Why Do Cats Scratch The Floor?

When someone mentions cats, the first things that come to mind are the cute whiskers, soft paws, and sharp claws. Well, not just the sharp claws but also their willingness to scratch just about anything and anyone. We cannot always find a justification for why our cats scratch things. However, just because we cannot see the reason, it does not mean our cats do it without a goal.

Cats are naturally and genetically wired to scratch things, including the floor. They scratch the floor around their food bowls, around their water bowls, and around their litter boxes. But why do cats scratch the floor? The floor you are spending hours on maintaining clean and shiny. What are the most common reasons for scratching the floor? And can this behavior be prevented or stopped?

Reasons why cats scratch the floor

Scratching is a normal cat behavior. Here are some of the most common causes to why cats scratch floors.

Floor scratching as a manicure technique

When we need to have our nails done, we visit the nail salons, and when our cats need to have the dead nail layer removed, they scratch the floor. For them, the floor is a giant and readily available nail filer. Cats use their nails regularly, and the frequent use requires frequent maintenance. Cats need to remove the dead nail layer to properly use their claws.

Floor scratching instead of cardio and yoga

Cats are weird when it comes to finding sleeping and sitting positions. They can sleep curled up for hours, and when they wake up, it is only logical that they need a good stretching. Stretching while scratching helps burn off the energy accumulated during the all-day-long nap. Basically, when we need to stretch and burn off some energy, we hit the gym. On the flip side, our cats scratch the floor for the same purposes.  

Floor scratching as a territory marking method

It is a less-known fact that cats have small scent glands under their paws’ skin. So, when a cat scratches on a surface, in addition to making physical indentations, it also releases scents from the glands. If the scratches are more profound, they would harbor more smell and release it for longer.

Scratching the floor around the food and water bowls

Wild cats are exceptionally skilled hunters, and modern cats are true to their hunting ancestry and heritage. To be more accurate, after feral cats hunt and feast, they must hide their hunt's remains to avoid attracting bigger and stronger predators. While it is true that our domestic cats do not need to hunt and hide their prey's remnants because they are served with fresh and tasty kibble on a daily basis, the scratching around the bowls is a remnant of their long finished hunting days.

Scratching the floor around the litter box

In most cases, scratching the floor around the litter box is a cat’s way of protesting and saying something is wrong with the toilet. The cat may scratch because she is not comfortable with the box’s size – for example, it is too big or too small. The cat may also scratch if she does not agree with the amount of litter in the box – for example, if you put too much or too little litter inside the box. Ultimately, the cat may scratch if she dislikes the litter type – for example, if the litter smells funky or feels weird under the paws.

The dangers of floor scratching

Generally speaking, when cats scratch floors, the only thing in danger is the floor itself. Scratching is normal for cats, and they cannot hurt themselves through scratching. However, they may accidentally pull a nail if it gets stuck between two wooden bars on the floor or in a small crack on the floor. Young kittens without scratching experience may break their nails if they try to rub too vigorously with their relatively soft nails.

Preventing floor scratching

Cats are naturally driven to exhibit scratching behaviors. Therefore, expecting them not to scratch your floor is highly unrealistic. Instead of preventing the scratching behavior, you need to focus on redirecting it – encouraging your cat to scratch acceptable items. 

Here are some useful tips on how to support your cat’s natural scratching inclinations while protecting your floor:

  • Purchase some enticing scratching toys and objects – the scratching toys you choose need to be attractive from a cat’s perspective. Cats are really fond of high attitudes, so it may be a good idea to buy a vertical toy designed for both scratching and climbing. 
  • Keep your cat well-entertained – the above-described toys are suitable for when you are away, but when you are at home, spend some time with your cat. You can play some puzzle games or simply sit together and cuddle. 
  • Cat-proof your home – even the best-behaved cat can decide to engage in destructive activity. When parenting a cat, you must hope for the best but prepare for the worst. On Protecto shop , you can find a plethora of high-quality and chic protectors that will fit your interior design and offer efficient protection. Some DIY solutions, like covering the floor with sandpaper, or aluminum foil, are short-term solutions. If you really want to protect your floors, you need to invest in specifically designed protectors.   
  • Find a new place for the food/water bowls and litter box – this may seem radical, but if your cat is tenacious in her intentions to scratch around the bowls and litter box, consider replacing them on areas that cannot be scratched. If doing so, keep in mind that cats are creatures of habits and enjoy sticking to their routines. Therefore, all changes must be done subtly and gradually – move the bowls and litter for no more than several inches per day. 


Scratching is an integral part of our beloved cats. Therefore, it is both illogical and unethical to prevent them from scratching. Instead, we must protect the objects that are off-scratching limits while offering scratching-appropriate items and toys. To protect your home, visit Protecto shop and to choose the best scratching toy for your cat, talk to the salesperson in your local pet store.