Can this rug be saved?
January 23, 2011 5:16 AM   Subscribe

My cat keeps scratching the rug. Is there any way to make him stop?

I have two cats. The one on the left of the pic is a naughty little bugger, 'nuff said. The one on the right is a little angel, but for one weakness: he loves to scratch rugs.

He's already ruined one rug, and it no longer interests him (cats eh?). I've just bought a new rug for another room, having forgotten my cat's fatal flaw. He's begun scratching it.

If he can't be stopped and it's going to be destroyed, I'll just have to live with it. But is there anything I can do? Googling has given me suggestions like putting another rug over the top of it to protect it, or covering the rug in cling film, both of which kind of defeat the purpose of having a rug there at all. Do you have other suggestions? If I was to try spraying the rug with a citrus scent, what sort of product would I use?

(My cats have heaps of toys, and a great sisal scratching post which they love. This cat just seems to ALSO love rugs.)

Any tips appreciated, including anecdotes of what has or hasn't worked for you.
posted by rubbish bin night to Pets & Animals (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Wal-Mart has cardboard scratching boxes that our cats seem to love to the exclusion of our rugs, furniture, etc. The key is to give a cat something they prefer to maintain their claws.

Unlike typical carpet-type scratching posts, these boxes are full of corrugated material turned sideways (imagine the edge of several boxes stacked flat with the fluted open side exposed).

Our cats love 'em.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:36 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

- scratching post
- trim claws
- remove claws

in increasing order of effectiveness, although even suggesting the last one is more than a little controversial around these parts.

I have heard that rubbing the scratching post with catnip helps make it more attractive although I have serious doubts about that. One the other hand it couldn't hurt to try. There are anti-pet sprays that you can obtain at a pet store or veterinarian apply to the rug. That might be a good idea while trying to train (I cannot believe I am using this word in reference to a cat) your cat to use the scratching post.
posted by caddis at 5:57 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

We got a cardboard Alpine scratcher with catnip that has stopped our attack kitty (mostly) from attacking the reclining chair. She destroyed the previous one. Don't declaw, but you can get your vet to trim claws the next time you go.
posted by mermayd at 6:00 AM on January 23, 2011

to deter the cat scratching in the usual place, get some wide, double stick tape, and put it on the rug..they hate that stuff... When the cat has moved on to more expensive furniture (or the scratching post thingie) the tape is easily removed.
posted by HuronBob at 6:34 AM on January 23, 2011

Soft Paws! They're little vinyl nail caps that are glued to the cat's nails. Depending on how comfortable your cat is with having his paws touched, you can apply them yourself or have your vet do it. They last for a month or two before needing to be reapplied. And they come in all sorts of fun colors (glitter!) that you can coordinate with your cat's fur and tease him about.

My cat Hank has a bad habit of scratching our carpet, the couch, and other inappropriate places. Soft Paws solved the problem.
posted by southern_sky at 6:39 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

My first cat wasn't interested in scratching upwards; he only liked scratching on the floor. This cardboard scratcher sits on the floor and it satisfied his need to mark, but I had to get a few of them and put them around the house where he was ruining rugs. The catnip definitely helped pique his interest.

These kinds of boxes are a lot cheaper than the sisal posts, so I'd try one of those before getting more posts. Some cats just aren't interested in marking their territory on posts. The thing is, he's going to want to scratch where he wants to mark, not necessarily where you'd like the posts to be. An out-of-the-way post or box won't be as attractive to him.
posted by gladly at 6:42 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've used a combo of cardboard scratching boxes around the house and tape on anything I don't want the cat to scratch and it seems to be working. I found just regular packing tape is fine. My cat doesn't seem to like any tape. Of course now I have tape all over my sofa.
posted by interplanetjanet at 7:15 AM on January 23, 2011

Cats also hate the feel and sound of aluminum foil - if you put some down on the rug for awhile, your cat may choose to go elsewhere. A horizontal scratcher is also good idea, with the kind of material your cat prefers. My cat prefers cardboard, and likes to sleep where he scratches, so I got him one of these, which has been a huge success. There is also the kittypod, for lots of money, and the kittypod mini, which is a less expensive option (but still $$). But I digress.
posted by analog at 7:33 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Don't declaw, but you can get your vet to trim claws the next time you go.

Just to head off any potential tangents here: declawing is illegal in the Netherlands, where I live, so it definitely won't be happening.

And thanks for all these brilliant suggestions, I will definitely be giving some of them a go!
posted by rubbish bin night at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2011

I regularly clip my kitties' claws and they still scratch at the carpet, despite having scratching posts they also use. I don't think there is much you can do here.
posted by something something at 7:56 AM on January 23, 2011

When my cat needed to learn to use the scratching post instead of the sofa, I made it a habit to make a beeline for the post every time I came home. She loved to great me as I came in and would take an interest in anything I did. If I showed a great interest in scratching the post myself she'd follow my lead. She might have also liked my scent on the post.

We now have a "wave" cat scratcher which she prefers to a post. If you get one of these, or a cardboard one, you can keep it on top of the rug your cat isn't supposed to use.
posted by hydrophonic at 8:22 AM on January 23, 2011

Have you thought about Soft Paws? Not all cats will take to it and try to chew them off, but some do. I put them on one of my cats and he isn't bothered by them in the slightest, and he doesn't scratch up the couch anymore. If that doesn't work, buy more than one scratching post. Some cats like to horizontally scratch, and some like vertical scratching surfaces. I have something like this in my house that lays flat on the floor and the cats LOVE IT. I sprinkle a little catnip on it and the cats go to town.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:50 AM on January 23, 2011

An old girlfriend of mine got an expensive Persian rug for her 50th birthday. Her cat wanted to scratch it. She told me that she was able to keep the cat from damaging the rug by being incredibly on top of keeping the cat's nails trimmed; according to her, if you trim the cat's nails, the quick recedes...then you trim them again before they grow as long as they were. And so on. Eventually the cat's claws are maintained at a short enough length that they do much less damage because they don't have the sharp hook-shape at the end.

I have no idea if this really words. She said it worked for her. I am too lazy to trim my cats' nails that often; we have opted for only having old furniture and crappy rugs instead. But I throw it out there, as she swore by it.
posted by not that girl at 8:53 AM on January 23, 2011

Sprinkle some chili pepper in the rug, it can be vacuumed later. Do a stain test first if your rug is in a pale color.

I've also had some success using these motion-activated air sprays. My cats hate it, but if it's not present, they will persist on their bad behavior.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:09 AM on January 23, 2011

You can DIY a cardboard scratching pad with this Design Sponge tutorial. Our cat loves it!
posted by lioness at 9:23 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, cardboard scratching pad or scratching post are good ways to go. Our cats liked to scratch the couch. Whenever we caught them at it, we would pick them up and put them on the cardboard scratching pad; eventually we trained them to only use the scratching pad.
posted by mandanza at 11:51 AM on January 23, 2011

We have cat posts and scratchers (cardboard and sisal) and we still have them scratching a little. I've taken to sprinkling black pepper from the shaker on the rug where they like to scratch.

You can also try double sided tape.
posted by jerseygirl at 12:43 PM on January 23, 2011

Scat mat Product Description
Teach your pet to stay away from areas of your house you want to protect with the touch-sensitive ScatMat. It’s an automatic indoor training mat that will keep your pet out of certain rooms or off your furniture and counters. Just place the clear vinyl ScatMat wherever you want your pet to avoid, and switch it on. When your pet touches the ScatMat, the mat emits a harmless low-power 3-second static pulse that teaches your animal to stay away and discourages bad habits. Adjust the intensity to 1 of 3 levels suitable for your pet. A sensor shows you how many times the mat has been stepped on, so you’ll know when your pet has learned to avoid the mat. The ScatMat is flexible to contour to any surface.

I would really try one of these.
posted by fifilaru at 12:57 PM on January 23, 2011

My cats have a specific spot they scratch on the carpet and I plopped a scratching wave (similar to the one hydrophonic mentions, but cheaper) right on top of it. They have stopped scratching the carpet. It has become one of their favorite places to lounge and the toy attached to the bottom is very enticing.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:10 PM on January 23, 2011

I had success with the cardboard scratchpad theory. My cat loved to scratch the new couch until I put a cardboard scratching pad behind it. It was like I'd flipped a switch somewhere: he fell all over the pad, and never scratched the couch again.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 3:01 PM on January 23, 2011

There are some sprays that you can use on furniture, rugs, door jambs, etc. that help keep cats from scratching in a particular spot. It works well for some cats. You have to reapply it periodically. Any pet supply store would be likely to have it.
posted by Leah at 4:31 PM on January 23, 2011

My cats love the cardboard scratching posts and won't scratch anything else when they're around. However, this leaves little bits of cardboard all over which means constant vacuuming - almost as annoying!
posted by Kurichina at 9:23 AM on January 25, 2011

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