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8 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Scratching at the Window (Cat Behavior Explained)

Brooke Bundy

By Brooke Bundy

Gray kitten looks and scratches the window

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Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

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It’s no secret that cats like to nap in sunny windowsills. We understand—it’s a warm and cozy place to get some shut-eye and it gives them a nice view when they wake up. Laying there peacefully is one thing, though. Unfortunately, persistently pawing and scratching at the glass isn’t so cute. So why does your cat scratch at the window? As it turns out, this is a well-documented cat behavior with several possible explanations. The good news is that there are a few things you can do to deter your cat from banging on the windowsill if you’re annoyed with their antics.

Top 8 Reasons Your Cat Scratches at the Window

1. It’s their way of asking you if they can go outside.

This may be especially true if they’re banging on a window on a door, or near an exit. Your cat could spot something interesting outdoors, such as a butterfly, or even another cat.

grey cat in front of the window
Image Credit: Daga_Roszkowska, Pixabay

2. Cool, smooth glass feels comforting to their paws.

They could be intrigued by the way glass feels on their feet, especially if they’re gently pawing the window without using their claws.

3. Your cat is claiming the window for themselves.

Did you know that felines have scent glands in between their little adorable toe beans? Every time they knead a blanket or rub against you, they’re actually releasing their scent onto the object, which can help them claim it as theirs. In a multi-cat household, staking a claim on territory may prevent cat fights. Felines are territorial creatures that like to have a nook that’s just for them.

two cats snuggling in the window

4. They’re desperately clawing at outdoor prey or predators.

Mocking jays taunt your cat from the bird fountain. Outdoor kitties call for them to meet them outdoors. Squirrels chatter and scamper up trees, their swishing tails infuriating your feline who can’t break away for a good chase. The outside world is calling your cat. Scratching on the window may be your cat’s way of screaming, “Let me outside!” On occasion, the opposite could also be true. Your cat could feel threatened by predators such as dogs or other cats and could be attempting to defend themselves from the inside by putting up a fight.

5. Sharpening their claws.

If you hear the sickening drawl of nails on glass, your kitty could be trying to use your windowpane as a sharpening tool to prepare their claws for battle. The good news is that most glass holds up fairly well against such scratches, but that still doesn’t discount the awful noise and any smudges that might present themselves from your cat’s grubby feet.

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6. They’re actually fighting themselves.

When your cat sees themselves in the mirror, they might not realize they’re seeing their own reflection. Perceiving another cat, your feline may try to tear up this mystery kitty who always glares at them every time they look outside. 

7. Your window is their yoga mat.

Your cat could be using your window to brace themselves while they stretch.

cat resting and stretching at the window
Image Credit: Ondrej Hajek, Shutterstock

8. Sheer boredom draws your cat to the window.

If your cat sits inside all day with nothing to do, they might devise ways to keep themselves engaged, such as beating up your windowsill.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Pawing Your Window

Although they’re probably not scratching hard enough to damage the glass, listening to your cat incessantly pounding on the panes can be highly obnoxious. Since you share a house with your cat, it makes sense that you might want them to stop. Here are a few tips on how to prevent your cat from clawing at the glass.

1. Block their path.

What allows your cat access to the window? Is it a bookshelf that they jump on? A couch with a headrest that’s right beneath the windowsill? If possible, you can try rearranging the furniture that’s assisting your cat in order to block their way.

cat sitting by the window
Image Credit: Nathan Fertig, Unsplash

2. Clean the window with vinegar, or a citrus-based cleaner.

After all of those scratches, the window probably needs to be cleaned anyway, so this tip can handle two problems with one solution. Cats hate the smell of citrus and vinegar, but your window will shine. A simple solution of water, vinegar, and citrus-scented dish soap should do the trick. If you must use commercial glass cleaners, don’t store them or use them near your cat as these chemicals can be highly toxic.

3. Relieve their boredom.

Cats need to scratch, so make sure they’re outfitted with a cat tree or scratching post so they can stay productive and sharp.

4. Install window film.

You can buy cheap window film to protect the glass if you’re worried about your kitty’s claws causing unsightly scratches. Plus, some window films block UV rays light, which will help your furniture not fade so quickly.

installing window tint or film
Image By: Petr Smagin, Shutterstock

5. Lay down some aluminum foil or sticky tape on the windowsill.

Cats notoriously hate the crinkly sound of aluminum foil, so you might try putting a layer on top of your windowsill to deter them from coming too close. You could also stick double-sided tape on the windowsill because your cat doesn’t like that texture either. Just make sure it won’t mess up the paint.

Final Thoughts

Cats are curious creatures with funny habits. While we understand some of their behaviors, we only have speculations for some of their antics. It’s very common to hear about kitties clawing at the windowsill, and although we have a few guesses, the exact reason depends on the cat and what’s going through their brain at the moment. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to prevent your cat from pounding on the glass if they’re being a major pain.

Featured Image Credit: Olya Detry, Shutterstock

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