How to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Your Door or Door Frame

stop cat scratching the door

Cats are some of the most popular pets around the world for a multitude of reasons. Most of these reasons are related to how easy it is to take care of these furry animals, making life easier for the cat owners.

However, one common problem that many people face with cats is their propensity for scratching doors and door frames. While all cats may not indulge in this behavior, there are many that do. This can leave cat owners perplexed as they try to find ways to stop this habit from developing further. Here, we will attempt to understand why this happens and what steps can be taken to avoid this.

Why Is Your Cat Indulging in This Behavior?

There are multiple reasons why cats start scratching doors and door frames. In order to prevent this from happening, it is crucial that you find out what is bringing about this behavior. Some common reasons are mentioned below:

  • The cat may be trying to clean or maintain its claws because of overgrowth.
  • It is trying to mark its territory so that other cats stay away. This is usually the case when there are multiple cats in the house.
  • It may be trying to exercise or release some of its pent up energy.
  • The cat may be bored and trying to entertain itself. It could also be trying to get your attention by indulging in this behavior.
  • It could also be a defense mechanism for the cat as it tries to get a message across to you when it is stressed or in pain.

Why Is Vertical Scratching Different?

In case of severe stress or nervousness, cats tend to scratch a particular surface — usually a door frame or door — vertically. As this action is usually a result of some external factors or something that is causing distress, it is important that you recognize that something is wrong and work towards making the cat feel better.

Ways to Stop Your Cat from Scratching Doors

While scratching may come naturally to cats, it can turn into a massive nuisance when you wake up to a new set of claw marks all over your freshly refurbished door frame. If you have faced such challenges in the past, it may be helpful if you have a couple of tricks up your sleeve to dissuade your pets from engaging in such behavior. In this section, we will be discussing two main tactics that can be adopted when you are trying to stop your cat from scratching doors or door frames.

Discouraging Such Behavior

In order to prevent your cat from scratching doors, you must take measures that are successful in discouraging such behavior and getting the message across clearly. However, before taking these measures — some of which are discussed briefly below — it is important that you understand why your cat is scratching doors in the first place. While the many different reasons why cats take to such activities — for example, hunger, need for attention and so on — identifying this reason goes a long way in helping you discourage it. Here are some things that you can do:

  • Ignore It — If your cat is scratching doors to get your attention and you walk into the room to try and stop it, the cat will just assume that it will be getting attention each time it repeats this behavior. Instead, you need to learn how to ignore it. In case your main concern is the safety of your door or door frame, picking up a cover may be helpful.
  • Feeding Adjustments — Hunger is one of the main reasons why cats scratch surfaces. This means that you may want to prevent this behavior by changing around the feeding habits that you have built. Feed the cat in a particular room and close the door so that it can get sleepy and avoid scratching.
  • Deterrents Activated by Sensing Motion — Most pet stores sell deterrents that can be used to keep your cat in check. These are usually in the form of canisters that resemble air fresheners. Whenever the device detects any movement from the cat, some air is released into the surroundings, which surprises the pet and keeps it away.
  • Use Repellents — There are a bunch of smells that cats are not fond of and this means you can use them to your advantage. By picking up a repellent that has citrus, cinnamon or rosemary essential oils and spraying it on the door and door frame, you will be able to keep the cat away. Remember that some oils can be toxic so it is recommended that you talk to the vet before choosing one or making your own.
  • Double-Sided Tape on the Door — If you don’t have deterrents or essential oil repellents, you can also try to stick some double-sided tape on the door or door frame that the cat has been attacking. This leads to a sticky surface, which can be quite uncomfortable for the cat.
  • Trim the Nails — As you may recollect, cats also turn to scratching doors and door frames when their claws get too long, almost as a way to file them down. If your cat is scratching surfaces for this reason, you should ensure that your cat’s nails are trimmed each week. You can do this at home with special nail clippers for animals or schedule a visit to the vet.

Redirecting Such Behavior

If you do not want the scratching to reach a stage where you actively have to take steps to discourage it, try to redirect the cat’s energy from the start. This means tending to its needs and requirements even before it starts scratching your doors and door frames. Some popular techniques are mentioned below:

  • Quality Time with the Owner — Many cats start scratching surfaces when they are not receiving much attention from the owner or simply find themselves bored. To prevent this, you must ensure that you are spending a good amount of time with your pet, whether it is in the form of talking, petting or playing. Right before you turn in for the night, be sure to spend some time with your furry buddy.
  • Special Areas for Scratching — It may be helpful if you put together scratching posts around the areas that your cat frequents. These can either be bought at stores or built at home, offering space to the cat when it wants to release pent up energy. It should be long enough for the cat to stretch out and stable enough for it to take its weight — especially when it is vertical. This can redirect the animal towards this post instead of damaging the doors of the house.
  • Toys to Keep the Cat Stimulated — In case you are worried that your cat will start scratching doors because it is bored, it is always helpful to keep some toys that will keep the cat engaged. By adding a variety of toys that boast of different textures and functions, you will be able to keep the cat from getting bored. A comfortable space with tons of such elements will keep the cat happy.
  • Higher Perch or Tower — There are times when the cat may find itself restricted to a certain area and start scratching surfaces just to find a way out. In order to prevent this, you can try bringing in a cat tower or perch for your pet to climb and look around. This should keep the cat engaged, especially when there is a window right next to this perch or tower.

Why Is Declawing Not Recommended?

There are many cat owners who believe that declawing their cat is the only way they can prevent or stop the pet from scratching your door or door frame but that is something that you should avoid at all costs. The main reason for this is that the procedure itself is extremely painful. If you take your cat to be declawed, the last digital bone on every toe has to be amputated, putting the cat at risk of multiple health issues, including infection, excessive bleeding, or complications arising from the administration of anesthesia.

In this context, you will be turning to declawing as a way to bring about change in the cat’s behavior but you don’t know whether it would be of any help in bringing about such change. Popular consensus is that you divert your attention to other ways that can be put in use when trying to deal with behavioral issues. Try to understand where the problem stems from and then look at different solutions. While many of these solutions may not work, the one that doesn’t physically harm your cat and still brings about change is the way to move forward. Not only will your cat be healthier, but it may also improve your relationship.

Cats scratch for multiple reasons, many of which you have been discussed in some detail during the course of this explainer. While this is considered normal for your feline buddies, it may not work out so well for your doors and door frames, which can get harmed in the process. In order to protect the doors from those sharp claws, you can use the different techniques mentioned before and watch your cat redirect its energy in some other way — so no more scratches!