You ask – we answer:
Q: We are getting a new carpet, and I wondered how we can keep our cat from clawing it at the doors when they are closed?
A: When it comes to keeping cats out of a specific area of your home, the best policy is all or nothing. Cats do not understand why they can have access to certain areas of your home sometimes and not others. In fact, giving them a taste of it and then taking it away each day actually creates frustration behavior.
This means that they will usually express their frustration with the situation by scratching at, urine marking, or excessively vocalizing at the door to where they are either confined or denied access. So the best thing you can do is make the decision to either open these doors up permanently or close them permanently and start now before you install the new carpet. You may also want to consider more pet-friendly flooring, such as laminate, tile, or a dense non-tufted carpet that is not so easily shredded.
It is important to remember the reasons why cats scratch to better understand how to redirect them onto appropriate objects. Cats scratch to mark; they have scent glands in their paw pads. They also scratch to groom their nails and to relieve stress and pent up energy/frustration.
Here are a few ideas to deter your kitty if they still insist on scratching at the door/carpet:
Place a scratching post on top of, or right next to where he is scratching as to give him an appropriate outlet for the behavior in the place he wants to mark. You may want to try the corrugated horizontal scratcher available at most pet stores or get a scratching post with a sisal carpeted base so he can scratch horizontally or vertically.
Nail Trims! Keeping your cat’s nails trimmed short can limit the amount of destruction they can do, learn how to do it yourself, or have a pet sitter or your veterinarians’ office help you. Some feline-only practices offer nail trims at no charge.
Lay packaging tape, vinyl, linoleum, etc., down over the spot to create a slick unappealing surface. Also, provide something he will like to scratch on in the same area. Remember, set them up for success!
Double-sided sticky tape, black pepper, and other smell associated deterrents can work also. Feliway is a pheromone product that encourages your cat to mark with his facial scent glands rather than with his paws or his urine. In this case, the spray would be most effective and should be used daily for at least a month on the carpet and surrounding walls/door frame area. It does not stain and is not harmful to other children or pets.
The Sccccat device is a motion sensor can of compressed air that will simply send your cat in another direction, humanely, when he approaches the spot where you don’t want him. Other devices similar to this are available in pet supply catalogs and online, some with only an audible warning.