Cat scratching is a problem many cat owners face from time to time. Your cat gets super excited about something, and suddenly he's pawing at the carpet, scratching it all up and potentially damaging it. What can you do? How can you stop your cat from scratching the carpet? The answer begins by providing safe alternatives for your cat to scratch. He will always need to scratch something for his own mental and physical health.
Scratching Is Good for a Cat's Health
Scratching is perfectly natural and actually good for your cat's health. Scratching helps your kitty fully stretch her body and release the tension in her back muscles.1
Scratching also lets cats shed the outer layers of their claws, revealing sharper layers beneath. This is why you sometimes find pieces of claws around the house.2
Cats May Scratch for Happiness or Stress
Sometimes cats scratch in the wrong places for emotional reasons, not just physical ones. They may scratch happily when you come home as a way of getting out their energy from feeling so excited to see you. Or they may scratch accidentally when they're playing.
Some cats may scratch as a way of marking their territory, right along with spraying. At other times, scratching can be a nervous or insecure action that shows your pet is feeling stressed, especially if the scratching is extra destructive.
Try using Comfort Zone Spray & Scratch Control Spray on the parts of your carpet where your cat likes to scratch. This drug-free, odorless solution mimics your cat's natural calming pheromones to help support her emotional well-being. The spray sends signals in your cat's language that everything's okay and she can relax. You can also plug in Comfort Zone Calming Diffusers in rooms around the house to help her feel calmer and happier throughout the day.
Provide Scratching Alternatives
Because scratching is so important to your cat's mental and physical well-being, you can't just stop your cat from scratching altogether. If you don't provide a viable alternative, your cat will continue to find things to scratch—whether it's the carpet, your furniture, or something else.
Set up cat scratchers all over the house, especially near the parts of the carpet where your cat likes to scratch. Try both vertical and horizontal scratchers, since cats may prefer one type over the other. If your cat seems to prefer the carpet, he'll likely gravitate toward horizontal scratchers. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to try both just to confirm his preference. To draw your cat to the scratching post, try rubbing it with some catnip.
You may also need to try different materials on your scratching posts. Some cats love cardboard scratchers, while others may prefer a carpeted scratcher, a scratcher covered in thicker roped material, or even wood. Make sure the scratching post is anchored to the ground or wall if you can. Your cat will want to sink her claws into the scratcher. If it moves around too much while she's using it, she'll find it less satisfying and may return to the carpet.
In addition to providing scratching alternatives, you might also want to keep your cat's claws clipped short or use nail caps.3 Talk to your veterinarian about the proper way to apply caps and how often you need to replace them. They may not be a good option for cats who are sometimes outdoors.
Some cat owners also discourage carpet scratching by putting double-sided tape or sandpaper on the parts of the carpet your cat tries to scratch. You could also try making a "hissing" sound when your cat scratches the carpet, as some kitties respond instinctually to that noise. Just remember that all the deterrents you can provide won't work if you don't give your cat some healthy alternatives to scratch.
Cats love to scratch, but they don't always have the best sense about which locations are okay and which aren't. Rather than discouraging scratching entirely, encourage healthy scratching alternatives with scratching posts that let your kitty engage in all the deep clawing he needs.
1. Mlynar, Philip. "How to Stop a Cat Scratching Carpet." Catster, 13 June 2019, https://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/how-to-stop-a-cat-scratching-carpet.
2. Syufy, Franny. "How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching the Carpet." The Spruce Pets, 2 October 2019, https://www.thesprucepets.com/keep-cat-from-scratching-carpet-554831.
3. German, Danelle. "5 Myths You Should Know About Cat Nail Caps." National Cat Groomers, 17 December 2018, https://nationalcatgroomers.com/nail-cap-myths/.