Cats have long been admired and adored for their mysterious and enigmatic behaviors. As cat owners, it’s crucial to understand these behaviors to provide the best care and companionship for our feline friends. In this article, we will explore 20 strange cat behaviors and shed light on their meanings and motivations.
One of the most well-known behaviors exhibited by cats is purring. Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t purr solely when they’re content. While purring is often associated with relaxation and happiness, cats also purr when they’re anxious, in pain, or seeking comfort. It serves as a means of self-soothing and communicating their emotional state.
If you’ve ever noticed your cat kneading, you might wonder why they engage in this behavior. Kneading is characterized by rhythmic motions of the paws pushing in and out against a soft surface. This behavior is rooted in kittenhood when they knead their mother’s mammary glands to stimulate milk production. As adults, cats may continue to knead as a sign of contentment, comfort, or simply out of habit.
- Tail Twitching
A cat’s tail can be a fascinating indicator of their mood and intentions. Tail twitching can vary in meaning depending on the context. A slight twitch can indicate curiosity or focused attention, while an aggressive swishing motion can signal agitation or aggression. It’s essential to observe other body language cues alongside tail movements to accurately interpret a cat’s emotional state.
- Head Butting
When a cat gently bumps their head against you or objects, it’s a behavior known as head butting or bunting. This gesture is a display of trust, affection, and marking their territory. Cats have scent glands on their heads, and by rubbing against you or objects, they leave their scent as a form of communication and bonding.
Have you ever heard your cat make a chattering sound while watching birds outside the window? This behavior, known as chattering, is commonly observed when a cat is excited or frustrated by prey they can’t reach. It’s believed to be an instinctual behavior rooted in their hunting instincts.
- Bringing Gifts
It’s not uncommon for cats to present their owners with “gifts” in the form of dead animals or small objects. While it may seem perplexing, this behavior stems from a cat’s natural instinct to provide for their family. By bringing gifts, cats demonstrate their hunting prowess and consider you as part of their family or colony.
- Kicking Litter
Cats have a peculiar habit of kicking their litter after using the litter box. This behavior serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it helps cover their waste, which is an instinctual behavior to avoid attracting predators in the wild. Additionally, the sound and sensation of litter being kicked can communicate territorial claims or simply indicate satisfaction after using the litter box.
If you’ve ever witnessed your cat darting around the house in a frenzied manner, you’ve experienced the phenomenon commonly known as “zoomies.” Zoomies are bursts of energy during which cats exhibit high-speed running, jumping, and playful behavior. They often occur spontaneously and can be triggered by various factors, including excess energy, stimulation, or simply a release of pent-up excitement.
- Pawing Water
Some cats display the behavior of pawing at their water bowls before drinking. This behavior is believed to be an instinctive response to ensure the water is safe and clean. By pawing at the water, cats may be trying to mimic the movement of flowing water found in streams or rivers, which they consider fresher and safer to drink.
- Sleeping in Unusual Positions
Cats are notorious for their ability to find the most unconventional sleeping positions. From curling up into tiny balls to contorting their bodies into seemingly uncomfortable poses, cats have a knack for finding the perfect spot to catch some z’s. These odd sleeping positions often serve a purpose, such as thermoregulation or a strategic vantage point for monitoring their surroundings.
- Chasing Tails
The sight of a cat chasing its own tail can be both amusing and perplexing. While it may seem like a playful act, excessive tail chasing can indicate underlying issues. Cats may engage in this behavior out of boredom, anxiety, or even a medical condition. It’s essential to monitor tail chasing and consult a veterinarian if it becomes obsessive or accompanied by other concerning behaviors.
- Kicking with Hind Legs
When cats engage in playful or hunting behavior, they often exhibit a signature move of kicking with their hind legs. This behavior involves rapid kicks directed at toys, prey, or even human hands during play. It’s a natural instinct that mimics the action of delivering a killing blow to immobilize prey. Playful kicking with the hind legs is a way for cats to express their predatory nature and engage in interactive play.
- Kneading on Soft Surfaces
Similar to kneading on human laps, cats often knead on soft surfaces such as blankets, pillows, or plush toys. This behavior is believed to be a holdover from their kittenhood, where they kneaded their mother’s abdomen to stimulate milk flow. Kneading on soft surfaces is a sign of comfort, relaxation, and contentment.
- Twitching Ears
Cats possess exceptional hearing, and their ears are finely attuned to even the slightest sounds. Ear twitching is a way for cats to focus their attention on specific noises or movements in their environment. Depending on the intensity and direction of the ear twitching, it can indicate curiosity, irritation, or heightened awareness of potential threats.
- Scratching Furniture
One of the most common behavioral challenges faced by cat owners is furniture scratching. Cats have a natural instinct to scratch objects to maintain healthy claws, mark territory, and stretch their muscles. To redirect this behavior, it’s crucial to provide appropriate scratching alternatives such as scratching posts or boards. Regular nail trimming and positive reinforcement can also help mitigate furniture scratching issues.
- Excessive Grooming
Cats are meticulous groomers, and they spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves. However, excessive grooming can be a cause for concern. Cats may engage in excessive grooming due to stress, anxiety, skin allergies, or underlying medical conditions. If you notice bald patches, skin irritation, or changes in grooming patterns, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying issues.
- Kicking with Front Paws While Playing
In addition to the hind leg kicking behavior mentioned earlier, cats also display playful kicking with their front paws. This behavior is commonly observed when cats engage in play-fighting or interactive play with toys. It’s a way for them to express their natural predatory instincts, practice hunting techniques, and engage in social play with humans or other animals.
- Hiding in Small Spaces
Cats are known for their love of small, enclosed spaces. Whether it’s squeezing into a cardboard box or finding refuge under furniture, hiding in small spaces is a typical feline behavior. Cats seek out these cozy nooks for security, privacy, and a sense of ownership over their territory. Providing designated hiding spots, such as cat caves or covered beds, can fulfill their need for a safe haven.
- Chewing on Plants
Some cats exhibit a peculiar behavior of chewing on houseplants or outdoor vegetation. While the exact reasons behind this behavior can vary, it’s believed to be a combination of curiosity, exploration, and a natural instinct to sample different textures. However, it’s essential to be cautious as some plants can be toxic to cats. Providing cat-friendly plants and ensuring toxic plants are out of reach can help redirect this behavior.
- Knocking Things off Surfaces
The sight of a cat deliberately knocking objects off tables or shelves can be frustrating for owners. This behavior is often driven by a combination of curiosity, playfulness, and seeking attention. Cats enjoy the cause-and-effect relationship of knocking objects, and it’s their way of engaging in interactive play or seeking interaction from their owners. Providing ample mental and physical stimulation through play sessions and interactive toys can help curb this behavior.
Cats possess a wide range of strange and fascinating behaviors that add to their charm and intrigue. Understanding these behaviors allows us to develop a deeper connection with our feline companions and provide them with the care and environment they need to thrive. By observing and interpreting their actions, we can ensure a harmonious and enriching relationship with our quirky and lovable cats.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Why do cats knead?
Cats knead as a natural behavior carried over from their kittenhood, signifying comfort, contentment, or a means of marking territory.
- What does it mean when a cat brings gifts?
When a cat brings gifts, such as dead animals or small objects, it’s a display of their hunting skills and a gesture of inclusion and trust.
- How can I stop my cat from scratching furniture?
To redirect your cat’s scratching behavior, provide appropriate scratching alternatives like scratching posts or boards and discourage them from using furniture by using deterrents or covering surfaces with double-sided tape.
- Is excessive grooming normal for cats?
Excessive grooming in cats can be a sign of stress, anxiety, skin allergies, or underlying medical conditions. If you notice abnormal grooming patterns, consult with a veterinarian for further evaluation.
- Why do cats chase their own tails?
Cats may chase their tails out of playfulness, boredom, or occasionally due to medical conditions. However, obsessive tail chasing should be monitored and addressed by a veterinarian if it becomes a concerning behavior.
- What should I do if my cat is hiding in small spaces?
If your cat frequently hides in small spaces, ensure they have designated hiding spots that provide comfort and security. Avoid forcing them out of their hiding spots, as it may cause further stress. Instead, create a calm and safe environment to encourage them to come out naturally.