Another day, another weird feline behavior. Today we will discuss a very common (bad) habit of our furry friends. If you have a problem with your cat scratching windows, then you’re at the right place!
It’s not just that your windows have tiny scratch marks or that your curtains are torn in several places. Of course, that’s annoying as well, but you can live with that. It’s not like the damage on the windows is that big. And who doesn’t like to change their curtains every now and then?
The most frustrating thing, however, is that clawful sound when your cat’s nails touch the glass. It’s usually a short sound, but it’s there. And it’s like she’s scratching your eardrums, and not the window.
God, how I hate that sound! My little fluffy rascal used to make my life so miserable with her weird fascination with windows. I thought my misery will never end.
But thankfully, it did. On one of our regular vet visits, I mentioned how she likes to scratch windows and how annoyed I’m by it. The vet laughed and told me there was no need for me to be frustrated by something that can be easily prevented.
He thoroughly explained why is my cat scratching windows and offered several tips on how to stop it.
Don’t worry! I’m not going to keep all this precious knowledge to myself. If you struggle with the same thing as I did, I’m more than happy to help.
Why is your cat scratching windows? 8 possible reasons
We, as cat parents, often end up confused by our fluffballs’ peculiar behaviors and habits. They might do something like scratch the furniture or the floor before drinking the water, and we will wreck our brains trying to understand why they do what they do.
One of those peculiar behaviors is window scratching, too. Some cats are more prone to this one than others, but generally, every cat will, at some point in her little fluff life, develop a window fascination. Why? You may ask.
Well, there’s a great outdoors on the other side of the window, waiting just for her to explore it. But she has to stay with her boring hooman who constantly bores her with kisses and cuddles.
If your cat is scratching windows in your home, and you want her to eventually stop, first you’ll have to determine what’s the reason behind her scratching habit. Here are 8 possible reasons you could consider before you take any preventative measures.
1. Your cat has seen her prey outside
The most logical reason why your cat is scratching the window is that she saw a potential prey outside. Birds, rabbits, rodents, squirrels, moles. The list is endless! Depending on where you live and what small animals you’re surrounded by, sooner or later, your cat will be intrigued by her natural prey.
You might be thinking, “But I feed my cat regularly! She cannot be hungry!”. Well, your cat does not have to be hungry to have the urge to hunt. Most outdoor cats hunt just so they could brag about it to potential observers, and so they could play with their prey.
It’s their natural instinct to hunt to survive, and it’s completely normal that your indoor cat kept her wild side.
Cats are usually fascinated by birds the most and can appear as though they are hypnotized by them. My guess why that is is because birds are small and can both walk on the ground and fly away, which makes them irresistible to our furry buddies.
If your cat is scratching the window because of birds who come and go, she could also be trilling and chirping in an attempt to mimic them and lure them closer.
So, there’s no need to worry about this one. In fact, this could be a great date idea for you and your cat. Next time you see your cat at the window, take your chair near her and give in to endless bird watching.
2. She is sharpening her claws on the window
We know how our cats love to groom themselves. They could spend hours and hours licking at their paws and fur. But, another part of their self-grooming routine is also sharpening the claws.
No matter how often we trim their claws, their natural instinct will always be to sharpen them. They need their claws for hunting prey or climbing trees to escape the threat, even though they are indoor cats and will probably never find themselves in one of those wild situations.
Sharpening the claws is a must for our kitties and window glass is a purrfectly resilient material for that. However, I have to mention that awful sound again. If you dislike it as much as I do, then I more than understand why you would want your cat to stop scratching the windows.
3. She wants to leave her scent on the window
Cats are very territorial and love to leave their mark on everything. They can be rubbing their heads or entire body on the window glass, but also put their paw on it. They do this because they have sweat glands on their paws which makes it easier for them to leave their scent.
So, if you find your cat pawing or scratching the window, remember she’s just claiming that territory as her own.
Dogs mark their territory too, but we know what kind of mark they’re leaving. So, be happy you don’t have a big dog on your window sill, doing the doo.
4. Or, she scented other cat’s smell
Is your cat scratching windows to leave her own smell or to get rid of someone else’s? You would be surprised to find that cats don’t really love to share (at least when it comes to windows).
If you have more than one cat in your house, your cat probably scented the smell of the other cat, and she’s trying to reclaim her territory. Scratching windows is your cat’s way of getting rid of that nasty other cat’s smell and “spraying” her own purrfume.
Even though you think your cats get along well, scratching windows might be their way of letting you know something is wrong. You should consider talking to the vet to see what could be done.
5. Your cat was scared by her reflection
You might find this one weird or funny, but your cat probably doesn’t know what she looks like. Sure, she’s aware of how fabulous she is, but she might not be aware of her facial features.
When one cat encounters another, the initial reaction is usually very tense and uncomfortable. That’s because cats (if they’re not familiar with each other) perceive each other as rivals and potential threats.
That’s why your cat is scared by her own reflection because, to her – that’s just another unfamiliar cat. No wonder her initial reaction is to scratch or angrily meow at that stranger!
However, this is usually a one-time thing because most cats soon realize what’s happening. Our cats might be silly, but they are also very smart, and they usually don’t need much time to comprehend what at first they found incomprehensible.
6. Scratching windows is her way of dealing with stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are very common issues for our feline friends. They are extremely sensitive creatures and easily susceptible to distressful situations.
If your kitty is under stress or anxiety and she doesn’t feel comfortable, she could probably display a good deal of weird and destructive behavior in order to soothe herself, including scratching windows.
If you believe your cat might be dealing with anxiety, pay attention to her other behaviors. Also, definitely consult your vet since he would know exactly how to help your kitty. You should never ignore the anxiety your cat could be dealing with because it can trigger other, more serious medical problems.
7. Your cat is trying to get your attention
Admit it! You saw this one coming! Once again, our cats present another way of (re)claiming our attention.
When we’re not paying enough attention, our cats know exactly what to do! They can be vocal and meow loudly, they can be stretching somewhere near us, so we could see them, and they can also misbehave on purrpose. And one of their misbehavior is window scratching.
Although your cat scratching windows doesn’t have to be a sign of anything bad, experts say that cats usually turn to scratching to let us know they’re displeased with something. You, as her cat parent, have to determine what’s she upset about.
8. She wants to go outside
And last but not least, your cat is scratching windows because she wants to go outside.
Maybe she wants to pursue her hunting career, or maybe she just wants to take a walk and sniff that fallen leaf outside. Either way, scratching the window could be her way of telling you, “Hey, you should definitely let me go outside, or I just might destroy your window with my sharp claws!”
How to put an end to your cat scratching windows habit?
Now that we know why cats scratch windows, we can finally see what are the ways to potentially stop it.
As we were able to see, spending time on the window sill is something very common and completely natural for cats. That’s their way of sunbathing and being outside. And we cannot blame them if something makes them overly excited, so they simply have to scratch the window.
Even when they’re scratching the window to gain our attention, it’s still not their fault. Sometimes, there’s no other way for them to tell us how they truly feel other than to misbehave.
However, if you find your cat’s weird habit overly annoying, here are 6 things you can try to minimize the window scratching or completely stop it.
1. Get your cat scratching posts
This is an obvious one, I know. And I’m sure your cat already has her scratching post.
But if she only has one scratching post which is somewhere far away from the window she has chosen to scratch, you can consider getting her two or more posts. Notice what windows your cat loves in your home, and place the scratching posts nearby.
Another good tip is to sprinkle some catnip on the post, so your cat can completely abandon your window.
2. Play with her more often
All cats need to be playtime, and your cat is no exception. If you don’t play with her often, she will probably go and find something to play with herself. And believe me, you don’t want her doing that (unless you want a messy house and many broken vases).
Get your cat as many toys as you can. A good thing would be to get her toy mice or birds, especially those battery-powered ones. That way, her natural need will be met, and she will feel as though she is actually hunting her prey.
But apart from toys, your cat needs you – a real playmate! Spend as much time as you can with her for her to be happy and satisfied. Not only will be distracted from mishaps like window scratching, but she will also use up the energy she has and feel more at ease during the night.
3. Protect your windows
Another thing you can do is to protect your windows. Some people suggest moving furniture near the window, so the cat can’t reach it properly.
But we all know cats are climbers and jumpers and for them to be unable to reach the window would me you’d have to put something extremely tall, and therefore reduce the natural flow of light into your home. But I think nobody wants that.
You can, for example, tint your windows, so your cat would have a harder time observing her prey outside. You can even use double-sided sticky tape on the windowsill since cats don’t enjoy sticky surfaces. Or, you can remove the window blinds.
I’m telling you all of this because cat experts recommend this, but I have to be honest with you and say I really don’t like them nor stand by their recommendations. I could never deny my cat a chance to lie on the windowsill because I know how much she loves it.
And also, many of these tips are not very rental-friendly, and I know that not many people have a place of their own or total freedom from their landlord to do certain renovations.
Maybe these tips work for you and your cat. To each their own, I guess.
But if not, I have some other tips for you.
4. Use a fan
You can use a small fan near the window since cats are famous for not liking the moving air in their face.
By installing a small portable fan near the window, you can let your cat enjoy her vitamin D, and when she decides to be naughty and starts to scratch windows, you can simply turn the fan on. And she will be gone in no time, seeking her comfort place somewhere else.
5. Use some unappealing scents on your windows
Cats also don’t like certain harsh scents, like citrus, for example. You can consider spraying some citrusy spray around your windows or cleaning them with cleaning solutions with citrus scents. This will surely keep your cat away from your windows.
However, make sure those cleaning solutions don’t contain any harsh chemicals since they can be harmful to both you and your cat.
6. Use cat nail caps on your cat’s claws
And a cherry on top, consider giving your cat a feline meownicure by putting cat nail caps on her claws. These fancy things have many benefits, one of them being preventing your cat from scratching, or rather causing damage to the things she scratches.
Before you do anything to stop your cat from scratching windows, you first have to determine why she is doing it. Observe your cat, try to listen to her needs, and understand her nature. Only then will you be able to know what to do and how to end any bad behavior.
Also, take your cat to the vet. Your cat’s vet knows her better than I do. I can give you some advice based on my personal experience, the experiences of people in my life, or from experts I talked to, but at the end of the day, your cat’s vet will know the best.