How Can We Keep Our Cat From Scratching Our Carpet?

I Don't Want to Pay for Recarpeting

tabby cat on a rug
Cyndi Monaghan/ Getty Images

Has your cat started scratching the carpet in various places around the house, and you don't want to have to pay for recarpeting? 

Why Cats Scratch

Cats scratch with their front claws by dragging them downward, either on a horizontal or vertical surface. This action, referred to as stropping, loosens and removes the outer husk of the claw revealing a sharp new surface underneath.

It also exercises the muscles of the forelimbs and spine to keep the cat in tip top condition for hunting.

Some cats will scratch by lying down and pulling their bodyweight along the floor. The surfaces chosen are usually fixed and non-yielding to resist the force exerted by the cat. 

Scratching is also used as a form of territorial communication or marking behavior. Scent and sweat glands in between the pads of the feet mix to produce a unique smell. When claws are scraped down a surface the scent is deposited and the combination of the mark, discarded claw husks and the smell provides a strong visual and scent message to other cats.

Evidence of scratching outdoors can often be found on trees, fence posts, sheds and wooden gates, for example, all strategically important locations in a cat-populated area. Similar surfaces outside will also be ​used for claw maintenance. Inside, that is sometimes the carpet.

Stopping a Cat From Scratching the Carpet

Believe it or not, cats have their own individual scratching patterns and preferences, and most of them enjoy having more than one scratching post.

Cats who scratch carpets are typically horizontal scratchers. There are scratching pads made for this purpose; some are in an inclined shape and others are flattened out. Try one of those, perhaps with a different surface material than the existing post.

Here are some additional suggestions to keep your feline from scratching the carpet:

Cover it Up

Cover the Spot Where He Scratches. If possible, move a piece of furniture (or a scratching post) on top of his favorite scratching area. Try a sisal rug. (See below for more information on sisal.) If he's scratching the carpet in front of a door, cover the area with a thin mat.


Use a Comfort Zone Plug-In or spray by Feliway (Compare Prices) in the area where he's doing his promiscuous scratching. Although not marketed specifically for this purpose, behaviorists have found that the "friendly pheromones" in Feliway can fool cats into believing the area has already been "marked," thus discouraging their scratching.

Other Scratching Posts

Provide scratching posts with surfaces other than carpeting. Sisal is a big favorite, or even plain wood posts are popular. Remember that cats like varying surface angles for scratching, ranging between horizontal and vertical. So ideally, have at least one of each: a tall vertical scratching post, a flat scratching mat and an inclined scratcher, such as the Cosmic Catnip Alpine Scratcher (Compare Prices)

Trim Claws

Trim his claws regularly. Use a sharp claw trimming tool, and follow the easy instructions in the How To page.

Nail Clips

Try Soft Clawsplastic nail caps.

 If you've never used them before, many veterinarians and most large pet supply stores will offer installation and training for a small fee. Most cats don't mind Soft Claws, and they will prevent the shredding-type of damage cats can sometimes do with carpet backing.