7 Strange Cat Behaviours Explained
- by Chris Irwin
A common perception among pet owners is that cats are solitary, logical animals. In truth, cats are just like any other pets; they're loving, sociable, and a little crazy!
If you're a cat owner, you're probably nodding your head thinking, "yes, my cat is more than a little crazy!". That's likely because you've seen them doing some strange things over the years that have left you bewildered. Trust us; we've been there!
So, to help demystify some of those weird and wonderful cat quirks for all you curious cat people, here are seven strange cat behaviours explained!
Kneading is best described as when your cat pushes in and out of a soft surface with their front paws, alternating between the left and the right. Kneading is quite a prevalent behaviour for domesticated cats.
Although the science behind this behaviour is not yet settled, there have been some hypotheses that suggest the movement shows contentedness, love, and comfort. Kittens sometimes knead their mother's stomachs to encourage the flow of milk, and, so, many cats will carry this behaviour into adulthood. If you ever notice your cat kneading a pillow or some other soft surface, consider it a sign that they feel happy and loved!
There's nothing cuter than the sound of your cat's tiny meows. If you've ever walked by your cat and heard this adorable little sound, take a moment to acknowledge this behaviour; a meow of this kind is your cat's way of saying hi!
Usually, your cat will also signal that they want some attention with that meow, and a few head nudges might follow. We suggest you savour these precious moments as an opportunity to spend some quality time with your furball!
Rubbing up against you
Every cat owner will be familiar with this behaviour. And, although it might seem annoying after a while, it's their way of trying to 'claim' you as their own, so don't see it as a bad thing.
Scientifically speaking, a cat will rub either its body or face and forehead onto objects or people to transfer their scent and claim them; essentially, they're marking their territory. So, when your cat rubs against you, they're trying to transfer their scent onto you. It's their way of saying “I love you” and “you're my human”!
If you've ever spied your cat jumping around the house and found it a little strange, don't worry! It's really quite normal behaviour. By nature, cats and kittens are extremely playful animals that need to release their energy, and one way they do this is through jumping!
It's essential to keep in mind that, even though this behaviour is natural and normal for your cats, it can still be dangerous and lead to injuries. As a precaution, make sure to look around the house and remove any objects that are fragile or precariously placed. Also, keep all your windows closed if you can, as sometimes your cat might accidentally jump out of the window and sustain a significant injury.
If you notice this behaviour has started becoming destructive, find other ways to help your cat release some of that excess energy.
Cats are very vocal animals, especially when they're trying to tell you how they feel. Not only will they make noise when they're trying to communicate their emotions, but they'll also make a very distinct sound when "hunting", known as chattering.
Chattering will usually happen when your cat is hyper-focused on a visual stimulus, like a bird. As your cat's hunting instincts kick in, you'll notice their eyes widening, their ears pointing forward, and their pupils starting to dilate, which are all signs of intense focus.
Cat Behavioural Consultant, Merilyn Krieger, explains that chattering is caused by dopamine and adrenaline released from the nervous system, causing excitement. But she also highlights that chattering might be a sign of frustration! Such frustration will usually arise if your cat can't get to their prey. For example, if there's a window separating your cat and the bird.
Blank, open-mouthed stares
Catching your cat in one of these moments can be a little creepy, and leave you wondering what the heck they're doing (???). This behaviour is known as the "Flehmen Response", which is actually pretty typical behaviour in cats.
Cats use pheromones to communicate with one another. So, by rubbing against an object, they're releasing their pheromones to claim that object; remember? Similarly, a cat's urine will contain pheromones that help identify their gender. The Flehmen Response is the process of your cat trying to trap the pheromones by curling their upper lip. The pheromones would then move through the roof of their mouth into the scent glands, which act as a "second sniff".
So, if you did get a little freaked out at first, there's nothing to worry about, this behaviour is not a sign of aggression (or insanity!).
Not covering their poop
Cats are very autonomous animals, and, although covering their faeces might seem like typical behaviour amongst cats, that's not always the case. There are various reasons as to why your cats will not cover up their faeces, and below are the two most common ones:
They're showing dominance:
Yes! As strange as it seems, this is an element of your cat's instinctual behaviour. Not covering their faeces is a way for your cat to declare their territory. Even if they've been in the house for a while, they might still try and show other cats, or even humans (that's you!), that it's their area.
They don't like their litter box:
Just like humans, cats have preferences and can be very fussy about their bathrooms! If you notice your cat has stopped covering their faeces, it might be because their litter box is too small, so they're not able to turn around to cover it up. Or maybe it's the cat litter that they're not happy with? Or the box is too dirty? Yep, your cat can be very picky, so if you suspect they're unhappy, upgrade to a new litter box or new litter.
Cats are often misunderstood, but it's these small little things that make us love them even more!