Why Does My Cat Scratch Windows And Mirrors


Does your feline friend go absolutely bonkers the moment it catches a glimpse of itself in mirrors or windows? Don’t worry. It’s totally normal. In fact, cats aren’t the only animals that flip out upon catching a glimpse of their own reflection. Birds, dogs, and even reptiles go bananas as well.

Okay, so what about your scratched mirrors and windows? How can you stop your pet wolverine from going berserk on your reflective furniture? Here are some reasons that may cause them to scratch windows and mirrors

  • No Self Recognition
  • Is That a Bird Outside
  • Stress/Anxiety Relief
  • Sharpen Their Claws
  • Marking Their Scent
  • Stretching Their Bodies

This post attempts to highlight the many reasons why your feline pet might be hostile towards reflective objects and how you can prevent them.

Reasons Why Cats Scratch Windows and Mirrors

There are plenty of reasons as to why your cat is always scratching at reflective objects such as windows and mirrors. None of these reasons are alarming at all, but if you wish to put an end to your windows and mirrors constantly getting scratched, it helps to be aware of these reasons.

Reasons Why Cats Scratch Windows and Mirrors

No Self Recognition

One of the main reasons why cats attack their own reflection in mirrors and windows is that they don’t recognize themselves. When a feline sees its own reflection in the mirror, it perceives it as another cat that might be attempting to intrude its territory, which results in vicious scratching.

It’s worth noting that when it comes to identifying other animals, felines don’t rely on their vision alone. Their sense of smell plays a fairly major role as well. This is why cats stop attacking their reflections after a while, as they realize that their reflection is harmless since it has no scent.

We feel the need to point out that domestic cats aren’t the only felines to go bananas when they see their own reflection. Wild felines like lions and tigers do the same thing for the same reason. They think their reflection is another feline that’s looking to invade their personal space.

After fighting their reflection for a while, cats realize that it’s always going to end in a stalemate, and so they grow bored and eventually learn to ignore their own reflection. So, if you’ve just got a new scratchy feline pet, just give it a little time to realize that its reflection is harmless.

Is That A Bird Outside

Is your feline a habitual window scratcher? One of the most common reasons why cats do that is because they’re natural hunters, and windows are nothing but obstacles standing in between them and their winged prey, and so they scratch fiercely in hopes of getting outside to hunt.

Now, not all cats are looking to act on their instincts. Some felines are satisfied in the spectator seat and will just sit by the window watching the fluffy birds come and go. Try watching your cat when there are birds outside to see whether the window scratching is due to its desire to hunt.

Why Does My Cat Scratch Windows and Mirrors

If indeed your cat’s window scratching episodes are due to its primal nature, then you’ll need to invest some of your time in playing hunting games with your cat to satisfy her instincts. Not only will you be sparing the poor birds outside, but you’ll also be bonding with your feline compadre.

There are many ways you can indulge your cat’s hunting instincts. You can dangle some sort of toy on a fishing rod and have fun watching your cat trying to sneak up on it or you can purchase a good-old laser pointer and just watch the cat go nuts trying to capture the red dot.

Stress/Anxiety Relief

There are a few behaviors that felines resort to when they’re stressed or uncomfortable in order to soothe themselves, and one of which is scratching. Windows and mirrors are unbreakable by cats, and so your feline might find them to be convenient surfaces to scratch until soothed.

Window and mirror scratching doesn’t even have to be a result of anxiety or stress for cats. Cats can display such aggressive behavior towards reflective objects due to boredom. In reality, a cat might resort to scratching your furniture just to get a reaction (source of amusement) from you.

To prevent your cat from scratching your windows and mirrors as a means of amusement, you’ll need to find ways to keep your pet entertained. It’s not just about physically challenging your cat with the aid of hunting games. You must provide mental challenges as well to ensure happiness.

Sharpen Their Claws

As we’ve already stated, cats are hunters by nature, and their main weapon is their claws. This is why felines are always inclined to keep their claws sharp. From the point of view of domestic cats, windows and mirrors are resilient surfaces that they can scratch at to sharpen their claws.

AmazonBasics Cat Scratching Post and Hammock

While this behavior won’t result in any serious damage to your windows and mirrors, it will be a major source of annoyance, as it’ll sound a lot like running fingernails on a chalkboard. You can prevent this by setting up a scratching post and sprinkle some catnip on it to attract your cat.

[Related Article: Why Do Cats Need A Scratching Post And Does It Trim Nails]

Marking Their Scent

Scent marking is pretty important to felines since they’re territorial creatures. When cats scratch any surface, not just windows and mirrors, they might be doing so to mark that surface with their scent so that no intruders dare to tread. But how can cats mark their scent with their paws?

Well, felines have scent glands in their paws, which makes it easier for them to mark just about any surface they touch, including your windows, mirrors, walls, and so forth. This is why there’s always a bit of tension when you adopt a new cat and bring it into your current cat’s “territory.”

Stretching Their Bodies

Sometimes when cats paw on windows, they’re merely stretching their bodies. How can you tell if your kitty is just stretching? Take a good look at its body posture. If the body is virtually upright and the paws are over the head, then your cat is probably just getting a good stretch.

Felines tend to do that when they’ve just woken up from a nap or when they’ve been lying in the same position for quite some time. The stretching and scratching are simply ways through which they straighten their muscles, especially their back’s, before indulging in some sort of activity.

Preventing Cats From Scratching Windows And Mirrors

Now that you have a good idea as to why cats are quite hostile towards reflective surfaces such as windows and mirrors, it’s time to discuss how you can train your feline to accept its reflection.

Monitor Your Cat’s Behavior

Before trying to solve your cat’s problem with reflective surfaces, you want to spend a bit of time monitoring your cat’s behavior when it catches its own reflection so that you can determine if it’s fear or aggression it’s displaying. And keep in mind that, for most cats, this is just a phase.

Cats might actually confuse mirrors with windows, thinking it’s an object they can turn around to meet the reflection in the mirror. It’s a lot like when you put a cat in front of a TV and it’s showing images of birds or other felines. The cat will think that what it sees exists behind the screen.

If your feline is staring at your mirror for too long, it’s probably trying to investigate the source of the reflection. Unable to find the source, your cat might become pretty anxious, and the anxious reflection in the mirror might result in your feline friend becoming fearful or aggressive.

The whole point behind monitoring your feline’s behavior when it’s in front of a reflective object isn’t just to identify how it’s feeling, but it’s also to determine which one of the above-discussed reasons is the cause of how your cat is acting. The next step is trying to resolve the problem.

[Related Article: How High Can A Cat Jump Without Getting Hurt]

Cover Up Reflective Surfaces

It wouldn’t make sense to get rid of all your mirrors just to appease your cat. If the cat is unable to discern that its reflection is harmless, yet, it’ll perceive it as an intruder or competitor trying to invade its territory. If this behavior isn’t addressed early, it might develop to be an obsession.

A simple solution to that problem is to cover up all reflective surfaces that are within your feline’s reach. You can do that by hanging cloth over reflective surfaces or you can use tape paper. And don’t worry, you won’t have to keep your mirrors covered for as long as your cat is around.

Preventing Cats From Scratching Windows And Mirrors
Photo by Allie on Unsplash

Keep Your Feline Entertained

As we’ve previously mentioned, if your feline is constantly staring and scratching at the window, it’s probably eyeing some birds outside and trying to indulge its hunting instincts. You can either cover up your windows, as you did with the mirrors, or you can challenge your cat physically.

To indulge its hunting instincts, you’ll have to play hunting games with your cat. You can try tying a small ball to a thread and having your cat follow the ball as you drag the thread. Another thing you can do is purchase a laser pointer and enjoy an endless game of catch the red dot.

You can also challenge your cat mentally by building a simple cardboard labyrinth, as felines are very curious animals. To attract your feline to your labyrinth, sprinkle some catnip inside. There’s a bunch of other games you can try to keep your cat happy, from scavenger hunts to treat traps.

Shoo Away Any Competitors

If you live in an area where there are a lot of stray cats, you’ll want to use cat repellents to keep them away from your windows, as they might be the reason why your kitty is all amped up at its own reflection in the mirror and constantly scratching it thinking it’s one of those stray cats.

There are many ways you can keep stray cats and other intruders at bay. You can cover up your windows with the aid of curtains or you can spray a mix of water and apple cider vinegar at a 1:1 ration. After successfully deterring intruders, you can begin opening up your curtains again.

Start Reintroducing Mirrors

After having applied the above-mentioned steps, your feline should now be entertained and fine with windows. The next step is to reintroduce mirrors to your cat. When doing so, you want to be sure that your cat is going to enjoy the experience, so you may want to use treats and catnip.

You can also use cat toys to distract your cat while it’s in front of a mirror. If your cat is distracted and entertained enough, the reflection in the mirror will also seem happy and entertained, which will communicate to the cat that its reflection is harmless, and so it’ll learn to accept it.

Final Thoughts

Getting your cat acquainted with its own reflection is a process that might take quite some time, so you’ll need to be very patient. After all, your feline’s reaction to its reflection is entirely primal, and you can’t change something so innate and instinctive to your pet in a short period of time.

We’re quite confident that applying the steps that we touched upon in this article will garner a lot of success. It’ll just require your love, patience, and utmost attention. If you have any questions with regard to today’s topic, feel free to let us know and we’ll happily get back to you.

Sarah Jones

Sarah is a passionate pet lover who owns several pets on her own. She loves to share her experience doing part-time writing to impart some useful tips with other pet owners.

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