16 September 2013

"Soft claws" for cats

A variety of furniture and structural elements in our home have been shredded by cat claws, so this caught my attention:
Soft Claws nail caps are an ‘attractive’ and humane alternative to declawing your cat. Developed by a veterinarian, Soft Claws are vinyl nail caps that glue on to your cat’s claws. The nail caps cover the claw tips so no damage occurs when your cat scratches. One package contains enough nail caps for 4 applications on Kitty’s front paws. Each application lasts approximately 4-6 weeks. Soft Claws come in Kitten, Small, Medium, and Large sizes, and in Natural, Purple, Pink, Blue, and Red colors. 
Do any readers have experience with these, or any recommendations?

Via The Soul is Bone.


  1. Yes, I first used these (or perhaps a competitor -- they were called Soft *Paws*, IIRC) in 1998 or 1999 at our vet's recommendation. They worked well for my cat. I
    think he found them a little annoying and awkward, so he didn't want to use his claws as often.

    They're easy enough to apply. Part of the benefit is simply that you'll probably trim your cat's claws more often than you do now. You have to trim them to apply the caps. Also, if you use bright-colored ones, it's immediately obvious when your cat needs another trim, as they start falling off when the claws grow long.

  2. I would pay to watch someone try and get those things on a cat without heavy sedation.

  3. I used them on my mother's 22 pound cat; they were relatively easy to apply but he spent the entire night chewing and biting his nails to get them off. By morning only one was left.

  4. 1. A friend's cat was outfitted with these. I wasn't there, but it took three people to get them on him. He was a rather unfriendly cat, however, and didn't like to be touched whatsoever. He couldn't STAND the claw caps and obsessively chewed them off within two days. Very unhappy kitty.

    2. I tried them on a kitten who was very energetic and destructive. He didn't mind having them put on at all, but was so active that they came off on their own within a few days. I only applied them once more after that, as the end result was the same. There is absolutely no way I could have gotten on any of our other cats; they HATE having their claws clipped, let alone anything else!

    Based upon these two experiences, I would say that if your cat is amenable to having their paws handled enough to put the caps on AND is not so active that the caps might not be able to withstand it, they might work for you. Of course, so much is up to the individual cat's personality...they could hate them. I would also not recommend using bright red caps. These were used on cat #1 and it looked rather...gory. Good luck!

  5. I use them on two of cats. Surprisingly the both give us no trouble putting them on. Both cats took a few days to adjust to them, but neither is bothered by them now. One cat has a few fall off each week, whereas the other might lose one every 10 days. The one who doesn't lose them basically stopped scratching. Since they stay on so long most of her nail have grown out a lot with the caps on the ends. She now ticks as she walks, but doesn't seem bothered by this. Our furniture is much better off with the caps, and the cats are better off because we don't yell at them anymore for scratching.

  6. No experience (though they look like a PITA to install and keep on!), but recommendations? Got those.

    1. If your damage comes from claw sharpening activities, versus simply running/jumping on fragile furniture in the normal course of the day, then you can prevent that damage by giving your cats an alternative. Too many cat owners yell at/punish their cats for a normal, instinctive behavior without ever providing them a safe (for the owner) outlet for the behavior. In our house, the cheap corrugated cardboard scratch pads are hugely popular, as is our wicker laundry basket, which we've designated as an Approved Scratching Device. The key is training. When they scratch where they shouldn't, you indeed yell and fuss, but (here is the critical part) then you immediately take them and put them on the safe scratching area. And every time you see them sharpening their claws on that safe spot, you praise them.

    I've never had a cat take more than two weeks to learn where she can and cannot scratch. Consequently, my incredibly inviting Magnepan speakers (which look JUST like giant scratching posts) are never touched. But we go through cardboard scratch pads like water. It's an expense I'm happy to pay.

    2. If the damage is caused in normal running about, then it can be largely prevented by keeping the claws trimmed. This is another thing that requires training. I've had cats who didn't care if their paws were touched, and cats who struggled and initially bit me during claw trimming -- all of them eventually arrived at the same behavior, which is resigned patience during the procedure. Contrary to public opinion, cats are very trainable. But you've got to outstubborn them, and reward them for good behavior, just like dogs.

    Seems to me that the amount of effort involved in putting these tips on, and replacing them when they come off, would in the long run easily outstrip the effort involved in regularly trimming claws and training cats. That said, cats are a lot harder to train when they're older and have ingrained habits. But it's still possible. (Good human-quality tuna, or tidbits of yummy shrimp, are great inducements!)

  7. Fletcher, these are not hard to put on if your cat has reached the resigned patience state (as mine have). My cats had their approved scratching mats and cardboard (which they still use), but they were never 100% on these. They are smart enough where they wouldn't scratch on the sofa and chairs if we were around, but the damage was still evident. The claw caps have prevented new damage.

    Another upside of the claw caps is the more frequent claw clipping (each time you replace a cap), but shorter overall time. My one cat would easily put up with a paw's worth of clipping before she had had enough and struggled. Now we rarely reach that point since it's only clipping a single claw and slipping on a new cap.

  8. We use these on one of our cats and they work well. They go on quickly and we refill about once a month, whatever ones come off. We like them and they are far less tramatic for the cat vs. declawing.

  9. I used these with 2 of my cats. They clawed the door frames :( It would take some time to do it but the cats got used to it and knew it was going to happen if they liked it or not. It saved many renting door frames. I did try these on my younger two cats and they would come off fast. I believe because the caps were still too big. But I have been lucky with the two younger ones not needing to claw up everything. They have stuck to the cat tree.

    I feel like they are worth it. With my older cats we would clip and replace as needed and worked well for me.

  10. I have them on one of my cats, who doesn't mind them at all and they last for about a month. My other cat very pointedly chewed all of them off right after having them applied and we never tried putting them on her again. You can get a generic version on ebay much cheaper. I'd say try them on a claw or two and see how the cat deals with them, that'll let you know if you can do the whole set.

  11. Larry: Good point about the shorter clipping time due to fewer claws being clipped. You're right that most cats will tolerate paw handling much more easily if it's just one paw or a couple of claws.

    Colby: less traumatic than declawing? HELL YES!! Let's call declawing what it really is, shall we? It is the *amputation* of the first phalange of every toe on a cat's paws, bone and all. If a human were forced to endure having every single finger cut off at the first knuckle, we would rightly call that torture.

  12. My sister's cat used to wear these - she yanked them off within a week or so. She's a fairly destructive cat (she will lick herself raw and bleeding if she is stressed or doesn't have something to scratch, and you can't leave papers on the floor) but we found that she does much better if she has some cardboard to destroy. You don't even need to buy fancy cardboard scratchers - a piece of a box will do.

  13. Fletcher,
    Everything you said, seconded. Our older cat hated nail clipping, so we would clip one or two at a time. Now, I can get all the front ones, and he's only mildly annoyed. He prefers to scratch on the rug, so we have one sacrificial rug. New cat a bit more amenable generally, and she likes the scratching area on the cat-tree. A little cat-nip helped her. We also play with them a lot, so they aren't bored.

    Also, did a bit of cat grooming at the animal shelter, and a good pair of rose gloves (leather gauntlets) with thumb and index finger tips cut out, and the bitingest cat becomes manageable. Staying calm, keeping them still, decent clippers, all makes a difference.

  14. A cat who doesn't stretch anymore?

    May as well keep them in a crate. :(

    I figure that ripped up stuff is just the price of having a cat. If it's really something that must not be damaged, I move it to where they can't get at it. If it can't be moved, wrap it up in aluminum foil for a while. They'll lose their taste for it.

  15. I used them for a while on my feral rescue. They went on pretty easy, but she didn't need them for very long, she's not destructive and settled down pretty quickly. However, I did take pains with her to accustom her to being touched and handled, paws included before I tried applying them.

  16. I used these on two cats that happened to be born at the vet clinic where my ex worked. Those kittens were handled from very early on and we got them accustomed to things we'd eventually need to do, like bathing, cleaning their ears, brushing their teeth, and handling their paws for nail clipping and application of Soft Claws or a similar product. Having seen declaw surgery, we knew we weren't going to go that route, so we habituated the kittens to that kind of handling.

    With cats that are unbothered by having their paws manipulated, Soft Claws work great. They can be applied easily, they seemed to last a few weeks, and successfully prevented claw damage from scratching or racing around.

    Would I try it with the semi-tame cat at my job who will let me feed her and pet her but tries to bite and claw if picked up? Not so much. At least, not without working extensively to habituate her to this kind of handling. And even so, cats are (in my non-professional and very subjective experience) less malleable, behavior-wise, than dogs. A cat who Does. Not. Like. having his or her feet interfered with is probably not going to accept these if introduced to the concept as an adult.

    Just my 2 cents, and your mileage may vary.

  17. I used these once about 8 years ago. My cat was easy going enough that getting them on wasn't a problem, however they didn't fall off as intended and after well over a month (possibly a couple) her claws got long enough that it seemed to be getting uncomfortable for her to walk. Having to cut the soft paws off was pretty messy stressful and I felt terrible for putting her through it. It doesn't seem like anybody else had that problem though.

    One thing I did wonder notice from the start though is that the soft paws seem to interfere with a cats ability to retract their claws (they become too wide for the sheath).

    I wouldn't use them again or recommend them.

  18. These are crap. Learn to socialize your cats instead.

  19. I used them once, about seven years ago: I only got as far as putting them on one of the cats, because he was so distressed (and walked as if he was drunk until they he'd managed to chew them all off a couple of days later, all the while looking at me as if I'd sold his very soul) that I didn't fancy doing it to the his sister. Now they have a large cat tree, and the continue to rip up the sofas. I don't mind. I'd rather have tatty sofas than no bundle of furperson to warm the bed at night.


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