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Why Does My Cat Scratch the TV? 4 Vet Reviewed Tips to Stop This Behavior

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Cat intently watching TV

Why Does My Cat Scratch the TV? 4 Vet Reviewed Tips to Stop This Behavior


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM Photo


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It isn’t common for cats to paw at and damage TVs. However, it does occur. Some cats seem prone to this behavior for one reason or another. Luckily, no matter why your cat is doing it, preventing it from occurring in the future is pretty straightforward—though it does require a bit of work.

There are many potential theories behind this behavior and it’s likely to be different from cat to cat. However, since we can’t ask our cats why they’re scratching at the TV, we’re stuck guessing. It may be that your cat is trying to play with whatever is on the screen. Cats may scratch turned-off TVs to coax the bright and shiny things back out in the open.

Alternatively, your feline may be doing it for attention. Some cats may be very attention-seeking, which may cause them to misbehave to make you pay attention to them. In this case, even negative attention may encourage your cat to continue the behavior. Either way, there are several ways to prevent this behavior.

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The 4 Tips to Stop Your Cat From Scratching Your TV

1. Provide Appropriate Scratching Posts

Scratching is a need cats have. Therefore, you need to provide your cat with an appropriate place to scratch if you want them to stop scratching inappropriate places. Luckily, there are tons of commercial options available. You’ll probably need multiple scratching posts if you have a bigger home. Preferably, these should be shaped differently and made of different materials.

Variety is the spice of life, after all.

While many scratching posts look the same to our eyes, our cat may perceive them as very different. Different materials and shapes will feel different under our cat’s paws. Some cats prefer wood, while others prefer carpet. Sisal is a common scratching post material, as it is well-loved by many cats. If you don’t know your cat’s likes, you may want to provide several options.

The height of the scratching post matters, too. You’ll probably need a taller scratching post if your cat is longer. It must be tall enough to allow your cat to stand up and scratch. If it’s too short, your cat may not use it.

Next, you’ll need to encourage your cat to use the scratching posts. Luckily, this isn’t terribly complicated. You can use treats and praise whenever your cat shows interest in the post. Adding catnip can encourage interest if your cat seems uninterested at first.

If your cat is scratching the TV, we recommend placing a scratching post near the TV. Whenever your cat is scratching the TV, you can redirect them to the scratching post.

2. Ensure Their Needs Are Met

You’ll need to ensure that your cat’s basic needs are met. There aren’t many needs your cat may be trying to fulfill by scratching at the TV. However, bored cats and those lacking attention may be more prone to attacking the TV screen than other felines. Therefore, the easiest way to prevent this behavior is to ensure that these needs are met.

Certain cats need more exercise than others. For these felines, you may need to invest in quality toys and lots of playtime to ensure that they get enough exercise. Similarly, younger cats tend to need more exercise than others. Plan to exercise and play with kittens much more than you would an adult cat, though their shorter attention span often means that these play sessions have to be kept short.

Similarly, different cats need varying amounts of attention. You’ll need to provide your cat with the proper amount of attention at the proper times. You don’t want to give your cat attention for misbehaving, however, you can prevent misbehavior in some cases by ensuring that your cat doesn’t feel the need to seek out attention.

In this way, you can potentially prevent troublesome situations before they start.

cat playing with owner
Image by: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

3. Control the Environment

If your cat still scratches at the TV, we recommend controlling the environment. Make the surface in front of the TV unappealing. For instance, many cats do not like tin foil. Therefore, you can temporarily cover the surface in front of the TV in tin foil to limit your cat’s access to the screen.

There are several other ways you can accomplish this, too. Sometimes, you may be able to move the TV to a different location where the cat can’t access it. However, this can be challenging in many situations, as cats are very nimble and able to jump high, so it isn’t always practical to move the TV.

You can also place toys and more interesting items near the TV. In this way, you can try to distract your cat from scratching at the TV. Of course, this doesn’t always work, and it can differ from cat to cat.

4. Trim Your Cat’s Nails

You want to keep your cat’s nails trimmed if they like the TV, as you don’t want them to physically scratch the TV. You can trim your cat’s nails yourself or take them to the vet. It depends on your comfort level and preferences. Many groomers will also trim your cat’s nails quickly without an appointment. Alternatively, consider purchasing nail caps to apply to your cat’s nails, which do not interfere with normal retraction or extension of the digits.

Cat in a veterinary clinic hairdresser cutting nails
Image Credit: 135pixels, Shutterstock

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It isn’t super common for cats to scratch at the TV screen. However, there are several potential reasons why your cat may decide that scratching at the TV is a fun activity. If you pay your cat attention while they’re scratching at the TV, they may be even more prone to do it. Remember, negative attention is still attention.

The easiest way to prevent this activity is to control the environment and ensure your cat’s needs are met. Of course, it is also important to provide your cat with scratching posts and other places where they can scratch. Scratching is a need for cats. Therefore, they have to scratch somewhere—always ensure that they have somewhere appropriate to scratch.

Featured Image Credit: SnacksInTheBackpack, Pexels

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