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I have one cat which seems to obsessively dig at mirrors or glass. We have floor length mirrors on our closet, sliding glass doors to the backyard, a bedside table with glass, the bathtub doors, and the bathroom mirror.

She usually only does it when we're in the room and will dig at it like she's going to go somewhere if she tries hard enough.

We've tried double-sided tape, which does stop her from digging at the area it's applied, but she'll just go find another area to scratch at, and it's impractical to apply this tape to all glass/mirror surfaces in our house.

We've tried discouraging her using a spray bottle, which usually works for other bad behaviors from her. However, she'll only stop briefly, wait a minute, then start again. Frequently she acts almost as if she's being forced to dig as fast as she can before she gets sprayed again.

She knows it's "bad" behavior since if we look at her, she'll usually stop until we take our attention off her again. Or being the cat she is, sometimes she'll stare back at us, and deliberately do one slow scratch to see our reaction (that one is usually when she wants us to wake up or be petted).

She has plenty of items to scratch on around the house which she does use, so I don't understand why she feels the need to dig so desperately at glass surfaces.

Why does she do this?

It should probably be noted that she is our "stupidest" cat, frequently doing illogical things like allowing herself to fall off our laps or other surfaces, trying (and sometimes failing) to climb up objects or across small gaps where any other cat would normally jump, and not reacting as quickly or intelligently to various situations as our other cats do.

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    I have one that does this. I assume he's either trying to get in this other room, or just likes the feel of it. He ignores the image cat, so it isn't that. Now once it gets you up and paying attention, other rules may apply and the cat may have learned that exciting stuff happens when she does that.
    – Oldcat
    Feb 26, 2014 at 0:34
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    Not all cats seem to be capable of self-recognition. I can never get mine to play with the mirror.
    – Mazura
    Aug 6, 2015 at 14:51

4 Answers 4

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From what you say, particularly about her knowing that it's "bad" behaviour, it sounds as though it's an attention-seeking behaviour. As noted on that page, the key to correcting attention-seeking behaviour is very similar to correcting attention-seeking behaviour in children, and involves essentially three steps:

  1. Ignore the behaviour you don’t want
  2. Provide other outlets for the cat’s energy and attention
  3. Give attention to the cat when she’s quiet or acting appropriately
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My cat does this occassionally as well. Either to get my attention when outside the window, so that I may let her out too. Or, pawing at the door mirror in the bathroom for she sees the reflection of the sink in it. In which has been found empty. I automatically check the sink when she does this. I often leave it full for her. Perhaps she thinks the reflection is another sink in which she can't get too. ;)

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This might also simply be a fascination with very featureless slippery surfaces.

One of our cats does this as well, and for him it hasn't anything to do with his reflection, he'll do it with plastic laundry boxes, inside the shower tub or any other surface with similar features.

He does sort of a "running in place" routine, keeping his hind legs still and furiously slipping his front paws over the surface.

He does it very rarely with a glass balcony door, but it has nothing to do with wanting outside as there is a cat flap installed in that door and he knows how to use it.

It seems to be horizontal surfaces for him mostly, as the fascination doesn't last nearly as long on the glass door.

At the same time, it does not seem to be related to scratching, as he is strictly a vertical scratching cat, never scratches on horizontal scratching boards or surfaces.

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  • It may just be continuing surprise that something can be both hard and transparent, an attempting to understand whether there's an edge that can be lifted. You have an imaginative and persistent cat. As odd behaviors go, this one seems harmless.
    – keshlam
    Sep 27, 2023 at 0:38
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There are a couple options. She could be window licking special. Her parents could have been siblings.

Maybe she just like less the sensation on her paws, seems to be why some cats enjoy a certain blanket or piece of furniture.

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