We might love our soft, cushiony carpets, but we love our furry friends even more. So, if you’re one of the world’s many millions of cat and dog owners, you might presume that carpeting your home would be a recipe for disaster. However, whilst it is true that our cuddly companions can leave chaos in their wake, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your comfort for their mischievousness. You do, however, need to think a little more carefully about the kind of carpet you choose.

What Makes a Floor Surface Pet-Friendly?

When asking what carpet is best for pets, the answer, quite frankly, isn’t always carpet at all. But we’ll be diving into the alternate options later. Pet-friendly flooring needs to be not only scratch and damage resistant but comfortable and able to resist smelly urine stains. Cats also require a decent amount of traction to make sure they can get around the house comfortably.

Ultimately, the kind of flooring you choose will not only depend on your tastes but on your pets themselves. Cats and dogs spend the vast majority of their time wandering about the home and whilst their comfort is important, you also need to remember that they have claws and will scratch a polished vinyl, laminate or wooden surface if there is enough weight pressing down on their nails. As such, those with larger animals should always stick to carpet. It has also been shown to alleviate the effects of fur allergies by trapping allergens and preventing them from becoming airborne. So your guests who might be allergic will certainly thank you!

Carpet Fibres

Nylon is perhaps the most common synthetic carpet fibre and it is also one of the most durable and resistant to abrasion. It might be more expensive than polyester carpet blends, but it doesn’t absorb as much moisture as the even more expensive wool, so offers a good middle ground. Wool, meanwhile, is naturally stain resistant, but is significantly more expensive and absorbs a lot of moisture.

Cut Pile Carpet

Loop pile carpet might be incredibly durable, but as animal claws can get trapped in the loops and either tear the carpet or damage your pet’s nails, it’s not recommended for animal owners. Cut pile carpet, meanwhile, cuts the yarn so the piles stand upright, which not only looks neater than other types of carpet but is not going to get caught on any kitty or doggy paws. Therefore, cut pile is comfortably the best carpet for pets.

There are various types of cut pile carpet to choose from with the style referring to the length and twist of the pile. Some styles are more functional, whilst others are more formal, with longer piles generally more luxurious and suitable for living rooms or bedrooms and shorter piles more suitable for hallways, kitchens and dining rooms. Velvet style carpets have short pile lengths with not much twist, whilst plus has a medium pile length and more of a twist. Shag carpet, meanwhile, has very long piles and more space between the piles. The best cut pile carpets when you have pets, however, are saxony and twist pile carpets.

Saxony

Saxony carpets have a relatively high pile with a slight flair at the end of each tuft that makes for a smooth and comfortable surface that provides great traction for cats and is soft enough for dogs. They are also very comfortable underfoot for humans too, but with an affordable price tag. Saxony is also great for concealing marks as it’s often cut at an angle.

Twist Pile Carpets

Hard-wearing and versatile enough to suit almost any room and any home, twist pile carpets are one of the most popular styles in the UK. Their name is derived from the fact they are made from yarn that’s been twisted together. The feel is coarse but comfortable and the look is decidedly rustic.

Polypropylene Carpet

Another carpet that might be a smart choice for pet owners is a polypropylene carpet. We all love our pets, but can’t deny that they also like to leave a lot of mess, particularly after a wet walk in the rain or when they decide to bring us a special ‘gift’ from the garden. Polypropylene is a naturally stain resistant and hard-wearing material that has a similar aesthetic look to wool, only with far greater resistance to dust, dirt and liquid, with stains generally sitting on top of the carpet instead of penetrating into the pile.

Patterned Carpet or Dark Carpet

Whilst it might make a room feel lighter and more inviting, a plain, light, cream carpet will undoubtedly show up every tiny stain and magnify it to an almost shocking degree. This is particularly true if you happen to own an animal that malts and has dark fur. That’s why pet owners generally opt for heavily patterned carpets and darker carpets, that are more forgiving when it comes to showing up blemishes, stains and rogue hairs. A novel idea would be matching the carpet to the colour of your pet.

Care and Maintenance of Your Carpet

Choosing the right carpet is only half the story, of course. It’s also vital that you keep on top of it with regular care and maintenance. With pets, it’s also important that you are meticulous when it comes to hygiene, as our pets might mean us well, but they are notorious when it comes to bringing in harmful bacteria from the outside world.

You should aim to get the vacuum out at least three or four times a week, if possible, and if there are any ‘accidents’ they should be taken care of immediately with odour-killing detergents to prevent any nasty lingering smells. You should also consider giving your carpets a deep clean at least once a year, either with a commercial cleaner or by hiring a professional carpet cleaning service.

Alternatives to Carpet

Of course, whilst carpet is comfortable underfoot and has a classic, homely aesthetic that everybody knows and loves, it is ultimately quite difficult to clean, so whilst it might offer a cosy cushioning for us and our furry friends, it might not be an ideal solution in certain situations. Particularly in heavy footfall areas or areas where pet-related damage is common. That’s where these equally gorgeous and affordable alternatives come in.

Laminate

Laminate flooring exists to replicate the look and feel or a hardwood floor, but is much easier to clean and nowhere near as expensive. So, if the classic hardwood effect is something you think would suit your home, laminate is a popular choice, particularly in high traffic areas.

PRO – Easy to clean, hard and durable. It’s also available in a number of styles that can replicate the look of wood, stone and slate.

CON – Not as comfortable underfoot as carpet.

PRO – Water-resistant and doesn’t stain as obviously as carpet. Stains are also that much easier to remove.

CON – Surface can be slippery and don’t offer as much traction of carpet, which can be particularly problematic for cat owners. However, there are textured options that offer better traction and you could always put a rug down.

PRO – Scratches and imperfections are less noticeable than on carpet and hardwood.

CON – Has the almost indistinguishable look of hardwood, but not quite the same quality.

Vinyl

Vinyl flooring is an ideal affordable choice for many pet owners who might not want to splash out hundreds on flooring that could end up being damaged, vinyl flooring is flexible and durable is available in a wide variety of eclectic styles.

PRO – Even easier to clean than laminate and doesn’t trap allergens.

CON – The colours will dull over time.

PRO – Very quiet underfoot, which is a definite benefit over laminate, which can amplify loud paws.

CON – Not completely water-resistant, as untreated spills can lead to mildew building up and eventually the vinyl lifting from the floor.

PRO – Resistant to scratches and stains.

CON – Some people are not happy with the ‘feel’ of vinyl and think that it feels somehow cheap. This is, ultimately, a subjective opinion though. For these individuals, LVT (luxury vinyl tile) might be an option. This provides better traction and is more durable than conventional vinyl flooring.

Top Tips to Keep Your Carpet Pet Friendly

  • Make sure you regularly clip the nails of your pets as the longer they are, the more likely they will be to scratch and damage your flooring.
  • Place a mat underneath your foot bowls, water bowls and litter trays, as the water and muck that can build around them will eventually damage your carpet or flooring.
  • Invest in some hefty doormats to place at both the front and rear entrance of your homes and underneath any cat flaps.
  • Make sure you take care of ‘accidents’ as soon as possible, as once the smell has soaked into a carpet it will stick. First, soak up as much of it as possible and then use a cleaner specifically engineered to remove stains and odours. Leave it for at least 5 minutes before rinsing it and leaving it to dry.
  • One of the most common pet activities that can lead to flooring damage is playing with toys. To combat this, designate a ‘play area’ with all their toys and try to make sure all destructive shenanigans remains within that area.