Excited Cats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Why Does My Cat Paw at Smooth Surfaces? 5 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Vet approved

	Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

As you know, cats love to explore and get into all kinds of trouble doing so. Their curiosity is one of the things we love most about them, but pouncing on that weird bug or chasing that dangling string can lead to some pretty funny moments.

Sometimes they also do some pretty weird things that we might not understand. For instance, why does your cat paw at smooth surfaces like windows? It’s a question many cat owners ask, but there are actually several answers. Here are the most common reasons why cats paw at smooth surfaces.

3 cat divider

The 5 Reasons Why Cats Paw at Smooth Surfaces

1. It Feels Good

Your cat might paw at a smooth surface like a window just because it feels good. Cats have many different types of nerve endings on their paws, from which they can experience all sorts of sensations. When they paw at a smooth surface, it might feel good or soothing, so they do it again and again.

Ginger kitten pawing at the window
Image Credit: Önder Örtel, Pexels
thematic break

2. They’re Marking Their Territory

Cats have scent glands on their paws, which they can use to leave a scent behind wherever they go. They’re often marking their own territory or letting other cats know to stay away with scent markings, but they can also use it to mark safe areas in their territory.

If your cat paws at smooth surfaces in your home like a window, a door frame, or even your furniture, they could be leaving a scent. It’s not uncommon for cats to do this, but it’s also something that can be easily fixed with a quick cleaning. You can clean the surface that the cat has marked with an all-purpose cleaner or diluted vinegar water, and a paper towel. Although many would argue cleaning such marked areas may not be necessary, and in fact, may only further spur your cat to repeat the process.

thematic break

3. They Can See Their Own Reflection

Some cats paw at windows, mirrors, or other reflective surfaces because they can see their own reflection. If a cat can see her own reflection in a window or other surface, she might be pawing at it to get a better look at herself, or in an attempt to get to the cat they see in the reflection.

Cats are intriguing animals who sometimes have odd interests and indulge in unusual behavior. Understanding them might be tough but providing a toy that fosters their instinctual needs and curiosities is simple.The Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher encourages playtime and offers a cat-appropriate place to scratch. 

cat in living room playing with hepper hi-lo cat scratcher while in highest position

It’s unique 3-position design and cardboard scratch pad allow your cat to explore different levels, improves their health, satisfies natural feline impulses, and deters your cat from delving into places they should not. Show your cat how much you love and appreciate their quirks by gifting them the Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher.

thematic break

4. They’re Trying to Get Your Attention

It can be hard for cats to get our attention sometimes. They’re not as verbal as we are, so they often resort to pouncing, meowing, and other attention-seeking behaviors. Pawing at smooth surfaces or even your hair or clothing while you’re trying to work could be your cat’s way of asking for your attention.

You might notice this most frequently when they’re hungry, but it’s worth checking in with your cat if they do this often. Sometimes they could just need some love and attention. Cats are highly social animals, and they crave attention just as much as we do. If you don’t give them what they need, they might try to get your attention in other ways.

thematic break

5. There’s Something There

Sometimes there is something there, even if it’s not what your cat expects. Cats are notoriously curious, and they’re likely to get into anything they can. If they paw at a window or at another surface, they could be trying to get to something they see on the surface, like a sticker or a piece of paper. Or, they could smell or hear something below or behind the surface that humans can’t.

Black and white cat pawing at the window
Image Credit: DenisAgati, Pixabay



Cats love to explore and get into mischief, and when they do, it can lead to some pretty funny and confusing moments for their owners. Pawing at smooth surfaces can be a sign of several different things, but it’s almost always harmless.

It’s important to check in with your cat to see if there are any underlying causes for why they might be doing this. It’s also worth noting that excessive pawing or pouncing can be a sign of anxiety in cats. If your cat is doing it a lot, it might be a good idea to talk to your vet about it.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: Vikki, Pexels