cat behaviors explained

28 Common Cat Behaviors Explained: Understanding the Feline Mind

Have you ever watched your cat and wondered what in the heck are they doing? It can be endlessly entertaining (and sometimes frustrating) trying to figure out what motivates their seemingly bizarre behavior. Don’t worry, I can help you.

In this post, I have both common, and not so common cat behaviors explained, so next time you scratch your head over the kitty’s silly antics, you’ll have a little insight as to what’s going on in that furry little head of theirs.

The Mystery of Cat Behaviors Explained

late night cat zoomies

1. Late Night Cat Zoomies

Have you ever noticed your cat running around like crazy at night (especially after midnight), leaping and bounding about as if it’s possessed? If so, then you’ve witnessed the feline phenomenon known as the “zoomies”.

Though the exact cause of this behavior is unknown, it’s generally believed to be a way for cats to release excess energy, either from built-up excitement or anxiety. If your cat seems to be doing this a lot, it might be worth considering whether they’re getting enough exercise during the day.

cat tail positions

2. The Cat Tail Speaks

Cats communicate a lot through their tails, and understanding the different tail positions can give you some insight into your cat’s inner thoughts and feelings. Here are a few of the most common:

  • A tail that’s held high and upright usually indicates confidence, while a tail that’s low or tucked between the legs is a sign of fear or submission.

  • A cat that’s flicking its tail back and forth rapidly is most likely angry or agitated.

  • If your cat is twitching its tail tip, it’s probably feeling playful or curious.

  • A cat that’s gently swishing its tail back and forth is usually content and relaxed.

3. Purr-fection

Most of the time, a kitty will purr when it’s feeling happy and content. But did you know that cats also purr when they’re in pain or feeling anxious?

It’s thought the vibration of a cat’s purr has healing properties which can help to ease discomfort and speed up recovery from injury or illness.

So if your cat is purring excessively, it might be worth a quick vet visit to get checked out, just in case.

Slow Blinking Cat

4. Slow Winking Cat

Have you ever stared at your kitty and had them stare back at you, slowly blinking its eyes? If so, then you’ve experienced what’s known as a “cat kiss.”

This is one of the highest compliments a cat can give, and it’s usually reserved for people (or other animals) that the cat trusts and feels comfortable around. So if your cat gives you a slow blink, it means they like you and feel safe in your presence. You could give your cat a reciprocal slow wink as well.

cat following me

5. Does Your Cat Follow You Around?

It’s a sign of devotion if your cat follows you everywhere you go. Cats are naturally curious creatures, and they like to know what their humans are up to. Cats love to follow you around. It’s their way of keeping tabs on you and making sure you’re safe. So if your cat follows you around, it’s simply checking up on you and wants to be certain everything is all right.

6. Making Biscuits

You might have noticed your cat kneading her paws on your lap or on a soft blanket. This is a cat behavior often seen in kittens, but adult cats do it too. It’s thought to be a leftover instinct of the kitten’s early days of development, when they would knead their mother’s belly to stimulate milk flow.

Today, it’s generally seen as a sign of contentment and happiness. If your cat is kneading you, it means they like you and feel completely relaxed in your presence.

begging for food

7. Begging for Food

If you’ve ever had a cat beg for food, then you know how hard it can be to resist their cute little face. But why do cats beg for food in the first place? There are a few possible explanations:

  • Some experts believe it’s a leftover instinct from their wild ancestors, who would beg for food from the alpha cat in the group.

  • Others think it’s a way for cats to get attention from their owners. After all, if your cat knows that meowing or rubbing against you will result in food, they’re likely to keep doing it!

Whatever the reason, if your cat is begging for food, it’s best to ignore it and wait until mealtime to give them anything. Otherwise, they will learn that begging gets them what they want, and could likely keep doing it.

cat hiding from people

8. Hiding from People

This cat’s behavior is often because they haven’t been properly socialized. When a cat hides from people, it’s a sign that they are probably scared or anxious. This is especially true with some shy stray cats and even more so with unsocialized feral cats.

This behavior is usually the result of a bad experience, such as being dropped off at a shelter. If your cat is hiding from people, it’s important to give them time to adjust and slowly introduce it to new people.

With time and patience, your kitty will eventually come out of their shell and become more comfortable around you and other people.

9. Cat Headbutting You

You might have noticed your cat rubbing their head against you or “bunting” you with its head. This is a cat’s way of marking you as her own, and it’s usually a sign of affection.

With cat’s scent glands in their faces, they release pheromones by rubbing against you so, your cat is claiming you as their own. So if your cat gives you a good head butt, it means it likes you and considers you to be part of their family!

rubbing against my leg

10. Rubbing Against Your Legs

If your cat rubs against you, it’s a sign of affection and another way of leaving their scent on you. This is considered a way of marking you as their property and showing that they think you are part of their family.

Cats also do this to other cats as a way of showing their affection. If you see two cats rubbing heads or bodies, it’s a sign that they’re good friends.

catnip reaction

11. The Catnip Reaction

Many cat owners are surprised to see their kitty go crazy when they are exposed to catnip. Your cat may roll around on the ground, drool, meow excessively, or even become hyperactive.

This reaction is perfectly normal and is caused by a chemical in catnip called nepetalactone. This substance binds to receptors in a cat’s brain, causing it to experience a sense of euphoria.

Not all cats react to catnip, but for those who do, it’s important to make sure they have access to this herb. Catnip is totally safe for cats and can provide them with a natural source of entertainment.

Kittens usually don’t start to react to catnip until they are between three and six months old. So if your kitten doesn’t seem affected by catnip, don’t worry, they will definitely grow into it!

12. Such a Chatterbox

One unusual (and adorable) cat behavior is chattering. This is when your cat makes a high-pitched, staccato noise usually accompanied by rapid jaw movements and sometimes clicking sounds. It’s most commonly seen when cats are watching birds, squirrels, or other small animals outside.

But what exactly is your cat trying to say when they chatter? Unfortunately, we can’t ask them directly, but there are a couple of theories.

Some experts believe that cat chatter is a form of hunting practice. By making this noise, they’re imitating the sound of prey animals, which helps to attract the real thing. This is why you’re most likely to see cat chatter when there are birds or squirrels around, they’re prime targets for hunting practice.

Others believe that cat chatter is simply a sign of excitement. When they see something they’re interested in, they get so excited that they can’t help but make this noise. This is supported by the fact that cat chatter is often accompanied by rapid movement of the jaw and tail, both signs of excitement in cats.

Whatever the reason for cat chatter, it’s definitely a fascinating behavior which gives us a glimpse into the feline mind. So, next time you see your cat chattering away, take a moment to appreciate this endearing quirk.

cat on countertop

13. Climbing on Countertops or Other High Places

Most cat parents are all too familiar with the cats who like to explore every nook and cranny of their homes, especially those pesky countertops. But have you ever wondered why your cat feels the need to climb to such high places?

There are a few reasons for this behavior. First, cats like to be up high because it gives them a better vantage point. They can see what’s going on around them and feel more in control. Additionally, climbing gives them a good workout… it’s like a cat gym! And finally, some cats simply enjoy the feeling of being up high.

If your cat is constantly climbing on countertops and other high places, don’t be too alarmed, it’s just their natural instinct. However, you may want to provide them with some cat-friendly climbing options, like a cat tree or cat tower, to help satisfy their needs.

my cat bites me

14. Why Does My Cat Bite Me?

One of the more common cat behaviors that often confuses and frustrates cat parents is biting. It’s not uncommon for cats to nip at their owners during play or when they’re feeling a bit agitated. But why do they do it?

There are a few reasons for cat biting. One is that it’s simply a form of communication. When cats bite, they are trying to tell you something which is usually that they’re feeling scared, angry, or even threatened. Another reason why cats bite is because they’re overstimulated. If you’ve been playing with your cat for a long time, they may become overexcited and bite as a way to release that energy.

Finally, some cats bite simply because they enjoy it. They may find the sensation pleasurable or they may enjoy the reaction they get from their human.

Whatever the reason for cat biting, it’s important to react calmly and avoid punishment.

15. Licking or Grooming You

When your cat licks or grooms you, it’s typically a sign of affection. Cats groom themselves to keep clean and remove any dirt or debris that they might have picked up. When they lick or groom you, they’re essentially giving you a cat bath!

This cat’s behavior is also a way for them to mark you as their own. When they lick you, they’re depositing their scent on you. So if your cat licks or grooms you, it means they like you and consider you to be part of their family.

cats fighting

16. Cat Fight Club

This can be a frustrating behavior to deal with. This happens many times when a new cat is introduced to the home and there are issues with dominance. While this type of cat aggression is natural, there are things you can do to reduce it.

Make sure each cat has its own food and water bowl, litter box, bed, scratching post, and toys. This will help to reduce competition between the cats and make them feel more comfortable in their environment.

You could try providing ample opportunities for the cats to exercise. A good game of chasing or a cat tree to climb will help burn off excess energy and possibly reduce aggression.

if a cat fits it sits

17. Cats in Tight Places

This behavior is actually pretty self-explanatory. If a cat fits in a small space, it will sit down and make itself comfortable.

There are a few reasons why cats do this. Obviously, it’s comfortable for them. Cats like to curl up in small spaces because it makes them feel safe and secure. Another reason is that it’s a way to conserve body heat. When cats curl up in tight spaces, they are able to trap their own body heat and stay warm.

Some cats may do this because they enjoy the attention. If you make a big fuss over your cat whenever it squeezes into a small space, it teaches them this behavior gets you excited and therefore, they will continue to do it.

18. Shredding Furniture and Carpet

Another of the more common cat behaviors that often frustrates pet parents is scratching furniture. While it may seem like your cat is deliberately trying to ruin your upholstery, there are actually several reasons why cats scratch furniture.

One reason is that scratching is a natural way for cats to keep their claws healthy and sharp. In the wild, cats use their claws for hunting and self-defense, so scratching is a way for them to keep their claws in top condition.

Another reason why cats scratch furniture is to mark their territory. Cats have scent glands in their paws, and when they scratch furniture, they are actually depositing their own unique scent on the object. This helps them to feel more secure and comfortable in their environment.

If your cat is scratching furniture, there are several things you can do to deter them. One is to provide them with a scratching post or cat tree that they can use instead of your furniture. You can also try using double-sided tape or cat-repellent spray on furniture to discourage your cat from scratching it. With a little patience and understanding, you can help your cat kick their furniture-scratching habit for good.

what is that look?

19. What the **** is That Look?

The funny face your cat makes after smelling something is called the Flehmen response. It’s a way for cats to get a better sense of smell. When they make this face, they are able to draw smells into their mouth and then up to a special organ called the vomeronasal organ. This organ helps them to process and understand the smells around them.

While the Flehmen response may look funny to us, it’s actually a very important part of a cat’s survival. It helps them to identify things like food, predators, and mates. So the next time you see your cat making this face, just know that they’re taking a deep sniff of their surroundings.

knocking things over

20. Knocking Around

While knocking over our things may seem like your cat is just being mischievous, there are actually a few possibilities why they might do this.

For one, cats like to explore their environment and knocking things over is a great way to do that. It also gives them a chance to play with the objects they knock down.

Additionally, cats may knock things over as a way to get your attention. If you usually pay more attention to the coffee cup that toppled over than you do to your cat, they’ve learned that this is a good way to get your focus on them.

If your cat is knocking things over on a regular basis, there are a few things you can do to stop it.

First, try to provide your cat with plenty of toys and scratching posts so that they have other outlets for their energy and curiosity.

You can also try training your cat with positive reinforcement, rewarding them when they behave the way you want them to.

Finally, make sure to pay attention to your cat when they’re not causing trouble so that they know that you still love them even when they’re not knocking things over.

21. Bringing You Presents (Dead or Alive)

One of the most endearing cat behaviors is when they bring you “gifts,” aka dead prey. While it may not be what you had in mind when you adopted your cat, this behavior is actually a sign of affection.

When cats bring you dead prey, they are trying to show you that they care about you and want to provide for you. In the wild, cats typically eat their prey right away but, when they bring it to you, they are likely saying, “I caught this for you because I know you can’t do it yourself.”

While it may not be the most convenient gift, it’s actually a sweet gesture from your cat. If you want to discourage this behavior, you can try giving your cat a toy to play with instead of dead prey or attaching a bell to their collar so their hunting sessions aren’t so successful.

cat laying on my stuff

22. Always Laying on My Things

When cats lay on our stuff, it can be both endearing and frustrating, especially if you’re trying to get work done. But have you ever stopped to think about why they do it?

There are a few reasons for this behavior. For one, cats like to be close to their humans. They see us as members of their family and want to be near us as much as possible. Additionally, our stuff often smells like us, which is another reason they’re drawn to it.

Sometimes, cats will also lay on our stuff as a way of claiming it as their own. By doing this, they’re saying “this is mine” and marking their territory. So, if you find your cat laying on a laptop or book, they’re likely just trying to be close to you or simply claiming their spot.

cat staring at me

23. Why is the Cat Staring at Me?

It may be that the cat is trying to communicate something to you, or it may be seeking attention.

If your feline friend is staring at you and meowing, it may be trying to tell you that it’s hungry or thirsty. If the cat is staring and blinking slowly, it may be trying to show you that it loves and trusts you.

Cats are constantly trying to figure you out so they can better understand how to interact with you. With cats being curious by nature, it’s not surprising they would want to learn all they can about you.

24. Butt Nuggets Outside the Litter Box

Why is my cat pooping outside the litter box? It could be that the cat doesn’t like the type of litter you’re using or that it feels stressed and is acting out.

Another reason might be that the cat simply prefers to poop in a different location than the litter box. If you think this is the case, try providing your cat with an additional litter box in a location it prefers.

It could also be your cat may be spiteful because the litter box hasn’t been cleaned lately. Scooping the litter box daily and keeping it clean is crucial to keeping your cat happy and avoiding accidents.

it’s important to quickly determine the reason why and take corrective action. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with a very messy situation.

cat meowing

25. Meow, Meow, Meow, and Yes, Meow

Most cat owners are familiar with the sound of their cat meowing. But did you know that there are different types of meows, and each one means something different?

A cat’s meow can be a way of getting attention, asking for food, or simply expressing happiness. While it may seem like your cat is meowing all the time, they actually only meow when they want to communicate with people. Cats will use other vocalizations, like growling and hissing, when they’re expressing their feelings with other cats.

So why do cats meow? Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating behavior.

The first thing to understand is that meowing is not normally a cat’s natural form of communication. Cats will meow when talking to humans. This means that when your cat meows, it’s just trying to explain how its feeling or that it wants something from you.

Cats meow for a variety of reasons, but the most common ones are to get your attention, to ask for food, or to express happiness. Let’s take a closer look at each of these reasons.

Getting Your Attention

One of the most common reasons cats meow is to get your attention. This could be because they want to be petted, they’re asking you to open the door, or they’re just feeling lonely and would like some company.

If your cat is meowing and you don’t know why, the best thing to do is to try and figure out what they want. Are they looking at the door? Maybe they want to go outside. Are they rubbing against you? They are probably just looking for some love and attention.

Asking for Food

Another key reason for meowing could be hunger. If your cat is meowing and they haven’t been fed in a while, it’s probably because they’re hungry!

If you think your cat is meowing because they want food, the best thing to do is to feed them. However, if your cat is meowing constantly and you’ve already fed them, it’s possible that they have a medical condition that is causing them to feel hungry all the time. If this is the case, you should take them to the vet for a consultation.

Expressing Happiness

Cats also meow when they’re happy! If your cat is purring and meowing at the same time, it’s a good sign that they’re enjoying life.

Cats sometimes meow when they see something they want, like a bird or a cat outside. This is because they might be excited and want to let you know!

Warning: Please be aware of excessive or louder than normal meowing, as this may indicate a possible medical issue. Contact your local vet if you have any concerns.

So, there you have it! These are just a few of the reasons why a kitty meows. Next time your cat is meowing, try to figure out what they’re trying to say!

senior cat dementia

26. Senior Cat Dementia

You may begin to experience various changes in your cat’s behavior related to brain activity. One of these changes is known as senior cat dementia, which is a condition that can cause a decline in cognitive function.

There are a few different causes of cat dementia, but the most common one is age-related brain association. This often leads to a loss of neurons and decreased brain activity, which can cause symptoms like disorientation, confusion, and memory loss.

There are a few different ways to treat senior cat dementia, but the most important thing is to make sure your cat is comfortable and has a good quality of life. This means providing them with a safe environment, plenty of food and water, and social interaction. You may also want to consult with a veterinarian or behaviorist about additional treatment options.

27. My Cat is Spraying Everywhere!

If you’ve noticed your male cat spraying around the house, you’re probably wondering what’s going on. Spraying is a normal behavior for male cats, but it can be a sign of something wrong if it’s happening more often than usual.

Spraying is when a cat kicks their back leg up and sprays urine on a surface. This is usually done to mark their territory, but it can also be a sign of stress or anxiety.

If your cat is spraying more often than usual, the first thing you should do is take them to the vet to rule out any medical conditions. If the vet finds that your cat is healthy, there are a few things you can do to help stop the spraying behavior.

First, make sure your cat has a litter box they’re comfortable with. The litter box should be in a quiet, private area where your cat feels safe.

You should also try to reduce stress and anxiety in your cat’s environment. This could mean providing more hiding spots, toys, or opportunities for play. If your cat is still spraying after you’ve tried these things, you may need to consult with a behaviorist or veterinarian for more help.

In conclusion, cat spraying is a normal behavior but can also sometimes be a sign of a medical problem when done excessively. If your cat is spraying more often than usual, take them to the vet immediately and try to reduce stress in their environment.

cat's body language

28. The Importance of a Cat's Body Language

Our feline friends communicate with each other through body language. They use their tails, ears, eyes, and whiskers to convey their feelings and needs.

Pet owners should figure out their cat’s body language in order to help them understand what their furry friend is trying to say and give them what they need. It can also help you bond with your cat and build a better relationship.

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to figure out what they’re trying to express:

To Understand Your Cat's Needs

Your cat might be trying to tell you something with their body language. If they keep meowing or scratching at the door, they might be trying to tell you that they want to go outside. If they’re lying down with their stomach exposed, they might be trying to show you that they trust you. Paying attention to your cat’s body language can help you figure out what they need and want.

To Bond with Your Cat

Spending time trying to figure out your cat’s body language can help you bond with them. This is because you’re taking the time to try to understand them and their needs. The more you know your cat, the better your relationship will be.

To Keep Your Cat Healthy

Paying attention to your cat’s body language can also help you keep them healthy. This is because you might be able to spot signs of illness or stress before they become serious.

For example, if your cat starts avoiding eye contact or hiding, they may be feeling ill. If you notice these signs, you can take your cat to the vet for a check-up.

To Keep Your Cat Safe

Cats are predators, which means they’re constantly on the lookout for danger. If you can understand their body language, you’ll be able to tell when they’re feeling threatened or afraid. This can help you keep them safe from harm.

To Help Train Your Cat

Some forms of cat body language can be used for training. For example, if you want your cat to stop scratching the furniture, you can look for signs that they’re about to scratch and redirect their attention to a scratching post.

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed this post about cat behaviors explained! Learning about a cat’s behavior can help strengthen bonding and provide them with the best care possible. It also provides a way to keep them safe and healthy. Pay attention to your cat’s body language and use it to figure out what they need.

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