My cat cleans the windows by rubbing with its front paws, why?

Some cats scratch windows and mirrors with their front paws as if they wanted to polish the tiles. They position themselves on their hind legs, sitting or standing, and frantically rub windows, closet doors or mirrors with their pads. In general, they alternate right paw, left paw, in an enthusiastic movement.

There are different reasons why a cat feels the need to scrub smooth surfaces with its pads. Why do they adopt this adorable mania which generally amuses us a lot? Here are some explanations about this feline oddity!


A cat can scratch windows or mirrors just out of curiosity. Indeed, the fact of rubbing something with the paws allows him to learn more about the object, to better identify and understand it. If, on this occasion, you react and interact with him because you find him funny, your cat will quickly understand that this behavior provokes a reaction on your part. He will therefore renew this action to arouse your attention.

The need to relax

If your little friend is feeling anxious, whether it’s contextual or just for a reason of their own, they can act on smooth surfaces to reduce stress and calm down. It is also an opportunity for him to deposit pheromones, the soothing hormones, which sit between his pads. It may also meet his need for movement if he lives in an apartment.

Marking his territory

By rubbing the glass, your cat leaves odors imperceptible by humans, but that the congeners will not miss. These smells allow him to mark one’s territory, to define its perimeter. On the windows, he warns both the other companions of the house that the space is his, but he also warns those outside who would think of entering.

The urge to go out

The cat is an intelligent animal. By scratching a window or a door, it will generally provoke a reaction from you. Maybe you’ll even open that door or that window for him. It will then be a way for him toexpress a wish to leave or to return. This will be equivalent to knocking on the door for a human.

If it is an apartment cat, this does not prevent it from wanting to go out, especially when it sees or smells prey on the other side. It is then his hunting instinct that motivates him. He thus expresses his frustration at not being outside to run after the bird or the mouse whose freedom is almost a provocation for the little feline!

Your cat thinks it sees a fellow cat

Whether it is the reflection of a window or that of a mirror, a cat, especially when it is still a kitten, does not always understand that the returned image does not correspond to a congener. When he thinks he sees another animal in front of him, without being able to touch it, or feel it, or even scare it away, he can begin to rub the surface to remove “what is blocking” in order to gain access to the animal facing him. In general, cats eventually understand that this will have no effect, but depending on the individual, it takes more or less time.

Can a cat scratch the window or the mirror by rubbing?

In general, cats do not put their claws out on this type of surface and therefore do not damage the glass. Even with all the claws out, the material is strong enough not to suffer from feline attacks. However, the noise caused by friction can be annoying, especially at night when they pierce the silence. If the mirror has a fragile frame, it may suffer more from the repeated passage of your companion’s little paws.

The danger mainly concerns standing mirrors which can topple under the pressure of the cat, otherwise, it is not a dangerous behavior.

How do you prevent a cat from scratching windows or mirrors?

It is more often a mania for kittens. It becomes rare as they grow.

The ideal is to pay him no attention so as not to encourage or stimulate it. However, if you read this article too late and you have already reacted positively to his behavior, if you still want to see him stop, you will have to put in place another strategy.

He is difficult to forbid a cat what it does instinctively, especially if the first times were well received. Unlike the dog who is sensitive to the pleasure of his master, the cat will agree to change his behavior only if he gains something more interesting. The ideal is therefore to divert him from his action with an activity that pleases him more. So enrich its environment with toys, feather dusters, scratching posts and cat trees. Offer him something different every time he scratches a mirror.

Alternatively, you can add double sided tape. Cats don’t like to put their paws on sticky things. A repellent spraying regularly can be effective, but you will have to repeat the operation very often which is restrictive. Finally, a last-ditch solution is to cover the mirror, but it only provides a temporary answer and does not solve the problem.

Offer your pet similar surfaces on which you don’t mind scratching or rubbing their paws. Also add different scratching posts, vertical and horizontal. Although they are not as smooth, they will play their calming role and provide your little companion with a source of comfort and relaxation.

In no case shouting or hitting a cat is effective. On the contrary, it causes additional stress, stress that he may want to soothe… by rubbing mirrors and windows! He doesn’t understand cause and effect, only that you are angry without perceiving the reason. If he suddenly flees, it is not because he feels guilty, but because he feels you are unhappy.

If it reproduces this behavior too often and it is problematic for you, consult a feline behaviorist who will help you and adapt the strategy according to the context, your relationship with your cat and its environment.

Cats that “check” therefore react according to different factors, both curiosity and anxiety. Some can even scrub the walls. Often, it is more young cats who act in this way. This is not a dangerous or worrying behavior, but it is however necessary to pay attention to the mirrors on feet if they are not very stable.

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