Soft Claws for Cats: Doing the Humane Thing


When Sarah and I first got Avah, one of the conditions (beyond that we would take turns cleaning out her litter box in those pre Litter-Robot days) was that we get her declawed. My only justification looking back, was that we don’t have leather furniture, and I didn’t want our chenille sofas to be shredded by a claw-sharpening maniac.

I asked our vet’s receptionist about it when I took Avah in for her first shots, and she asked me “front and back? or just front?” Doing both just seemed excessive, even though Avah is an indoors-only cat, so I responded “front,” thinking that it would be enough.

Oh stupid, stupid me.

I took Avah in to get the works at about 10 weeks; spayed and declawed in the same go. When I came to pick her up, I fully expected her to be weak and sore, but what I wasn’t mentally prepared for was how damaged my baby was. She was totally gimped. Her two front paws looked wasted and torn up, covered in some kind of yellow clotting material and dried blood; we had to use special litter for two weeks so her wounds wouldn’t get infiltrated and infected. She could hardly walk. She certainly couldn’t jump. She ached. She looked at me like I should be able to help her.

But I was the one who had done it to her.

It made me cry watching her shuffle like a broken old woman around our house. I had no idea how terrible the experience would be, because even though I had worked for a veterinarian on the weekends when I was in junior high and high school, we never did a single declawing operation that I was aware of; I guess house cats in Sonora, Texas all go outside.

My point is that declawing is traumatic, inhumane, and cruel; I may not have known before, but I do now. Avah got over her major surgery relatively quickly, but the guilt over the pain I made her suffer – to “save” my furniture – will be around forever. All I have to do is look at her slightly deformed front paws to be reminded of her ordeal.

Which is why when Mike Cane sent me a link to Heather Williams’ Soft Claws experience, I decided to share the product (as well as the story of my folly) with you all.

According to the Soft Claws website:

Developed by a veterinarian, Soft Claws® are vinyl nail caps that glue on to your cat’s claws. It covers the claw tips so no damage occurs when your cat scratches.

Each package of Soft Claws® contains 40 nail caps, 2 tubes of adhesive, applicator tips and easy to follow instructions.

One package contains enough nail caps for 4 applications on Kitty’s front paws. Each application lasts approximately 4-6 weeks so one package lasts about 4-6 months.

Soft Claws® come in a variety of sizes so your cat or kitten will have a purrfect fit and in lots of fun colors plus clear for the most discreet feline.

After trying them Heather says:

They DO really work and they aren’t a gimmick. I picked some up on the weekend and, with the help of my daughter, we popped them on two cats in about 15 minutes from start to finish, including ‘drying time’ for each kitty. The cats just didn’t seem to care at all! I couldn’t believe it. Chester picked at his new nails for a few minutes but the glue held fast and he gave up and fell asleep.

Yes, they will eventually come off, and as Heather found out – not using enough glue might make one pop off, too. But what a better route to go than declawing. Anything is better than seeing flaps of skin where your kitty’s fingers should be.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

18 Comments on "Soft Claws for Cats: Doing the Humane Thing"

  1. I don’t think it is possible to take a non-cute photo of that cat is there?

  2. Nope. It is completely impossible, as Avah is too gorgeous. :mrgreen:

  3. Maybe this post will dissuade someone from putting a cat through that horrible declawing process. They basically *grab and rip* the claws out.

  4. Avah literally looks like she is missing the tips of her fingers to the first joint. :-/

  5. I learned the hard way as well. Our much loved Johanna recently died at around 20 years. I will share my home with a new cat some day, real soon I hope. These look like the perfect (purrfect) alternative! Thank you for sharing them. =)

  6. Heatwave316 | April 7, 2008 at 6:33 pm |

    That is a really great idea!!! Cute kitty. 🙂

  7. Thanks for checking out my blog and using it as part of your post!

    I can report that it’s been over a month now and we’ve only had to replace 2 nails on each cat!

    I actually think I used too much glue, as they aren’t falling off at all but are just growing out (imagine hair colour with new roots showing) so that they are making the kitties nails a bit long and they click clack across the floor. Luckily it’s very easy to trim off the ends of the nail caps if you need to (as we did) and then they start to loosen up. In the future I will put glue only in the ends – not squeezing it up the sides as I did the first time “to really make them stick”.

    Good luck everyone – these are a great alternative and really not a hassle at all!

    (p.s. SUPER cute kittie!)

  8. Hi Heather! Thanks for the update on your experience. 🙂

  9. Did you take the cat to a vet or a butcher? I have had many cats over the years and none of them were ever in that condition after a spay/neuter and front declaw. Up and around in a maximum of two days.

    They shouldn’t do anything near a “grap and rip” as Mike put it. They cut the tendons, remove the claw and cauterize.

    If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have any animals. But since my wife and daughters would explode without at least one cat in the house, a declaw is as close as I’ll get to a “decat.”

  10. Declawing is just like having your fingers removed. I’d never ever do that to one of my cats. I just put up with whatever happens to the furniture. After all, the furniture isn’t living. Not sure about trying to glue stuff on to mine, though. I have one with seven toes on one front foot and six on the other. He uses his like hands. Wonder if the glued on things would work for him?
    Oh, well; I aint doing it.

  11. @pji – Don’t get me wrong, Avah was moving around the very day I brought her home; but she was hurt, and her paws were tender for weeks.
    And no, I didn’t take her to a butcher. Or at least, that’s not what his license was for. 😉

  12. I’ve used these several times on one of my cats – he just can’t seem to not scratch the furniture. It’s an attention getting measure, because he’ll look at you first and then do it – although he clearly does it when we are not watching him either. He has managed to destroy the speaker covers to the big screen TV, the leather recliner and a couch, as well as completely ripping up the carpet down the the mesh near our bedroom door.

    I dunno – YMMV, but they work OK for a bit, but he works at biting them off. They will usually all stay on for about a week, and then we find little purple nail caps around. But then his claws are split from the glue, sometimes to the quick, and we had to stop using them, because he got an infection in his toe from the litter box where his claw split and was bleeding. We didn’t even notice until he started limping.

    Now, we just use sticky tape on some of the furniture, but not much we can do for the carpet, except to put one of those plastic runners over the areas he likes to scratch.

    I’ve already decided that I won’t have another cat that isn’t declawed, but I wouldn’t do it to a cat, so for the future, we made the decision to only adopt cats that have already been declawed.

  13. JD, the weirdest thing is that Avah will still do that – perch on the couch arm, stretch her arms out, look at me, make sure that I am looking at her, and then she’ll start viciously clawing…with no claws! It’s amazing how ingrained that instinct is. and the motions must be somehow soothing.

    Poor limping kitty. 🙁

    Adopting a declawed cat = good idea in your situation. 🙂

  14. I followed a kitty picture community on LJ and a LOT of them had softclaws and said it worked marvels (and it’s so cute, it’s like givign your kitty nailpolish or something XD). Indeed, declawing is bad 🙁 I think they should have to give you information on what it really is (taking a finger joint off, eek) and make you wait to do it. Obviously some people will still want to do it (sigh) but like you, many would probably not if they knew what it was!

    And LOL, my cats at home did that too, the scratching for attention xD. The funny part is that sometimes they scratch on things we don’t care about, so we ignore them… then they stop, meow loudly, make sure we can see them, and start doing it again XD!

  15. I have been meaning to try Soft Claws for our cats…we have three very beautiful, very loving, very EVIL kitties that have ruined our year-old sofa and chair. I don’t care at this point that they were IKEA purchases, every time I look at the sides of the couch with stuffing poking out I want to cry. I may have to sedate one of the cats, however…I have to wrap her in a towel to clip her claws at all, because she will maul me if I don’t! The other kitties just sit and have their “manicures” calmly, so I think they might take to the Soft Claws OK. I can’t wait to put pink ones on my prissy little baby girl kitty. LOL

  16. Christopher Gavula | April 8, 2008 at 12:53 pm |

    I have 7 cats – all indoor only. Some of the cats are declawed and some aren’t. I generally got them that way (all are rescues). I only had 2 (brother and sister) that I had declawed many yars ago because of a stupid rule in an apartment I lived in at the time. It was awful – one of the cats had trouble with bleeding for several days.

    Although I have one tempting me now – I will not have another cat declawed if there is ANY way to avoid it that isn’t more cruel to the cat. These sound like a great idea, but the possible splitting/infecting worries me a bit. Still, I may have to try them.

  17. shell shocked | December 14, 2008 at 4:33 pm |

    I came across this whilst searching the net for help as one of my cats has caught once of its claws and is in pain, and was compeltey shell shocked about what i read.

    Fact – Cats have claws, they always have. This is something you knew before you got one!
    Fact- Cats will scratch anything from carpets to people to wooden posts, again you probably knew this before you got one.
    Fact- Cats need their claws to protect themselves
    Fact- accept a cat for what it is, they have claws they scratch stuff if you dont want this dont bl***dy get one get a goldfish instead.

    And for those that have declawed their poor animals you should be done for animal cruelty… I would love to get my hands on you with a pair of plyers and see how you like having your finger nails pulled out.

    leave your poor moggies alone to get on with being cats as that is what they are afterall.

  18. We just got our male cat named Sophie, long story… Anyways. His paws look no different than before we got the claws removed. He's not limping around, and has hardly licked at his paws to remove any glue or stiches. If it were up to me, however; we wouldn't get him declawed but a few of his nails were ingrown, some were cracked, and we couldn't bare not getting it done because of the pain he was in.
    Softpaws, the vet said, would only make things worse in his current condition.
    We're definitely going to use these SoftPaws for our next kittens. =)

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