Why does my cat dig on my bed?

More important, how can I prevent it??

If you desperately need the answers to these questions, keep reading.

We’re talking all about cat digging behavior and how to deal with it!

Why Do Cats Dig on Our Beds?

Tiger Cat laying on a bed

Does your cat dig on your bed every time you go to sleep?

Sometimes it’s confused with kneading, which is when cats gently scratch on the sheets and blankets when they need affection or when they feel nostalgic about their kittenhood.

The digging, on the other hand, means the cat wants to play with you.

Maybe kitty didn’t get enough playtime during the day, and just wants to have fun with you!

Male cats also dig into blankets and pillows since it reminds them of their mothers, especially during breeding seasons.

It’s nothing to worry about because it’s not a harmful behavior.

But since they may disturb your sleep, let’s discuss why cats dig on various surfaces and ideas on how to prevent them.

Where Do Cats Dig?

Cat digging in the dirt

Below are some of the areas your cat may be digging on;

  • Beddings – pillows, blankets, sheets, furniture upholstery.
  • Gardens
  • Potted plants
  • Tiles and hardwood floors.
  • Your skin
  • Clothing
  • Dirt in the lawn

Now your cats may dig on one or all of these places. And below are some of the reasons they’re exhibiting this habit.

Why Do Cats Dig?

tabby cat digging in grass covering urine

Before we can find out how to stop cats from digging on your bed, we have to figure out why they’re doing it in the first place.

Seeking Affection

Cats are affectionate animals. And as cat owners, you need to create time each day to play with them, cuddle them, or even groom them.

When they are craving affection, cats will start kneading on your bare skin or gently scratching into your beddings with their claws spread out.

As mentioned earlier, the bed sometimes reminds male cats of their mother’s affection when they were kittens.

So they will dig on your bed to remind themselves of that feeling. This habit is common when the breeding season sets in.

They will also gently scratch to create some room for them to sleep. Aggressive digging is also a way to express their need for affection.

Hiding Leftovers

You May Also Like

It’s normal for cats to dig when hiding their food. Wild cats may have developed this habit to mask their scent from predators.

Nursing cats also buried their food to prevent predators from finding their babies.

But if your cat is digging in the food bowl or around the food bowl, they are most likely not interested in the food, and they are looking for something tastier.

They may still get back to the food later.

Cats also have scent glands around their paws.

So, they may be scent-marking the area around the bowl to make sure no other cat or animal touches the food.

Biological Needs

Digging holes is a natural behavior for dogs, but you shouldn’t assume that it’s normal behavior for cats.

The only “digging” they’re allowed to do is when they are covering feces or odors in the litter boxes or outdoors. It’s their biological instinct.

However, even the best cat litter may not successfully replace the dirt.

That’s why they will excrete and bury feces in the garden or at a potted plant since the soil looks like a type of litter to them.

Digging and covering also helps them mask their scent.

They Are Marking Their Territory

Scent-Marking a territory is common among the cat family. It’s a survival tactic that’s meant to warn other cats not to “trespass.”

As mentioned earlier, the glands containing this scent are in the paws.

So every time a cat digs or scratches on your beddings or other items, they are leaving their scent.

Male cats can also mark their territory by urinating or excreting.

Exercising and Hunting

Felines need physical exercise daily. This is because some of them have high energy levels, and some are genetically predisposed to becoming obese.

If you’re not there to play with them, they may dig holes in your yard or even start hunting for mice and bugs.

They may start displaying their great hunting traits by picking up the prey’s scent and covering their scent to ensure it’s caught unawares.

Besides, cats are some of the best hunters.

Stress

Stress brings out the worst in cats. They may try to hide it to make sure they’re not easy targets for predators.

But they can show it by engaging in destructive habits like digging excessively, scratching, running around, and other harmful behavioral problems.

What Can You Do to Stop This Behavior?

Below are some steps you can take to prevent your cat from digging on your bed.

Get a scratching post.

Scratching posts provide safer places for cats to scratch.

It helps them maintain an ideal nail length, and it keeps them busy when they are too bored.

You can also spray the scratching post with catnip to keep the cat entertained and off your bed or furniture.

Take him/her outside often.

 Some cats are fine being indoors, but most cat breeds need some outdoor time. This gives time to explore, hunt, dig, and be physically fit.

Digging and scratching may be their way of acting out when they’re not allowed to go out when they want to.

To ensure they are safe, you can always monitor and always leave their door open when they need to rush back.

Respond With Some Cuddling

If they are still digging on your bed when they have a scratching post, you may need to show them some affection.

As soon as he/she starts digging on your bed, you can pick him up and start cuddling with him/her until he falls asleep.

Training and Playing With Your Cat

You don’t have to be harsh at your cat for scratching. You can engage them in some fun games to get them tired before sleep.

For instance, create a routine where you play a certain game and associate it with time to sleep.

So whenever you play that game, they’ll go straight to be or keep themselves busy with other non-destructive activities.

You can also place the cat on the floor every time they start digging. It may be tiring since you want to sleep, but eventually, they’ll come around.

If you do this when they’re kittens, they’ll grow up knowing digging on your bed is wrong.

You can also train them that when you say “NO,” they should stop what they are doing.

Make it Uncomfortable for Them.

Some of these tips may not apply to your bed, but we’ve established cats can dig in the potted plants, furniture, and other areas.

You can:

  • Hang the indoor plant in areas the cat can’t reach. If it’s not possible to hang them, you can place a physical barrier around them.
  • Use orange spray, or cover the soil with orange peels.
  • Cayenne pepper can also help deter cats from digging on potted plants.
  • Cover the soil with aluminum foil, but make sure there holes for air circulation. Small smooth stones are also good deterrents.
  • Use a citrus spray on furniture and any other areas the cat is digging.
  • If you catch them in the act digging on the soil or spreading litter, you can spray them with cold water.
  • Use devices that make unpleasant sounds every time they start digging.
  • Don’t leave cat food lying around on the floor to prevent your cats from digging on the carpets.

Should you stop cats from scratching and digging?

Most of us don’t have infinite money to replace bedding and mattresses that our cats tear up.

So yes, definitely stop them from digging your bed!

However, you shouldn’t completely discourage all scratching, as it’s a natural instinct.

Instead, give your cat plenty of “approved” scratching surfaces- like posts, trees or even cardboard boxes.

Conclusion

If your cat is still digging on your bed and other places after trying the tips I mentioned above, contact your vet.

He or she may be suffering from chronic anxiety, and the veterinary can advise on the best ways to help your cat.

Cat digging into a white bed mattress with text why does my cat dig on my bed

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

Barry Stingmore
Barry Stingmore

Barry Stingmore is a British content creator living in Fuerteventura, Spain. An animal lover at heart, he shares his home with a dog and four rescue cats.

Barry works with the island’s animal charities to help manage and care for feral and abandoned animals. Alongside fieldwork, he works to support the charities with fundraising and raising awareness.