Unlocking the Mystery: Why Cats Scratch Radiators and Carpets After Using the Litter Tray

Many cat owners have been puzzled by the seemingly strange behavior of their feline friends scratching at radiators, carpets, or other surfaces after using the litter tray. This behavior can be perplexing, especially when the litter tray is kept clean and changed regularly. To understand why cats do this, it’s important to delve into their natural instincts and behaviors. Let’s unlock the mystery behind this peculiar cat behavior.

Understanding Cat Behavior

Cats are creatures of habit and instinct. Their behaviors, no matter how strange they may seem to us, are usually rooted in their natural instincts. Scratching is a normal behavior for cats. It helps them to mark their territory, stretch their muscles, and keep their claws sharp. But why do they scratch at radiators or carpets after using the litter tray?

The Role of Scent Marking

Cats have scent glands in their paws. When they scratch a surface, they are not just physically marking their territory, but also leaving behind their unique scent. This is a way for them to communicate with other cats and establish their territory. After using the litter tray, your cat may feel the need to reinforce their scent marking, leading them to scratch at nearby surfaces.

Why Not the Litter Tray?

So why doesn’t your cat scratch the litter in the tray? There could be several reasons for this. Some cats may not like the texture of the litter, while others may be sensitive to the smell of the litter or any additives it may contain. In some cases, cats may have learned to associate scratching the litter with the unpleasant sensation of getting litter stuck in their paws.

How to Redirect the Scratching Behavior

If your cat’s scratching behavior is causing damage to your carpets or radiators, there are ways to redirect this behavior. One option is to provide alternative scratching surfaces, such as scratching posts or mats. You can also try changing the type of litter you use to see if your cat prefers a different texture or scent.


Understanding your cat’s behavior can help you provide a more comfortable and enriching environment for them. While their scratching behavior may seem strange, it’s just one of the many ways cats communicate and interact with their environment. By providing appropriate outlets for this behavior, you can keep your cat happy and your home intact.