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How to Protect Your Carpet from Cats: 10 Possible Methods

When you’re a cat, scratching comes with the territory. But if that scratching happens on your carpet, it can cause major damage. Protecting your carpet from cats can happen in a variety of ways.

The best approaches will combine several different methods so that you can protect your carpet and retrain your cat to scratch someplace less damaging. Here are ten possible methods that you can use to protect your carpet from your cat’s claws.


Four Ways to Cover Your Carpet

applehead siamese cat lying on a carpet
Image Credit: big dipper, Shutterstock

The first solution to your cat scratching your carpet is to protect your carpet directly by removing access to the carpet. Here are three ways you can cover your carpet and keep cats away.

1. Use Plastic Carpet Runners

One of the easiest ways to cover your carpet is with a plastic carpet runner. These runners are made of clear vinyl or plastic and might have ridges on the bottom to grip the carpet. They are usually used to protect carpets in high traffic areas and won’t damage your carpet. You can also buy similar plastic guards meant to go under rolling chairs in office spaces. A plastic carpet runner will protect your carpet for as long as you need to help your cat find better scratching spots.

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2. Stick on Double-Sided Tape

If you only need a small spot to be protected, double-sided tape can make an effective deterrent for cats. Putting stripes of tape every few inches apart will make the area unpleasant to scratch and keep cats away. The sticky tape is annoying to touch for cats and doesn’t work well for scratching, keeping your carpet safe. This method works best short term—long term, the plastic tape can become annoying and require frequent reapplication.

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3. Cover Common Scratch Spots

If there’s one specific spot your cats like to scratch, consider covering it up. Whether you use a rug, sheets of tinfoil, or a piece of furniture, removing access to the scratching area might persuade your cat to choose a more appropriate spot. Often covering a spot for a few weeks is enough to let scents fade and let your cat forget about the scratching spot.

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4. Use a Scent-Based Deterrent

Instead of physically covering up your carpet, you can use a deterrent to stop your cat from scratching in unwanted areas. These deterrents usually come in the form of something that smells bad to cats but is pleasant or not noticeable to humans. You can buy a commercially formulated deterrent to keep your cat away from a scratching spot or use a homemade one.

One of the most common homemade deterrents is spraying diluted citrus oil over the area. This is an effective solution, but it does require caution as undiluted essential oils can cause harm to cats.

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Four Ways to Redirect the Behavior

two maine coons in cat tree
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Cats have an innate need to sharpen their claws by scratching—and it’s important to keep your cats’ claws healthy. When dealing with a destructive cat, you need to redirect the behavior to appropriate outlets, not remove it entirely.

1. Change Up Your Scratching Posts

If your cat has a scratching post that goes unused or has fallen out of favor, a change in posts might be necessary. Carpet-scratching cats often prefer to use horizontal scratchers or a mix of horizontal and vertical scratchers. You can use a variety of materials like sisal, carpet, and cardboard. Put scratching posts in areas your cat uses frequently. Scratching posts should be sturdy and stable, or your cat may become afraid to use them.

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2. Encourage Positive Behavior

As you try to get your cat to use scratching posts instead of carpet or furniture, positive reinforcement will help your cat learn better than punishment. You can use catnip around scratching posts or give your cat a treat when you notice him scratching on his scratcher. When you see your cat scratching somewhere he shouldn’t, stop his behavior and calmly redirect it. Calm, consistent redirection is more effective than shouting or punishment when reducing bad behavior.

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3. Reduce Stressors

If your cat seems to be acting up on purpose or scratching excessively, he might be reacting to undue stress. Some of these stressors might include health issues, conflict with other pets, conflict or shouting in the home, new people or animals in the household, and lack of daily routine. Some stressors, like new household members, will become normal in time, while others can be changed. Reducing stressors in your cat’s life will limit misbehavior and help your cat return to normal levels of scratching.

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4. Keep Your Cat Busy

Boredom is a major cause of excessive scratching as well. Your cat should have a variety of toys that allow for different kinds of play. You should provide toys that allow your cat to play when no one is around to entertain them. They should also have social stimulation. Putting aside time every day to play with your cat is great exercise and will help your cat feel loved and secure. Other types of social behavior such as brushing your cat or sitting with him can also decrease boredom and loneliness.

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Two Ways to Dull Your Cat’s Claws

cat claws on skin
Image Credit: Jupri, Pixabay

A third solution is to make it so that your cat can’t harm the carpet by trimming or covering his claws. Declawing cats causes permanent damage to their feed and can lead to lasting pain or health complications, but there are other ways to stop cats’ claws from damaging the carpet.

1. Trim Claws Regularly

One solution is to trim your cat’s claws on a regular basis. Claw trimmers take off the sharp tip of the nail without cutting into the quick, making them painless and safe for cats. Depending on your carpet and how smooth your cat’s nails are after trimming, trimmed nails might still be able to cause some damage to your carpet. They also require regular retrimming.

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2. Use Vinyl Claw Covers

An alternative is to buy vinyl claw covers. These covers act as soft shields that prevent your cat from causing damage. They are usually glued onto your cat’s claws and require replacing every few months. Claw covers are safe for your cat and don’t cause pain or damage. Because they remove one of your cat’s natural defenses, they shouldn’t be used on cats that spend unsupervised time outdoors. With vinyl claw covers, no amount of scratching will damage your carpet or furniture.

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Last Thoughts

As you can see, there’s a lot more to protecting your carpets than you might think! None of these methods are foolproof by themselves but taken together, you can use them to create a plan to keep your cats healthy and happy and your carpet safe.

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Featured Image Credit: K2 Design Lab, Shutterstock