How to Apply Cat Nail Caps (and Remove Them) Safely?

Just deciding to use cat nail caps won’t be enough. If you want to effectively curb your cat’s excessive scratching, learning how to apply cat nail caps is a must. This article covers detailed step-by-step process on applying and removing cat nail caps.
How to Apply Cat Nail Caps?

Applying cat nail caps is a safe and effective solution against excessive and destructive scratching. Cat nail cap application is a relatively easy process. And while your vet or grooming service can put them on your cat for you (for a small fee of course!), you can also do it yourself at home.

In this article we will see how to apply cat nail caps properly so that they are comfortable for your cat and don’t fall off easily.

You need to follow a step-by-step process to apply cat nail caps properly. This includes getting the cat used to holding still for a minute with her nails extended, picking the right size nail caps, and learning how to trim a cat’s nails. Also knowing the right amount of glue to be used is necessary to avoid any problems while removing the nail caps. But above all, you’ll need lots of patience! 

Sounds simple right? Still, let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these steps. To make it even easier for you, we will also explain in detail how to remove cat nail caps properly without hurting your cat.

What Size Cat Nail Caps Do I Need?

Cat nail caps are available in a variety of sizes to fit both kittens and adult cats. Generally, your cat’s weight (standard weight should be considered) will determine what size cat nail caps you need for your cat.

Most cat nail caps come in the following sizes: kitten, small, medium, and large.

If your cat is overweight, it doesn’t mean that she is a large-boned cat and needs large size nail caps. The best way to find the right size for your cat is to examine your cat’s paws.

To make sure that the nail cap size you choose is the right fit, try it on your cat without the adhesive first. The nail cap should fit snugly.

If it seems too big, don’t glue the nail caps on. Instead, trim the open end to make the nail cap smaller and try to fit it on. If that does not work either, get a smaller size.

Here are some guidelines to help you find the right size for your cat.

Nail Caps for Kittens

Kitten nail caps will fit most kittens by the time they are 16 weeks old. Some kittens can even wear them as early as 12 weeks old.

Small Size Nail Caps

Ideal for cats 6 months old and above and weighing 6 to 8 pounds. For example, Singapura Cat can wear the small size nail caps. Hence, if your cat seems smaller than the average full-grown adult cat, choose small size nail caps.

Medium Size Nail Caps

Medium-sized nail caps are designed for cats that weigh from 9 to 13 pounds. Generally, most average-sized cat breeds will need medium-sized nail caps.

Nail Caps for Large Cats

Cats that weigh approximately 14 pounds or more need to wear large nail caps. Large boned cats and large breeds such as Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest cat generally need large nail caps.

Always try the nail caps before gluing them on to your cat’s claws!

Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines. To find the right size nail caps for your cat, check the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Check out our list of best nail caps for cats.

How to Apply Cat Nail Caps Safely?

First of all, if you haven’t yet decided if nail caps are right for your cat, this article will help you make an informed decision.

The following steps cover every aspect of cat nail caps application. Generally, the entire process should take 15-20 minutes. Here’s how it’s done.

How smooth the application process goes will depend on how well your cat behaves and how familiar you are with applying cat nail caps.

Step 1: Get Your Cat Used to Being Still

Work on getting your cat used to holding still with her nails extended at least a week before you buy the nail caps. This will make things a lot easier when you start applying (and removing) the nail caps.

Some cats might not like their paws being held while others will let you get away with it. So, start slowly by petting the paws lightly with one finger and gradually hold the entire paw once your cat is used to the touch.

Then continue to the next step.

Step 2: Trim Your Cat’s Claws

This is an important step, and you will have to repeat it every time you apply new claw caps on your cat. Any type of nail clippers for cats like guillotine or scissors will be fine.

Once you have the clippers, get your cat in a comfortable position, and start trimming her nails.

When applying cat nail caps, you should trim the nails slightly longer than you would normally do. Kittens can skip this step.

If your kitty isn’t a fan of nail trimming, start by clipping just a few nails at a time. Take your cat to a vet or a professional groomer if you don’t feel confident about trimming her nails at home.

Step 3: Get the Right Size Nail Caps

As mentioned above, cat nail caps come in different sizes. They are designed to fit kittens, small, medium, and large cats. Depending on your cat’s weight, find the right size nail caps for her.

Generally, most average-sized cats will need medium size nail caps.

You can also choose the color of the nail caps if you wish. However, if you never used nail covers before, you should pick clear nail caps. They are easier to apply and are a better option for the first couple of applications.

Step 4: Keep Everything Ready

Now that you have picked the best cat nail caps for your kitty, check and see that you have everything you need ready. Different nail cap brands have different offerings. But all of them should include these:

  • Nail caps and adhesive.
  • Applicator tip.
  • Instruction manual.

Always read the instruction manual. It may contain specific guidelines from the manufacturer on how to apply cat nail caps.

You will need some paper towels to wipe any excess glue too.

It would also be a great idea to get your cat’s favorite treat as a distraction while you apply the nail caps.

Step 5: Ask Someone for Assistance (if needed)

By now, you should have an idea if you need someone to give you a hand with this. It will be a lot easier if you have help, especially for the first few times you put on nail caps on your kitty.

So, ask a friend or a family member whom your cat trusts and feels comfortable around. Pet and praise the cat during the entire process to make her feel relaxed.

Since cats can sense our moods and feelings, it is important that you and your helper are calm and encouraging throughout the process.

Step 6: Start to Put on Cat Nail Caps

Take a nail cap and gently pinch it at the opening. Doing this will make it easier for you to insert the glue. Then gently squeeze the glue into the nail cap until 1/3 of the nail cap is filled with it.

Make sure that you fill only one nail cap at the time so that the glue doesn’t dry up.

Gently squeeze it again to evenly distribute the glue and release any air bubbles. If the glue oozes out from the cap, it means you have used too much.

Use a paper towel to remove any excess glue. With your other hand, take your cat’s paw and using your thumb and index finger gently squeeze it till her claws are exposed.

Gently slide the nail cap filled with glue on the extended claw. Repeat the process for all the remaining claws.

When you are done, observe the cat for a few minutes at least before letting go. This will give the adhesive time to completely dry and prevent the nail caps from falling off right away.

Step 7: Praise and Reward Your Cat

Now all that’s left to do is to reward your cat with her favorite treats! You can also use treats while applying nail caps to encourage and distract your cat.

Talk to the cat in a calm and soothing voice. It will help her remain comfortable after (and while) you put the nail caps on. After all, the calmer your cat is, the easier it will be to apply (and keep on) the nail caps.

How Long Do Cat Nail Caps Last?

Most cat nail caps last about 4-6 weeks. After that time, they will fall off on their own. But if they stay on even after that, you will have to remove them manually no later than the eighth week since application.

Failing to do so will make cats uncomfortable and hinder their movement. This problem should not arise if you’ve followed the steps mentioned above.

On the other hand, the nail caps will keep falling off if you’ve not used enough glue during application. This can also happen due to wrong size nail caps. So double check your cat’s weight and manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the size of the nail caps.

If you want the nail caps to stay on for as long as they should, don’t forget to trim and clean your cat’s nails before applying a new set. Also make sure to use just the right amount of glue.

How long cat nail caps last also depends on the activity level of your cat. If she is relatively active, the nail caps may not last as long. In such cases, you might have to replace them sooner.

How to Remove Cat Nail Caps Safely?

Now that you know how to apply cat nail caps, let’s see how to remove cat nail caps properly. Generally, cat nail caps are designed to fall off as the cat’s nails eventually grow back.

But sometimes nail caps don’t come off by themselves. And in such situations, you will have to remove them manually. It is just as easy as applying them. Here is what you need to do.

Step 1: Hold Your Cat in Place

Get your cat to hold still in one place making sure she is comfortable. Again, use of treats can help!

If your cat is particularly fidgety, you can wrap her in a towel or a blanket leaving the paws free so you can work on them.

You can also ask a friend or a family member for help just like we mentioned before. This will help you use both your hands to remove nail caps.

Step 2: Extend Your Cats Claws

Once your kitty is comfy and holding still, take her paw in your hand and apply gentle pressure using your thumb and index finger. Once the claws are extended, the nail caps are more accessible and easier to remove.

Step 3: Trim Nail Caps

Using cat nail clippers, clip the ends of nail caps, just like you would use them to trim their nails. Once you break the seal of the nail cap, you will be left with just a vinyl tube around your cat’s nails.

Trim carefully and only little at a time. This way you will minimize the risk of injuring the quick, which can lead to bleeding and cause pain to your cat.

Step 4: Remove the Nail Caps

Once you’ve removed the tip of a nail cap, apply slight pressure to the base of the cap as if massaging it. This should break the adhesive bond until it is loose enough for you to remove the rest of the nail cap straight off.

If you have used too much glue, the adhesive bond may not come off right away. In that case, it may take a day or two for the rest of the adhesive bond to wear off completely

However, if this doesn’t break the adhesive, you may have to use a small pair of cat nail scissors. Don’t try to pry the scissors between the nail and the cap. Doing so can hurt your cat.

Instead, simply place the scissors flush against the top of the nail cap. Then trim the vinyl to make an opening from the rim of the nail cap to the base.

Once you have made the opening just peel away the nail cap.

If you are unsure about doing this at home, take your cat to the vet or a groomer and get the nail caps removed. They can also give you some pointers on how to remove cat nail caps at home next time around!

Step 5: Time for Rewards and Praise

Don’t forget to reward the cat once you are done removing all the nail caps. Doing this can assure her that there is nothing to be afraid of. It will also indirectly train her to stay calm while you remove the nail caps next time.

Furthermore, try to stay calm yourself. Be positive and talk soothingly to your cat during this whole process.

What If Cat Nail Caps Won’t Come Off?

If the nail caps still won’t come off after trying all the above, we recommend taking your cat to the vet or an experienced pet groomer. They have the necessary tools and know-how to remove the nail caps without causing any pain or injury to your cat.

They will also be able to tell you if you did something wrong (like using excessive glue) or if there is any other underlying reason why the nail caps are not coming off.

For example, your cat’s nails may have grown too long and the quick has extended. In such a case, you will need to get her nails trimmed first before trying to remove or putting on the nail caps again.

Applying Cat Nail Caps Needs Some Practice

Although putting on cat nail caps seems complicated, it is a straightforward and easy process. In fact, trimming the cat’s nails is the toughest part for most people due to the fear of risking injury to the cat.

But if you apply nail caps as described above, you should be good. It will be safe and effective against excessive scratching. Knowing how to apply cat nail caps safely can be useful as you train your cat to use a scratching post too.

It will prevent damage to your home, and you will no longer have to worry about having scratch marks all over your hands. Plus, you will save money on band-aids!

Other FAQs

Here are some more common questions about applying cat nail caps.

Will Vets Put Nail Caps on Cats?

Yes, most veterinarians are trained and experienced in applying cat nail caps. They can do this during a regular visit, or you can schedule an appointment specifically for this purpose.

Will Groomers Put Nail Caps on Cats??

Yes, most professional groomers are also trained and experienced in applying cat nail caps. You can take your cat to them, and they will do it for you.

How Do You Keep Cat Nail Caps from Falling Off?

The best way to keep cat nail caps from falling off is to use the right size and apply them correctly. Make sure the nail cap is snug but not too tight.

You should also avoid using excessive glue as this can make the nail caps harder to remove later.

Finally, check the nail caps every few days to see if they are still securely in place. If they seem loose, you can add a drop of glue to secure them again.

When Can You Put Nail Caps on Cats? Can You Put Nail Caps on Kittens?

Yes, you can put nail caps on kittens as soon as they are weaned, which is usually around 6-8 weeks old. But just to be safe, I would wait until they are at least 12 weeks old.

Do You Put Nail Caps on Back Paws of Cats??

Yes, you can put nail caps on all four paws of cats. In fact, many people do this to keep their cats from scratching furniture or themselves.

For example, putting on nail caps on the back paws of your cat can help if she has fleas or other allergies, and scratches excessively under the neck which may lead to severe lesions.

But since cats do most of the scratching (furniture and other stuff) with their front paws, you can choose not to apply nail caps to their back paws. It all depends on your preference and needs.

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      The Dutiful Cat