Strange Cat Behaviors and What They Mean
Cats are snuggly, way less work than dogs, don't require walks in the rain to do their business and their purring is ridiculously soothing. We love cats, but they also have their quirks that'll have even the biggest cat lovers raising an eyebrow.
What's the deal with chirping? Why does a coffee mug need to be smacked onto the floor? Why is an innocent houseplant enemy number one? Keep reading to get the reasoning behind all of your cat's weirdest behaviors.
Having the Zoomies at Four in the Morning
The energy of a kitten knows no bounds and many breeds remain active and playful well into adulthood. Their playfulness is delightful most of the time, but once in a while, they go on a rampage, tearing through the house at a breakneck pace, scaling the furniture and quite literally bouncing off the walls.
This habit is the most confounding when it takes place while owners are trying to sleep. Cats are crepuscular, which is a fancy way of saying they're most active around dawn and dusk. This is an ideal time to hunt for rodents, unfortunately, not cans of Purina. They don't seem to know the difference and running through the house hours before one's alarm goes off can be disruptive, to say the least. To combat nighttime kitty zoomies, keep your bedroom off-limits to your cat and make sure you're offering them enough outlets for their energy during the day.
Cats sometimes make an unusual chattering sound when they're gazing with longing through the window at local wildlife. Chattering is usually an expression of excitement paired with frustration. In a cat's head, they're every bit as much of a ruthless predator as a tiger.
Also, they want that bird, dang it, and they will chatter until they get it. Who's going to tell Fluffy she's an indoor cat and the blue jay on the patio isn't on the menu?
Rubbing Their Head on Everything
If your cat rubs their head on you, consider it a compliment. A big compliment, really. Cats have scent glands along their cheeks that excrete pheromones that can be detected by other cats. They rub their faces on things, including their favorite people, to indicate to other felines, "this is mine."
When they do it to their owners, it's like saying, "You're my person and I love you." Aw! The next time your cat aggressively head butts you and makes you spill your morning coffee, remember the motives behind their chaotic snuggles.
Trying to Eat Plastic
This one is still a bit of a mystery. Some experts have hypothesized that cats like to gnaw on plastic bags and empty water bottles because it has a similar texture to cartilage. Most vets consider it a harmless quirk unless it becomes an obsession or the cat goes as far as to ingest pieces of plastic.
If your cat pounces on plastic bags or chews on items occasionally, it's probably nothing more than playful curiosity. If they keep it up, consider scheduling a check-up. Eating unusual objects, a condition known as pica, can be a sign of other health issues like anxiety, hyperthyroidism, dental issues or a lack of nutrients. If they're behaving differently than usual or exhibit any changes in their normal eating habits, head to the vet right away since this may be a sign they've eaten plastic and developed an intestinal blockage.
Delivering Unpleasant Gifts
"Oh, a dead pigeon! How thoughtful!" said no cat owner ever. Cats are well-known for gifting their owners unpleasant, deceased surprises. As gross as a squished mouse in your slipper may be, your cat's motives are so, so pure. They do it to share their spoils, essentially trying to take care of you. Aw!
To avoid encouraging the behavior, don't praise them for it. Keep them inside as much as you can and when they do deliver an unexpected present, just clean it up and don't make a big deal out of it. It's normal cat behavior, so scolding them for it will just hurt their feelings.
If your cat has ever "made biscuits" on your lap, take it as yet another kitty complement. Kittens kneed their mother's tummy with their paws to stimulate milk letdown. For many cats, the behavior remains a comforting one. If their biscuit making habit is leaving you with scratches, just whip out the nail clippers and trim them. Then, you can receive a friendly, pain-free massage from your favorite feline. Way cheaper than massage therapy, too.
Knocking Your Favorite Mug on the Floor
Candles? On the floor. Water glass? Floor. Reading glasses? Floor. Is nothing sacred?! When you have a cat, not really. Knocking over items is typical cat behavior. They swipe at items with their paws to explore them, much like a toddler puts everything in their mouth.
It can also be a cry for attention, but wait until they're no longer smacking valuables to the floor before you give it to them. If you do, they'll realize that breaking things gets them the attention they want and they'll keep doing it whenever they want you to come play. If it becomes too much of an issue, just keep breakable objects out of reach.
Destroying Every Houseplant in Sight
Depending on the cat, it might not be possible to own a houseplant without it being instantly murdered. Cats bite plants for a number of reasons, including curiosity, boredom or having an upset stomach. Aside from the damage to your innocent ficus, nibbling on houseplants can be dangerous for your cat.
Lilies, for example, are toxic to the species, as are many other common houseplants. Review the list and make sure all plants are kept where they can't be knocked over. Consider using sterilized potting soil as well, since soil can come with the eggs of nasty parasites.
Deciding the Litter Box Is Merely a Suggestion
It’s not fun when your formerly well-behaved cat starts peeing on the carpet instead of in the litter box. It's one of the most common reasons for people to surrender their pets at shelters, so if you're dealing with this issue, you're not alone. There is usually a good reason for voiding outside the litter box, however.
Firstly, make sure the box is cleaned daily, as some cats are extremely sensitive to smell. Have a minimum of one box per cat, plus one. If the litter box has a hood, try removing it. An uncovered litter box isn't the most enticing interior design element, but it may be more appealing and accessible to your cat. Try to keep litter boxes in a semi-private area so they aren't deterred by noisy kids or a loud tv. Additionally, make sure the boxes are easy for older cats to access, since some of them have trouble going up and down stairs as they age.
Lastly, if litter box avoidance persists for longer than a week, schedule a vet visit to rule out a urinary tract infection or a related health issue.
Sleeping on Your Keyboard
So you bought your cat a cozy bed and the most impressive cat tree on the market and they still opt to nap on your laptop? Join the club. Cats do this for one of two reasons:
1. When you've been using it recently, laptops are usually toasty and warm.
2. It's usually a good way of getting the attention of their favorite person.
Instead of getting them a bed, maybe get them a MacBook?
Showing You Their Butt
What's rude to humans is a compliment to cats. If your cat sticks their butt in the air when you offer them friendly head scritches, this is a good sign. Known as the "elevator butt" pose, cats do this to say, "That's the spot! Keep petting me, minion. I mean...friend."
If they walk up to you and stick their butt right in your face, raising their tail, consider it an unconventional invitation to say hi and snuggle. Weird greeting for people, but totally normal for cats. Maybe we should be reciprocating...BRB while we consult our cats.
Sitting in Boxes
Cats aren't much different than kids in this regard. Sometimes, the box a gift came in is more fun to play with than the gift itself. Cats also feel secure in small spaces and hideouts offer a concealed spot to hide in wait for unsuspecting prey. Again, totally normal kitty behavior. Just look out when you walk past a box, as the prey in question might be your toes.
Getting a kiss from a cat isn't as soothing of an experience as getting excited puppy kisses. Cats have rough tongues that feel a lot like sandpaper. They use it to keep their fur nice and clean and also to show affection. Their scratchy kisses might be mildly painful, but they come from a good place.
Obsessing Over Yarn
That old stereotype about cats going crazy over balls of yarn isn't far from the truth, but this is one odd cat behavior that should be discouraged. They often suck on yarn because it's similar in texture to their mother's fur. It can sometimes be a sign that they were taken away from their mom too early, but regardless of the reason, it's dangerous.
Pieces of wool can break off and lead to intestinal obstruction, so give your kitten something safer to latch onto, like a soft blanket without fluff that can be nibbled off and accidentally ingested.