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Carpet Tips and Tricks for Cat Owners

We love cats, and we love carpet! But not all carpet is equal, and not all of it plays nice with our furry friends. Which carpets will hold up best to the wear and tear from a cat? And which will your cat like best?

Make Sure Your Cat Has a Litter Box

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. There are few things worse for a carpet than pet mess, and cat urine in particular is extremely damaging. Cat urine is more concentrated than the mess produced by other animals — a byproduct of their desert-dwelling ancestors — and the ammonia content can make permanent stains and even damage fibers.

If cats have a litter box that’s cleaned and emptied regularly, they’re much less likely to go on the carpet. That means less cleanup for you, less mess, and a longer life for your carpet. The best way to help your cat(s) use the litterbox (and not the carpet) is to clean the litterbox frequently.

Add a Scratching Post

Cats love to scratch things. It’s not stubbornness or disobedience — it’s an important way for them to keep their claws clean and sharp and facilitate stretching. If they don’t have something to scratch, they’ll scratch your carpets and rugs.

Providing your cat with a scratching post will give them an outlet for this potentially destructive behavior, keeping them from taking it out on your carpets. Some scratching posts or boards are even infused with catnip, which releases an odor when scratched that cats go crazy for!

The more scratching surfaces, the better. Get scratching posts and pads with different materials and textures, from sisal to rope to corrugated cardboard to plain wood. Cats also like scratching at different angles, so provide them with horizontal, vertical, and sloping surfaces to scratch on.

Cut-Pile Carpet Is Your Friend

Carpet can be divided into two main groups: cut-pile and closed-loop styles. Closed loop styles of carpet are what they sound like — the texture of the carpet comes from closed loops arranged in rows. When cats scratch these, their claws can get stuck in the loops, which can be distressing or even painful for them. In the worst of cases, a cat’s claws can pull up a “run” in the carpet, which is where several stitches come loose in a row.

Instead, we recommend using cut-pile carpet. Cut-pile carpet is made in a similar way to closed-loop carpet, but the rows of loops are cut to create individual strands that are open at the top. Cut-pile carpet tends to be slightly less durable, but softer and more comfortable.

When a cat scratches cut-pile carpet, there’s nothing but the carpet backing for their claws to catch on. The carpet backing is buried deep in the carpet and is made of very sturdy material, so you shouldn’t have to worry about cats damaging the carpet and pulling the yarn free.

Besides, part of the satisfaction of scratching is being able to pull on the thing a cat is scratching. Cut-pile carpet isn’t fun to scratch, so cats will give up and scratch one of their posts instead.

Vacuum Frequently

This is actually good advice for anyone who has carpet in their home, but it’s especially true for pet owners. Cats might not make as much of a mess on the carpet as dogs that run around outside, but they still contribute dirt, hair and dander that will build up over time.

For most carpets, we recommend vacuuming a minimum of once a week. If you have several cats or you let them outside, where they can bring in extra dirt, you might want to vacuum twice a week.

When you vacuum, be thorough. Vacuum carefully and slowly, letting your vacuums rotating brush pull up dirt and cat hair as you go back and forth across the whole carpet. When you have vacuumed an area of carpet up and down, turn 90 degrees and vacuum left and right as well. You’ll be surprised at how much extra dirt you can pull up that way! It’s also worth getting a dedicated “animal” vacuum that can handle the deeper dirt and fine hairs that a cat leaves on your floors.

Get To Stains Quickly

As we mentioned earlier, cat urine has the potential to create serious stains if not treated properly. If it has a chance to seep into the carpet backing and the subfloor you might never be able to get rid of the smell without replacing the whole carpet and resealing the floor.

One saying we like to use when it comes to stains is “the solution to pollution is dilution.” If you notice a cat stain, don’t reach right for the cleaning chemicals. Start with cold water at first, pouring a little on the spot of the stain and blotting (not rubbing) it up with a clean cloth. Repeat that process until you can no longer see the stain at all.

Once the visible part of the stain is cleaned up, use a dedicated pet stain cleaner to take care of the smell. Pet stain cleaners, also known as enzymatic cleaners, will break down the major scent-causing compounds present in pet urine to keep them from lingering. Let the cleaner soak for ten to 15 minutes, then put a towel down on the spot and stand on it to absorb as much of the moisture as possible.

Cats in your home can be a great source of companionship, but they can also be very unfriendly to your carpets if you don’t manage them properly. With these tips, your cats and your carpets should be able to coexist in harmony for years!