why do cats rub their paws on windows?
Questions About Cats

Why Does My Cat Keep Scratching Windows?

Pet owners are often curious as to why their cat constantly scratches at windows. It is undesirable because it makes an irritating noise, damages windows, and can be harmful to your pet.

Why does my cat scratch at windows? It’s often because your cat has spotted birds outside. They’ll grow frustrated as cats are instinctive hunters. A territorial cat may have glimpsed its reflection and thought that it was another cat. Also, some felines like to sharpen their claws on windows, while others find the grating sound soothing.

There are several potential explanations for cats scratching at windows. Thankfully, felines can be trained out of the behavior before they harm themselves or your property.

Why Does My Cat Scratch Glass and Mirrors?

There are many reasons why cats like to scratch at windows and mirrors. These are as follows:

  • Your cat is watching birds and wants to hunt them
  • Your cat has seen their reflection, and wants to fight this ‘other’ feline
  • Your cat is sharpening their claws
  • Your cat is stressed or anxious, and finds scratching the window soothing

None of these behaviors are particularly desirable. If you can get to the bottom of them, however, you can take the necessary action. Let’s look into each explanation in a little more detail.

1) Cat Has Seen Birds Outside

The most common explanation for window scratching is a cat’s desire to hunt the birds outside. Many cats will sit and watch birds for hours, as though hypnotically transfixed. They may even trill and chirp, in an attempt at mimicking their aspiring prey.

Your cat is likely to grow frustrated with just watching. A cat scratching a window really fast is expressing irritation at their spectator status. They want to be outside, hunting our feathered friends.

You can offer the next best thing at home though, as Affinity Pet Care explains. Playing hunting games with your cat will indulge their instincts, and no birds need to die. Also, you’ll also strengthen your bond with your cat.

cat scratching window

A toy on a fishing rod is the best solution for hunting games. These will be available from any pet store. Just dangle the toy, and allow your cat to stalk it. They’ll do so, and pounce upon the toy. This simulates the hunting they’d do in the wild. There are also free ways to play with your cat.

In the wild, your cat would not catch their prey every time. You’ll have to prevent your pet from ‘winning’ every game, mixing the results up a little. They’ll grow bored otherwise, and go back to scratching their window in protest.

2) Cats Fight Their Own Reflections

A cat that has caught sight of their reflection in the mirror is often quite spectacular. The same also applies to a feline that sees themselves reflected in a window. Your cat will suddenly be on high alert, ready to fight.

This behavior stems from cats not recognizing their own reflection. What your pet does see is another cat. In their minds, this is a rouge feline that is trying to invade their territory.

Naturally, this means that your cat will do what comes naturally to them. Namely, defiantly guard their home with teeth and claws.

Some cats realize their mistake sooner than others. In some cases, it’s the lack of smell that gives it away. Others will grow bored with what appears to be a constant stalemate. They warily notice that, when they back away, so does this other cat.

Just be aware that, in such a scenario, repetition is likely. Your cat didn’t see their conflict with their reflection as a mere battle. It was just one salvo in an ongoing war!

3) Cats Sharpen Their Claws on Windows

Cats are naturally inclined to sharpen their claws, and windows provide an excellent opportunity to do so. Glass is one of few materials to be completely resilient to the attention of feline claws.

This is good, in that your cat will not do any lasting damage to the glass. What is less than ideal, however, is the habit itself. It will be like nails on a chalkboard, over and over.

This behavior can be resolved with scratching posts. Cats need to scratch – it’s part of their genetic instinct. Sprinkle catnip on a scratching post, however, and they’ll do so in the right place.

4) Relieve Stress and Anxiety

If your cat doesn’t feel safe and comfortable, they’ll self-soothe any way they can. This often involves destructive behaviors. As windows don’t break or shatter, they’re the ideal target in your cat’s mind.

Equally likely is boredom. If your cat doesn’t have enough to do, they find unwelcome ways of amusing themselves. It won’t go unnoticed that scratching windows generates a reaction from humans, either.

Keep your amused and entertained with a constant, reliable routine. You’ll already be playing hunting games to sate their pet’s desire to stalk birds. Ensure that your cat has plenty more to do to keep boredom and stress at bay.

Why Do Cats Paw at Windows?

Cats are rubbing their paws on a window, with no attempt to scratch, is fairly common. There are three possible explanations for this, all of which are entirely innocent:

  • Your cat is yawning and stretching, and is using the window to support their weight.
  • Your cat is testing the window’s strength to see if it will open like a cat flap.
  • Your cat is leaving their scent on the windowpane, and marking it as their own.

Stretching and leaning on windows is a common behavior in cats. Many felines enjoy dozing on a windowsill, after all. It’s the best way of absorbing rays of the sun without being outside.

With the aid of a window to lean on, your cat can stand on their hind legs. This enables them to unlock and untie any locks and kinks with a big stretch. It will only take a few seconds, and your cat will feel much better for it.

cat scratching window really fast

While they’re at it, your cat may apply pressure to see if the window opens. Even a cat that seems content to live indoors will be curious about the outside world.

Your cat will be seeing if the window lets them out, as a cat flap would. They may also be imitating behavior they saw you engage in, such as opening a window.

Consider whether your cat is marking the window. Cats have scent glands in their paws, after all. There are various reasons why a feline would do this.

If you have multiple cats, one will mark the window as ‘their’ viewing and napping spot. If your cat considers guarding the house their responsibility, they’ll leave their scent to warn off intruders. Cats may even mark a window to remember it’s a good spot for bird watching.

These will be short-term behaviors. They’ll also be comparatively sporadic. If your cat is regularly scratching with intensity, you should train them out of the habit.

How to Stop Cats Scratching Windows

If your cat is determined to scratch at windows, investigate training techniques that break the habit.

As per SFGate, methods for training a cat out of scratching a window could include:

  • Deny Access. Move any furniture close to the window, so your cat struggles to reach it. The only problem with this is that you’ll suffer from the lack of light, too.
  • Tint Your Windows. If you tint your windows, your cat will struggle to see out of them. If they don’t see anything that provokes them, your pet is less likely to scratch.
  • Apply an Unappealing Scent. If you have a room freshener by the window, use a scent that cats loathe. Citrus will usually inspire a cat to keep their distance.
  • Use Double-Sided Sticky Tape on the Windowsill. Cats do not enjoy sticky sensations under their paws. Applying this tape will keep them off the windowsill.
  • Use Deterrent Training. Make a loud noise, or shooting water from a squirt gun, when your cat starts scratching. This isn’t recommended, though. If startled, your cat could fall from their window perch and hurt themselves.

Of course, keeping your cat entertained in other ways is also pivotal. Encourage scratching in approved places, such as scratching posts, and engage in regular playtimes. This will keep your cat content, and less likely to take out frustration on an innocent window.

There will always be a reason for a cat scratching a window. While felines will be naturally curious about the surface, they’d ordinarily move on. Something about the window is maintaining their interest. Scratching will be the next logical step.

By all means, train your cat out of this behavior. It’s far from ideal. Do take the time to work out why they are scratching in the first place, though. In unlocking the root of this habit, you could also improve your cat’s general demeanor.