a striped cat looking in the mirror

Why Does My Cat Scratch the Mirror?

Cats, these mysterious and lovable creatures, often exhibit puzzling behaviors that leave their owners scratching their heads.

One such behavior that many cat owners have encountered is mirror scratching.

While it might seem like a simple act of playfulness, there are deeper reasons behind it.

1. Territorial Marking

Cats are territorial animals, and they often scratch to mark their territory. When they see their reflection in the mirror, they might perceive it as another cat invading their space. This can trigger their instinct to mark their territory by scratching the mirror.

2. Playful Behavior

Sometimes, cats scratch the mirror out of sheer playfulness. The reflective surface can be intriguing to them, and they enjoy swatting and scratching at it as if it’s a fun game.

3. Stress or Anxiety

Just like humans, cats can experience stress and anxiety. When they feel anxious or threatened, they may resort to scratching the mirror as a coping mechanism. Understanding the source of their stress is crucial to address this behavior.

4. Grooming and Self-Reflection

Cats are known for their grooming habits. When they see their reflection in the mirror, they might mistake it for another cat and attempt to groom or interact with it by scratching.

5. Curiosity

Cats are naturally curious creatures. They might scratch the mirror to explore and understand their environment better. This behavior is often seen in kittens as they discover the world around them.

6. Seeking Attention

Cats are masters at getting our attention. If they feel neglected or want you to play with them, they may scratch the mirror as a way to communicate their needs.

How to Deal with Mirror-Scratching Behavior

Now that we understand why your cat might be scratching the mirror, it’s time to address this behavior.

1. Redirect Their Attention

Provide your cat with appropriate scratching posts and toys to divert their attention from the mirror. Encourage play and exploration.

2. Cover the Mirror

Temporarily covering the mirror can help break the habit. Cats often lose interest in scratching when their reflection is no longer visible.

3. Reduce Stress

If stress is the root cause, identify the source and work on reducing it. Create a calm and stable environment for your feline friend.

4. Regular Grooming

Regularly trim your cat’s claws to reduce the need for them to sharpen them on the mirror. Consult your veterinarian for guidance on safe claw trimming.

5. Positive Reinforcement

Reward your cat with treats and affection when they exhibit desired behavior. This encourages them to engage in more constructive activities.


In conclusion, while mirror-scratching by cats can be confounding, it’s essential to approach it with understanding and patience.

Cats exhibit this behavior for a range of reasons, and addressing it requires a combination of redirection, stimulation, and care.

If mirror-scratching becomes a concern or seems stress-related, seek guidance from a veterinarian or an animal behaviorist.

FAQs About Cats and Mirror-Scratching

Can a cat hurt itself while scratching a mirror?

While it’s unlikely, a cat could potentially hurt its paws if it scratches too vigorously. That’s why it’s essential to provide alternatives.

Can I train my cat not to scratch the mirror?

Yes, with patience and positive reinforcement, you can train your cat to avoid mirror-scratching. Reward alternative behaviors and provide engaging toys and activities.

Can I use anti-scratch sprays to deter my cat?

Anti-scratch sprays can be effective but always choose cat-safe products. These sprays emit scents that deter cats from scratching.

Is it common for cats to scratch mirrors?

While not all cats do it, scratching mirrors is a behavior exhibited by many felines.

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