Cat scratching reflective surfaces

by Scotty
(St. Louis MO)

cat scratches mirror

cat scratches mirror

Cat scratching reflective surfaces. My cat will constantly jump up on his hind legs and proceed to scratch vigorously at the mirror in my bedroom. Sometimes he will also climb onto the vanity in the bathroom and paw at the vanity mirror.

He will also scratch at other reflective surfaces such as the glass framed picture in the living room and at windows when it is dark on one side of the glass. We wonder if he knows he is looking at himself or maybe he thinks it is another cat?

Has anyone seen this before and do you have any idea what causes it. We would like to learn how to stop it. It gets tiresome after a couple of hours of constant scratching. We are also concerned that it may eventually damage some of the things he scratches at.

Note about the top 2 comments. First Anonymous asks is there a way to stop it? They point out that although it was fun reading through the comments that nobody really had a solution to the scratching at mirror problem. Then the Cat Expert left an insightful comment about how they solved the issue. It's titled a "Solution that worked amazing for me".

As you can see from the method the cat expert used it took a long time to turn this behavior around. I think in a world of instant gratification we forget that our feline pets have been stubborn for thousands of years. Patience is what owning a cat is all about.

They provide unconditional love. Unfortunately, this sometimes includes an annoying habit or two. Put in the time and reinforce with kindness and your pet will come around eventually. As the cat hanging from a branch poster say's "Hang in there"

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Window Dancing
by: Anonymous

My cat Milo does this also. He stands on his back legs and paws and digs and the window like a maniac, I call it Window Dancing.

My Cat Max
by: Lulu

It's good to hear that Max is not the only one scratching mirrors, windows, stove etc. He does not sleep in my bedroom, I need my sleep. He usually wakes me around 4:00, I have a bowl ready for him in my room. Then usually he lets me sleep in a few more hours. However, because I changed rooms, I bought a new bed, then had to move to another room, I think he was a bit confused.

They don't like change. He started scratching at the door to come in, or come and play. Not too happy these past few weeks. Hoping that goes away soon. As far as the scratching goes, I guess he is not the only one, I use a water gun to chase him away. Sometime I try to distract him, and sit him with me in the lazy boy, that calms him down. I was almost ready to give him away, last week. I've only had him for 6 mos. someone left him in a field on a piece of 4 x 8'. He's sweet, it's only the scratching and waking me up to early that disturbs me. Good luck all.

SOLUTION that worked amazing for me
by: Cat Expert

We had a roommate who came with a neglected cat. She (the cat, almost 1 years old) was very wild and all day and all night, for the first 1 or 2 months, all she did was run to the shiny surface and scratch vigorously at it, run to the next one, do the same thing, turn and run like a bat out of Hell, and so on. It started to drive me insane very quickly: I have raised many cats from little kittens, but I never saw anything like this in my life. I started clapping and stomping my feet to distract her (dragging her away did affect her) and as soon as I managed to switch her attention to me, I would focus on her, pet her, give her treats, play with her using a sparkly toy. It started to help little by little. In almost a year that the animal spent in my house, she did a complete 180º from an untamed beast to a sweet kitten. By the time she left she quit scratching her way out into the Looking Glass almost completely.

Is there a way to stop it?
by: Anonymous

I read most of the comments and while it is comforting to know that Whimzy isn't the only one pawing at bedroom door and/or my dresser mirror OR the bathroom mirror, on the wall behind our bed. There doesn't seem to be any advice other than throw a sock at the cat. Is there another article?

Again, me too!
by: Anonymous

My cat Meowy has to be at least 15 years old. We've had her for the past 12 years, and she's never scratched on mirrors. Recently, in the past few weeks, she's begun scratching on my bedroom mirror. I have a few other mirrors around, but she doesn't touch them. I wondered if it was because she was lonely, my other cat had to be put down about two weeks ago, but she acted like she hated him. I think it may be because I kept shutting her out of my room to study, but she does it more often when I let her in than when she has to stay outside for a while. She has no interest in her reflection and she jumps in my lap immediately after I yell at her, but I think that's just because I made eye-contact with her. What the hell cat?

I'm not the only one
by: Kiwilad

Well, I don't feel so alone now. My Manx boy of 3 yrs does this also, ALWAYS at night around 2330-0000hrs, standing at the wall mirror pawing at it. Right now I am sitting in bed writing this while he goes about his scratching and it drives me utterly insane. I noticed he always has his ears back slightly as if he is anxious, and grumbles quite audibly when he does his pawing. Yet nothing will stop it. Socks, trunkso and solid objects lobbed his way are ignored and he goes back to it.

Thank you
by: Anonymous

My cat has this same problem and after reading through the posts I have figured out how to change fate by throwing socks at the cat. Thank you so much! I left with more wisdom than I could have ever hoped for. I hope that I can use this power responsibly!

Not bad kitty
by: Anonymous

Firstly cats are both nocturnal and diurnal. So despite the fact that 11pm and 5:30am don't work for our lives, that's what comes naturally to them and therefore is part of owning a cat.

Also re: cats obsessing about closed vet told me cats can have something called barrier issues or barrier anxiety. My boy had it; it's basically an anxiety with any closed door or obstruction. His was so bad he would bang the toilet lid if it was closed. He didn't even want to go into the room. once the door was open he would peek around it, seem relieved and go about his business. Mostly it stems from a trauma (I know his came from being abandoned in a closet as a kitten) but it can also be a chemical imbalance, from what I understand.

My cat started just scratching at the mirror after her companion (the aforementioned boy) passed away a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure why. Supposedly they get the concept that it's not another cat, because they don't smell one, but I almost feel like she's maybe trying to get into the reflection of the room. It's also made me wonder if he's lonely and wants to play. This may apply to your cats who scratch only at night. If they're alone and the household is asleep, or if the other cats tend to not play with them, could that be a reason? Still brainstorming on that one!

Mmm interesting
by: Anonymous

My little girl is 2 & has only just started doing this the past couple of nights. It doesn't seem to be the reflection or wanting out(they have a cat flap). I wonder if it's stress with her? She's a scruffy long hair cat & is fairly matted at the moment. I'm trying to snip off the mats when she comes to sit on my knee. She also licks & pulls some out herself. I'm worried it could become an obsession with her.

Cat scratching vertical surfaces
by: Anonymous

Certain spots on walls, one particular kitchen cabinet, the side of kitchen garbage can, All places my 1 year old boy "scratches. Usually sitting up on hind legs, paws are together (like praying), he will scratch or paw) incessantly. Nails are not extended & he's not actually scratching or digging in. It's more like pawing & doesn't cause damage.

He's an indoor cat. I rescued him and his brother at 4 weeks old. He's very loving and friendly, and because he was taken away from his mom and weaned too young, he still "nurses" or kneads on my shirt up near my shoulder/armpit area. When he does this, he looks up as if he sees something. There's nothing there, and no mice or animals in walls. Its become obsessive within weeks and I'm concerned it may be a sign of distress. Please help!

lol some people need to just chill
by: Anonymous

Some cats do this, it's just a fact. For whatever reason they seem to enjoy it, my guess is texture and the smooth surface. My 2 year old Archer does it all the time. Windows, mirrors, picture frames. While his sister Georgie Girl has absolutely no interest in it. I don't think anything can be done about it, it's just something that comes with owning a cat and understanding not all cats are going to act the same perfect way as your other cats. Best suggestion sleep with ear plugs if it's really all that bothersome.

Ugh my cat
by: Anonymous

My cat does this as well and we are literally about to get rid of her because of it. Yes, it's that bad. The worst part is that she ONLY does it at night after the bedrooms lights are turned off, only in our bedroom, and she is incessant. Nothing stops her. Covering the mirror? She pulls it down or finds a way behind. Close the door? She just scratches at the door, which is worse. Get out of bed to stop it? She runs, because she knows she's not supposed to, then is back soon after. Water bottle? Nope. Just comes back 30 seconds later. I've tried locking her in her "kitty room" which keeps her away, but I feel bad doing that. I even accidentally left her in there all day (oops) and she still hadn't stopped. Tonight I started throwing socks at her. She's stopped for now. Maybe that's the secret...ugh. She's an extremely temperamental cat. Bites when she doesn't want to be pet anymore, swats at you if you're bothering her. Our other cat is so well behaved.

1 of 5 cats scratch tub/wall/bthrm door
by: tabitha bishop

I have 5 cats one will go in bathroom jump in tub and scratch at the back/wall and if I close the door she will scratch the door. I am confused I live in an apartment don't know what to do.

Calming collar
by: Lozza

Long shot but I am going to try this at night time and see if it calms our boy. Calming collar available on amazon.

No solutions
by: Lozza

It would seem a number of us experience the same problem, but no one has a solution. There MUST be one. We live in an apartment so I constantly worry about my boyfriends cat (now mine as well) affecting the neighbors quality of home life. If we lived in a house (not an option) I would not worry as much. I love our cats, but I am so tired and stressed with his behavior, it is affecting my relationship, home life, my boyfriend is upset so I am talking to the vet about humane behavior collars to try and teach him what he is doing is wrong at 5.30am and 11pm. We have 4 cats, 2 are mine and are well behaved, I only have to click my fingers if they do something naughty and they stop. For a year now, I have tried the water spray, telling scratchy cat off, waiting to feed the boys and none of it works. It is as if he just wants attention. He is so loved, but drives me to despair - I need my sleep. If anyone has any other solutions, please share them.

Scratches walls
by: Anonymous

Our cat will do it to a window occasionally, but mostly likes to do it on the walls (not hard enough to damage, just enough to make noise) after we go to bed. I wish I knew how to break her of this habit as it drives me nuts!

I wish someone had an answer
by: Anonymous

My cat scratches on any closed door! I cannot keep closet doors or any room doors closed, as he has to see the other side! If I go into the bathroom and shut the door he will scratch on it until I let him in!! At night, it's any door! The sound wakes me up instantly! We have a door to the outside in our bedroom... so this is one I cannot leave open! I am writing this at 4 am now, because I cannot sleep due to his obsessive scratching! It is driving me crazzzzy! He also scratches the floor around his food dish when he is done eating like he is cleaning up something invisible around the dish! Grrrrrrrr!!!! Does anyone have answers???

by: TwinkleToezz

I have a cat that tends to scratch at our window, floors and T.v.. I don't understand why. He has never scratched our mirror's. He is very aggressive towards our female cat. Both are fixed, but other then that very friendly towards us. Any advice?

My cat scratches on mirrors and oven ranges
by: Rita

Hi my cat scratches on my oven ranges and mirrors thank goodness he has soft paws nail caps or he would have destroyed my oven range. I just don't get it. I never had a cat do this behavior before. He is also a very dominant cat. I wish i knew how to stop it. Its an annoying sound like nails going against a chalk board. I yell at him and he doesn't stop. I get up and he moved away.He does this at least 3 times in a night. i go through everyday at night. Did i mention that he only does this at night. it doesn't matter where we are i have two places i live in both part time and my cats come with me. He does it in both places and i just got a new range i just have to watch him. At first i thought it was attention so i gave him more attention but he still did it when i went to bed. He is also selective on which mirrors he scratches. Does anyone have a suggestion to stop this behavior. thank you

Cats scratching mirrors
by: Anonymous

I have not been successful at all in stopping this irritating behavior. What I have been doing for the past several months is to put all of the cats along with a little bit of dry food and their litter box in another room and close the door. I keep the room cool with the ceiling fan and the room is waaay down the hall from my bedroom. They have pretty much gotten use to this routine as they all actually walk to the room when they know I am ready to go to bed. I have been able to sleep the night through because of this arrangement. Maybe this will work for someone else; I hope so.

New habit
by: Anonymous

My 2 year old cat has suddenly picked this habit up over the past 4 weeks. I think it's an attention seeking thing. I have a full length mirror next to my bed and about an hour after I'm in bed she will stand on her hind legs and furiously paw/scratch at the mirror- no claws- and extremely quickly and repetitively. If I call out at her she will temporarily stop then start 30 seconds later.

It will go on for a couple of hours at a time. Typically 11-0200 and then 0400-0700 and I've taken to using ear plugs which helps. I've not bothered covering it up as I know she will break through that in seconds! She also likes to paw at the ceramic bath in an equally frantic fashion. She has always pawed at the windows, usually when a person or another cat is outside and that's clearly a "let me out! I wanna play!" thing but this newest behavior seems very enjoyable for her and she gets the added bonus of waking me up and getting noticed :) I'm going to try an extra hour of pre-bed play with her see if that settles her down some.

Cat driving me nuts at night
by: Anonymous

One of our cats has this obsession also. She usually only does it in the middle of the night/early morning. I have a feeling its for attention because as soon as she realizes I'm awake she wants to be pet. We've tried covering the mirror with a blanket and that worked for awhile...until she figured out how to pull the blanket away from the mirror! I am at a loss, I'm not sure what to do now! Any ideas?? Help, I need a good night's sleep!!

My cat scratches smooth surfaces too
by: Northshorecatlady

My kitty, who I've had since last June and has turned 2, scratches on mirrors, glass doors like on our grandfather clock and cabinets, and even glossy books such as my crochet books, but even on the paper around yarn. I have a 16 year old cat too, who doesn't move a lot so I sometimes will bring her food to her, whether she's on the floor or in my bed. I always put it down with a paper towel and the little one will scratch and move the paper towel until it's covering the food, she usually does this after she eats some too. Strangest behavior I've ever seen, but have to love her. Thankfully its usually not a middle of the night thing or I just don't hear her.

by: Natalie

So my husband and I discovered that 90 % of the time it means that our blind cat George is hungry and wants a late night treat. We have to be careful how frequently we feed him when he does this or we just teach him that's what he should do when he is hungry. When it gets really bad, we put him in the guest bath with a small litter box, water and push dinner time back. This normally breaks him of the habit.

Cat Scratching Mirrors
by: Anonymous

I have 5 cats, but only 2 of them scratch the mirrors on my closet doors. They usually begin about 5:30 in the morning and will continue until I get out of bed. I really do hate getting up that early when I have no reason to. They will stop if I yell or throw something at them, but will go right back to it several minutes later.

Trying to put them out of the room is a chore in itself because they run under the bed and by the time I get them all out, I am wide awake. Many times after being put out, they will scratch at the carpet outside the door or run into the door (loud bang). I have tried putting a large sheet in front of the mirror...that did not work at all. I don't want them to damage the mirrors, but I am running out of ideas. Is there an answer at all?

Bedroom Mirror Scratching Cat
by: Anonymous

To "Cat is driving me nuts!" I am not a professional but it sounds like a spraying and marking event. We always wonder what our cats see when they look in the Mirror. It would seem that your cat see's another (attractive) cat muscling in on her territory. We have a feline that scratches on the bedroom mirror at night as well. We throw and secure a beach towel over it before we go to bed. It worked 100% for us but as we know each cat is unique.

Cat is driving me nuts!
by: Anonymous

One of our two indoor cats has been scratching the mirror in our bedroom for a while now from time to time. It's always just after I lay down to go to sleep (usually late) and she does it until I get up, then she runs.

Last night, when I got up to move her off the dresser, she had an awful smelling liquid all over the place. It was on the mirror, the dresser, and I got a little on my hand when I picked her up. I've never smelled anything so awful...It was a brownish almost clear liquid. What in the world is it and why did she 'squirt' it? Did it come from her behind or is it urine? I thought urine was yellow. Somebody help please!

trying something new
by: Natalie

This weekend my husband and I tried something new with George. We put the nail caps on. He never uses a scratching post so we thought what the heck. I will let know the first morning he did scratch but only once and it made a squeaking noise so it still woke us up. They last for 4 to 6 weeks and then we will see.

Cat scratching glass surface
by: Annoyed but still laughing

Having read the comments by others there doesn't seem to be a common reason but definitely a common result. Jethro ends to do this on several glassy solids but thankfully never when we are asleep. He always runs to it and seems frantic. We say no or stop and he does. It's annoying but doesn't cause damage, thankfully. Weird...

Cat scratching post
by: Anonymous

I built a cat scratching post (learned it from this video: and my cat LOVES it!

stops it sometimes
by: Natalie

I have a blind bangle that scratches too. He, however, does it for attention. I don't remember when it started, but his favorite time to do it is 30 min before the alarm goes off. If he really wants your attention he will scratch and jump 4 ft up the wall. I find if I ignore him 50% of the time he will stop and 50% of the time he will add meows to it.

When it gets really bad at night we lock him and his sister out of the bedroom by putting a baby gate up about 1 foot away from the door and shut the door. Yes this is mean but when you spend most the night up for a week you will do anything for sleep, Plus it makes him stop for a while. Oh and the squirt gun does not work for our cats. a) they love water and b) they think its a game when we squirt them. Strange cats I know!!

I agree with the texture/sound theories
by: Stephan

My cat could not care less about whether or not the surface is reflective. We have one mirror in our home in the washroom and he has never even tried to touch it. Our cat scratches a the front door window from time to time, but is constantly scratching at select prints of artwork on our walls, pieces in glass frames, pieces that are laminated and pieces printed on photo paper.

We recently set up a new book shelf which he could reach the one framed print he couldn't before and he immediately began to try to destroy it too, it is like a homing beacon. He has thoroughly clawed one or two of them beyond repair over time and we can not get him to stop. Unlike some of the comments from other people, our cat IS using his claws and it is quite obvious from the damage. I hope this information has helped someone with their deductions.

My cat also
by: Greg M

I've had lots of cats but my current one is the first to do this, "Shadowboxing" behavior (as a friend referred to it - her cat also does it). It seems, in my guy, to be a "texture" thing - it's always smooth surfaces (wood, stainless steel fridge, glass, mirrors, smooth wood, etc.), with no claw (so it's not a sharpening thing) and he's not after anything or fighting a shadow. He could also be doing it for exercise.

Sullivan is a very athletic "jumper" who is now an indoor cat after last summer's "killing spree" outdoors (numerous birds, mice, 2 squirrels and a bunny!). He's very smart. But this is one behavior I don't understand??? He also paws at horizontal and vertical surfaces prior to drinking and sometimes eating, which I always assumed was instinctive cleaning behavior?

OCD kitty
by: cat lover

My cat has this compulsive behavior as well. He is the first cat that I have owned that does this. He is over one year and recently began this annoying habit. He will do it on the mirror and the window. He is also obsessed with the humidifier. All I know is it is annoying.

Mine too
by: Anonymous

One of my two female cats does this at least 3 times a week. She jumps on my dresser and just scratches at my wall mirror like crazy. I'll get up, take her off and put her in the hall, she just comes back and keeps doing it.

Like others have said, she doesn't seem interested in her reflection, just the motion and the sound maybe. It's really annoying when she does it, she is such a silly girl. :)

Lucy loves scratching pictures and t.v.s
by: Christym111

Lucy got her "glass scratching" habit from her sibling Piper when she saw her scratch the t.v. during a Ford truck commercial. Piper has since kicked the habit, but Lucy refuses.

She gets the "itch" to scratch just as I lay down to sleep and paws at the picture above my couch or above my desk. As soon as I stand up and yell "Lucy!" she bolts and acts bewildered as to why I wouldn't be pleased.

I have no clue why she waits for me to nap or go to sleep, but the only reprieve I get is when I keep a laser pointer toy on my night stand to click so I don't have to get up mid-sleep and chase her around the living room.

Also, a water bottle with good aim might help incessant scratching at 3:00AM. Just a suggestion. :)

Not mirrors but the glass in the shower
by: Amy Lu

There are lots of mirrored closet doors that our year old cat ignores but something about the glass stand up shower drives her nuts. If I don't yell at her to stop she will scratch at the glass for 15 minutes at a time.

I don't know what she needs, sometimes she whines like something is wrong. I'm mostly curious but it does get annoying. It seems like no one is agreeing here on why or how to stop this behavior.

My cat does it too
by: Kyle

I just wanted to add to the "me too"s. My cat does it too. We just installed a full-length mirror on our closet door. It took her about a week to discover it, and now she does it all the time.

We think it may be that she is asking us to open the bedroom door so that she can go out. She does not look at herself in the mirror, she looks back at us in the bed and says "meow" and it gives us the feeling that she's saying, "Please?"

It can definitely get annoying at night or early in the morning, but if we yell at her, she stops and comes back to bed.

Seems its a texture or sound thing with mine
by: Anonymous

I thought maybe our Taz just had a crazy obsession and then I came across others here reporting similar experiences! We are sleepless these days too with our 4 year old tabby "scratching" during the night on the dresser mirror usually between 2AM - 4AM.

She is extremely smart and physical. An attention-seeker. The arm movements are fast, strong and even paced much like when (humans) tread water or jog. She does not seem to use her nails. It's more of a substantial tapping sound.

Her preferred surface for the past few years was our glass French Doors. We moved a year ago and haven't cluttered up the dresser in our bedroom yet, which has left it wide and clear for Taz's "tap dancing" against the mirror. She occasionally does this on the full length mirror that's just outside our bedroom too.

We had been piling cushions and pillows up over the mirrors overnight. But undeterred, she just seems to find a gap. As soon as she manages to wake us she RUNS under the bed before cautiously emerging again within a minute or so.

We think she knows full well what she is doing is to wake us for some playtime or affection. We believe she is enjoying the texture and the tapping sounds. She can do this for several minutes time. Now that I've read others' comments and written this up I think I see the solutions more clearly. Thank you!

I think mine does it for attention
by: Anonymous

My female scratches at our full length mirror and she is not interested in looking at herself even when held up to a mirror she's not interested in the cute cat in front of her. She's very smart and I think she knows it's her reflection.

I can yell at her and throw things at her but the only thing that gets her to stop is by picking her up and giving her some attention.

As an indoor cat that has escaped a couple of times she also scratches at the windows sometimes which I'm pretty sure means she wants to go outside because she also does this to rarely closed doors as well as jumping and pushing the door to try to open it.

The middle of the night thing from one of the comments, have you tried covering the mirror when you go to bed? That may help you sleep.

i know why they do that
by: toxius

my cat-LOLA ,does the same thing. But here is the scary part. I've realized that she does it ONLY when something bad is about to happen (sometimes something extremely bad).

she did that just 15 minutes before a family member had an accident. The next time she did it, someone else from the building passed away the next day.

Another reason is because they sense spirits.
That is when they start running around like homing missiles. And when you open the outside door, they calm down.

Not territorial and not playing
by: Anonymous

Contrary to a lot of people suggesting that the kitty is territorial or "wants to play," I don't think this is the behavior at all.

One of my two cats scratches at our bedroom mirror on the back of the door quite often. However, she doesn't even seem to "see" herself in the mirror.

If you watch her, she seems to be looking up, and when holding her up to the mirror, doesn't seem to have any interest in her reflection whatsoever.

She used to do the exact same thing with a large aquarium we had at our old apartment. Again, watching her behavior careful indicated she wasn't after any one particular fish, she just seemed to like scratching on the glass-like surface.

I have no explanation for this behavior, unfortunately, and searching for an explanation brought me here. Sometimes she meows while doing this, sometimes she doesn't say anything. It's pretty amusing behavior, but I'm at a loss to explain it.

She has a brother to play and fight with and the way she scratches the mirror tells me she is NOT trying to be territorial or to's completely unlike the way she plays or fights with the other cat.

My best guess is that it's a texture thing. Also, she isn't the brightest of cats, but I don't know if that plays into it.

Scratching mirror...
by: Cheryl

I would LOVE to find out how to stop this behavior. Max just started this within the past couple weeks. I wouldn't mind if he did this during the day but he's doing this in the middle of the night.

And did I mention it's the mirror on the dresser in my bedroom? I haven't had a good night's sleep in quite a bit. :(

Cat scratching ours does it too!
by: Anonymous

Cat scratching ours does it too! Our oldest cat when she would see her reflection in the stove, she would run around the corner to "find" the rest of the cat. When she didn't, she would run back to the front and bat at her reflection again.

Our youngest cat once ran head first into our mirrored closet doors because she saw her reflection from across the room and I'm going to assume that it was because she thought it was another cat.

Wouldn't it be great though if they could tell you what was going on in their heads?

cat seeing himself
by: Anonymous

your cat is seeing himself in the mirror. some cats are so territorial that they will attack their own reflection. either that or they want to play with "the other kitty." is he an only kitty?? maybe you should think about getting him a buddy.

Cat scratching mine too
by: Anonymous

My cat does the same thing except she scratches at all the windows as if she is trying to dig her way out. She has always done this since she was a kitten. I just let her do it.

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