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Prevent cat scratching with nail caps

Nina Spitzer is a SheKnows.com columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

Save your cat... and furniture

"You paint your cats' nails?" People ask me this all the time. No! My cats wear nail caps because I love my cats, but I love my furniture too.

Painless alternative

You love your cat, but hate the scratching. Please DON'T de-claw! There's a humane alternative to de-clawing that's easy, safe, economical and most important … works! The part your cat likes best is that it's painless. The answer is vinyl nail caps. We've been using them on our cats for years and wouldn't have it any other way.

We have four animal rescue cats that were adopted as adults and they all wear nail caps. Each one easily learned to sit quietly while having its "pet-i-cure." The way to do this is to first have the kitty get used to having its paws handled while in your lap. A soft voice and a bribe of a kitty treat or two sure helps. When "Fluffy" is comfortable with this, you can graduate to the nail trim part of the procedure. Now, your cat is trusting and ready for the nail cap application.

How do apply nail caps?

First, you carefully trim the sharp tip off the cat's claws. Then, you drip a dot of adhesive into each nail cap just before it's gently pressed onto the claw. The glue dries within seconds. The non-toxic nail caps are usually applied only to front paws, but can be applied to the back ones, as well.

Additional nail cap information

The nail caps come in kitten, small, medium, and large sizes. The vendors' websites provide a sizing chart to help you know which size to order. Nail caps also come in a variety of colors and clear. For those cats into high fashion, the selection of colors makes it possible to be in style no matter what the season. For those of us with a herd of cats, color-coding cats makes it easier to know which cat is in need of a nail cap replacement.

Each nail cap lasts 4–6 weeks until the claw is ready to shed with the natural growth of the cat's nail. The caps usually fall off and are replaced individually. If a cap is on longer than six weeks, you simply need to trim the end of the cap, which breaks the adhesive seal and allows the cap to fall off. It's important to check the caps weekly in order to remove any that have been on too long, since a claw allowed to grow too long may grow into the paw pad.

The benefits of nail caps

Of course, the number one benefit of nail caps is your cat won't have to suffer the pain of de-clawing in order to protect your home from destruction. The low cost of nail caps will save thousands in furniture repair and replacement. The nail caps can also protect you and your family from possible infection caused by scratches. This is especially important in seniors who, due to blood thinners, diabetes and other conditions, may not heal as quickly.

Where can I find nail caps?

Nail caps can be found at pet stores including Petco and PetSmart, veterinary offices and on the Internet. Popular brands are Soft Paws and Soft Claws.

What about dogs?

Yes. Dog claws can do a load of damage too. And, yes, claw caps are available for dogs, as well.

Adopt a cat!

Maybe you've been wanting to adopt a cat for years, but were concerned about the scratching problem. Well, nail caps are the solution. Now you can adopt that kitty you've always wanted … and have a happy cat and a happy home too. Visit your local animal rescue, find your perfect furry friend, then go right to your local pet store or website and pick up some nail caps.

Photo credited to Nina Spitzer.

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