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Why Is My Cat Scratching At The Window? 5 Reasons & How To Stop Them

Written by: Sarah Psaradelis

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Black and white cat pawing at the window

Why Is My Cat Scratching At The Window? 5 Reasons & How To Stop Them

A cat scratching the window can be irritating, especially if it happens constantly during the day or at night when you are trying to sleep. Cats may scratch at windows for a variety of reasons, from wanting to reach prey outside such as a bird they saw, wanting to go outside to use the bathroom, exploring, or perhaps your cat has seen its reflection in the window and thinks it is another cat.

Although a cat’s claws won’t leave any damage to the glass windows, it can be frustrating to hear the sounds of their nails scratching against the glass and not understanding why they are doing it.

Let’s take a look at the explanations behind your cat scratching at the window.

 

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The 5 Reasons Why Cats Scratch at Windows

1. A Desire to Hunt

If your cat has seen birds or other wildlife through the window, then they want to be let outside to hunt and chase it. It is part of your cat’s instinct to hunt, and some cats will even sit by the window transfixed by the birds outside. If a particular bird catches their interest, they will want to run and chase it, but the window is stopping them.

You may then notice your cat frantically scratching on the glass and meowing to try and get outside. This is usually the most common reason, especially if your cat was first staring outside the window watching the wildlife.

cat hunting in grass
Image Credit: SJ Duran, Shutterstock

2. They Want to Go Outside Or Be Let Inside

If your cat is used to going outside or being let inside through an open window, they will start to scratch at it if it is closed and they do not know how to get through the window. This behavior can happen if the window is not open wide enough for your cat to feel comfortable climbing through it, and they are trying to indicate that you should help them get outside or let them inside.

Most cats do not understand how windows work, and they feel like it is blocking their path. This can make your cat scratch and claw at the window in confusion because they do not know why they cannot go through the glass.


3. They Can See Their Reflection

Cats can see their reflections in the window, and this confuses them for another cat that is invading their territory on the opposite side. Your cat will begin to scratch and rub against the window in an attempt to reach the other cat and mark their territory by using their scent.

Cats should soon get bored of this when they realize that their reflection isn’t a threat, so this behavior is typically short-lived. Your cat will have a defensive posture when they notice their reflection and try to get on the other side of the window to check if it truly is a cat. You may notice that they will start sniffing the window, and if it is open then will try investigating the other side.

Soon your cat will become indifferent to seeing their reflection, generally because they realize there isn’t another cat threatening its territory.


4. Scent-Marking

Cats have scent glands on their paws, and they will sometimes scratch at windows to rub their scent on them, known as scent-marking. Your cat is likely going to rub other body parts that have scent glands too, such as their flanks, cheeks, and tails on the glass if they are scratching at the window for this reason. Scent marking is also part of marking their territory, in this case, the window, as their own.

Calico cat pawing at the window
Image Credit: Nair Santos, Pixabay

5. Stress and Anxiety Relief

Cats can feel stress and anxiety, and things in their environment can cause them to feel negative emotions. Your cat might feel bored and unhappy, which causes them to scratch at the window as a way to entertain themselves and feel better. Your cat will benefit from having toys and a scratching post to help keep them from scratching at the windows when they feel stressed and anxious.

Instead, your cat will learn to scratch and play with their actual toys. Even though a cat’s nail is not sharp enough to damage glass, it can leave a fine scratch mark and cause an irritating sound.

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How to Stop Cats from Scratching Windows

If you are annoyed by your cat’s window-scratching behavior, there are a few methods you can try to stop this behavior. You will first want to remove the scratches from the window by using a glass polisher or a buffing pad to wipe the glass clean. You will then need to redirect your cat’s window scratching behavior by keeping them occupied with toys, scratching posts, and cat trees to climb.

One of our preferred scratchers, the Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher, is a surefire way to keep your kitty out of trouble (or at least away from scratching the things they should not!). It's not only stylish, but it's functional as well. It's made of sturdy cardboard with a durable plywood and metal frame and can be set up in three different ways – high, low, or lower. The different positions encourage maximum engagement, exercise and stretching, and of course, intense scratching (they can throw their whole body into it). 

Hepper Hi-Lo Cardboard Cat Scratcher with Real...
  • Premium Materials - Hepper's cardboard scratcher is made with dense, B-flute cardboard, and a metal...
  • High, Low and Lower - A single cat scratch pad won't keep your cat engaged. 3 unique positions keeps...
  • Activates Muscles - The Hi Lo isn't just a cat nail file to stop the chief cat couch scratcher. The...

With the Hepper Hi-Lo, your cat gets to have a blast scratching like a maniac, and you don't have to worry about them causing so much chaos or scratching your stuff. There are even replacement cardboard pieces available, so you really can let your cat go to town on this, and know that it will be long lasting. Click here to learn more about this awesome scratcher.

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

If your cat is scratching at the window because they are used to exiting or entering because of an open window, then make sure that you leave it open to a space that your cat is comfortable jumping through. Make sure that if you leave the window open, it is at a safe height from the ground so that your cat is not endangering themselves by jumping down a long distance.

You can also try placing something to block your cat’s view and path from a specific window if it is becoming a constant problem.

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Conclusion

Most cats will lounge on the window in a sunny spot, so scratching behaviors can be more common in cats that spend more time by the window. It can take a while to train your cat to stop scratching at the window, which is why it is important to address the reason behind their behavior before you can help find a solution.


Featured Image Credit: DenisAgati, Pixabay

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