How to keep the cat from ruining the carpet???

catherinetDecember 5, 2005

Hi all,

Fortunately, the orange shag carpet in our living room is 33 years old and will hopefully be replaced soon.....but we have a step-down into our living room. There is a step down from the dining room, entrance area, and the bedroom area. Which means there are 3 step areas, where our cat loves to treat it as his scratching post. He has worn the carpet down to the wood. Of course I yell at him during the day, but I think he does alot of it at night. Any suggestions on how to keep him away from there?......I sure don't want him doing this to a new carpet!

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Unfortunately, once a cat is "imprinted" on a favorite scratching place, it's is difficult to get him to stop using that spot. Try using a cat repellent made for this purpose that you spray on the area. Here's a link to Petco where they have several. Nature's Miracle is most often recommended. But sometimes a cat can get "immune" to a repellent after a while, so you may need to switch repellents after a time. Also, start the training now, before the new carpet goes in.

It is also important to buy a good scratching post. You want to get one that is at least 3' tall so that the cat can stretch on it, and that is not flimsy so it won't tip over. I do not recommend a fancy complicated one with a lot of levels; they're expensive and I am not sure they are attractive to cats for scratching. Just buy a single post with maybe one perch at the top. Rub catnip on it. Place it near his favorite current scratching spot. My cats prefer the scratching posts that are carpeted over the ones with sisal.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat Repellants at Petco

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 1:26PM
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Thanks akchicago! You've given me lots of good advice!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 2:11PM
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The unpopular solution to the problem is claw removal. The cat will still scratch but the damage will not occur. You could also be dilligent with nail trimming to help minimize damage.

Repellents have not worked on my little furballs and they don't seem to mind getting manicures.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 6:16PM
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THanks Randy.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 6:41PM
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Regarding Randy's mention of declawing - it is cruel and inhumane. The veterinarian cuts at the first knuckle. Look down at your own fingers and imagine them being sliced off at the first knuckle. The United States is the only westernized country in the world in which declawing is legal. Other countries have outlawed it as inhumane.

I agree about the manicures. The longer the nails, the more the cat feels like scratching them on something. I use a human nail clipper for my cats' nails, which can be found at Walgreens for about $2. I like them better than the clippers specifically for cats sold at pet stores. I clip my cats' nails when they are a bit sleepy, but they don't mind. If they do start squirming, I stop clipping and wait a while until they are quiet.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 7:22PM
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Don't worry akchicago, I wouldn't declaw him.
I just discovered a few months ago, how much easier human clippers were to use!

    Bookmark   December 5, 2005 at 9:47PM
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I've had five cats declawed in my lifetime. I've never seen any ill affects. They are generally up walking around within hours of the surgery. I see it as no more inhumane as spaying or nutering. BTW, they also learn to use the back claws very well in defensive measures.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 9:40AM
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Try putting rubber stair treads on the steps,

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 10:31AM
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Yes, declawing is the same as removing a human's fingertips at the first knuckle. If that's not inhumane, then I know of a whole lot of children who need the ends of their fingers amputated for various vandalism acts.

My point is that training a youngster, whether cat or human, is the easiest method of changing behavior. An older cat is more difficult to train, but it's very doable. Before you get new carpet, put some double sticky tape on the spot where she claws now. Cats really don't like this. PUt a horizontal scratching post next to the spot and rub it with catnip. SOme cats are vertical scratchers and some are horizontal, and buying a vertical scratching post for a horizontal scratcher is sure to result in poor results. Trimming her nails 2-3 times a month and then applying Soft Paws (which you can also find at local pet stores or internet sites) can be a last resort if you can't train her to use a new spot. BUt, training her will work the best over time.

And, as an animal shelter worker, I can tell you that the instances of inappropriate elimination or other behavior problems are much greater in declawed cats. 70% of adult cats surrendered to our shelter have been declawed cats with a behavior problem such as inappropriate elimination, biting, or fearfulness. Those problems are directly correlated to declawing. Other animal shelter workers will tell you the same thing. Only the veternarians who stand to profit from the operation are less than forthcoming about the problems associated with it.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 5:02PM
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Live Wire lol about the probably are a live wire! I just wanted to add to the valuable info you and akchicago have said ,that my cats love those cheap scratching things made out of courugated paper on end and you can put catnip on it( I think they come with catnip) I forget what they are called but they can be put flat or on an incline and strange as they look , the cats go crazy for them, they'll even just sit there or lay on them..go figure!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 6:10PM
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Couple of things I have done to minimize damage to furniture and carpet..

- trim claws regularly
- several scratching posts near the obvious scratching spots (arms of couches, etc.) Had to try a couple different types of posts until I found ones my cats like
- use a spray bottle of water to "discipline" them. When my cats are doing something I don't want (scratching furniture, climbing on furniture), I give them a small spritz of water with a spray bottle. They hate it, and now, all I have to do is open the drawer where I keep the bottle, and they stop what they are doing.
- use a high quality berber carpet. We have a carpet in our living room that the cats scratch, and scratch, and they've never been able to damage it.

Other things I haven't tried..

- they make little caps to glue over their claws. The need be replaced once a month or so

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 8:34PM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions.
I might try the tape suggestion on those steps. We do have a scratching post.....but it's an upright one. I'll look for one that's horizontal. Thanks for that suggestion. I never thought about the difference between those 2 kinds.
Live Wire.....I'm wondering if it's the declawing that causes those other neurotic behaviors.....or the fact that maybe the owners were very rigid with them, as to what was acceptable and what wasn't......and maybe they didn't let them just be animals? Interesting things to think about!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 8:42AM
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My sister-in-law has three cats in her home, and also has carpets and furniture which has not been destroyed. She also supplies scrathing posts and has a water spray bottle to use if she catches one of them doing somehting offensive. But the best remedy is the glue-on caps for their nails. This doesn't work for kittens, by the way, as I believe their nails are too small.

If you really want to pursue this to the fullest I suggest you try the pet forum -- you might get a lot more varied suggestions over there.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 8:52AM
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Hello Catherine,
Three suggestions that have worked for us:
1. Water bottle spray -- for our third kitty who seems immune to water, we mixed a little vinegar in with the water and this is highly effective.
2. Let the cats outside, if possible. Our two older cats rarely scratch inside, as they much prefer trees, old logs and such.
3. One of our cats adores the horizontal scratcher with catnip.

Good Luck,

    Bookmark   December 23, 2005 at 9:12PM
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I realize now that I have read the other posters on this thread that they are right--different cats like different styles of scratching posts, and you need to experiment. I have two cats, and one really loves to scratch at a "teepee" (link below), while my other cat has no interest in the teepee at all. My other cat likes to scratch horizontally on the base of the scratching post as well as vertically on the post part of the scratching post. I wish it were easier, but, well, they're cats, and individuality is "the nature of the beast".

Another good source for scratching posts is

(P.S. If you are interested in trying the teepee, try buying it at the store instead of the website. At the store, it is sold in several versions with different types of carpet. I have found the more "loopy" style carpet is preferred.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Cat Teepee Scratcher at Petco

    Bookmark   December 24, 2005 at 12:32PM
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You could just get rid of the carpet. Sounds like you have wood floors underneath? Why would you want to cover nice wood floors with carpet?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 6:14PM
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No, I don't have wood floors underneath.
I bought our cat one of those flat cardboard scratchers. My SIL told me her cats love them, so I bought one. It came with catnip, which I sprinkled over it. The cat did nothing but lay on it and lick it for a couple weeks. Now he sleeps on it. LOL!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 6:43PM
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I have this form my cats and they use it a lot.It is expensive, but then so is carpet!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 12:04PM
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Fori is not pleased

Mothballs sometimes work to change a bad habit. Sprinkle them (or crystals) on the area. Kinda stinky, but that's the point!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 1:46PM
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I can vouch for the the mothball idea fori,....they also work in the garden! My neighbours cats were always leaving their mess in my flower tubs 'till my daughter told me what to use, and it does work, so I should imagine it would work in the house too....(if you don't mind the smell) LOL!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 2:11PM
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Mothballs are not a good idea as they are toxic to cats!!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 6:26PM
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Yes, just to repeat for emphasis, mothballs will ruin a cat's liver. It may not show up right away, but the mothballs have a toxic effect on cats' livers.

Seww - what a great link! I like that they offer a horizontal/slanted version too.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 6:48PM
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