Do Cat Claws Scratch Hardwood Floors?

do cat claws scratch hardwood floors

Changing or replacing your home’s flooring is no cheap task. It can cost hundreds or even thousands depending on how much flooring is being installed. If you have a cat then you may be wondering if cat claws will scratch your hardwood floors. The answer to this question is yes. Cat claws can scratch hardwood flooring. Although this can fluctuate from floor to floor based on the quality and coating (or finish) of the hardwood floor.

A hardwood floor with a cheaper quality or lower quality finish will scratch more easily than that of a high quality finish. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t scratch the poly or finished layer with your fingernail, then it should do well against your cat’s claws.

Hardwood floors are living surfaces and with animals or kids they will eventually show wear. It’s also a good rule of thumb to re-coat your hardwood floors every few years to help fill in scratches and keep their integrity.

Are Hardwood Floors Bad for Cats?

This is a very subjective type of question. Some people may prefer carpet over hard flooring, while others prefer hard flooring to carpets. When it comes to a cats perspective, a hardwood floor is nice and cool to lie down on for a quick nap. Their claws will also not catch on the hardwood floor like carpet. If your cat does decide to sprint across the room they may loose traction which can then cause their claws to scratch the floor.

Here’s a small list of the good and the bad about having hardwood floors with cats.


  • Easy to clean up accidents like spilled cat food, urine, or feces.
  • Cat claws won’t get stuck to a hard floor like carpet.
  • Gives your cat a cool place to lie down during the hotter months.


  • If you have very sporadic or energetic cats that dart across the home this can be bad since they may be slipping and sliding.
  • If cat urine or feces is not immediately picked up then you run the risk of it ruining your floor.
  • Floor can be scratched easily if there is a poor finish.
  • Can be expensive to maintain or repair.

What Is the Best Flooring for Cats?

There are so many different types of floor to choose on the market today, there’s hardwood, tiles, carpet, laminate, bamboo, and the list goes on. The main question is what works best for a cat? There’s a few things you need to consider when looking for the best type of flooring in your home for a cat.

Carpets and cats go together like coffee and peanut butter. They just don’t work well together in any combination or which way you try it with. Out of all the different types of floors to choose from, carpets are the hardest to clean, especially if your cat happens to urinate on it.

The urine not only seeps into the carpet, but it can also reach the flooring which is almost impossible to clean unless you pull up the carpet. You can be left with an odor in that spot forever.

Avoid porous types of flooring as urine and feces can easily stain these types of floors. Hardwood flooring falls into this category especially if it doesn’t have a good finish or seal. Porous materials absorb whatever is spilled on them and this is disastrous if you have animals in the home.

The best type of flooring for cats are flat surfaces like tile, laminate, bamboo, vinyl, and cork. All of these are closed surfaces with no cracks or crevices that can hide moisture or odor. Many of these floor types listed are also very resistant to stains which makes them perfect for cats and other animals.

Do Cats Prefer Carpet or Hard Floor?

The two main positive aspects about carpet is that it is soft and a good insulator, which means it is warm. Cats love carpet. Imagine a huge cat scratching post, but on the ground in your entire house.

That’s exactly how a cat sees carpet. Most cats use carpet as a common scratching post to sharpen their claws. It is also extremely difficult and time consuming to properly clean carpet from animal urine and feces.

During the colder seasons your cat will also love to snuggle up and take a nap in a warm corner with carpet. That’s pretty much it when it comes to carpet. Hard floors are almost the complete opposite.

Hard flooring is very easy to clean if your cat has an accident. Just wipe and spray the affected area and you’ll never know there was ever anything there. Hard flooring also has no type of grip like carpet.

If your cat comes flying around a corner, you better believe they will probably end up sliding into the wall or whatever is in their direction. Hard flooring also tends to be a lot cooler than carpet which can give your cat a nice spot to lie down during the hotter season. During colder weather, you might need to look into investing in some type of cat bed to keep them warm from the cold floor.

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, cat claws can scratch hardwood floors. If you have or plan on having hardwood flooring, make sure to do you due diligence and make sure it is properly sealed with a quality sealer. Having a strong coat of poly is the only thing keeping your hardwood floor safe from cat scratches.

It won’t stop all the wear and tear, but it will drastically decrease the damage done over time. Every few years it is also a good idea to refinish the floor and use filler to smoother out any scratches that may have accumulated over time.

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