We use nail caps on two of our four cats (not always the name brand, just whatever is cheapest usually).

The glue that comes with the package seems a lot like super glue (it gets on our fingers "occasionally"), but it doesn't stay in liquid form for very long once the tube has been opened (I suspect because it doesn't have a very tight sealing lid).

The cats tend to loose 2-4 caps a week, and it would be nice to be able to replace just the handful of caps without the tube of glue drying out before the next time we need to use it. They sell extra tubes of adhesive, but it drastically increases the cost of using the nail tips to use a new tube of adhesive every few days.

Since the nail cap adhesive seems to have similar properties to super glue, is it safe to use super glue to replace a few caps at a time? Or is the nail cap adhesive a special non-toxic formula that only ACTS like super glue?

1 Answer 1


Common superglue that you would find in your corner store is made mostly of ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate or methyl-2-cyanoacrylate.

In Histotoxicity of Cyanoacrylate Tissue Adhesives, the study authors report:

Cyanoacrylate derivatives have been used as surgical adhesives for many years. Shorter-chain derivatives (methyl- and ethyl-cyanoacrylate) have proved to be histotoxic. Longer-chain derivatives (butyl- and isobutyl-cyanoacrylate) are much less histotoxic.

Histotoxic means "toxic to tissue". They did a bone grafting experiment comparing Histoacryl (butyl-2-cyanoacrylate) and Krazy Glue (ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate) and determined that:

Histoacryl had minimal histotoxic effect and good bone graft—cartilage binding ability, whereas Krazy Glue demonstrated severe histotoxicity.

The amount of glue present in nail caps is probably not enough to cause any sort of toxicity (in the experiment they took some bone and glued it in the animal's ear, which is much more extreme than attaching nail caps), but to be safe it may be better to use a less toxic variety of cyanoacrylate.

Medical Glues are available under the following names:

  • 2-octyl cyanoacrylate (Derma+flex® QS™, SurgiSeal, FloraSeal and Dermabond)
  • n-butyl cyanoacrylate (LiquiBand®, Histoacryl, Indermil, GluStitch, GluShield, and Periacryl)

Veterinary Glues are available under the following names:

  • 2-octyl cyanoacrylate (Surgi-Lock and Nexaband)
  • n-butyl cyanoacrylate (VetGlu, Vetbond and LiquiVet)

The list of brand names may not include everything, and was provided by Real First Aid.


"Histotoxicity of Cyanoacrylate Tissue Adhesives: A Comparative Study." Dean M. Toriumi, MD; Wasim F. Raslan, MD; Michael Friedman, MD; M. Eugene Tardy, MD Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1990;116(5):546-550. doi:10.1001/archotol.1990.01870050046004

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