Why Do Cats Scratch Mirrors?

Cats have an instinct to scratch surfaces to maintain the sharpness of their claws. This allows them to climb, hunt, and defend themselves more effectively when needed. Mirrors likely catch their attention because of the movement and reflections they see. 

Why do cats scratch mirrors? This unusual feline behavior often perplexes cat owners when they find mysterious scratch marks appearing on their decorative mirrors. What drives cats to damage these glass surfaces with their sharp claws? The reasons behind this perplexing phenomenon may reveal insights into the curious cat mind.  

Cats scratch various surfaces around the home to remove old layers from their claws and expose new sharp ones better suited for functions like hunting, climbing, and self-defence. Smooth surfaces like mirrors get scratched over objects like wood or carpet because they offer less grip and resistance. 

Scratching as a Natural Behavior

Cats have an innate instinct to scratch objects with their claws. Scratching serves several purposes for cats. It allows them to remove old nail sheaths to expose new, sharper nails underneath. It also stretches their body and works their leg muscles. Scratching marks territory and leaves visual and olfactory cues for other cats. 

For domestic cats, suitable scratching surfaces include things like scratching posts, cardboard, wood, and fabric. These materials provide enough resistance to help cats remove nail sheaths but without damaging their claws. Hard, smooth surfaces like mirrors do not offer this resistive grip.

Why Do Cats Scratch Mirrors? Reasons

  • Mirrors reflect light, images, and movement which attract a cat’s keen senses
  • Cats explore new objects and surfaces in their environment by scratching
  • The smooth, slick glass provides little claw grip and scraping resistance
  • Clawing allows cats to investigate the strange images and sensations
  • Reflections may simulate another animal or item to chase or attack 
  • Scratches mark the mirror surface with recognizable cat scents  

Cats have an innately curious spirit which compels them to explore anything novel that captures their attention. Mirrors present a surface that offers unusual and dynamic visual stimuli from light reflections and moving imagery. A cat may detect these sights, sounds, and even scents and approach to inspect the peculiar phenomena through scenting, touching, and clawing the mirror. 

Do Cats Understand Mirrors?

Do Cats Understand Mirrors?

Cats do not possess the same self-awareness and capacity for self-recognition when looking in mirrors as humans and some intelligent species demonstrate. They show possible modest recognition of their own image and smell. So mirrors likely do not reflect exact representations that cats interpret as other animals to hunt, fight, or flee from in most cases.

Instead, cats probably view mirror surfaces as they would a lake, puddle, or other reflective setting occurring naturally. The movements and images register as stimuli to closely inspect based on their instincts. So while they may acknowledge their image through sight, sound, or scent, they primarily process the mirror itself as a novel surface warranting exploration more than an object with any meaning. 

Do Mirrors Stress Cats Out?

Mirrors themselves likely do not impose significant stress on cats in most situations. As Vision specialists, cats notice differences in their environment related to sight readily. So unusual lighting, reflections, and imagery will pique their attention without directly causing anxiety or distress. These novel visual cues instead trigger their exploratory drives and investigative behaviors.

Scenarios like introducing mirrors suddenly, exposing cats to prolonged direct mirror viewing, or restricting escape from mirrored spaces could elevate stress levels. The unfamiliar reflective stimuli and any perceived inability to control exposure levels could contribute to apprehensive or aggressive reactions over time. 

Why Does My Cat Keep Attacking The Mirror? 

Ongoing aggressive mirror scratching likely links to a cat’s desire to examine the odd light effects and imagery further through direct interaction. Since cats don’t view mirror reflections as threats typically, repeated attacks relate more to many cats’ tenacious spirit than any hostility. 

The moving visuals prove perplexing yet intriguing, so they remain determined to explore by clawing, touching, and observing how the mirror responds in hopes of better understanding the phenomena. This persistent investigative drive means cats prone to frequent mirror attacks need adequate environmental outlets for their energy and senses. 

Why Does My Cat Scratch My Mirror At Night?

Cats can exhibit bursts of energy and excitement at night often described as zoomies, crazies, or evening crazies. When windows, mirrors, or household lights get turned off at night, their reflections and glare disappear as well. The darker, calmer setting with fewer stimuli contrasts the daylight hours. Skittish or lively cats may find this comparative stillness and lack of visual cues unnerving.

Mirrors are believed to have Magnetic properties that can act as portals to other realms for sensitive animals. With fewer familiar reflections and shadows visible after dusk, a mirror can almost resemble a black void. Scratching, touching, and interacting with the mirror through physical senses offers stability and a way to ground oneself in the present reality for such inquisitive felines.

Is It Likely That My Cat Will Injure Herself Scratching Mirrors?

Sustained aggressive cat scratching risks various injuries, especially on rigid surfaces offering no claw traction like mirrors. Jagged glass edges may cut paws if fractured. Breakage can also impale feet. Blunt fractures with sharp fragments could still slice pads over repeated contacts as well. 

And if any loose glass gets ingested by licking during grooming, internal damage could occur. Claws hooked and ripped out from robust scratching against resistant mirrors may tear painfully and disable cats from climbing, defending themselves, or performing other essential functions temporarily. 

Can Cats Scratch At Glass?

Can Cats Scratch At Glass?

Cats can scratch at glass surfaces like mirrors because they don’t recognize their own reflection. To a cat, the reflection looks like another cat intruding on their territory. They’ll paw and scratch at the mirror to try and assert their dominance over the perceived intruder. Glass is also a smooth, reflective surface that activates a cat’s natural scratching instincts. 

Their claws won’t damage the glass but it satisfies their need to mark their space with scent glands in their paws. It’s not uncommon for cats to even hiss and spit at their own reflection at first until they learn it’s just them looking back. Kittens especially tend to scratch more often as they’re still learning about the world and their place in it. 

Solutions to Address Mirror Scratching

Solution Effectiveness Notes
Use aluminum foil or plastic food wrap on the mirror High Unpleasant textures deter scratching but must be secured well
Apply double-sided sticky tape or aluminum strips Medium Provides physical barrier but may lose stickiness over time
Place catnip or treats near mirror Low Provides distraction at first but won’t solve longer-term behavior

There are a few things owners can try to discourage their cat from scratching the mirror. Applying aluminum foil, plastic food wrap or double-sided sticky tape to the mirror frame areas they scratch creates an unpleasant texture they’ll avoid. The downside is these solutions need to be replaced frequently.

Why Do Cats Scratch Tv Screens?

TV screens are another smooth, often shiny and reflective surface that can attract a cat’s natural scratching urges. From the cat’s perspective, the moving images and colors on a powered TV likely appear very intriguing and confusing. They may scratch in an attempt to touch or capture what they see. Some cats may also perceive the reflection of themselves or other animals on the screen as potential playmates or threats. 

Like mirrors, TV screens provide no physical consequences when scratched with claws so it satisfies that instinct without damage. It’s best to keep TV screens covered or facing a different direction when not in use. Only use them when you can directly supervise your cat and quickly interrupt any scratching with a verbal reprimand. 

Why Do Cats Scratch On Windows?

Why Do Cats Scratch On Windows?

Just like mirrors, windows provide a smooth, often see-through surface for cats to see activity outside that sparks their curiosity and prey drive. Whether it’s birds, squirrels or other animals, the motion they spot draws them in to scratch, paw or nose at the glass trying to investigate. 

Windows don’t typically cause a reaction from whatever caught their interest like an open door would so they keep scratching to try and get a response. It’s also possible windows carry residual scents from other cats or animals that have marked the area before which provokes scratching as a way for your cat to deposit their own identifying scent. 

How do I stop my cat from scratching the mirror?

There are a few effective strategies to discourage cats from scratching mirrors:

  1. Apply double-sided sticky tape or 3M contact paper around the mirror frame so the unpleasant texture and stickiness deters scratching.
  2. Place aluminum foil, plastic wrap or heavy plastic sheeting securely over areas they’ve scratched before. The noise startles them if they try.
  3. Train an alternate behaviour using positive reinforcement. Redirect to a tall post nearby and reward them with treats when they scratch it instead.
  4. Consider applying pet-friendly plastic nail caps if regular trims aren’t enough. They cover claws to provide a disincentive.
  5. Use synthetic pheromone sprays, wipes or diffusers containing feline facial pheromones in the room. Their natural calming effects may help reduce the behavior.

Consistency is key with whichever solution you try. With regular applications and quality bonding time, most cats can unlearn mirror scratching over several weeks. Redirecting to acceptable posts also satisfies that natural instinct

Cats And Mirrors Spiritual Meaning

One belief is that when a cat scratches at a mirror, it is seeing or sensing spirits on the other side that we cannot. Their scratching is a way to try to reach or communicate with those spirits. Some think cats are sensitive to energies in places we cannot detect, and mirrors provide a kind of doorway for spirits to appear.

Another perspective is that mirrors are said to reflect our souls. A cat scratching could symbolise its efforts to help free a person’s soul from traps or burdens holding them back. Some cultures view cats as psychic or even as guardians against bad spirits. Their mirror behavior may be a way of protecting owners from harmful energy. 


Why does my cat run into mirrors?

 Cats can mistake their reflection in mirrors as another cat and run into it thinking it’s an intruder in their territory.

Why do cats scratch on glass?

Cats may scratch on glass because they don’t recognize their own reflection and want to mark their territory, or they see movements outside that spark their curiosity and instincts to hunt.

Why does my cat scratch the sliding glass door?

Your cat may scratch the sliding glass door because she sees outdoor sights and scents that intrigue her natural instinct to hunt, play, and mark her territory but cannot access through the barrier.


Mirrors present a curious situation for cats. What they see is not fully understood yet sparks behaviors tied to territorial instincts. Between the strange reflection and slick surface triggering natural scratching urges, it’s no wonder some mirrors bear scratch marks. Over time, repetition helps cats learn this other cat means them no harm.

For owners, patience and redirection tend to resolve mirror-scratching best. Gentle discouragement of the behavior combined with encouraging approved scratching posts teaches cats where claws are welcome. Some fixtures may need barriers until lessons sink in.

Leave a Comment