Myths About Putting Nail Caps on Cats
Myth #1 – Nails Are Prohibited From Retracting
Definitely a myth! When cat nails express and then retract, the nail is not going up into the paw itself. When a cat relaxes and retracts the nails, this prevents the nails from touching the ground while the cat is walking. While wearing nail caps, the cat’s paws and nails are able to make all the same, natural movements as without. The nails comfortably extend and retract as long as the nail caps are applied properly – this includes being the right size for the cat’s nail, having the nail trimmed prior to application and with just enough glue to adhere.
Myth #2 – They Cause Damage To The Nail And Nail Bed
The Soft Paws brand was created by a veterinarian to be soft and non-toxic to both cats and dogs. When the nail caps are applied correctly, there should never be able damage or discomfort to the cat’s paws or nail beds. Correct application includes:
- Choosing the nail cap size that is a comfortable fit and shape for each cat’s nails.
- Using enough glue to adhere, but not too much that it overflows during application. The glue should not touch the cat’s hair, nail bed or skin around the claws.
- Trimming the nail slightly longer than a normal nail trim (just passed the top of the ‘hook’) and leaving space between the nail cap and the cat’s nail bed.
Myth #3 – Scratching Posts Can Be Used In Lieu of Nail Caps
Scratching posts are fantastic option for many cats by encouraging them to flex and stretch, provide an alternative for cats to scratch instead of furniture, carpets and window curtains, and to mark their territory with scent from their paws. A common misconception is that scratching posts “file down” a cat’s nails so they are less sharp. What they do is help the cat to remove dead layers of the nail sheath, revealing new, sharp nails underneath. So, even though scratching posts can maintain health cat nails, they will still be sharp and can still do damage to both skin and belongings.
The process before applying nail caps regularly also removes the dead layers of nail sheath and trim the nails to an appropriate length as well. Since, nail caps should be replaced no more than every 6-8 weeks (preferably every 4-6 weeks), this maintains good health and length of the nails, preventing damage from sharp scratching, and still allowing the cat to enjoy the natural urge to stretch, flex and scratch.
Myth #4 – They Don’t Last Long
The first few applications of nail caps may draw a cat’s attention, causing some to bite or pick at the nail caps. This is perfectly normal, and almost all cats will leave them alone after a few weeks or a few applications. Like many behaviors, positive reinforcement with treats, games and snuggles can help distract from picking at the nail caps and to help calm the cat during nail trimming and application of nail caps.
Myth #5 – They’re A Permanent Solution
Nail caps do not prohibit the natural growth of cat nails. So this means that the nails are still growing at a normal rate while wearing the nail caps, and have the potential to grow longer than is comfortable. Even if your cat leaves them alone with the first application of nail caps, they should not be left on the nails longer than 6-8 weeks. At this point, the remaining caps should be removed with nail trimmers, the nails trimmed and cleaned before applying a new set of nail caps. This maintains the health and length of the nails while providing ongoing protection from scratching.
Nail caps are great options for many owners and cats:
- Elderly cat owners, or those with thin skin or bleeding/clotting problems caused by medication or health conditions
- Families with small children and/or lots of visiting family and friends
- Households with antique furniture, quilts, rugs, etc.
- Cats or kittens who “play rough” or show aggressive behaviors
- Cats with skin issues, chronic itching, health problems, etc.
- Sphynx and hairless cats with delicate skin
- Cats whose nails get stuck in the carpet, bedding, clothing or other fabric
Nail caps are not always suitable for:
- Cats that go outdoors
- Owners that are not able to maintain a 4-6 week nail trim/nail cap replacement schedule
- Cats that continually bite or pick nail caps off after a few trial applications