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Why Does My Cat Paw at Smooth Surfaces (Is it normal?)

If you have seen your cat pawing one of your smooth surfaces, you may be wondering why this has happened or if this is normal behavior.

Why does my cat paw at smooth surfaces?

Cats will paw smooth surfaces because they are marking it with their scent. They have scent glands in their paws that will release their scent to make this possible. This usually happens if they feel anxious. For example, anxiety from a rival cat.

Now that you know why your cat is doing this. Keep reading to learn why your cat is marking her territory, if female cats mark their territory as well, why males are more likely to do this, and so much more.

Why do cats mark their territory?

An angry looking cat with its claws and nails out.

An angry looking cat with its claws and nails out.

In this section, I will explain why cats mark their territory. This will make it easier for you to understand why this is happening.

There are two main reasons why your cat will mark their territory:

  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Advertising his reproductive ability


If your cat feels stressed or anxious, she will feel compelled to mark her territory. This stress may be caused by a new rival cat, for example. She will want to make it clear to this rival that this is their place and not to come in, are you with me?

Advertising his reproductive ability

Another reason why this might happen is for mating. Often, male cats, that have not been neutered, will ant to make it clear to females that they are ready to mate.

So, they mark their territory so the female knows he is ready. However, there are occasions when males still mark their territory when they have been neutered, and this can confuse some cat owners.

In Summary

So, yes, most of the time this marking, or spraying as it sometimes called, is because of anxiety, or reproduction.

Do female cats mark their territory?

Now that you know that unneutered male cats are notorious for spraying, you may be wondering about female cats. In this section, I will explain if female cats also mark their territory.

Yes, female cats do mark their territory. This is not for mating purposes. But, earlier I mentioned anxiety causing cats to spray, remember?

Well, these are the circumstances that you may expect to see your female cat marking. For example, if she feels threatened by another cat, she may do this.

In summary, female cats will spray, but they mainly do this out of stress or anxiety.

How do cats mark their humans?

Why does my cat claw my leg?

A cat clawing at its owners leg.

In this section, I will explain to you how cats mark us, humans. You will learn that it is something so subtle that you see all the time but may overlook it.


Cats will typically rub their cheeks against your body. Usually, because of their hight, this will be around your legs, at your shin bone level.

This rubbing is commonly known as “bunting”. You may have seen this happening before and just put it down to her being loving. Well, she is marking you with her scent.

In a way, you could see this as a loving gesture. Because she will only mark humans that she trusts and cares for, are you with me?

You may have seen your kitty doing this same action to other objects in or around your home. This is her way of marking her territory. You should feel happy that it isn’t urine being sprayed there, right?

In summary, you are being marked if you see your fur baby rubbing, or “bunting” your legs.

Why do cats spray on their owners?

If you have ever been sprayed on, you may be wondering why it’s happening and left confused. In this section, I will discuss why cats spray on you to help you understand.

Your cat will spray on you as a method of marking you as their territory. I know this may sound weird, or difficult to accept. I know, we are people, not objects, right?

Well, cats think differently to us. Therefore, you are also seen as part of their territory. Much the same as an object.

As I discussed in the previous section, you would usually see her using the “bunting” technique. But, in some cases, usually, if she is anxious, she will spray you.

In summary, you have learned why your cat may spray you and how “bunting” is sometimes used instead of this.

Why does my cat paw at mirrors?

If you are here reading this article about your cat pawing smooth surfaces. There is a good chance you have seen her pawing your mirrors as well (Click here to see if they can see themselves in it). In this section, I will explain why she does this.

The reason your cat may paw mirrors is that she is confused by the mirror. The chances are you won’t remember the first time you saw a mirror. But, the chances are, you were also shocked or confused by it.

When she sees her reflection she may think that it another rival cat. And, therefore, she may instinctively paw at it to try and protect herself or play with it.

In summary, you have learned that your cat is pawing your mirror because she is just confused and mistakes it for another cat.

Do cat claws scratch glass?

If you have ever witnessed your kitty clawing your windows (Click here to see how to protect them), or other glass items, you may have been sweating wondering if this may scratch it. In this section, I will confirm if this is a legitimate concern.

Cats do not scratch glass. This is because the glass, assuming it is real glass, is harder than their nails. In some cases, you may notice some marks after seeing her attempt to scratch it.

But, once you look into this you will notice that it can be easily rubbed off. It is usually some surface residue from her paws or claws.

In summary, you have learned that cats do not scratch glass, however, they can mark it on a surface level.

Do some cats paw smooth surfaces just for fun?

Yes. Some cats do like to play with smooth surfaces just for the fun of it. It is obvious when you see them slide and glide around on it that they enjoy it.

If this is the case, it’s harmless. These cats are just having fun and wish no harm on your surfaces. And, it should be clear that they are not scratching it just gliding on it.

Why do cats use pheromones to cover other cats’ scent?

Your cat may wish to spread its pheromones, or scent, to cover a cat’s scent to reclaim it as their territory. This is because, in the cat kingdom, this is their version of leaving a note on something, or communicating their ownership.

Remember, cats cannot write, or speak, so these types of body signs help them to communicate to others. However, another cat can still challenge this ownership.

And, this is no different to us humans. For example, we may tell a group of people that “This is my chair”, but if the chair is left for a moment, another human could claim it, right? Same with cats.

How can I stop my cat from pawing smooth surfaces?

If your cat is pawing and destroying your surfaces then I have some tips to stop this. However, if it’s not damaging anything, and just having fun, then ignore this.

Offering a scratch post

A scratch post is a good way to attract your cat. Which, in turn, may keep it away from damaging your prices surfaces, such as your dining table.

However, if your cat is keen on smooth surfaces, it’s worth getting a post that has a combination of rough and smooth to keep it happy and give it options. Or, it may just ignore it completely.

Rappelling it from your surfaces

As well as offering a scratch post you should try and repel it from the surfaces you like, or deem off-limits. This can be done by using some citrus spray, or some cat owners use vinegar.

Why does my cat paw at windows and mirrors?

A cat will often paw at a window, or mirror because they are confused and think it’s another cat. This is mainly when they are new to this. In time, they are likely to get used to it.

The concept of a mirror is not natural for a new cat, so it makes sense that they will act in this way.

Why is my cat pawing at the walls?

Your cat could be pawing at the walls for several reasons. But, two of the most common reasons are marking territory or hearing something inside that we cannot hear.

Marking territory

Cats will often mark their territory, especially male cats. This pawing or scratching at the wall works in two ways. Firstly, it causes a physical mark. And, lastly it leaves behind their scent.

This scent is a warning to other cats to back off! They are saying, “This is mine!”.

Hearing something inside that we cannot

Sometimes a cat will hear something moving within, or behind the wall. This could be a mouse, or a small insect. This is common if you have an interior wall in a newly built home.

Why? Because newly built homes often have thin walls, or stud walls that could have an insect or mouse that has found a way in between it.

Related Questions:

In this section, I will answer some questions related to cat behavior. If you have any other questions that you need answering please feel free to contact me.

Do cats get boogers their nose?

Cats can get boogers in their nose, but it is more likely related to a medical issue. Such as a nasal discharge caused by a bacterial or viral infection. If this is the case it should be checked out immediately. However, it could also be a seasonal allergy.

This is one of the reasons why some cat owners wonder if they should pick their cat’s nose (Click here to see if it’s dangerous).

Why do cats hide in cabinets?

Cats hide in cabinets because they love the warmth and security it provides. It feels cozy for them. Also, they love to be in a high position in the room, it gives them a view of all their surroundings. Therefore a cabinet is a perfect place.

If this is happening to you, you may be wondering how to keep cats out of your cabinets (Click here to see how, without needing any tools).

Why do cats lick their face?

Cats lick their face because they generally want to clean themselves. Also, as kittens, their mother would often lick them to keep them clean. This makes them do this instinctively to follow the habits that their mother taught them.

Cat owners who wonder about this, also usually wonder why cats lick their paws then wipe their face.

Lindsey Browlingdon