allowed Outside While Wearing Nail Caps

Because claws are your cat’s leading defense and hunting weapon, nail caps can leave your cat too vulnerable if they are let outside. The only exception is if your cat goes out for leashed walks with your supervision or if they have a covered and safe cattio.

Pro – Nail Caps Do Not Prevent Normal Claw Growth

Contrary to popular belief, nail caps still allow normal claw growth. That’s actually why the nail caps fall off every 4-6 weeks; the outer layer of nails is shed along with the cap.

Con – Some Cats Fight Nail Cap Application

Many cats don’t like having their paws messed with, and some of them will resist nail cap application. That can lead to scratches, making a mess with the glue, and other complications.

Pro – Nail Caps Can Be Used In The Short Or Long Term

Nail caps can be used for however long they are needed in 4–6-week increments. There’s no need to continue using them if you no longer need them, and once you stop, you can always start again if needed.

Con – Some Cats Chew And Swallow Nail Caps

Some cats, especially cats that struggle with nail caps in other respects, will chew their nails to get the caps off. If they succeed, they might well eat the nail cap and may need to go to the vet to ensure the cap doesn’t cause an obstruction.

Pro – Properly Applied Nail Caps Have No Increased Risk Of Infection

Unlike declawing, correctly applied nail caps don’t increase the risk of infection in your cat’s paws. However, it’s essential to make sure the nail caps aren’t irritating the nail bed or causing abrasions since a poor application can increase infection risk.

Con – Nail Caps Can Interfere With Your Cats Ability to Climb

Cats that love to run, jump, and climb might struggle with these activities after you get nail caps. Climbing relies on claws for grip, and even jumping can rely on claws for added leverage and stability. Capping your cat’s claws can sometimes limit their mobility.

Now that we’ve gone through the list of the pros and cons of nail caps, we’re confident saying that using nail caps isn’t a bad thing on its own. However, nail caps will be more successful for some cats than others, and some cats might not be well-suited to using nail caps at all.

It’s essential to pay close attention to your cat’s behavior, mood, and other indicators of how well your cat is adjusting to having nail caps. While nail caps might make it easier to manage your cat, they may not be worth it if your cat is particularly upset by them or if they get in the way of your cat’s favorite activities.

Cat nail caps aren’t for everyone, but if they work well for you, they can be a great tool.

Do Nail Caps Hurt Cats

No, correctly applied nail caps don’t cause pain to cats. However, they can feel strange and might be a little uncomfortable, a little like having especially thick nail polish on your fingernails.

That’s why your cat might walk a little strangely when they first get nail caps until they get used to them. That’s a normal reaction to cat nail caps or cat boots.

However, improperly applied nail caps can be a little more likely to be painful or difficult for your cat to adjust to. Improperly applied nail caps can irritate the nail bed, causing some pain or difficulty. Inflammation and infection are both a lot more likely if the nail cap has been applied improperly.

Nail caps should never cause permanent damage to your cat’s paws. Even improperly applied nail caps should be able to heal after they’re taken off, assuming you don’t have a severe infection that goes untreated for too long.

If you suspect that your cat’s nail caps were improperly applied, significantly if they may already have damaged the nail beds, it’s essential to take your cat to the vet as soon as possible to get the nail caps removed and their paws treated.

How To Apply Nail Caps For Cats

For kittens, you’ll be able to apply the nail caps without trimming your kitten’s nails. That way, you’ll have enough nails to apply the cap properly.

Once your cat is an adult, however, you’ll need to lightly trim the ends of your cat’s nails before applying. Make sure you don’t trim too much, or you’ll leave your cat’s claws more tender and more vulnerable to infection.

Your cat’s nail caps will also come with a small tube of glue for application. You should only ever use the glue included with the caps to attach your cat’s nail caps since the wrong glue may interact with their nails or the cap material in unexpected ways.

Carefully fill each cap about 1/3rd full of glue. Some caps may call for slightly more. Flex your cat’s nail by pressing lightly on the top of the joint, and slide the cap into place. Never force a nail cap further than it will naturally reach; the glue will hold it in place.

If your cat struggles with the trimming or capping process, you may need to practice touching and manipulating your cat’s paws before starting to cap them.

Rather than fighting your cat, which can turn capping into a process they dread and fight, work with your cat to get them used to the requirements before capping.

Most nail caps are not fully set for 10 minutes after application, but they should be soft set within 5 minutes. Try to observe your cat for the full 10 minutes after application, but if you can only watch them for 5 minutes, that’s better than nothing.

Try to discourage your cats from biting or licking their nail caps, they can pull the cap off, but they can temporarily damage their claws if they do.

Will Vets Put Nail Caps On Cats

It depends on the vet. Some vets will cap cat’s claws, especially if they also offer grooming services or if the vet has been working with you to help manage negative claw behaviors.

However, even vets that are willing to put nail caps on your cat will likely want to teach you to do it yourself since it’s an easy process and one that needs to be done regularly enough that your vet will likely not want to do it every time.

That said, it’s essential to call your vet and ask whether they offer nail capping services since not all vets will take the time. Remember, vets tend to have a very busy schedule, so putting nail caps on your cat’s claws might well take away from other patient’s care.

Does Petsmart Put Nail Caps On Cats

PetSmart does offer nail capping services at some locations, mostly at locations that have a grooming center. However, it’s important to know that PetSmart locations often focus on dog grooming and might not offer cat grooming services.

If your cat is dog-averse, you might also want to ask if your PetSmart location has a separate cat grooming area. That way, your cat is less likely to be agitated by the dogs, which will make everyone’s job easier.

Since not every location sees cats, it’s important to call ahead before bringing your cat in or making an appointment online.

What Are The Best Cat Nail Caps

Here are a few of the best cat nail caps to choose from. Your vet or groomer might also have some recommendations depending on your cat’s breed or temperament.

The Best Cat Nail Caps# of CapsSizesColor OptionsMaterialsPrice
Soft Paws’ Claw Covers For Kitties404 sizes, including Kitten17 base colors, multipacks availableVinyl$19.95 per box
Purrdy Paws Soft Nail Caps For Cat Claws20, 405 sizes, including Kitten15Vinyl$7.99-12.99 per box
VICTHY Soft Pet Cat Nail Caps1004 sizes, including Kitten20 + in multipacksVinyl$6.99 per box
JOYJULY Cat Soft Claws Caps1404 sizes10Vinyl Resin$10.99 per box
Ninery Ave Cat Nail Caps204 sizes10Environmental PVC$5.29 per box

Things To Consider

Nail caps are a big step and are a commitment to your cat that you’ll take care of them after putting caps on them. Cat nail tips They are a good option for families with small children, delicate furniture, or rescued cats that are a little too reactive or aggressive. But, nail caps need regular maintenance, can take a while to get used to, and come with some risks of their own. 

If you’re considering nail caps, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself before deciding:

Can I Commit To Watching My Cat Carefully After Putting On Nail Caps

Even if you want to start with a vet or a grooming service putting on your cat’s nail caps, chances are you’ll take over the job at some point.

Think about if you have the time to spend 30 minutes to an hour every few weeks trimming your cat’s nails, putting on the nail caps, and monitoring them for comfort and a good fit after putting them on your cat.

Does My Cat Deal Well With Having Their Paws Handled And Am I Prepared To Work On This

Most cats are naturally protective of their paws, so it usually takes a bit of effort to get your cat comfortable with the nail cap process. Working with your cats’ paws without trimming or capping their nails is incredibly important if you want this process to be as easy and stress-free as possible.

Why Do I Want To Cap My Cat’s Nails

Capping your cat’s nails preemptively or for aesthetic reasons might not always be a good idea. Some people might want to start capping their nails right away, but you might also want to give your cat a chance to see what their claw behaviors are.

Many cats are very good with their claws and don’t need a lot of intervention beyond basic training.

Of course, if your cat is aggressive, a furniture destroyer, or otherwise destructively uses its claws, nail caps are a great option.