Weird Cat Behavior: Explained
Cats are a special kind of animal. They have a place in our hearts as the silly, aloof, loving, and hard-to-figure-out family members. Anyone with a pet cat, from a brand new kitten to an old rescued senior cat, know that these animals are somewhat of an enigma. But are any of your cat’s weird behaviors something to be worried about? Let’s look at some weird cat behavior and see if we can explain it.
Chattering out the Window
Behaviorists get a little confused by this. There are two main explanations. The first is that cats are natural predators and are making the noise due to frustration of not being able to get outside and hunt the birds they see. The second is that this is actually a Pavlovian instinct of preparing the muscles to pounce, again stemming from the fact that cats are natural predators.
Called “bunting” by behaviorists, head-butting is a love-filled (but sometimes silly) gesture! Your kitty is usually just saying, “Hi” by doing this or sharing his or her scent with you.
A dead mouse may not be what you would get your best friend to cheer them up, but your cat sees prey as a really thoughtful gift! Behaviorists have a few theories behind this. They all go back to your cat’s natural instincts. Maybe their mom would bring them prey to eat, or they are sharing their prey with you as a “thank you” for the food you provide them, or they believe you don’t have enough to eat! No matter what, this behavior is normal, so don’t punish your kitty. Just keep them inside or put a bell on their collar so they can’t sneak up on prey as easily.
Chewing on Non-Food
Keep an eye on your kitty if they start chewing on things like plastic, dirt, your carpet, furniture, etc. This could be a sign of pica, which is a condition that makes animals eat non-food substances and can be caused by gastrointestinal issues or anxiety. You will definitely want to make your vet aware of this weird behavior.
A lot of cats have a tendency to give their owners or favorite blankets massages. But why? Again, natural instinct! Kittens massage their mama’s mammary glands to stimulate milk flow when they’re nursing. As they get older, this behavior simply means they’re happy, content, reducing their own anxiety, or even marking you with their scent (much like the head-butting behavior). Overall, kneading is a love-filled behavior that calms your kitty!
Squeezing into a Box (And Not That Bed You Bought Them)
Cats love soft spots, but tiny den-like areas are actually more comfortable to them. Being out in the open is naturally scary for felines; they prefer to be the stealthy predator, hiding in secure and secluded areas, not the potential prey in the view of everyone who may want to attack. For example, your niece who does not understand that kitty does not want its tail pulled.
Always feel like you’re being watched? You probably are; cats do not miss a lot! Your cat is likely staring (or maybe glaring) at you to try to get you to give them a second helping of breakfast. If it is not food, then they are genuinely just curious about what you are up to!
Quite the opposite of staring, sometimes your cat will decide that they are done interacting for an hour or so. If you let them be and allow them to have their space, they will come back more energized and ready to cuddle and play soon enough!
Not Covering Their Mess in the Litter Box
Leaving poop exposed in the litter box could be the sign of a hurt paw or a urinary tract infection, which is very common in cats. Make sure you talk to your vet about this behavior in case it is a medical issue.
It may not be that serious, though. Your cat may not like the litter you buy, or you may not be cleaning it enough. If you have multiple cats, it is smart to have multiple litter boxes to avoid them getting overloaded.
Yelling at Night
Ever wonder why your cat seems to have so much to say in the middle of the night? While you may think all your cat does is sleep, there is a good chance that your kitty has a bunch of energy at night and does not know what to do with it! The yowling may also come from a desire to hunt. No matter the reason, it is nothing to worry about, unless your cat is a senior; then contact your vet. Otherwise, provide your cat with quiet nighttime toys and food puzzles to occupy them.
Your kitty may decide to do a few sprints from one side of the house to the other, or start randomly jumping off the walls. Even though these seem to be spurred by… well, nothing, most likely your cat saw or heard something you would never sense on your own. Even a small bug can set your cat off running!
Batting Things off Tables
How many times has your cat looked you in the eye and knocked something onto the floor? Probably more than you can count. Sometimes they are genuinely curious about the object, but most likely your kitty just wants to get your attention. If you acknowledge them, you will just encourage it, so your best bet is to ignore and move that glass to a higher shelf.
Chewing on Plants
Chewing on plants has quite a few different causes. Their tummy could be upset, they could find it comforting to chew on something, they might just be curious, or they could be doing it for the attention. While none of these are innately bad reasons, it could cause an issue if the plants you keep around are dangerous for cats to ingest (examples include daffodils and lilies). If you need to keep greenery in your home, make sure you do some research and pick out cat-safe plants. Also, keep any smaller pots out of reach or away from the counter, because your cat’s love of knocking things over could cause some major spillage, and potting soil is not always safe to ingest, either.
Drinking from the Faucet
Once again, your kitty’s natural instincts come into play here. In the wild, it is safer to drink from running water rather than a stagnant pond (or bowl). Your cat might just really want the fresher taste. You can help satisfy your cat’s craving with a special water bowl that keeps the water flowing.
Not many pets have the same kind of personality that cats carry with them. Their strong characters and entertaining antics never leave a dull moment! If you are ever concerned about a strange behavior, though, or just want to make sure your cat is as healthy as they can be, contact Falls Road Veterinary Hospital at 301-983-8400. We love helping you and your furry friends!