The Best Kind of Carpet If You Have a Cat

The lifetime of your carpet can be strongly impacted by the lifetime of your cat.
i Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images

When it comes to floor decor, your kitty -- and her habits -- take center stage. Choosing a carpet that is cat-compatible can make your feline's debut in the living room limelight less traumatic for both of you.

Furs and Spills

First and foremost, you want a carpet that resists the twin banes of cat people everywhere: discarded fur and accidents (even the accidentally-on-purpose kind).

Synthetic fibers are most stain-resistant. Nylon and polypropylene (Olefin) are highly recommended because they not only resist stains, but are very stable chemical compounds with low out-gassing, which means you're not compromising your or your kitty's health for the sake of a clean and tidy floor. The tighter the pile or loop, the more resistant to poop.

Many carpet retailers and manufacturers offer stain-resistant chemical treatment. These are considered safe for indoor air quality, but some chemical-sensitive consumers report that this is questionable. If you (or your furbaby) have a history of environmental sensitivity, you may want to go light on the additional treatments.

Pile It On!

The pile of your carpet determines how much fur, dander, kitty staining and, horror of horrors, fleas can get inside to create a long-term problem.

Berber carpet is a tightly-looped classic widely considered virtually pet-proof when it comes to shedding issues and stains. However, if your kitty is a clawmeister, the loops may encourage serious scratching (some flooring experts report entire sections of carpet uprooted by overly ambitious felines).

To prevent your cat from embarking on unsanctioned redecorating, many experts suggest a cut pile style, such as plush or frieze. These can trap more shed fur, but are less attractive to claws.

Got Your Back?

Most flooring experts strongly suggest an underbarrier or carpet backing for cat owners, but some decorators warn that they can reduce the overall life of your carpet. Their primary purpose is to keep liquids from reaching the floor underneath the carpet, where they can fester and create a problem that will persist long after your carpet has gone to the great showroom in the sky.

Cork is all-natural but pricey. Foam is very easy to find, comfortable to walk on and cheap to install, but can outgas and cause an indoor air quality issue. Compressed gel and waterproof backings come highly recommended by many flooring experts. They have most of the benefits of cork or foam, but are considered more durable.


If you are very concerned about your feline's felicity for your new flooring, you may want to consider some alternatives to traditional wall-to-wall carpet. Persian rugs can be found in any price range, color scheme and size, are tightly looped or piled, and easy to pick up and clean. Throw rugs can be strategically placed and then thrown straight in the wash. Carpet tiles are an answer for some cats with a vendetta against your decor. These can be found at very reasonable prices, and when your problem child goes on a rampage, you can lift and replace that section alone. Sisal floor treatments have many of the benefits of carpet, are all natural, durable and available in wall-to-wall and portable styles. Some, however, are particularly attractive to clawing cats, and the chemical-free fibers may stain.

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