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Why Is My Cat Scratching the Walls? 10 Likely Reasons

Cats do what they want to do. If you have cats in your home, you’re already fully aware of this. Unfortunately, there are times when our beloved kitties push the boundaries and do things around the house they shouldn’t be doing. One of those things is scratching the walls. Below, we’re going to take a look at 10 reasons why your cat is scratching your walls and a few tips to help you stop this behavior.

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The 10 Reasons Why Cats Scratch the Walls

1. Nail Care

Yes, your cat needs proper nail care just like we do. This leads to one of the biggest reasons cats scratch your walls, to remove the dead outer sheath of their nails. This is what people refer to as sharpening their claws. Once the outer husk is gone, newer and sharper nails replace it. Well-cared-for nails are important for your cat considering they hold and catch prey with their paws. Your housecat may not be out hunting for their food each day, but that doesn’t take away the natural instinct of caring for its nails on a routine basis.

Paw of a cat with nails
Image Credit: Lubsan, Shutterstock
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2. Conflicting Cats

While dogs are pack animals, cats prefer to be loners. Of course, we aren’t saying that cats can’t get along with one another. It’s very common for cats to cohabitate and be a family. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict at certain times. If one of your cats decides to scratch the wall, for whatever reason, your other cat may not like this. Catching a whiff of the pheromones left behind may cause another cat to scratch the wall as well. This can lead to a never-ending cycle.

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3. Marking Territory

As we’ve already mentioned, cats are territorial creatures. Whether you have more than one cat in your home or not, kitties will mark their territory to claim things around the home. In your cat’s eyes, everything in its domain belongs to it. Considering there are sweat glands located on your cat’s paw pads, scratching is a great way to mark this territory. This is your cat’s way of letting other cats that may enter the area know that the house is already claimed.

Image Credit: Maliflower73, Shutterstock
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4. Expressing Emotions

Destroying a wall may not seem like the proper behavior to show happiness or boredom, but no one said cats are always “proper.” If your cat is feeling particularly happy they may scratch the wall to show how great life is. The same can be said when your cat is feeling bored. If your cat doesn’t have enough toys, is left alone, or simply isn’t feeling it that day, they may scratch the wall to let you, everyone, and everything around them know.

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5. Stressing Out

Cats are not fans of change. They are also very emotional animals. Anything can trigger your cat and cause them to stress out. Whether it’s a change in the environment, a traumatic experience, or even separation anxiety, cats are known to scratch walls to deal with what they are going through. Make sure you pay attention to situations like this so your cat’s stress and anxiety don’t worsen.

stressed cat
Image Credit: yvonneschmu, Pixabay
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6. After Visiting the Litter Box

You may not like knowing this fact, but yes, cats are known for scratching walls after they use the litter box. Why does this happen? Normally, it’s due to your cat showing a bit of disdain for their litter visit in general. Perhaps the box is too small and your kitty doesn’t feel they have enough room to scratch. Then again, they may not like the litter you’re using, or that you’ve waited around too long to scoop the box. Try to keep your kitty happy when it comes to the potty box and they may not attack your walls as often.

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7. Hiding Food

Several dog breeds are famous for hiding food. Did you know cats do it too? In the wild, cats hide food once they are full, especially if the pickings are slim. Your housecat’s instincts may be telling them to do the same thing. If your cat eats then scratches the wall, it could be attempting to hide its leftover food. Then again, it could think the food doesn’t smell pleasant and is attempting to get rid of the smell.

cat food in feeding bowl
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock
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8. Hiding Poo

Yes, your cat is an extremely clean critter. Whether they are happy with the litter box or not, cats are known to scratch areas around the house after they poop to ensure everything is covered well. Cats don’t want other kitties or potential predators to be able to track them thanks to their excrement.

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9. Mice Hiding in the Wall?

Cats can hear and smell much better than we can. You may go throughout your day not hearing a thing, but your cat is a different story. We also know that cats love to hunt and enjoy catching mice. If mice or even a solitary mouse has found its way into the walls of your home, your cat is going to know. Scratching the wall is your cat’s way of trying to capture the mouse and let you know something isn’t right.

mice habitat
Image Credit: Karsten Paulick, Pixabay
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10. Reflections

Not all walls are made equal. Some homes have mirrored walls. Then again, some have mirrors lining them as decoration. With cats being such territorial animals, it isn’t surprising that catching sight of their own reflection can upset a kitty. This disdain for the intruding cat can make your cat scratch at the wall around the reflection. Hopefully, your cat will realize what’s happening and stop scratching. If not, your walls may pay for the unwanted visitor in the mirror.

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How to Stop Wall Scratching

With so many potential causes of wall scratching, it’s also important to know a few steps you can take to stop this behavior. This will help save your walls from damage and avoid spending unnecessary money to make repairs. If your kitty is scratching your walls, here are a few things you can do to help.

close up trimming cat nails
Image Credit: GaiBru-Photo, Shutterstock
Tips to keep your cat off the walls:
  • Trimming your cat’s nails will help avoid their need to remove dead nail sheaths on the surfaces of your home.
  • Purchasing your cat a scratching post can help by giving them a proper area to sharpen their nails, relieve their stress, and show their happiness when needed.
  • Making sure all your cat’s needs are met is crucial. Whether this is making sure the litter and litter box is large enough, keeping enough toys in the home, or simply spending time with your cat, a happy cat may not scratch as much.
  • Indirect punishment or redirection when your cat starts scratching is a must. A whistle or sharp noise often works in these situations.

One of our preferred scratchers, the Hepper Hi-Lo Modern Cat Scratcher, is a surefire way to keep your kitty out of trouble (or at least away from scratching the things they should not!). It's not only stylish, but it's functional as well. It's made of sturdy cardboard with a durable plywood and metal frame and can be set up in three different ways – high, low, or lower. The different positions encourage maximum engagement, exercise and stretching, and of course, intense scratching (they can throw their whole body into it). 

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

With the Hepper Hi-Lo, your cat gets to have a blast scratching like a maniac, and you don't have to worry about them causing so much chaos or scratching your stuff. There are even replacement cardboard pieces available, so you really can let your cat go to town on this, and know that it will be long lasting. Click here to learn more about this awesome scratcher.

At Excited Cats, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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As you can see, there are several reasons cats enjoy scratching our walls. Luckily, this type of behavior can be redirected and rectified if you stay on top of things. The most important thing is to make sure your cat is happy and healthy. Once this is done, you can determine why they are scratching and help alleviate the issue.

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Featured Image Credit: zossia, Shutterstock