Dr. Penny Pincher has a Ph.D. in engineering and loves animals. He has raised peacocks, chickens, sheep, dogs, cats, rabbits, and pigs.
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?
How to Prevent Cat Claw Damage
There are three main ways to reduce or prevent damage from cat claws:
- Declaw the cat
- Use claw caps to cover the cat's claws with a plastic tip
- Provide alternative scratching surfaces
1. 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.
2. 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.
- There is 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 two 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® sells claw caps for about $20 for a set of 40 caps and adhesive. This lasts for about six 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 of 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.
Note: Claw caps are effective at stopping cat claw damage, but require continuous monitoring and reapplication.
Star Rating for Cat Claw Caps
3. Alternative Scratching Surfaces
Another option is to provide alternative scratching surfaces that your cat likes better than your furniture or carpet. This may require some trial and error to choose a surface 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
- It is inexpensive.
- It does not require maintenance, only occasional replacement.
Disadvantages of Alternative Scratching Surfaces
- Not 100% effective: Your cat may still sharpen its claws on your furniture.
- Scratching posts take up floor space.
Tips to Reduce Cat Claw Damage
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
sco on February 22, 2019:
Hey TaTa, I had a cat scratch my eye when I was a teenager. Declawing cats is bad, don't do it.
Jason Flowers on January 19, 2018:
Full disclosure, I represent Purrdy Paws, the oldest and largest nail cap manufacturer.
Our nail caps are a great solution to scratching, where you don't have to declaw your cat. It's used in conjunction to normal nail trimming. As others have written, declawing is basically like amputating your finger at the top knuckle :(
- Cats can still retract their claws as Purrdy Paws are developed by a veterinarian specifically to cat’s claw profile.
- Nail Caps are best for indoor cats, as they will stop cats ability to climb and scratch,
- Nail Caps will fall off naturally as the cat sheds their nails
- Nail Caps may fall off early, especially if they are to big, or if the cat chews on them. Most cats don't especially if you keep them distracted for 15 minutes or so after applying. Some companies offer designs they claim will lock the cap in. Don't believe this, to glue any 2 objects together requires maximum surface to surface area for glue to work, so having a grid or a cleat in the cap weakens the bond significantly.
- Purrdy Paws offers two types of adhesives, including an exclusive gel adhesive. Both are safe and non-toxic
- Plus they are fun, we have over 40 colors, many common combos, and you can customize any order by choosing specific colors in multiples of 10. Match your cat with your favorite nail polish or sports team!
We have lots more info, fun pics, and we can be contacted anytime with additional questions - hope this helps !
Allie on December 19, 2017:
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I have a cat who is generally good for the most part, but I live in an apartment where he’s technically not allowed but the landlord made an exception for me because moving in was a matter of emergency and I’ll only be here for 5 months. He started scratching the wall. I was terrified but found a nearly full bucket of their paint but I need a solution that’ll last the next 6 months or hopefully forever.
TaTa on September 03, 2017:
Those who are against Declawing have NEVER had their eyes scratched by a cat with claws like it happened to me!
So stop preaching that Declawing is bad! I want to get myself a cat but I can't now thanks to you preachy people! THANKS!
Irma on September 02, 2017:
DO NOT DECLAW YOUR CAT. You are amputating them! Find a much better and safer solution like, oh I don't know, GETTING THEM TRIMMED. If you loved your fur baby, you wouldn't declaw them!
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on November 28, 2013:
JakeFrost, thank you for your support. I was shocked to see my cat's paws on someone else's website!
Jake Frost from London, United Kingdom on November 28, 2013:
Just checking out your hub, very good. Hopefully you can get it removed from that horrible pirating site - thieves!
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on August 23, 2013:
Thanks for your comments L. M. and McClintick. The initial application of claw caps is a bit of work, requiring some patience from both the pet owner and the cat to put caps on each claw. After that, it is a lot less work to replace a missing claw cap once in a while as they come off.
Older declawing techniques did cut off the ends of the bone in the paws and this may still be done in some places. There are some less traumatic declawing methods available now including laser declawing.
L.M. Hosler on August 23, 2013:
I got my from the Humane Society already declawed but I am personally not in favor of declawing. I had read where their toes are actually amputated and I am not sure if that is correct or not. But my son just got a cat about a year ago and has thought about declawing. In fact his cat has clawed me a time or two. I will have to mention to him about these claw caps although they sound difficult to apply.
Great hub. Thanks for the information.
McClintick on August 21, 2013:
Declawing cats is what it is, but to say injury is a huge overstatement. They are only sore, though rarely for a few days if even. It's like a minor surgery for most cats to recover from. I have had two cats both declawed and they both were back to running and jumping without any soreness whatsoever within less then a week. I'm disabled and have no choice but to declaw; for my safety. To say a cat can't defend itself without front claws, which is false.
With my second cat "Ruffle" we had to wait three weeks before she could be declawed cause she was too young. A kitten has to be at least 10 or so pounds, and at least 2 months old before having the surgery. But in those weeks we had to wait she was clawing the hell out of my family and I. She wasn't being mean or anything, she just like to jump on people, climb up their legs for attention and petting. But her claws were so sharp she was drawing blood. Cat scratches hurt as I'm sure everyone knows. If you decide to or need to declaw it's best to do it young; older cats can have more trouble. Other options are nice if you can make it work, but in my situation I can't risk the alternatives. For the disabled it's often necessary to declaw your cat so you can enjoy them and give your cat the attention it needs safely.
kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on March 03, 2013:
It takes me about 5 minutes per cat about once a month. I mainly do the front paws and maybe twice a year the back paws....with the help of my husband!
And as you said....you don't invest in expensive furniture when you have cats :-)
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on March 03, 2013:
I think having an excuse NOT to buy expensive furniture is a major benefit of owning cats! I have not tried trimming a cat's claws- I would imagine this is probably about the same amount of work as applying claw caps.
kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on March 03, 2013:
It's so sad when people have their cat declawed. Like you mentioned in your article outside of the price, they are several disadventages. It's really painful for the cats and I heard that they have a hard time to walk for a while because it hurts so much.
I am a cat person and I trim the claws of my cats....and yes, they scartch some of my furniture. I have places that they can scratch....but they prefer our sofas! Anyway, when you have cats...you know that they might destroy a few pieces of furniture. Dogs eat stuff too. I find that my cats bring me so much joy and fun that I can live with a few desavantages.
It's the first time I ever heard of claw caps! Great idea!
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on March 03, 2013:
Yes, 6 cats amounts to a lot of claws! Furniture is going to wear out eventually anyway, cats just wear it out a bit faster...
Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on March 03, 2013:
HI! Great hub! I have always had cats, 6 currently, and I can't bring myself to get any of them declawed. I've had to cover a chair with a throw to cover some scratching! Right now, though, my 6 are doing pretty well. I have scratchers of different kinds all over the house. I yell "No" if they scratch the wrong thing and praise them when they use the right thing. It seems to help. I've never tried the caps. Too many cats, too much work--I couldn't keep up with it.
Voted up and more! Nice job of looking at all the alternatives.
Dr Penny Pincher (author) from Iowa, USA on March 02, 2013:
Thanks Ardot. The more I learn about declawing, the more I like the alternatives...
Ardot from Canada on March 02, 2013:
Great hub! I'm very happy at all the alternatives to declawing you have presented. I have always believed that people who get their cats declawed should have bought a stuffed animal instead.