How to stop cats from scratching your carpet – why cats scratch and 4 ways to stop it

Cat litter: Pets at Home give advice on training cats

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Cats scratch by digging their front claws into a horizontal or vertical surface, then pulling their feet down or back. While this often damages the item being scratched, it provides a huge benefit to the cat as scratching is an essential part of their health and wellbeing. There are a few reasons why cats scratch the carpet, and it all comes down to a natural instinct.

Why do cats scratch the carpet?

The action of scratching, also known as stropping, loosens and removes the outer layers of your cat’s claws, revealing a sharp new surface right underneath.

Claw sharpening is, primarily, an act of grooming for the cat, just as they like to lick their paws clean after a meal.

Scratching is also used as a form of communication or marking behaviour as the scent and sweat glands not he feet mix together, producing a unique smell.

When claws are scraped down on the carpet surface, it leaves behind marks, scents and claw husks that other cats can see and smell, much like a personalised message.

Outdoor cats tend to leave scratches on trees, fence posts, sheds and wooden gates, and indoor cats try and find the equivalent by targeting softwoods, carpets and fabric-covered furniture. 

How to stop a cat scratching the carpet

Add a horizontal scratching pad or post

Cats that scratch carpet may be more inclined to scratch horizontally as opposed to a standing scratching post.

Fortunately, there are scratching pads made for this exact purpose.

Find one that is wedge-shaped, inclines or just lies flat down and your furry friend will be sure to ditch the carpet in no time.

Cats have their own individual patterns and preferences, so experiment to find one that yours loves.

Cover up the spot your cat scratches

If possible, move a piece of furniture or a scratching post to your cat’s favourite place to scratch.

A standing scratching post may be a good swap-in at this point.

If your scratching problem takes place in front of a doorway then cover the area with a thin mat.

In addition, double-sided tape can act as a deterrent and will eventually train your cat to avoid the area, especially on vertical surfaces.

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Infuse the area with a scent

Use a feline pheromone plug-in or similar spray throughout the area your cat has been scratching.

Although these types of products aren’t specifically designed for this purpose, it’s likely to work.

Some cat behaviourists have found that the “friendly pheromones” in these products can fool cats into believing the area has been marked by another cat.

This is something which, more often than not, will discourage your cat from scratching in this spot.

Consider your cat’s anxiety levels

A cat may resort to more frequent scratching when it’s stressed out or under emotional duress.

This could occur when it feels threatened by environmental changes, a new pet, a new child or if it’s recently joined the household.

Pay attention to your cat and observe its behaviours to paint a bigger picture of its overall emotional wellbeing.

Playing with it more often may give your cat the reassurance it needs to give up carpet-scratching for good.

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