why does my cat scratch the window at night? Understanding the Behavior and Solutions

Cats are fascinating creatures that exhibit a range of behaviors that can sometimes leave their owners puzzled. One such behavior is scratching the window at night, which can be both frustrating and concerning for pet owners. If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of your cat scratching the window, you may wonder why they engage in this behavior.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the reasons why cats scratch the window at night. By understanding the underlying causes, you can take steps to prevent or address this behavior in your furry friend. Whether your cat is scratching the window out of boredom, territorial marking, or separation anxiety, we’ll explore solutions that can help you and your cat sleep soundly through the night. So, let’s dive in and explore this common cat behavior in more detail.

Natural Instincts of Cats

cat scratch the window at night

Cats are instinctual creatures that have retained much of their wild ancestors’ behaviors, despite living in a domesticated setting. One of these behaviors is scratching, which cats do to stretch their muscles, mark their territory, and sharpen their claws. In the wild, cats scratch trees and other surfaces to keep their claws sharp for hunting and self-defense.

When it comes to scratching the window at night, cats may be drawn to the outside world and the various stimuli it offers. The sound of animals moving outside, the scent of other cats, and the flicker of lights can all be intriguing to a curious feline. Additionally, cats are crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk when prey is most active. This natural instinct may cause your cat to become more active at night, leading to behaviors like window scratching.

Understanding these natural instincts is an essential first step in addressing the behavior. By recognizing that your cat is not misbehaving but instead acting on their instincts, you can approach the behavior with patience and understanding. So, let’s move on to explore other reasons why cats scratch the window at night.

Boredom or Lack of Stimulation

cat scratch the window at night

Cats are intelligent and curious animals that require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. If your cat is scratching the window at night, it could be a sign that they are not getting enough physical or mental stimulation during the day. Cats that are left alone for extended periods or kept indoors without toys or activities to engage with can become bored, which can lead to increased activity and destructive behavior like scratching the window.

To prevent boredom and encourage healthy activity, consider providing your cat with plenty of toys and playtime throughout the day. Interactive toys like puzzle feeders and laser pointers can keep your cat engaged and mentally stimulated, while scratching posts and climbing trees can provide physical activity and a safe outlet for scratching.

Additionally, you can try to create an enriching environment for your cat by providing them with a view of the outside world. By setting up a perch or window seat, you can give your cat a safe and comfortable spot to observe the world outside, which may reduce their desire to scratch the window.

By providing your cat with plenty of stimulation and opportunities to engage in natural behaviors like scratching, you can help reduce their nighttime activity and prevent window scratching. However, if boredom or lack of stimulation is not the underlying cause, it’s essential to explore other potential reasons for the behavior.

Territorial Marking

Cats are territorial animals, and they use various methods to mark their territory. Scratching is one of the most common ways that cats mark their territory, as it leaves visual and scent marks. When a cat scratches, it leaves behind its scent through glands in its paws, which signals to other cats that the territory is taken.

Window scratching can be a sign that your cat is feeling threatened or wants to protect its territory from outside cats or animals. At night, when your cat’s senses are heightened, they may be more alert to potential threats outside, and scratching at the window could be their way of marking their territory and sending a message to potential intruders.

To prevent territorial marking, consider making your home less appealing to outside cats by keeping doors and windows closed, using deterrents like motion-activated sprays, or placing outdoor objects like bird feeders and baths away from your windows. Additionally, you can try providing your cat with alternative scratching surfaces in the same room as the window, so they can mark their territory without damaging the window.

If territorial marking is not the underlying cause of your cat’s window scratching, it’s important to explore other potential reasons, as scratching can also be a sign of other behavioral or medical issues.

Wanting to Get Outside

Cats are naturally curious creatures and often enjoy exploring the great outdoors. It’s not uncommon for them to scratch the window to show their desire to go outside. Cats may scratch the window in an attempt to get your attention, or they may be attracted to the sights, smells, and sounds of the outdoors.

To prevent your cat from scratching the window to go outside, consider creating an indoor environment that is stimulating and enriching for your cat. Provide plenty of toys, scratching posts, and climbing structures, and spend time playing with your cat each day. You can also consider setting up a catio, which is a safe and enclosed outdoor space for your cat to enjoy.

Additionally, make sure that your cat is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation. This can be achieved through interactive play sessions, puzzle feeders, and other forms of enrichment. Keeping your cat entertained and engaged will help prevent boredom and reduce the likelihood of window scratching.

It’s important to note that allowing your cat to roam outside unsupervised can be dangerous for both your cat and the local wildlife. Cats can easily become lost or injured, and they can also pose a threat to birds and other small animals. By providing a stimulating indoor environment, you can keep your cat content and safe while also protecting the local ecosystem.

Separation Anxiety

  • Explaining how cats may scratch the window as a sign of separation anxiety
  • Separation anxiety is a common issue among cats and can lead to destructive behavior.
  • Cats may scratch the window if they feel lonely or isolated from their owners.
  • They may also exhibit other signs of anxiety, such as excessive grooming, vocalization, or even urination outside of the litter box. • Discussing ways to reduce anxiety in cats
  • Providing a routine and structure to their daily life can help to reduce anxiety in cats.
  • Offering toys, cat trees, and hiding places can also provide a sense of security and comfort.
  • Consider using pheromone sprays or diffusers to help calm the cat’s nerves.
  • Gradual desensitization and counterconditioning can help the cat get used to being alone for longer periods of time.
  • In severe cases, prescription medication may be necessary, and it’s important to consult with a veterinarian for the best course of treatment.

Medical Issues

Sometimes, cats may scratch the window at night due to underlying medical issues. It is essential to recognize the symptoms and address the medical condition promptly.

  1. Skin Irritation or Allergies: Cats may scratch the window to relieve itchy skin or to get rid of fleas. Look for signs of skin irritation, such as redness, bumps, or excessive grooming. If you suspect your cat has an allergy, consult a veterinarian, who may recommend antihistamines or prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms.
  2. Hyperthyroidism: This condition affects many senior cats and can cause them to be restless, vocal, and active at night. Other signs of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, increased appetite, and vomiting. If you suspect that your cat has this condition, consult a veterinarian for appropriate treatment.
  3. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): UTIs can cause discomfort and pain in cats, which may prompt them to scratch the window or become restless at night. Other signs of UTIs include frequent urination, blood in urine, and urinating outside of the litter box. Consult a veterinarian to rule out UTIs and to receive proper treatment.
  4. Arthritis: Older cats may develop arthritis, which can cause joint pain and make it difficult for them to jump and climb. As a result, they may try to scratch the window to get your attention or express their discomfort. Consult a veterinarian for proper treatment, which may include pain medication or physical therapy.
  5. Behavioral Issues: Medical conditions may not always be the underlying cause of window scratching. However, cats that are in pain or discomfort may also display undesirable behaviors. Therefore, it is essential to consult a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues that may be contributing to the behavior.

In conclusion, if your cat is scratching the window at night, it may be due to underlying medical issues. Identifying and addressing these conditions promptly is essential to keep your cat healthy and comfortable. Always consult a veterinarian if you suspect that your cat has a medical issue.

Environmental Factors

Cats are creatures of habit and enjoy routine, so changes in their environment can cause stress and anxiety that may lead to window scratching. Here are some environmental factors that may contribute to this behavior:

  1. Changes in routine: Cats thrive on consistency, and any changes in their daily routine can be stressful. For example, a change in work hours, a new job, or a new baby in the household can disrupt the cat’s usual routine.
  2. New pets or family members: Introducing a new pet or family member to the household can cause stress and anxiety for cats. Cats are territorial and may feel threatened by new additions to the family.
  3. Lack of hiding spots: Cats are instinctively prey animals and need to have safe spaces to hide in. If a cat feels exposed or vulnerable, it may start to scratch at the window as a way to protect itself.
  4. Outdoor cats: If a cat sees or smells an outdoor cat, it may become agitated and start to scratch at the window to defend its territory.

To reduce stressors in a cat’s environment, owners should provide plenty of hiding spots and comfortable places for the cat to rest. Providing toys and interactive playtime can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. In cases where a new family member or pet is introduced, owners should introduce them gradually and ensure that the cat has plenty of space and resources to avoid feeling threatened.


As we have discussed in this article, there are several reasons why cats scratch the window at night. It could be due to their natural instincts, boredom or lack of stimulation, territorial marking, wanting to go outside, separation anxiety, medical issues, or environmental factors. By understanding these reasons, cat owners can take proactive measures to prevent or address this behavior, such as providing enough stimulation, keeping cats content indoors, reducing stressors in their environment, and seeking veterinary help when necessary. Ultimately, addressing the underlying reasons for window scratching in cats can help create a healthier and happier environment for both the cat and their owner.

Author Profile

Shariful (Cat Advisors)
Shariful (Cat Advisors)
Shariful is a highly knowledgeable cat trainer and veterinarian who runs a popular blog dedicated to feline care. His expertise in cat behavior, training, nutrition, and health makes his blog an invaluable resource for cat owners and enthusiasts. Shariful's writing is clear and concise, making his advice accessible to readers of all levels of experience. His dedication to the well-being of cats has earned him a loyal following and a reputation as a respected authority in the feline community. Through his blog, Shariful is making a positive impact on the lives of cats and their owners, and his work serves as an inspiration to all who share his passion for feline care.

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