Cat Nail Caps – Everything you need to know

Cat Nail Caps

By Jennie @ Ragdoll Cats World

May 11, 2022

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As a cat owner you may be wondering, what are nail caps and do they stop your cat from clawing furniture? Do nail caps really work? Are nail caps cruel? Is it worth buying these for your cat? In this article, we help you understand how nail caps can stop your cat from destructive scratching!


What are cat nail caps?

Cat Nail caps have been around since 1990 having been invented by a veterinarian as a humane alternative to declawing, which is a cruel practice and illegal in some states.   Cat nail caps are small pieces of soft rubber that fit over the tips of your cats’ nails to keep them trimmed and covered.

These caps serve as a barrier to prevent your cat from clawing furniture and other things around the home, such as plants, carpet, curtains, etc. Nail covers can also prevent your cat from scratching and hurting people, especially children. They can also be used if your cat has a skin condition that is aggravated by scratching.

The great thing about Nail Caps is that they are inexpensive, safe to use and can be applied easily by yourself.

Cat Nail Caps

How do cat nail caps work?

Nail caps resemble a cat’s claw only being hollow. They are fixed onto the cat’s nail with glue.

Cats can still scratch on their scratching post as normal, but their nails will not be able to inflict any damage. This allows them to stretch their muscles and spread their scent normally.

Nail covers can be applied to both the front and back paws. Many people choose to do just the front but if your cat scratches itself excessively or causes damage to furniture by running and jumping on it then it might be best to cover the back claws too.


What are cat nail caps made of?

Nail Caps are made of a soft, flexible material, such as rubber, vinyl, plastic or silicone,  that is fitted over the nail. The adhesive used to bond the cap to the nail is cyanoacrylate, which is used in medical, veterinary and first aid applications.

They can come in a variety of colors and patterns, including glitter and glow in the dark!

glitter Cat Nail Caps

Are nail caps safe for cats?

Yes! Nail caps are safe, painless and non-toxic. The nails grow naturally and cats are still able to extend and retract their claws as normal.  Even if your cat manages to swallow one of its nail caps they will pass through the digestive system with no issues. The glue used is non-toxic too. Just make sure you purchase your nail caps from a reputable brand to be guaranteed the quality.

After the first thirty minutes, most cats barely notice they are wearing them. Whereas some cats may take a few days to adjust. They may try and bite them off but this is just normal behaviour and most cats get used to wearing them after a few applications.


How to size cat nail caps?

To determine what size nail covers your cat will need to need to look at the size of its paws. The average-sized cat will need medium-sized nail caps. Larger cats such as Ragdolls and Maine Coons will probably need the large-sized caps. As a guide the following sizing is suggested:

  • Small: From 6 months of age. Approximately 2.7-3.6 kgs. If your cat’s body seems smaller than an average full-grown cat’s, choose small.
  • Medium: Approximately 4-5.8 kgs.
  • Large: Approximately 6.3kgs and up.

Kittens can wear nail caps from 12-16 weeks of age. If the nail cap is too long for your kitten you can trim the base to make it shorter.


How to apply cat nail caps?

When it comes to choosing claw caps, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First and foremost, make sure the nail cap fits your pet’s nails properly.

Once you’ve selected the right nail cap for your pet, make sure you apply it correctly. Start by cleaning and trimming your pet’s nails thoroughly before applying the caps.

To attach the cap to your cat’s nail, fill it with glue and squeeze the flat side of the cap together. If no glue rises to the surface, you have enough in there. If a little drop can be squeezed up without falling out, it’s about right. If it overflows, drip the excess onto a paper towel.

Extend your cat’s claw completely and slide on the cap and hold it in place for a few seconds. It helps if you have someone else hold the cat while you do this.

Sometimes it helps to place your cat in your lap, facing away from you, so he or she can’t back up. Some cats don’t mind being wrapped in a towel so you can remove one paw at a time to apply the nail caps.

The process should take about 10-15 minutes. Many people have commented that the hardest part of the process is trimming their cat’s claws before putting the caps on.

Once all front caps are installed it is advisable to distract your cat while the glue sets. Food is always a good distraction!

If you make applying nail caps part of your cat’s regular grooming routine they will get used to the process in no time!

How to apply Cat Nail Caps

Where can I get cat nail caps put on my cat?

There are many different places where you can get claw caps put on your cat. If you are confident, you can easily apply them yourself, although it’s best to have help from another person. You can buy cat nail caps at your local pet shop or online. If it’s your first time applying nail caps to your cat then you may feel comfortable having a professional do it for you.  A veterinarian, a pet supply store, or pet groomer should be able to do this for you for a fee.


How to remove cat nail caps?

Nail caps will usually fall off naturally when the cat sheds its outer nail. However, from time to time you might find a claw cap that is stuck on. If this happens trimming the very tip of the nail may help break the adhesive seal and the cap should fall off. Another method for removing it is to use acetone or nail polish remover on a cotton ball and rub the claw cap with it until it pops off.

Cat Nail Caps

How to keep a cat from chewing nail caps?

One way to keep a cat from chewing on its nail caps is to provide them with a variety of chew toys. Some cats prefer hard objects to tear and crunch, so provide them with something like a Kong toy filled with kibble or some other type of bite-sized toy. If your cat tends to chew on its claw covers, try using claw caps that are difficult for them to remove, such as those that are glued on or have a tough adhesive.


How often do you need to replace them?

Nail caps usually last around 4-6 weeks. Nail caps come off gradually as your cat sheds the outer layer of its nails. However, if they don’t fall off naturally, you’ll need to replace them at 8 weeks.  Colored claw covers, as opposed to clear, make it easier to spot that they have fallen off as their absence is immediately apparent by glancing at the cat’s paws.

blue Cat Nail Caps

Do nail caps stop my cat from scratching furniture?

Yes! A cat claw cover is a good way of protecting the furniture inside your home from their claws. Their claws won’t tear at your things any longer, but at the same time, the cover won’t interfere with their regular use of their claws.


When are nail caps not suitable for your cat?

Claw covers can be a great way to keep your cat’s nails trimmed and healthy, as well as stopping them from scratching your furniture, but they’re not always suitable for all cats.

Nail caps should only be used on an indoor cat that doesn’t venture outside. If your cat is an outdoor cat and it has nail caps on, it will not be able to defend itself if it gets into a fight with another animal.

Additionally, some cats may not like having their nails capped because it makes them feel restrained. If your cat is continually biting them after several applications then maybe they are never going to be able to adjust to them.

The plastic caps do make a faint tapping noise when the cat walks on a hard floor, so if you’re super-sensitive to noises like that, you might want to try another option.


The Best Nail Caps for Cats


If you’re unsure whether or not nail caps are the best option for your cat, talk to your veterinarian about options that are more suited to their individual needs.

Want to match your cat’s nail caps with your own nails? Then check out I Want Those Nails! for inspiration.

Written by Jennie @ Ragdoll Cats World

I'm Jennie, the creator of Ragdoll Cats World. I have been owned and loved by Ragdoll Cats for almost twenty years after getting my first Ragdoll kittens, Huey and Choo-Choo back in 2003. They lived to the grand old age of 18 and 17 and they even made the move from London to Australia with me! We now have two Ragdoll cats, Violet and Ocean, and a Maine Coon cat named Eddie, and we love sharing our knowledge of all things related to Ragdoll Cats with you at Ragdoll Cats World!

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