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.

Contributor

Gavin Haynes

The GuardianTramp

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