What Hardwood Floors Are Safe For Cats?

Hey, fellow cat lovers. Are you planning to give your flooring a facelift but worried about the safety of your feline friends? As a pet parent, it’s crucial to prioritize the comfort and well-being of our furry companions while still keeping our homes stylish.

Hardwood floors are an excellent choice for pet owners. They’re durable, easy to clean, and add value to your home. But not all hardwood floors are created equal when it comes to cats. Some can be toxic and harmful to our little furballs.

Thankfully, there are several safe hardwood options that will keep your cats healthy and happy. In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of hardwood floors that are safe for cats and their unique benefits. From bamboo to maple, we’ve got all the info you need.

So if you’re a devoted cat parent who wants only the best for their beloved pets, keep reading to discover what hardwood floors are safe for cats.

What Type of Hardwood Finish Is Safe for Cats?

When it comes to choosing hardwood floors, it’s crucial to consider the type of finish used on the flooring. Some finishes can emit harmful fumes and chemicals that could be dangerous for your cats.

Fortunately, there are safe options available. Here are some of the best hardwood finishes for cat owners:

  • Water-based finish: This type of finish contains fewer volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than oil-based finishes, reducing the risk of harmful emissions. It also dries faster and has a lower odor, making it more convenient for homes with pets.
  • Natural oil finish: These finishes use plant-based oils and waxes to protect the wood rather than synthetic chemicals. They tend to have lower levels of VOCs and emit a more natural odor that is less likely to bother cats.

On the other hand, polyurethane finishes are not recommended for homes with cats. These finishes contain high levels of VOCs and can emit harmful fumes for up to several weeks after installation. Additionally, cats may be attracted to the shiny appearance of polyurethane finishes and try to scratch or lick the surface, potentially ingesting harmful chemicals.

In addition to the type of finish, it’s important to consider the type of wood used for the flooring. Harder woods like oak or hickory are more durable and resistant to scratches from cat claws, while softer woods like pine or fir are more prone to damage and may not be the best choice for homes with cats.

It’s also essential to make sure that your hardwood floors are properly sealed. Unsealed wood floors can absorb moisture and odors, making them more difficult to clean and potentially creating a breeding ground for bacteria and allergens.

What Hardwood Floors Are Safe For Cats-2

What Types of Wood Are Best for Cats?

Look no further than these key factors to consider when selecting the best hardwood flooring for cats:

Type of Finish

The type of finish on your hardwood flooring is crucial when it comes to keeping your cats safe and happy. Polyurethane finishes provide a protective barrier against scratches and damage from cat claws, but oil-based finishes may contain harmful chemicals that could affect your cat’s health if ingested.

Type of Wood

Harder woods like oak, maple, and bamboo are ideal for homes with cats, as they are durable and resistant to scratches. Softer woods like pine or fir may not hold up as well against your cat’s claws and are more prone to damage.

Proper Sealing

Make sure the hardwood flooring you choose has been properly sealed to prevent moisture absorption, odors, and the growth of bacteria and allergens that could be harmful to your cats.


When it comes to your cat’s safety, it’s important to select a type of wood that is non-toxic. Exotic woods like teak or mahogany may contain oils or chemicals that could be harmful if ingested, so stick to safer options like bamboo or cork flooring.


If your cat suffers from allergies, hypoallergenic options like bamboo or cork flooring can help alleviate their symptoms while also providing durability and scratch-resistance.

Bamboo flooring is one of the best options for homes with cats, as it is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and naturally resistant to scratches and stains. Cork flooring is another great choice, as it is antimicrobial and cushioned for cats with joint pain or arthritis.

When it comes to traditional hardwood options, oak and maple are both durable and scratch-resistant choices that can complement any interior design style. However, softer woods like pine or fir should be avoided as they are more prone to scratches and damage from your cat’s claws.

The Benefits of Sealed Hardwood Floors

Sealed hardwood floors not only offer durability but provide numerous benefits that make them an ideal choice for households with cats.

Scratch resistance is the most obvious benefit of sealed hardwood floors. With their extra layer of protection, they prevent any damage caused by your cat’s claws. This means you won’t have to worry about replacing your flooring frequently due to wear and tear from your cat’s paws.

But that’s not all. Sealed hardwood floors are also easy to clean and maintain. Cat hair and dander can be quickly wiped away without leaving any residue behind. This saves you time and effort, allowing you to focus on playing with your feline friend instead.

Durability is another significant advantage of sealed hardwood floors. With proper care, they can last for decades, making them a cost-effective choice in the long run. This is especially important for households with cats, which can cause wear and tear on flooring over time.

Cats are also notorious for knocking over water bowls or spilling their food. Fortunately, sealed hardwood floors are less prone to stains and spills compared to other types of flooring. This means you can easily clean up any messes without worrying about stubborn stains.

Moreover, sealed hardwood floors are hypoallergenic and do not trap pet dander or allergens like carpets or rugs do. This makes them a practical choice for cat owners who suffer from allergies or respiratory issues. Sealed hardwood floors also provide a smooth surface that is comfortable for cats to walk and play on, reducing the likelihood of injuries.

How to Choose the Right Hardwood Flooring for Your Cat-Friendly Home

Here are some expert tips to help you make the best decision:

Safety First

Protecting your furry friends from harmful chemicals or toxins is crucial. Opt for solid hardwood flooring made from natural, untreated wood, which is free from harmful chemicals and can be sanded and refinished over time to maintain its appearance. Alternatively, engineered hardwood flooring is another safe option, as it is made from layers of real wood and plywood, making it stable and durable.

Durability and Scratch-Resistance

Cats love scratching, so durability and scratch-resistance are important factors to consider. Choose a hardwood with a high Janka hardness rating to ensure it can withstand wear and tear caused by your cat’s sharp claws. Hardwoods such as oak, hickory, and maple are known for their durability and resistance to scratches.

The Right Finish

While a high-gloss finish may look beautiful, it can be slippery for cats to walk on. A matte or satin finish provides more traction for your furry friends. A polyurethane finish creates a barrier that prevents scratches and damage from cat claws, making it an excellent choice for cat-friendly homes.

Color and Style

Lighter colored floors can help hide any fur or dander left behind by your cats. Consider choosing a wood grain pattern that will help camouflage any scratches or dents that may occur over time.


Adding area rugs or mats in high-traffic areas helps protect the floors from scratches and spills caused by your furry friends’ playful antics.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting Hardwood Floors for Homes with Cats

While hardwood floors can add elegance and value to your living space, they can also pose potential hazards to your cats if not chosen wisely. Here are some common mistakes pet owners should avoid when selecting hardwood floors for homes with cats.

  • Choosing Softwood Floors: Softwoods like pine or cedar may look beautiful, but they won’t hold up against your kitty’s sharp claws. Instead, opt for hardwoods like oak, maple, or hickory that have a higher Janka hardness rating for scratch-resistance.
  • Skipping the Protective Finish: A protective finish is essential for preventing scratches and dents from cat claws and spills from food and water bowls. Without a protective finish, the hardwood floor will be more susceptible to damage, requiring replacement sooner than expected.
  • Using Harsh Cleaning Chemicals: Cats are curious creatures who love to explore their surroundings with their paws and mouths. Using harsh cleaning chemicals on hardwood floors can be harmful to your cat if ingested or if it comes into contact with their paws. Instead, opt for pet-friendly cleaning solutions that are safe for both your cat and your floors.
  • Choosing a Slick or Slippery Surface: Cats can easily lose their footing on a slick surface, leading to injuries and accidents. To prevent this, select a textured or matte finish that provides better traction for cats, making it easier for them to move around without slipping or sliding.

Tips for Maintaining Hardwood Floors in a Home with Cats

Maintaining hardwood floors in a home with cats can be a challenge, but it is not impossible. To keep your floors looking beautiful and free from scratches, there are several tips that you can follow.

Keep your cat’s nails trimmed regularly

Firstly, it is important to keep your cat’s nails trimmed regularly. This will not only prevent them from scratching your floors but also protect your furniture and other household items. You can use a cat nail clipper or take your cat to a professional groomer for this purpose.

Invest in high-quality area rugs or runners

Secondly, invest in high-quality area rugs or runners to place in areas where your cat spends most of their time. This will help protect your floors from scratches and damage caused by your cat’s claws. Make sure to choose rugs made from natural materials like wool or cotton as synthetic materials can cause static electricity that can harm your cat.

Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals

Thirdly, avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals on your hardwood floors as they can be toxic to cats. Instead, use natural cleaning solutions like vinegar and water or specialized hardwood floor cleaners that are safe for pets. These cleaners will not only keep your floors clean but also help maintain their shine and luster.

Clean up spills immediately

Fourthly, make sure to clean up any spills or accidents immediately as moisture can damage hardwood floors. Use a soft cloth or mop to wipe up spills and accidents, and avoid using excessive amounts of water. You can also use a specialized hardwood floor cleaner to remove any stubborn stains.

Choose the right hardwood

Lastly, when selecting hardwood floors for your home with cats, it’s important to choose a durable, polyurethane-finished hardwood that has been properly sealed and maintained. Hardwoods like Brazilian cherry, hickory, and maple are known for their durability and can withstand the wear and tear of pets.

Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring for Homes with Cats

But fear not, there are plenty of alternatives to traditional hardwood flooring that can provide the same level of durability and aesthetic appeal without the risk of damage from your mischievous cats.

One option is bamboo flooring. Not only is bamboo incredibly durable and resistant to scratches, but it’s also eco-friendly and sustainable. With its natural beauty, bamboo flooring can add a touch of elegance to any room in your home. And let’s not forget, it’s one of the most resilient options out there.

Another great choice is luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring. LVP provides the look of hardwood flooring while being more scratch-resistant and water-resistant than traditional hardwood. With easy installation and low maintenance, LVP is a practical choice for busy pet owners who still want style and durability.

If you’re looking for something unique, cork flooring may be the way to go. Cork is naturally resistant to scratches and dents, making it perfect for homes with pets. It also provides excellent insulation, keeping your home comfortable throughout the year. And with its unique texture and pattern, cork flooring can add a touch of character to any room in your home.

Last but not least, carpeting can be an excellent option for homes with cats. Carpet provides a soft surface for your pets to walk on and helps reduce the noise of their footsteps. Plus, it helps trap pet hair and dander, making it easier to clean up after your furry friends.


In conclusion, the safety and longevity of your hardwood floors in a cat-friendly home depend on making the right choices. It’s crucial to consider factors such as wood hardness, finish type, non-toxicity, allergies, proper sealing, and protection when selecting hardwood flooring. Opting for water-based or natural oil finishes can ensure that your feline friends won’t be exposed to harmful chemicals. Harder woods like oak or hickory are more resistant to scratches from cat claws than softer woods like pine or fir.

Sealed hardwood floors offer numerous benefits such as scratch-resistance, easy maintenance, durability, stain-resistance, hypoallergenic properties and a smooth surface that is comfortable for cats to walk and play on. However, it’s essential to avoid common mistakes when selecting hardwood floors for homes with cats such as choosing softwood floors or using harsh cleaning chemicals.

By keeping your cat’s nails trimmed regularly and investing in high-quality area rugs or runners in high-traffic areas, you can protect your floors from scratches and damage caused by your furry friends. Alternatives to traditional hardwood flooring such as bamboo flooring, luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring, cork flooring or carpeting can provide the same level of durability and aesthetic appeal without the risk of damage from your mischievous cats.

In summary, choosing the right hardwood floors for a cat-friendly home requires careful consideration of various factors.