Why Do Cats Paw on Windows?

Cats have to scratch; it's instinct.
i George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Your cat may sashay up to a window in your home and begin scratching madly. If you aren’t aware of what he is doing, the distinctive squeaking of his claws on the window’s surface will definitely alert you to his actions. Rest assured, he is not trying to escape.

Behavioral Expression

You cat may be reassuring himself that what he sees on the other side of the window – such as another cat or a big dog – can’t get to him. If you could read his mind, you would know he's saying, “Whew!”

Of course, your feline friend may actually be interested in what is just beyond that frustrating, clear barrier. In this case, he may be pawing to reach for something on the other side of the glass or screen or to ensure the glass is still impenetrable -- or maybe he's telling you he is frustrated that he cannot get to that interesting insect or animal.

I Need to Sharpen My Claws!

The next time you hear your furry friend scratching his claws on your bay window, look at his posture. If he is sitting on his rear and pawing with both claws, he is satisfying his instinctive need to sharpen his claws. The glass is an unlikely surface for him to sharpen on, but cats do funny things.

Scent Marking

Your cat is a creature of instinct. That is, he has mysterious habits and behaviors that make perfect sense to him but confuse you. Scratching anything, even a window, enables your sweet little furbaby to leave his scent on the surface. Cats have scent glands in their paws, making it easy for them to mark everything in sight – you, your furniture, the wall – windows. Once he has deposited his own scent on the glass, so his thinking goes, strange cats that pass by will know this is “his” territory.

One and Two and Strrretch!

Look at your cat’s posture again. If he is standing almost upright with his front paws way over his head, he’s giving himself a good yoga stretch. Especially after he has been lying in the same position during his afternoon nap, he needs to stretch and unkink the muscles in his back; hence the stretching and scratching.

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