Cat Claw Caps: Are Cat Nail Caps a Good Alternative to Declawing?
Cat Claw Damage Control
Cats have a natural tendency to sharpen their claws on carpet and furniture, which can ruin it. How can you prevent damage from cat claws in your house?
There are three main ways to reduce or prevent damage from cat claws:
- Declawing the cat
- Use claw caps to cover the cat's claws with a plastic tip
- Provide alternative scratching surfaces
Declawing Your Cat
Advantages of declawing a cat:
- Declawing will completely eliminate damage from cat claws
- Once declawing is done, no additional work or maintenance is required
Disadvantages of declawing a cat:
- Declawing surgery is expensive
- Declawing causes injury to the cat- the tip of the bone that produces the claw must be removed
- Declawing is permanent and the cat will not be able to protect itself without claws
- Surgery has some risk since general anesthetic is used
The cost to declaw a cat is about $300. Laser surgery may be a bit more expensive, but causes less injury to the cat. Some people consider declawing as a fairly drastic measure- sort of like cutting someone's fingers off... Next we'll consider some alternatives to declawing.
Claw Caps for Your Cat
You can buy claw caps that cover your cat's claws. When the claw cap applied, the cat's claws are no longer sharp and do not cause damage.
Advantages of claw caps:
- The claw caps are not permanent- after a few weeks they will fall off and the cat will have fully functional claws again
- Cost is much less than declawing
- No injury to the cat
Disadvantages of claw caps:
- Claw caps need to be replaced every few months- they fall off as the cat's claws grow
- Application of the claw caps can be tricky. We have 2 people apply the soft claws- one holds the cat and extents the claw, the other fills the claw cap with glue and places it on the claw
The name brand Soft Paws® claw caps cost about $20 for a set of 40 claw caps and adhesive. This lasts about 6 months. Less expensive brands are available for about $15 for a set of 40 claw caps.
The glue used with claw caps is similar to superglue. Sometimes the glue gets on your fingers while you are applying claw caps. I have not gotten my fingers stuck together yet, but I have had a couple close calls. The glue applicator spouts that are provided get clogged up when the superglue dries. A glue dispenser with a snap-on lid like a standard superglue bottle would be better.
A concern with claw caps is ingrown nails. One of our cats had nails that curved back into the pad as they grew with the claw caps on. This required a trip to the vet since we did not notice it happening in time. We should have monitored the claw caps more closely so we could have trimmed the claws to prevent this problem. We discontinued claw caps for this cat. Our other cat has had no problems at all with claw caps.
Star Rating for Cat Claw Caps
Claw caps are effective at stopping cat claw damage, but require continuous monitoring and reapplication.
Provide Alternative Scratching Surfaces
Another option is to provide alternative scratching surfaces that you cat likes better than your furniture or carpet. This may require some trial and error to choose scratching surfaces that your cat will actually use. You can also rub catnip on the scratching posts to make it more attractive for your cat. Some popular options are scratching ramps made of cardboard, and scratching posts that are wrapped with rope.
Advantages of alternative scratching surfaces:
- Does not require maintenance, only occasional replacement
Disadvantages of alternative scratching surfaces:
- Not 100% effective- your cat may stlll sharpen its claws on your furniture
- Scratching posts take up floor space
Recommendations on Reducing Damage from Cat Claws
Since declawing is expensive and permanent, try other means first:
- Scratching posts and ramps are inexpensive and may largely solve cat claw damage problems
- Give claw caps a try if your cat is still causing damage
- Consider declawing carefully. If your cat has already ruined your furniture and carpet, there may be little reason to get it declawed!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2013 Dr Penny Pincher