One of a cat’s natural instincts is to scratch. Unfortunately, this can mean they scratch your carpet, furniture and even the walls. When they do this, don’t tell them off as they are only doing what comes naturally to them. Scratching gets rid of the outer coating of their claws and also helps stretch their muscles to keep them in good hunting condition.
In this guide we’ll explore why cats scratch, and how to stop cats from scratching carpet on your stairs.
Why do cats scratch?
There are a few reasons why a cat will scratch the carpet or furniture, and if you can understand these you can find a way to stop them.
- One big reason they scratch is to loosen the husk on their claw. This outer layer needs to be removed to reveal a new, sharp claw underneath. In a predator like a cat, strong, healthy claws are essential.
- The act of scratching also exercises muscles which are vital for keeping your cat healthy and in good condition. When they scratch, they stretch right out and this also exercises the front legs and spine so they are ready for hunting.
- When they scratch, they release pheromones which other cats can detect. These warn other cats that they are in another cat’s territory and also lets the cat know where it’s found a good place to scratch.
- Sometimes cats can scratch through boredom. If they have little to do and no one pays them any attention, they will scratch. Try to set aside time every day to play with your cat and make sure it has plenty to keep it occupied.
- Claws can also come out when cats play which is why you sometimes get scratched as well. If they are playing on the floor, there’s a good chance your carpet will get damaged.
- Cats can also scratch if they are anxious about something. It maybe you have a lot of pets and they feel a bit insecure, or if you have building work going on, that can unsettle them too. If it is anxiety making them scratch, then you will also notice other changes in their behaviour and you should consult a vet to make sure they get the right help.
Why do cats scratch the carpet on the stairs?
Cats love to sit on the stairs. This is mainly because it is high up spot that gives them a birds eye view of what is often an active part of the house (a hallway where people come and go, or a living room). Cats will often spend hours sitting on the stairs, and some even make it their favourite spot in the house.
As we know from earlier in this guide, scratching comes naturally to cats.
There is no ‘special’ reason that a cat will claw the carpet on your stairs
How to stop cats scratching the carpet on your stairs
Once you know why they scratch, you can take steps to prevent it. In truth, there is no ‘one fits all’ solution, so you may have to try a few of these ideas to help stop your cat completely.
- One simple solution is to provide scratching posts. These are readily available in pet shops or online and they come in different shapes and sizes. It can be an idea to put a few around the house to give your cat some variety. It’s best to place these in areas where the cat spends a lot of time or close to an area where they’ve been scratching previously (for example, in the hallway or landing at the top and bottom of the stairs). They may not use them straight away, but as they become used to them you should find they scratch there and leave your carpet alone.
- If your cat is repeatedly scratching the same step, they are likely being attracted to the pheromones they released when they scratched previously, so clean around the area to get rid of any lingering scent. You can also buy sprays which mask the scent, but be careful as some of these will have a smell which is overpowering for humans as well.
- Thick tape is a good deterrent. If your cat is scratching near to the base of the step (not the edge) simply place it over the area where they have been scratching. Cats don’t like the feel of it on their claws, so they will look for somewhere else to scratch.
- If they are scratching the wall of the step, then adding a sheet of Perspex (or plastic packaging) placed against it will stop them.
These steps should help move your cat onto scratching in new spots. The idea here is to move your cat onto a new spot to scratch, and ideally to train them to use the cat scratching posts that you have placed nearby the area that you are trying to protect. A great way of positively enforcing this is to reward your cat when you see them using their scratching post.
Over time, your cat will slowly move away from scratching on the stairs, and you will be able to remove any preventative measures that you have left in place.