Scratching is a natural and important behavior for cats, but occasionally a cat’s basic need to use her claws as a scratching post doesn’t mesh neatly with our own notions about house design. This may be especially true if your home has carpeted floors or rugs, which cats may find to be seductive to their claws. However, this need not be the case; let’s find a solution to the cat scratching the carpet problem.
Why Do Cats Scratch Carpets?
According to Andrea Y. Tu, DVM, the Medical Director and American College of Veterinary Behaviorists Resident at Behavior Vets of NYC, scratching is a typical behavior that’s crucial for a cat’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. According to Dr. Tu, scratching helps stretch out a cat’s back, which releases built-up energy in her muscles. Scratching also helps a cat shed her nails, which grow in layers.
Beyond the physical benefits of a cat scratching, Dr. Tu says there’s also a communication element involved in the action: “Cats in the wild will scratch along tree trunks and leave tracks and also pheromones, which they pass information through — so it’s kind of like cat Facebook.” Because scratching is such a big part of a cat’s daily operations, it’s natural they might find themselves drawn to using carpet as an impromptu scratching post.
Which Carpet Types Do Cats Scratch More Often?
The likelihood of a cat scratching a particular carpet comes down to a mix of personality and personal preference. “Some cats really prefer that deep carpet texture, but others prefer sisal,” says Dr. Tu. “It’s kinda like asking somebody if they prefer Charmin ultra soft or Charmin regular toilet paper! You just have to try it out.”
Cats can also be divided into those felines who like to scratch vertically, and those kitties who choose to scratch horizontally. A vertical scratcher is looking for something akin to a tree trunk — so you’ll need to provide a cat scratching post tall and sturdy enough for the entire cat to reach up to. But a horizontal scratcher will be perfectly happy scratching her claws on a carpet. Figuring out which camp your cat fits into is key to working out how to stop a cat scratching carpet.
How to Stop a Cat From Scratching Carpet
“Cats are not scratching to be [jerks] — this is natural behavior that needs to occur,” reiterates Dr. Tu. “But in many households, people don’t understand that so they will oftentimes not provide a scratching post and so the cat needs an outlet and finds something to scratch.”
On this basis, to stop a cat scratching carpet, first you’ll need to redirect your cat towards an appropriate scratching solution: Figure out if you’re living with a vertical or horizontal scratcher and pick up a suitable scratching device. Dr. Tu says her previous cat, Hazelnut, gravitated toward upright sisal scratching posts, so she provided one that was very tall. She characterizes her current cat, Kahlua, as “a carpet scratcher who prefers horizontal scratching, so I got her a long scratching post because I know she likes that set up.” Before splurging on a new scratching post, watch your cat’s scratching habits and learn what her preferences are.
How to Stop a Cat Scratching Carpet – Bottom Line
Ultimately, when you’re thinking about how to stop a cat scratching carpet, realize that it’s down to you as the cat’s guardian to provide a more alluring scratching option. As Dr. Tu says, “Scratching is a behavior cats have to do — so you need to redirect them to an appropriate outlet.”