6 reasons why hard floors are better than carpeted floors for cat owners

Vinyl or laminate flooring is better than carpeted flooring if you live with a domestic cat. And it is even more desirable if you have underfloor heating. I believe that there are six reasons why hard flooring is better than carpeted flooring.

Gabs on the kitchen floor enjoying the underfloor heating
Gabs on the kitchen floor enjoying the underfloor heating. Picture: MikeB.

Inappropriate elimination

You must have heard a lot about inappropriate elimination. The description is made by people for people. From the cat’s perspective to urinate outside the litterbox is appropriate under the circumstances in which the cat finds themselves otherwise they wouldn’t do it There is always a reason, a human reason normally, why domestic cats do things.

If a cat inappropriately eliminates on a hard surface, cleaning it up is straightforward. You use standard cleaning materials. If they do it on a carpet you have to use an enzyme cleaner. There is no other option. This is a specialist cleaner which you can buy online. But it’s troublesome and on a hard floor it is easy.

RELATED: Declawed cats are seven times more likely to pee in inappropriate places

Fleas

If, with regret, your cat has fleas and if the infestation is troublesome, let’s put it that way, it is likely that you have fleas in your carpet. Fleas jump from carpets onto cats. Carpets provide a nice warm home for a flea to wait for a passing cat onto which they can jump to suck their blood.

A hard floor does not provide a home for a flea which is not on their host. It’s a hostile environment for a flea. They are much less likely to survive in my opinion because it is easier to profoundly clean a hard floor that a carpeted floor. How much debris and bits and pieces are resting at the bottom of a carpet?

RELATED: Cat fleas and treatments โ€“ comprehensive page

Hair

One of the downsides of looking after a cat is that you have to deal with their hair which is shed seasonally. We all know about it and it is one aspect of cat caregiving which puts some people off adopting a cat. Cat hair will attach itself to carpets. You have to Hoover the carpet to get it off. You are likely to leave some on the carpet and some vacuum cleaners are not that able to remove cat hairs efficiently.

If you have a hard floor, cat hairs turn into ‘tumbleweed hairballs’. They sort of join together and end up by the skirting board and in corners. I guess this is because of the air currents which are created when the human occupants of the home walk on the floor. You simply pick up these tumbleweed hairballs and put them in a bin. Of course, some hairs are still left lying around but you can keep the home tidier more easily in respect of cat hairs if you have a hard vinyl or laminate floor.

RELATED: Cat Shedding

Underfloor heating

I know that underfloor heating isn’t that commonplace but if you have it, your home should not be carpeted. If you carpet over underfloor heating you are going to suppress the release of heat from the warm floor which goes against the point of having underfloor heating in the first place. But with a laminate flooring over underfloor heating, you create a beautifully warm floor on which your cat will like to rest. It looks a bit peculiar because cats like to snuggle up into small cosy places but you’ll see your cat in the middle of the floor on a nice warm spot and they will be perfectly content (see picture above).

Scratching

Sometimes domestic cats use carpets as horizontal cat scratching areas. This can damage the carpet slightly. This may upset some houseproud cat owners. Cats do not scratch vinyl or laminate hard floors. Provided you have a couple of really good alternatives such as the best cat scratching post on the market, currently, the Amazon heavy duty variety of which I have one, your cat will be satisfied.

Smart scratching post
Smart and large scratching post from Amazon, the best on the market bar none. Photo: MikeB.

Interactive feeding

Nowadays interactive feeding has become quite popular. You place dry cat food in a plastic ball with holes in it. Your cat pushes the plastic ball around and the dry cat food pellets fall out gradually. Your cat learns to do this quite quickly. It provides a challenge to your cat. It stimulates the brain. It replicates slightly the hunting experience. It is far better to place an interactive feeding device on a hard floor than on a carpet. This is because bits of dry cat food are left on the floor. On a carpet these bits will fall to the bottom of the carpet where they will remain permanently ๐Ÿ˜ข! On a vinyl floor, you can see them and vacuum them up.

Picture of a tabby cat using an interactive cat feeder
Picture of a tabby cat using an interactive cat feeder. Photo: MikeB

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Why do cats eat plants and should I be worried?

Because people know domestic cats as being obligate carnivores (specialist flesh eaters) many don’t believe that they want to eat plant material. But they do like occasionally to eat vegetation. This is inherited from their wild cat ancestor. It’s perfectly normal behaviour. The scientists are not quite sure, today, why a wide range of cat species do this but I believe that it is because plant material contains folic acid which is vitamin B9 and which helps with the transportation of oxygen in the bloodstream. That’s a personal viewpoint based upon Dr Desmond Morris’s thoughts. The cat species that eats most plant material is the snow leopard by the way and that species lives at very high altitudes where an increased level of oxygen in the blood is an important asset.

Top ten most poisonous plants
Top ten most poisonous plants. Image: PoC. Source of general poisons: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook (ASPCA). Source poisonous plants: Pet Poisons Helpline + other sites.

But the point is that cats eat plants for their health. It is instinctive. But should you be worried? Yes, because it depends what sort the plant they eat. Sadly it appears that domestic cats have not evolved to be able to distinguish between poisonous plants and plants that are not poisonous. It’s a peculiar state of affairs to be in. And, as you might know, there are a huge number of poisonous plants some of which are indoor plants.

So, a good cat caretaker or guardian should be very cautious and observant about having plants in their home. Research is required on the safe plants. I have quite a long list of articles on this subject so you don’t have to go any further than this website!

For example, you can click the following link for lilies that are regarded as safe (lilies are incredibly poisonous to cats). And you can click the following link if you want to see a full list of plants poisonous to cats. And you can click this link if you want to see plants that are not poisonous to cats and which are often kept in the home.

I have a page as well about the various theories as to why cats eat plant material which you can read by clicking this link.

It is difficult to find statistics on the number of cats poisoned by plants in developed countries. The number is probably substantial. A study was carried out initially covering the years 2000-2011 on domestic animal poisoning by exposure to plants. The dog was the most commonly poisoned species by plants at 61.8% of calls to the Poison Control Centre of Milan. Dogs were followed by cats at 26% of the calls. In 73.8% of cases the poisoning was mild-to-moderate while fatal poisoning accounted for 10.6% of these cases.

Plants containing glycoside, alkaloid, oxalate, toxalbumin, saponin, terpene, and terpenoid-containing plants were the most often responsible for these poisonings.

“Cycas revoluta, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Hydrangea macrophylla, Nerium oleander, Rhododendron species and Prunus species were the plants most frequently involved.”

A study concerning potential plant poisonings in dogs and cats in southern Africa found that many of the poisonings were not fatal but some resulted in death and rapid action has to be taken by the owner and the veterinarian.

Little research is required to quickly understand that a very wide range of plants can poison cats. I have no plants at all in my home. I would like to have a plant in my home but it is just easier not to have them and safer for my cat. It’s a personal decision but the danger lurks. It is remarkable how many potential poisons there are in the home of all cat owners some of which are invisible and insidious such as chemicals in furniture and carpets. These can affect a cat’s endocrine system and more. It just makes sense to be aware of the potential.

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Are hard floors bad for cats?

Are hard floors bad for cats? No, it’s quite the opposite in fact. Carpets are potentially bad for cats but hard floors are not. I would, personally, highly recommend hard floors over carpets if you have a cat companion. There are multi-benefits in my view although this is not a massive issue. But in terms of overall domestic cat welfare, a home with hard floors and perhaps some rugs is better than a home with fitted carpet wall-to-wall.

Blue pointed cat in light hard wood floor
Blue pointed cat in light hard wood floor. Photo in public domain in my view.

Carpets and health

Years ago I wrote about the chemicals incorporated into carpets to preserve them and give them a longer life. Carpets are, at the very least, potentially dangerous to cats in an insidious and hidden way (and for infants too). It isn’t just the chemicals, the American Lung Association say that carpets trap a range of pollutants such as dirt and dust, pesticides, lead, mould spores, allergens, pet dander (a source of allergy to cats), dust mites, toxic gases sticking to small particles that settle into a carpet and of course the dreaded flea, and so on. Cats fleas can remain passive in carpet and jump onto cats when passing.

When you think about it, although a carpet is visually and emotionally warm and pleasant to use in the home, they are a product which is uniquely designed to trap pollutants. You can hoover the carpet but does it remove all of these pollutants and unhealthy objects and parasites?

Hot climates

I think I have to mention hot climates. With global warming there are more hot climates! Hard floors are cooler particularly non-wood hard floors. Long-haired cats will like to use the cooling effect of a ceramic tiled floor when it’s hot, to cool down. When the weather becomes cold they can go to their bed, tucked away in the boiler room or some other cosy place.

Vacuuming

The American Lung Association advise that you vacuum your carpet at least three times a week with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. This will be beneficial and detrimental to a certain extent because it may disturb settled particles at the bottom of the carpet sending them airborne. Carpet should be deep cleaned annually and dried properly to avoid the potential for mildew. How many people hoover their carpet 3 times a week?

Buying a carpet

Try and select one which releases fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are the nasty chemicals are referred to above which you don’t see but which can slowly evaporate into the air over a long period of time. I’m not saying that these chemicals are highly dangerous, they are not. It’s just a question of maximising health and minimising hazards.

On the insulation of carpets, request that glues and adhesives are non-toxic and low VOC. The carpet should be ventilated for 72 hours before living on them.

Sterile home

Another issue comes to mind: you often find hard floors in very nicely ordered and well-maintained homes in which a very houseproud owner lives. I don’t think it is good for a cat if a home is too sterile and ordered. It shouldn’t be too empty and sheer in appearance because I think that kind of environment is less natural for a domestic cat than a more normal one which is lived in.

Conclusion

I’ve come to the conclusion after many years that if you have a choice, a hard floor is better than a carpeted one if you live with a cat or cats. There are other benefits to the ones stated above. If your cat gets cystitis and pees on the floor it’s much easier to clear it up with a hardwood floor. Cat urine can be removed completely from a hard floor without any special enzyme cleaners whereas with a carpet you have to use enzyme cleaners and a lot of patience. And if you have a flea infestation removing fitted carpet would probably be a godsend.

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How can I stop my cat scratching my carpet?

The facetious answer is to get rid of your carpet. I am actually a believer that the best homes for domestic cats are those without carpets. There are other advantages namely winning the battle against fleas. In removing the carpet you remove a place for fleas to hide before jumping onto cats. I just feel that in a general sense in terms of managing the combined human and cat environment it is easier if there is no carpet. The floors should be bare and perhaps one or two rugs are dotted around to make the place feel a bit warmer emotionally.

Top quality F1 Savannahs living with Jean Pierre
Top quality F1 Savannahs living with Jean Pierre and resting together comfortably on a classy rug! Photo: Kathryn Stucki.

Having got that point out of the way which completely removes the problem of a cat scratching the carpet I’ll address the usual solutions. But before I do let’s remind ourselves that scratching the carpet is not “bad cat behavior”. It is normal cat behavior. It is behavior that cat owners normally don’t like unless their carpet is already knackered.

You can’t hundred percent guarantee that you will be able to stop a cat scratching the carpet because it is a natural and necessary feline behavior serving three functions but you can pretty well eliminate it by adding to the home a lot of great alternatives. The carpet is a nice object for a cat to scratch but you can provide better alternatives such as a really solid large vertical scratching post. These are de rigeur in a cat lover’s home.

You can get cheap cardboard scratching boards from Amazon which you can dot around the home as I do (I have six). They get worn out but you can turn them over to extend their life. My cat uses them all the time and does not scratch the carpet. Cats do drag some of the cardboard bits from the board to other parts of the home because they are attached to their claws. This is a slight irritation. However, they not only help stop your cat scratching the carpet but furniture as well.

Cat scratching board
Cat scratching board. This is my home. Photo: PoC.

It is possible that if a cat scratches a lot she may be stressed a bit more than normal because scratching not only stretches the cat’s body and sloughs off the outer sheath of their claws, it also deposits scent. A cat will deposit scent to put down a marker that this is their territory. This reassures a cat. If a cat needs reassuring they may be anxious. Therefore you can try making your cat feel more relaxed by adding an artificial pheromone to the atmosphere inside the home with a product such as Feliway.

Adding a pheromone may help but I would look at other solutions. The best solutions start with asking why your cat might be a little more stressed than she should be. There could be numerous reasons such as your absence for a long time causing separation anxiety or a cat outside agitating your cat when she uses “Cat TV”. Cat TV is looking out the window.

In multi-cat households, sometimes a more dominant cat can stress a more timid cat through cat bullying. There may be a competition to get at food bowls or litters. Noise and broken routines can aggitate a cat. Stangers in the home are unpleasant for most domestic cats. It might not be specifics which stress a cat. It could be the environment is not conducive to normal cat behavior. Although it is a big deal adding a catio is a good way to catify a home. All these points need to be looked at and more. As Jackson Galaxy advises you have to put your detective hat on and do some research by understanding feline behavior and observation.

However, it is completely normal for a cat to scratch a carpet and therefore even if a cat is completely calm and well cared for he or she will do it. You simply have to redirect them to a more suitable area from the human’s standpoint.

Some more on carpets

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How to get rid of the smell of cat pee from carpet?

It is relatively straightfoward nowadays to get rid of the smell of cat pee from carpet and underlay. Of course, in getting rid of the smell you are getting rid of the urine. It is the same objective. There are some key issues to bear in mind. If it is not pee caused by cystitis, which stays on the surface because it is in small quantities, the pee would have passed through the carpet to the foam underlay and also to the floorboards. Therefore cleaning the carpet is not enough. You have to get deep down. Secondly, in order to achieve this you need to use an enzyme cleaner which changes the chemical composition of cat pee. In doing this it eliminates it. The enzymes break down the uric acid to carbon dioxide and ammonia.

Cat pee odour remover
Cat pee odour remover. Note: I am not paid to promote this product. It is one of many similar products.

Enzyme cleaners

Please read all the instructions before use and follow them ๐Ÿ™‚ . There are many cat pee removers on the market which use enzymes. I am not paid to promote any items but a Google search produces Unique Pet Odor and Stain Eliminator (lucky them). As you can see it is an American product. There will be British equivalents.

If the peeing occurred very recently, I’d blot the area to remove excess pee first. Then I’d use the Unique product per the instructions (or a similar product which is known to be effective). As mentioned, ammonia is produced when using the product.

The product is a concentrate which you dilute with warm water. The water should not be hot as it kills the bacteria in the product. We are told that the product contains enzymes to change the chemical composition of cat pee and bacteria which eats up the end product.

The liquid should be carefully poured over the area but not to excess. This allows it to seep down to the floorboards. This must be critical in order to remove all the smell. Cat pee smell is horrendously persistent. It can feel like it is impossible to remove. But it will be removed if you follow the instructions carefully. You may have to repeat the process in bad cases.

Sprays

Cat urine remover also comes in sprays. I don’t think a spray is suitable for a carpet as it won’t get deep down. Unless, as mentioned above, the pee is on the surface because it was deposited in a very small quantity as happens when a cat has cystitis. When a domestic cat has cystitis they pee small amounts of sometimes bloody pee on carpets and other areas. You’ll need to see a vet about this.

Veterinarian

Of course you’ll also need to ask why your cat is peeing on the carpet. There are millions of internet pages on this topic. The most obvious reason is because your cat is stressed due to various reasons. In other words there is a psychological issue which is within the management of the cat’s guardian (see some examples below).

Car seats

Taking a cat to a vet in a carrier can lead to cat pee in and on the car seats. This is because a cat will be stressed and perhaps pee in the carrier. The pee leaks from the carrier to the car seat. The pee soaks in. The only way to remove it is as described above.

SOME PAGES ON CATS PEEING IN THE WRONG PLACE. THERE ARE MANY MORE. PLEASE USE THE SEARCH TOOLS ON THE SITE.

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Carpet chemical damages sperm’s DNA so what does it do to our cats?

I’m back on my high horse about carpet chemicals. I believe that they are very important and overlooked. However, fortunately, a recent research study published in Scientific Reports has found that environmental chemicals in our homes, one of which is DEHP, damages the DNA in sperm and limits its swimming ability.

DEHP damages sperm?!
DEHP damages sperm?!

The other chemical studied was PCB 153. DEHP is a phthalate, one of several toxic chemicals found in major European Union retailer carpets. It was banned by the European Union in 2015 but an exemption for its use was made for carpets. DEHP is also found other items such as clothes.

My research indicates that DEHP is also widely used in the United States of America. It is used in very many household items (ref: United States Plastics Corp).

DEHP is what is called a plasticiser in the manufacture of PVC articles. I’m going to guess and say that in carpets its use is found in the base on which carpets are woven. The base is probably made of plastic nowadays and DEHP is used in that plastic. And/or the carpet fibres themselves are plastic and contain DEHP. I’m prepared to be corrected if that’s wrong.

PCB 153 is banned but persists in the environment. It was widely used as e.g. coolant fluid in electrical apparatus.

I’m more concerned about the dangers of carpets in this article. The fact that DEHP can damage such a fundamental part of a human’s anatomy surely must raise a flag of warning to pet owners including cat guardians. I should say, incidentally, that the research which I am referring to concerned dogs. It found that DEHP damaged the DNA of dogs’ sperm. Dog sperm counts are in decline as are those of humans.

All the more reason to be thoughtful as to whether DEHP damages, in some fundamental way, the anatomy of domestic cats who are more often nearer this toxic chemical than humans because they lie on carpets and walk on them.

Alan Pacey, professor of andrology at the Universe of Sheffield said that we should be careful with these results because lab tests are not always replicated in real life. However, Rebecca Sumner who was part of the research team said that it was worth investigating the similarities between effects on dog and human sperm and hopes that such research could lead to ways to protect sperm in dogs and humans. I have to add that there is a need to do more work on protecting the general health of companion animals in the home as well.

Humans are blind to the existence of chemicals in the home both in products and in the air as the products give off toxic, odourless fumes.

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Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) toxic to domestic cats

Toxic to cats: per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
Toxic to cats: per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Years ago I wrote about fire retardants in furniture which could affect the thyroid gland of the domestic cat. Please click on FIRE RETARDANTS.

Then I wrote about a range of chemical impregnated into carpets. I had no idea at the time that carpets were so riddled with nasty, dangerous chemicals. Please click on CARPETS.

Today, I read of another nasty chemical embedded in household items such as upholstery and carpets. Yes, this is another chemical in carpets. I swear all homes with cats should have hard floors! They harbour fleas too, don’t forget.

PFAS

The webbed.com website tells us that the chemicals: per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) might harm a cat’s thyroid gland. Once again it’s the thyroid gland which is affected. Researches can’t be positive about a link but their research showed an association between these chemicals and an endocrine disorder.

Toxic chemicals in the home impregnated into household furnishings may be behind a rise on hyperthyroidism in domestic cats (over active thyroid). This is a very common endocrine (hormone) disorder in felines.

PFASs were in common use until 2000 in the USA. The chemical repeals oil and water. This chemical leaches out of these items and is ingested in food, water, dust and air.

Fortunately these products are being phased out. It is a feline danger that needs to be flagged. The more research I do into household hazards the more shocked I am at the sheer amount of possible chemical dangers contained within them.

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Feline Diabetes caused by fire-retardants in carpets, curtains and upholstery

I am referring to feline diabetes insipidus which is a rare variation of diabetes. It is not related to insulin production as is the case for diabetes mellitus.

I have mentioned the hazardous nature of fire-retardants before but not in relation to causing diabetes.

The connection was mentioned in a television program, Trust Me, I’m Your Vet. Although I did not watch the program the Times newspaper reported on it. They state that diabetes in cats is up owing to brain tumours caused by toxic chemicals in fire-retardants applied to curtains and carpets (they are also used in foam cushions and upholstery). Diabetes mellitus is up due to feline obesity on the increase.

RELATED: 20 facts about feline hyperthyroidism

I have reported on an increase thyroid cancer but not the possible connection between brominated fire retardants and diabetes insipidus. The symptoms are (a) increased production of dilute urine (b) drinking more and (c) dehydration. These signs are similar to kidney failure. A vet would have to do a proper diagnosis to distinguish the two.

The chain of events is as follows: chemicals in fire-retardants cause brain tumour > brain fails to produce enough of the hormone vasopressin > kidney unable to retain water > increased dilute urine > increased drinking > dehydration.

I feel there is a pressing need to fully investigate the dangers of these chemicals. I would not be surprised if they present more of a hazard than people image to cats, dogs and people. Many cat owners are unaware of the dangers lurking in carpets, curtains and furniture.

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