Regular reader Mary brings this question....
I recently ran across a cat product that looks really interesting. I'm sure in your years of practice you must have heard of it. The product is called "Soft Paws" and they are little vinyl caps to put over a cat's claws to keep the cat from scratching furniture or people. What do you think of this product? Would you recommend it? Are there any hygiene problems associated with the product?
Soft Paws have been around for a long time, and are based on a sound concept. By blunting a cat's claws with a rubber cover, they keep the claws from causing damage to people or furniture. For those not familiar with them, they come in a kit and are applied to each claw (front and rear) with a glue. The principle is similar to using fake fingernails in humans.
The benefit to this product is that you are able to prevent a cat from clawing destructively without the pain, risks, and costs of declawing surgery. And they really do work. I have been swatted by cats with them on and have been very greatful for their use. So as an alternative to declawing, it really is a very sound product.
However, there is one drawback, and it's a big one. This product is very labor intensive. The caps will periodically fall off and may be chewed or pulled off by the cat. According to the packaging the caps will last for a couple of months, but I have rarely seen that happen. About two to four weeks is an average time to have to replace at least some of the caps. Most people will give up on Soft Paws after a few months of having to glue these on their cat's claws. At some point it becomes a big hassle, and for many is more trouble than it's worth. But for the people who have the time and desire to use them, they are a great product.