Stop Your Cat from Scratching Your Carpets and Rugs Today

Stop Your Cat from Scratching Your Carpets and Rugs Today

We all love our cats, but their instinct to scratch can sometimes be a real headache, especially when they target your favorite carpet. Aside from couches, carpets and rugs are prime targets because they provide a large, satisfying surface for scratching in a horizontal position. In the wild, cats often scratch horizontally on tree trunks, fallen logs, and even the ground, which helps explain why our domestic cats are so drawn to our carpets and rugs. In this guide, we'll walk through why your cat scratches and the perfect fix to keep your cat and your carpets happy.


Key Highlights

Step 1) Get a cat scratch pad
Step 2) Use attractants like catnip and deterrents like sticky tape
Step 3) Cover the scratched area temporarily
Step 4) Encourage your cat to use the scratch pad
Step 5) Reward your cat for using the scratch pad
Step 6) Remove the covered area once your cat has transitioned


Why Do Cats Scratch the Carpet?

Understanding why your cat scratches the carpet is key to addressing this behavior. Cats have several reasons for this seemingly destructive act. Cat behavior is a science, and learning about it will help you bond better with your cat in every way.

To Keep Their Claws Sharp
Cats scratch to maintain their claws, shedding the outer layers to keep them sharp and healthy. Carpets and rugs, with their textured surfaces, offer just the right amount of resistance. This horizontal scratching mimics the natural behavior seen in wild cats, who often scratch on flat surfaces like logs and tree trunks to keep their claws in top condition. You'll want to pick the right scratching posts and scratch pads to mimic this experience under their paws and help with their claw maintenance. 

To Mark Their Territory
Scratching is a way for cats to leave their mark. When they scratch, they leave behind scent and visual marks that signal their presence. Carpets and rugs, often found in central areas of the home, are ideal for this territorial marking. In the wild, cats use horizontal surfaces to leave both scent and visual markers to establish their territory. That's why cardboard cat scratch pads are a popular option because cardboard is extremely absorbent of the pheromones and scents left from cat paw pads.

To Stretch Their Muscles
Scratching allows cats to stretch their bodies and keep their muscles limber. They prefer large surfaces for a full stretch, and your carpet fits the bill perfectly. Wild cats also use horizontal scratching to stretch and flex their muscles, maintaining their agility and strength.

To Burn Off Energy and Relieve Stress
Scratching can also help cats blow off steam and reduce stress. Carpets and rugs are often located in convenient, central areas where cats can quickly relieve some pent-up energy or anxiety. This behavior is similar to that of wild cats, who scratch surfaces to release energy and alleviate stress. If you have a high-anxiety cat aside from scratching it can be helpful to create an isolated retreat for proper recharge as well.

Because It’s Natural
Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. They aren’t doing it to annoy you; it’s just part of their nature. Carpets and rugs, being horizontal and easily accessible, are just right for satisfying this instinct. Wild cats exhibit similar scratching behaviors as part of their daily routines to stay sharp, healthy, and stress-free.

How to Use Cat Scratch Pads to Stop and Prevent Cat Scratching

Cat scratch pads also called cat scratching board mimic the texture and feeling of carpets and rugs as well as bark, wood and earth from their natural homes, making them a natural attractive alternative for your cat. 

1) Find the Right Cat Scratch Pad

Start by providing a suitable scratching alternative. A horizontal cat scratch pad made of sisal or preferably cardboard are the best options. Cat scratch pads have a big range of shapes, sizes and budget, pay attention to what works for you and your cat. 

2) Encourage Use of the Scratch Pad

Incorporate the scratch pad into your cat's playtime. Demonstrate its use by scratching it yourself to capture their interest. Enhance the appeal of cardboard scratch pads by sprinkling catnip on them, or use catnip spray for sisal pads—while the spray might be less potent, it can still be effective in attracting your cat.

3) Reward Good Behavior

When your cat uses the scratch pad, shower them with praise, treats, or extra affection. Positive reinforcement helps create a strong, positive association between the cat scratch pad and enjoyable experiences. Remember, cats respond best to positive reinforcement; negative behavior won't work and can harm your bond with your feline friend.

4) Utilize Attractants and Deterrents

Enhance the cat scratch pad's appeal by applying catnip or attractant spray. Cardboard cat scratchers are especially effective as their textured surface holds catnip well. To make the carpet less attractive, use deterrent sprays with scents cats dislike, such as citrus, or apply double-sided sticky tape to the areas they frequently scratch.

5) Cover Scratched Areas

If your cat has a favorite scratching spot on the carpet, temporarily cover it with a plastic mat, double-sided tape, or aluminum foil. These textures are unpleasant for cats and can discourage scratching. Placing the cat scratcher directly over the area will also help redirect their behavior.

Additional Tips to Prevent and Stop Cat Scratching

Don't Punish Your Cat
Never punish your cat for scratching the carpet. They won’t understand why they’re being scolded, and it could stress them out. Instead, redirect their behavior with positive reinforcement.

Trim Claws Regularly
Regularly trimming your cat’s claws reduces their scratching needs and frequency. Make sure to learn how to trim them safely, or ask your vet for help.

Provide Ample Love and Attention
A happy, content cat is less likely to scratch out of frustration. Spend quality time with your cat, use interactive toys to play, engage and bond with your cat.

Clean Scent Marks from Carpets
Use a mild detergent and water to clean areas of the carpet that have been scratched. This can help remove the scent marks and break the cycle of scratching.

Create Separate Spaces for Multiple Cats
If you have more than one cat, give each cat their own cat scratcher pad and space. This can reduce territorial disputes and ensure everyone has a spot to scratch.

Start Training Kittens Early
It’s easier to establish good habits with kittens. Start training them to use kitten scratch pads with positive reinforcement from a young age.

Consider Nail Caps if Necessary
If all else fails, you can try nail caps. These are plastic coverings for your cat’s claws that prevent damage. They should be a last resort and used temporarily, as they have some downsides.



Preventing your cat from scratching the carpet takes a mix of understanding, patience, and especially the right tools. Cat scratcher pads and cat scratch boards are a fantastic solution to redirect your cat’s natural behavior. By following these tips and providing a stimulating environment, you can protect your carpets and keep your cat happy.

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