The 5 Best Rugs That Cats Can’t Destroy — & Why Your Cat Scratches, According To A Vet
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Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, you might have noticed that felines often also love to sink their claws into rugs, among other furniture. While no rug is invincible to wear and tear, the best rugs that cats can’t destroy will be made from durable materials that are also less appealing for cats to scratch. You might also want to consider a rug that is easy to clean and care for if your cat is prone to marking or accidents.
Megan Conrad, DVM, is a veterinarian at WellHaven Pet Health in Gresham, Oregon and the veterinary telemedicine company Hello Ralphie. She received her veterinarian’s degree from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
What To Look For In The Best Rugs That Cats Can’t Destroy
First things first: Avoid purchasing a rug made from a material that your cat will likely enjoy sinking their claws into, such as ones made from jute or sisal. Since these materials are often used to make scratching posts, your feline might be tempted to scratch a rug of the same materials — and should an accident occur, these two might also be more challenging to get clean. Instead, consider rugs made with durable, easy-to-maintain synthetic materials, like polyester. While wool tends not to be the most stain-resistant material for rugs, it is typically durable and soil-resistant — and it is an option that can feel super luxe.
As you shop, low-pile rugs can be a good option because the shorter strands are less likely for cats to dig their claws into — and potentially get stuck on and snag. A shorter pile will also be easier to maintain, making them ideal for cats who are prone to marking, accidents, or making other messes. A low-pile rug won’t feel as thick and plush as a medium-pile rug — with that in mind, you’ll find one medium-pile rug on the list below for shoppers who much prefer cushy rugs, but the rest are low-pile. If ease of maintenance is your top priority, zero in on the great rugs that are machine washable, too.
While the appearance of your rug ultimately comes down to personal preference, you might want to opt for a color and/or pattern that can mask stains or dirt between washes. A patterned rug, for example, might distract from any lingering signs of an accident and make a great accent piece for your home. And if you prefer a solid-colored rug, consider one in a darker shade.
Shop For The Best Rugs That Cats Can’t Destroy
In a hurry? Here are the best rugs that cats can’t destroy:
- The Fan-Favorite Rug Reviewers Describe As “Claw-Proof”: nuLOOM Moroccan Blyte Area Rug
- A Durable Rug That’s Safe For Indoor & Outdoor Use: Nourison Essentials Solid Contemporary Area Rug
- A Patterned Rug That’s Machine Washable: Ruggable Machine Washable Area Rug
- A Plush Wool Rug That Can Stand Up To Cats: SAFAVIEH Cambridge Collection Wool Area Rug
- A Synthetic Rug That Looks Like Sisal: iCustomRug Zara Synthetic Sisal Collection Area Rug
- Also Nice: A Cat Scratcher Mat For The Floor Or Wall: FUKUMARU Cat Scratcher Mat
- Also Consider: A Vet-Recommended Pheromone Diffuser That Calms Stressed Cats: FELIWAY Optimum Cat Enhanced Calming Pheromone Diffuser
To help you narrow down your choices, here’s a roundup of the five best rugs that your cats will be less likely to destroy — and two products that will help calm and deter your feline from wrecking your rugs in the first place.
1. The Fan-Favorite Rug Reviewers Describe As “Cat-Proof”
- Multiple Amazon reviewers have attested it’s durable
- It comes in dozens of size and color combinations
- Low-pile design doesn’t feel super cushy
Take it from cat owners themselves: According to multiple Amazon reviewers, this fan-favorite rug can withstand the wear and tear that comes with owning a claw-happy feline. “I have three cats and two of my cats scratch rugs non-stop,” explained one reviewer. “They have scratched this rug many times and I don't even see one pull or hole. It is also stain proof.” It’s a low-pile rug that’s made entirely out of propylene to withstand wear and tear — and, according to reviewers, it resists stains, too. Shop it comes in 12 colors and 65 sizes to suit your home’s unique aesthetic.
One reviewer wrote: “Cat proof! [...] My cats are notorious claw-ers and don’t seem to be affecting the rug. It’s also easy to clean pet stains from the rug. Looks beautiful especially for the price.”
Material: Propylene | Construction: Low-pile | Machine washable: No | Available sizes: 43 | Available colors: 12
2. A Durable Rug That’s Safe For Indoor & Outdoor Use
- Durable enough for indoor and outdoor use
- It can take a few days for creases to flatten out
This indoor-outdoor rug is durable enough to use outside but would look right at home in a living room or bedroom, too. The low-pile rug is made of durable propylene that several Amazon reviewers have attested is great for homes with pets as well as kids. One reviewer praised: “With kids and pets, I wanted a rug that could be indoor/outdoor, since outdoor rugs can usually be cleaned easier. This rug did not disappoint!” The rug is available in 28 sizes and 12 colors, ranging from the blue space-dye option featured above to solid black and red.
One reviewer wrote: “It’s hard to find a rug for a reasonable price for a highly trafficked family room. We have a dog, cats and kids so we didn’t want to spend a fortune. I wanted something that would fit in with some denim colors in our furniture. This was as close as I could come. [...] It only took a couple of days to flatten out. I’m happy to report it feels thicker and softer than the one we had before. Love this product!”
Made of: Propylene | Construction: Low-pile | Machine washable: No | Available sizes: 28 | Available colors: 12
3. A Patterned Rug That’s Machine Washable
- Machine washable
- The patterned design can hide stains and marks well
- On the pricier side
This Ruggable patterned rug is machine washable, so it’s perfect for those who want something that’s a cinch to maintain. Plus, the polyester material is designed to resist stains between washes — something Amazon reviewers have confirmed is indeed true in practice. The low-pile rug should be a good fit for cat households too. One shopper described: “The nap is short enough that cats are not able to claw it and they have lost interest.” Shop it in a variety of styles (like vintage-inspired or geometric patterns) and sizes.
One reviewer wrote: “We LOVE this rug. It was as described and washes so well! I too a chance to try this rug out and I am so glad I did! Saves me so much money to be able to just wash instead of replacing. My husband tracks in a lot of mud on his boots and onto the floor. Now I just toss it in the wash and problem solved. Washes and drys easily!”
4. A Plush Wool Rug That Can Stand Up To Cats
- Feels plush underfoot
- Looks luxe but is easy to maintain
- Tends to shed
- Pricier option
This plush wool rug is great if you want a natural fiber that feels luxurious. Amazon reviewers with pets have praised its durability and how easy it is to care for, with one noting, “The cat puked on it and we were able to clean it up without any stains!” Keep in mind that this is a medium-pile rug rather than low-pile — some pet owners have reported that their cats like to scratch it, while others found their cats didn’t. So, it may depend on your particular feline. It’s also important to note that since it’s made of wool, this pick will shed some fibers over time — but that’s a potentially minor tradeoff for such a luxe-feeling rug.
One reviewer wrote: “Love this rug. Very durable and so beautiful I wish I got a bigger size. I’ll be buying this rug again.”
Made of: Wool | Construction: Medium-pile | Machine washable: No | Available sizes: 33 | Available colors: 9
5. A Synthetic Rug That Looks Like Sisal
- Softer than real jute or sisal, according to reviewers
- Stain resistant
- Not the best fit for cats who really love to scratch
Those who love the look of a sisal rug but want something that’s easier to maintain might be pleased with this low-pile synthetic rug. It’s made to look like real sisal — complete with a ribbed-textured surface — but it’s actually constructed out of stain-resistant propylene. While it might not stand up to big-time scratchers, many shoppers have reported that it works well for them and their cats.
One reviewer wrote: “I don’t often write reviews, but this rug is extraordinary. I purchased [it] for my 3-season sun porch and wanted to wait a bit to see how it held up before reviewing. I’ve had sisel in the past, but did not want the harsh texture or the staining issues. This rug looks like sisal, but is incredibly soft! The best part is that it’s also durable and nearly stain-proof! I have 3 cats, and there are no pulls. Last night, I had my first red wine spill & was a little freaked out...I quickly grabbed an absorbent towel to soak-up the spill. That alone got nearly all the stain up. [...] We are really impressed with this rug!”
Made of: Propylene | Construction: Low-pile | Machine washable: No | Available sizes: 34 | Available colors: 7
Also Nice: A Cat Scratcher Mat For The Floor Or Wall
Made of sisal rope, this cat scratching mat can provide your feline with a convenient outlet for horizontal scratching so their energies aren’t focused on your rugs. Its latex surface prevents the mat from sliding when in use, and you can even attach it to a wall with the included adhesive hook-and-loop fasteners for vertical use, depending on your (and your cat’s) preferences.
One reviewer wrote: “My cats refuse to scratch anything that is not horizontal – so they love scratching my rugs rather than their vertical scratch posts. I bought this mat to see if they would like it more than the rug – and they do! They love lounging on this mat, scratching their claws on it, and in general rubbing on it. It is a good value for the price, and so far the fibers do not appear too damaged or ‘ripped out’.”
Also Nice To Have: A Vet-Recommended Pheromone Diffuser That Calms Stressed Cats
To deter cats from scratching rugs and other furniture, Dr. Conrad recommends the FELIWAY pheromone diffuser. “Putting a Feliway diffuser near the cat tree can help attract cats to that area and away from any rugs or other tempting areas,” she explains. It needs to be plugged into a power outlet, but then it’ll cover up to 750 square feet. To keep it working well, it’s recommended that you refill the bottle every 30 days and the entire diffuser every six months.
One reviewer wrote: “I bought this skeptically, not convinced that it would actually work, but with the struggles we were having I was ready to try anything. My cat got so stressed out at night. If I closed my bedroom door, he would cry and bang against the door for me to let him in. If I let him in, he would sleep a little but then start crying and scratching the furniture. I was getting no sleep because of his separation anxiety. The first day with this though and he was a different cat! So much calmer, no more scratching the furniture, no more crying. I am finally sleeping through the night again!”
Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture & Carpets?
Cats scratching on carpets or furniture is normal. “Cats will naturally scratch a material that feels good to them, so rugs and carpets are on their radar,” veterinarian Megan Conrad, D.M.V., explains in an email to Bustle. Providing a healthy outlet for your cat to claw and scratch is important — and according to Dr. Conrad, “Your best bet is to have plenty of scratching posts and mats around the house. These are tailor-made with specific materials that are attractive to cats.” She also recommends buying “a variety of different things so cats have the option of scratching both horizontally and vertically.”
However, other means of destruction could be a sign of a larger problem. “Though scratching is a normal behavior for cats, I would not consider urinating or defecating on rugs to be normal,” explains Dr. Conrad. “Any urination or defecation on rugs (or really anywhere), warrants a conversation with your veterinarian as this can be a sign of illness or behavior issue.”