Are 'peticures' – fake nails for animals – ever a good idea?

Pictures of moggies and pooches rocking nail polish and glue-on claw caps are appearing on Instagram, but worries from vets and charities ought to give owners paws for thought

How sexy should your dog be? Can a shih-tzu ever pull off hot pink? Questions once taboo in polite Crufts circles are now breaking cover with news that animal nail polish and clip-ons have become Instagrammable.

The “peticure” hashtag is presently a convivial mix of people who have done their animals’ nails and people who can’t spell “pedicure”. But getting involved is easy. Simply buy a pack of coloured claw caps, (£4 on Amazon), and attach them to your cat’s paws. The claw-cover, historically, was a mechanism to stop kitty ripping up the Habitat furniture, but they have now been adapted. Doggy nail polish has no proven medical uses, but it is available in shades including “Happy Hot Pink”, “Chic Silver” and the more demeaning “Base White”. Yours for a tenner. Match your pet’s nails with your own for the full effect, and try not to think of that South Park episode where Paris Hilton’s lapdog blows its own brains out.

In California, specialists are already emerging. Peticures By Tess offers “aromatherapy and T-touch to relax each pet before grooming their nails”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, animal welfare charities have so far been less keen to embrace pooches and kitties bringing sexy back. The killjoy community warns that clip-on nails are no fun for the pets themselves. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home recently reported a case where a cat with red claw was brought in, permanently bonded to its fake nails. Their removal required general anaesthetic.

Cat and owner's matching nails
For full effect, match your nails to your pet’s claws. Photograph: @cristimari_/Twitter

In 2015, a Swiss ‘‘fashionista” reportedly adopted a cat called Broccoli from the local shelter, kitted her out with hot nails, then decided to return the unfortunate mog to the same shelter, new plastic sheaths still intact.

Evolution isn’t wrong here: cats need their nails. They use them to groom themselves (a deep kind of “peticure”), to climb, and to cling on after jumping. “Covers glued on to each individual claw prevent cats from expressing their natural behaviour,” says Cats Protection’s clinical veterinary officer, Vanessa Howie. “Not allowing a cat to exhibit this normal behaviour could lead to behavioural problems.”

Ria Winstanley runs the Pet Spa in Chelsea, west London. She doesn’t see the peticure business booming in the UK just yet. She says her salon used to occasionally paint dogs’ nails back when they had an outlet in Harrods, “but we certainly don’t do cats – if you had ever had to groom a cat, I don’t think you’d be asking me that question. When grooming cats, you do what you can, then get out.”

Coincidentally, “you do what you can, then get out” is also the grooming technique adopted by many humans. The peticure has its joys, but until nature evolves more glam animals, sticking to the natural look is the best way forward.


Gavin Haynes

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Fish or feline? How to choose the right-sized pet for your home
The dachshund is becoming more popular – partly because they are a good fit for our increasingly cramped dwellings. But how much space do animal companions actually need?

Emine Saner

03, Apr, 2018 @5:00 AM

Article image
Dog days are over: what’s behind the decline in pets?
Novelist Jilly Cooper calls it ‘heartbreaking’ – but the rise of Generation Rent and social media could be causing us to turn our backs on four-legged friends

Patrick Barkham

13, Jun, 2016 @6:30 AM

Article image
‘Alice the rat was so special’: readers on their brilliant, beloved pet tattoos
During the pandemic, every pet became an emotional support animal – and many people decided they wanted to commemorate them indelibly and incredibly

Guardian readers

07, Jun, 2021 @5:00 AM

Article image
Are pets really good for us – or just hairy health hazards?
Many animal-lovers think a cat or dog can help you live a longer, happier, healthier life. But does the science back them up?

Jules Howard

13, Oct, 2019 @2:00 PM

Article image
Is Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette the most pampered animal in fashion?
She already has a bodyguard, a personal chef and two maids, but the seven-year-old cat could soon inherit a sizeable chunk of the late designer’s £150m estate

Morwenna Ferrier

20, Feb, 2019 @5:01 PM

Article image
Why handbag dogs are going out of fashion
The trend of toting tiny pups around as accessories has subsided, with owners dumping the £2,000 hounds at rescue centres. Is big the new small?

16, Jan, 2017 @1:30 PM

Article image
Beards can be dirtier than dog fur – here’s how to keep yours clean
A survey claims bearded men carry more germs in their facial hair than dogs carry in their fur. Follow this guide to keep your bristles in top condition

Ellie Violet Bramley

15, Apr, 2019 @3:20 PM

Article image
Shock tactics: can electric dog collars ever be ethical?
Last year, the government announced plans to ban remote-control collars – but even a dog-owning minister is using one. So what is the truth about these training aids?

Leo Benedictus

18, Sep, 2019 @2:15 PM

Article image
What our pets are trying to tell us
When your cat lies on its back and shows its tummy, does it want it stroked? And why does your bunny tremble all the time? Lucy Mangan reveals all

Lucy Mangan

03, Nov, 2013 @7:00 PM

Article image
Five key fashion accessories for autumn, from chokers to blankets

It's too early to buy a winter coat, but it's never too early to be fashionable. Here are the five style additions that can jumpstart your autumn. By Jess Cartner-Morley

Jess Cartner-Morley

26, Aug, 2014 @4:38 PM