What Does It Mean When Cats Dig Their Claws Into the Carpet?

He's just stretching after a tough day of napping.
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Max has a peculiar habit of digging his claws into your living room rug. He kneads his toes deep into the carpet, stretches out and purrs loudly. Clawing is completely normal, but if it becomes destructive and ruins your expensive Oriental rug, investing in a carpet-covered scratching post may help alleviate the issue.


Cats need to claw things. It just feels good -- plain and simple. By getting a good grasp on your rug he can turn and twist to stretch every last bone in his body, down to the very last vertebrae in his tail. He's kind of doing his own little yoga session after his long nap in the afternoon sun.


That pushing and pulling that cats do with their paws, which is a kneading-type motion, is comforting. During infancy, kittens knead their mama's belly to get milk flowing when they're hungry. Mom feeds her babies, licks their little heads and purrs. The baby kittens are truly happy and at ease. During adulthood some felines continue this kneading motion to self-soothe and comfort themselves.

Sharpening Claws

Carpet is thick and sturdy. Perfect material for sharpening Max's claws, which is why many scratching posts are made from this material. He's burrowing his claws deep into your brand new rug not to make you angry, but to give himself a little manicure. Sharpening removes worn out dead parts of the nail and allows healthy new nails to sprout through. After a thorough scratching session, he'll be able to confidently scrounge around for unsuspecting prey.

Marking Territory

Another reason Max digs into the living room rug is to mark his territory. Kitties have scent glads right in their paw pads, as well as many other body parts. When he's kneading in the carpet, he's leaving his own signature perfume behind, informing any other felines that he was there first. Because he'll shed parts of his nails and leave them behind, it's yet another signal to other animals that he was there and that rug is his.


Imagine if your fingers were webbed. You'd probably get a lot of junk stuck in there. Well that's exactly what Max goes through on a daily basis. Dirt from the potted plant or litter from his potty gets stuck between his toes. He'll dig into the carpet as deep as he can in order to clean out all of the annoying debris that is stuck to his feet. Once the stuck-on grime is gone, he'll jump right back up and be on his way.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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