How To Stop a Cat Scratching The Carpet

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Why do cats scratch the carpet? And what does it take when it comes to how to get a cat to stop scratching carpet? I mean, what can you actually do? Well, my friends, in this post, we’ll break it all down with our master guide on how to stop a cat scratching the carpet! So let’s get stuck in, shall we?

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Why Do Cats Scratch The Carpet?

So first up, before we look at how to get cat to stop scratching carpet, let’s go back just a touch to establish why cats scratch the carpet in the first place!

See, right now – it may just feel FRUSTRATING. But the truth is, your cat isn’t doing it to “wind you up.” 

Yes, cats can scratch to get attention. For example, if they want to be let into a room, they may scratch outside. Or if – every time they scratch – they get a reaction (like you shouting at them), followed by a reward (you feeding them), it becomes a habit that they’ll continue to do. They’re clever things, you see!

Fundamentally however, cats stretch because it’s ingrained behaviour. It serves several main purposes:

  • Cleaning the dead husks off their claws, so that the new ones can come through.
  • Stretching and working the muscles from their toes to their backs.
  • Relieving stress. (Although hopefully they don’t have too much of that!)
  • It’s also a natural instinct that comes with marking their territory, as when claws are scraped down a surface, it leaves behind marks, scents, and claw husks.

Carpet is under their paws. It’s “just there!”, which is why it can be a common target of scratching. But actually – it’s not the best material for them to scratch.

The loops in carpet can catch your cats nails (which consequently pulls on their toes.) Cats also prefer scratching rougher surfaces that more closely resemble tree trunks.

But this is actually a good thing as it means you may just require some simple tweaks to stop your cat from scratching the carpet. (Uh huh, it’s actually far easier to get them to stop scratching this, than furniture!)

My cat won't stop scratching the carpet

How To Stop a Cat Scratching The Carpet

So, when it comes to how to get cat to stop scratching carpet, have a read through this list and try these different things. One is sure to work, and then it’s MISSION SOLVED!

1) Recognise Why They’re Doing It

First up, one of the best ways to stop a cat scratching the carpet is to identify why they’re most likely to be doing it and come up with alternatives, specifically to do with that.

So let’s go back to one of the common examples of it becoming a habit. They scratch in the early hours of the morning when they’re pestering for food, and – every time they do it – you give it them and feed them!

If you recognise this, you may start to brainstorm how to get your cat to stop scratching carpet by thinking…

Why Is My Cat Scratching My Carpet?

  • Okay, so I’ve got to stop feeding them straight away when they scratch in the middle of the night!
  • If they’re genuinely hungry, maybe I’ll just set up an automatic cat feeder – to get a few biscuits coming out at that time.
  • If they’ve usually always already got food down (or shouldn’t need any), maybe they’re being greedy or demanding, so what could I do instead? Well, “toughen up!” As they say. (If you stop doing it, you’ll break the habit and they’ll eventually stop.) Or maybe you can replace it – so instead of giving them food, try to get them settled down on your bed and back to sleep instead. (You’re essentially trying to retrain them to settle down when they wake up, instead of waking you up and wondering what to do!)

You see? So, based on WHY they’re doing it, you can then work out HOW to try to stop it and try different things related to that.

When it’s a habit – you need to change the “reward” they’re getting or replace it with something else. So look at:

  • When are they scratching the carpet?
  • At what times? In what places? 
  • And for what possible reason(s)?

Then come up with your own problem-specific solutions based on that, and give them a go! You see?

When it comes to how to get a cat to stop scratching the carpet, the key really is in understanding their specific habits and behaviour, then trialling specific solutions, until you find the one that best works!

2) Make Sure They Have Sufficient Scratching Posts

Another key thing to do if you want to stop a cat scratching the carpet, is to make sure they have enough alternatives for things to scratch. So you want plenty of scratching posts and scratching toys.

If they’re not currently using them – there’s things you can do to get your cat scratching on them. (Like putting catnip on them to entice them in for example.)

Also consider: do you have different types of scratching posts? 

Cats need tall scratching posts so that they can stretch out. Especially if they’re a large cat breed like a Maine Coon. The tall scratching post will then be similar to how they’d stretch on a tree in the wild. 

However, your cat may be scratching the carpet if they only have the standard vertical scratching posts – not horizontal ones – as this enables them to stretch DIFFERENT types of muscles.

So a simple addition with a horizontal scratching post, can make a major difference.

FUN FACT: Did you know you can get any extra things that you need, with free delivery, as soon as the same day, with a FREE Amazon Prime Trial? Uh huh, you can thank me later! This cat scratching problem doesn’t have to drag on and on!

how to get cat to stop scratching carpet

3) Place The Scratching Posts Strategically

The placement of your scratching posts can also be pretty powerful. See, when looking at WHY your cat is scratching the carpet, you’re able to identify their habits, as mentioned above…

Interestingly, cats often want to scratch when they first wake up and after they eat. (Which makes sense, right? I guess it’s similar to when we’d most want to stretch out ourselves too!)

Therefore, by positioning your cat scratchers close to where they eat and sleep, you’re increasing the chances of them using it, and it being where they need – when they need it.

It’s a simple, smart, but effective way for how to get a cat to stop scratching carpet.

I mean, think about it – they’re probably not going to seek out the scratcher if it’s the other side of the house. They’re just going to scratch when they need to – but if the right things are there when they do, it’s totally purrfect!

Try to position the larger, full length scratchers next to where they sleep, and the smaller, horizontal ones next to where they eat (when they have a full belly and probably want a smaller stretch.)

You can also watch them to understand their habits and behaviours however.

  • Do they scratch in the same sort of spot?
  • And what kind of scratch do they do there? (Is it still the carpet they’re scratching or a combination of the carpet and sofa? And is it a little scratching, or a lot?)

Then work the rest out from there!

4) Cover Where They Like To Scratch

If your cat does have a favourite spot to scratch on the carpet, then another simple (but pretty effective) idea, is to cover it! Deter them!

Put a hard piece of furniture on top of it (like a side table), or a big, sturdy rug! You could even create your own DIY cardboard cat house and pop that in its place instead.

Alternatively (if it doesn’t end up looking like too much of an eye sore) you can move their scratching post there.

Two-sided tape can also act as a helpful deterrent. By placing this on the carpet, it stops them from being able to scratch properly as the texture has changed. This will eventually train them to avoid the area completely and instead, use the scratching posts provided, close by! (Woohoo.)

5, Use / Understand Scents

Did you know, a cats sense of smell is 14 times better than humans?!

By understanding how cats use smells and scents, you can actually – rather sneakily – stop them from scratching your carpet.

For example, you may have all the right things in place to stop your cat from scratching after this post, but habits are hard to break! (As we all know!)

The sight and scent marks from previous scratching create a tempting reminder for your cat to scratch again!

So if you smooth down any scratching marks you find on the carpet, and clean them with simple soap and water to remove the scent, you’re going to make it far easier for your cat!

Similarly, there are Anti-Scratch Carpet Sprays, Scratch Control Sprays or even things like, Feliway (which is what we use.) Each of these work fairly similarly and produce either deterring or “friendly pheromones” which also ease the scratching and calm your cat down!

Just Remember: You don’t want to STOP your cat from scratching, you just want to know how to stop your cat from scratching the CARPET, which is why it goes back to making sure they have plenty of the right things to scratch instead!

Why do cats scratch the carpet?

AND (Of Course) – Keep Them Happy!

The happier your cat is, the less likely they are to scratch the carpet when they’re trying to communicate something with you, or demand your attention. So if you want to get a cat to stop scratching carpet:

  • Check that your cat has enough food and water, and is being fed the right amount.
  • Make sure there’s different places for your cat to scratch, different types of scratching posts (as mentioned) and at different levels, so there’s plenty of options for them… But options that can be easily accessed and reached!
  • Make time to play with your cat and provide lots of different toys to keep them entertained. They may be excessively scratching – and choosing the carpet of all places! – as they’re bored, you see. But there are actually plenty of different games to play with your cat to keep them entertained. And toys cats can play with by themselves to keep them busy when you’re busy too. So it’s all about finding the right things!
  • Show them lots of love! After all, we all love, love, don’t we? This prevents them from craving your attention and scratching your carpet to get a reaction! Also, it’s nice to be nice, isn’t it?

These are all essential factors when it comes to how to get a cat to stop scratching carpet, so they aren’t things that should be overlooked or forgotten about!

What To Do If You Can’t Stop Your Cat Scratching Your Carpet

You should now know how to stop a cat scratching the carpet.

In fact, if you try all these things and follow this process, you should – well and truly – be able to put an end to it, once and for all! Just be patient. Understand it may take time for your cat to adjust to scratching other things instead.

So if you are still struggling to stop your cat scratching the carpet, look at how you can hide or reduce the damage.

Use furniture or rugs; not only to try to stop them from scratching in the same spot, but it also stops you from seeing the damage they’ve caused (and cringing… or cursing!)

Another preventative method is to trim your cats claws. This is something you should be doing anyway, but – when you do – it also makes the damage to your carpet less severe. (= win, win!)

So There We Have It!

So there we have it – how to stop your cat scratching the carpet.

I hope you’ve found this valuable. Good luck! And be sure to browse our articles for more helpful tips & guides!

How To Stop Your Cat Scratching Your Carpet
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Ell is the Founder of Totally Purrfect & Cat Mom to Cody, The Maine Coon. Her areas of expertise lie in Cat Care, Enrichment & Training.

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