Why Does My Cat Dig On My Bed? [Discover the Reasons and How to Prevent It]

Have you ever wondered why your cat insists on digging on your bed? And more importantly, how can you prevent this behavior? If you’re seeking answers to these questions, you’ve come to the right place. We’re delving into the fascinating world of cat digging behavior and exploring effective strategies to deal with it!

The Curious Case of Bed-Digging Cats

Do you find your feline friend digging on your bed every time you’re about to sleep? Often, this behavior is mistaken for kneading, where cats gently scratch the sheets and blankets to seek affection or reminisce about their kittenhood. However, digging on the bed indicates that your cat wants to play and engage with you. It’s their way of saying, “Let’s have some fun!”

In some cases, male cats may dig into blankets and pillows because it reminds them of their mothers, particularly during breeding seasons. Although digging on the bed is harmless, it can disrupt your sleep. So, let’s explore why cats dig on various surfaces and discover effective ways to prevent this behavior.

Where Do Cats Dig?

Cats have a penchant for digging in various areas, including beddings, gardens, potted plants, tiles, hardwood floors, clothing, your skin, and even the dirt in your lawn. Your furry companion may exhibit this behavior on one or multiple surfaces. Now, let’s explore why they engage in this habit.

Why Do Cats Dig?

Before we can successfully curb your cat’s digging behavior, it’s essential to understand why they do it in the first place.

Seeking Affection

Cats are affectionate creatures, and as their owners, it’s crucial to dedicate time each day to play, cuddle, and groom them. When cats crave affection, they may knead your bare skin or gently scratch into your beddings with their claws spread wide. Male cats often associate the bed with their mother’s affection during their kittenhood, making them dig to recreate that comforting feeling. This behavior becomes more prevalent during the breeding season. Aggressive digging can also be an expression of their desire for affection.

Hiding Leftovers

Dogs aren’t the only ones with a habit of digging to bury food. Cats engage in this behavior as well. Wild cats developed this habit to conceal their scent from predators. Nursing cats also bury their food to protect their babies from potential threats. However, if your cat digs in or around the food bowl, it’s likely they’re not interested in the food at that moment and are searching for something more enticing. They may return to the food later. Additionally, cats have scent glands in their paws, so they may be marking the area around the bowl to protect their food from other cats or animals.

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Biological Needs

While digging is a natural behavior for dogs, it’s not as typical for cats. Cats should only dig when covering feces or odors in litter boxes or outdoors due to their biological instincts. Even the best cat litter may not fully replicate the sensation of digging in dirt, which is why cats may choose to excrete and bury feces in gardens or potted plants. This behavior helps them mask their scent and is an innate instinct.

Marking Their Territory

Scent-marking is a common behavior among cats as a survival tactic to ward off other felines. The scent glands in their paws play a significant role in this behavior. Whenever your cat digs or scratches on your beddings or other items, they are leaving their scent behind. Male cats may also mark their territory by urinating or excreting.

Exercising and Hunting

Felines require daily physical exercise to maintain their well-being. Some cats possess high energy levels, while others are genetically predisposed to obesity. If you’re not available to engage them in play, they may resort to digging holes in your yard or hunting for mice and bugs. This behavior allows them to display their exceptional hunting skills by picking up the prey’s scent and masking their own scent for a successful catch.


Stress can bring out the worst in cats. Although they may try to conceal it to avoid becoming an easy target for predators, they often exhibit destructive behaviors like excessive digging, scratching, and running around.

How Can You Stop This Behavior?

If you want to prevent your cat from digging on your bed, here are some effective steps you can take:

Get a Scratching Post

Provide your cat with a safe scratching post. This will help them maintain their nails at an ideal length and keep them occupied when they’re feeling bored. You can also spray the scratching post with catnip to keep your cat entertained and deter them from using your bed or furniture as a scratching surface.

Allow Outdoor Time

While some cats are content with staying indoors, most cat breeds benefit from outdoor exploration. Outdoor time gives them the opportunity to explore, hunt, dig, and stay physically active. Digging and scratching may be their way of venting their frustration when they are not allowed outside when they desire. To ensure their safety, monitor their outdoor activities and leave a door open for them to return at their own convenience.

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Respond with Affection

If your cat continues to dig on your bed despite having a scratching post, it may be a sign that they crave more attention and affection. When they start digging, pick them up and cuddle with them until they fall asleep. This will provide the closeness and reassurance they seek.

Train and Play with Your Cat

Discourage destructive digging without being harsh. Engage your cat in fun games to tire them out before bedtime. Create a routine that associates a particular game with sleep time. Whenever you play that game, they will understand it’s time to rest or engage in non-destructive activities. You can also gently place your cat on the floor whenever they start digging on your bed. Although it may be tiring initially, they will eventually learn that digging on the bed is unacceptable. Start this training when they are kittens to establish good habits early on. Additionally, you can train your cat to respond to the command “NO” to stop undesired behaviors.

Make It Uncomfortable for Them

While some of these tips may not apply to your bed, they can be helpful in preventing cats from digging in potted plants, furniture, and other areas. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Hang indoor plants in areas your cat cannot reach. If hanging is not possible, create a physical barrier around the plants.
  • Use orange spray or orange peels to deter cats from digging in potted plants.
  • Cayenne pepper can also discourage cats from digging in plant pots.
  • Cover the soil of potted plants with aluminum foil, ensuring there are small holes for air circulation. Alternatively, place small, smooth stones on the soil.
  • Use a citrus spray on furniture and any other areas your cat tends to dig.
  • If you catch them in the act of digging in soil or litter, a gentle spray of cold water can discourage the behavior.
  • Consider using devices that emit unpleasant sounds to deter digging.
  • Avoid leaving cat food on the floor to prevent cats from digging in carpets.

Should You Stop Cats from Scratching and Digging?

While replacing torn bedding and mattresses can be costly, it’s essential to discourage cats from digging on your bed. However, it’s important to remember that scratching is a natural instinct for cats. Instead of completely discouraging scratching, provide your cat with plenty of “approved” scratching surfaces, such as posts, trees, or even cardboard boxes.

In Conclusion

If your cat continues to dig on your bed and other surfaces despite trying the tips mentioned above, it may be beneficial to consult your vet. Your cat could be experiencing chronic anxiety, and a veterinarian can provide guidance on the best ways to assist your feline companion.

Cat digging into a white bed mattress

Do you have any interesting stories or tips about cats digging on beds? Feel free to share them in the comment section below!

To learn more about cat behavior and tips for a happy and healthy feline, visit Katten TrimSalon.