Cats are peculiar creatures. You probably would have seen some weird, baffling behaviours if you lived with one. If you think your cat’s strange behaviour is random, think again. There are some rational explanations behind the crazy stuff they do. Read on to find out.
1. Presenting their butt
Ever wonder why your cat is presenting her tail to your face? Your cat is not trying to be rude. It’s a sign of trust. Cats are always alert, even when they are resting. They do not turn their backs on another creature or human they do not trust. So, if kitty turns her back towards you with a raised tail it shows that she feels secure, doesn’t see you as a threat, and is graciously offering the opportunity of a butt sniff.
This behaviour may seem weird to you, but butt sniffing is a very natural, instinctual, and basic form of cat-to-cat communication. A very similar gesture to a human handshake when meeting and being introduced to someone.
2. Covering food
Food covering is called “caching” and wild cats do it. In the wild, predator cats will hide their unfinished food to avoid attracting other predators to their area. Your feline friend might be behaving instinctively, making digging motions around her food bowl to hide the leftover food, even though there’s no one around to steal it. It’s not unusual for cats to hide their food but if it becomes an obsession, reduce her portions so she doesn’t have leftovers.
3. Eating grass
This is still a mystery. Many online explanations for grass-eating posit that the behaviour helps cats throw up when they're feeling ill. Others believed cats may graze on the grass to boost their vitamin level, expel intestinal parasites, help with bowel movements or cough up hairballs. Grass eating is a common behaviour with cats and dogs. Occasional grass-eating usually does not pose any health issues. You can help by making sure the grasses that your cat is munching on hasn’t been treated with any chemicals.
If you noticed your feline friend gobbling grass to cough up hairballs, you may want to consider feeding a hairball control cat food or treats. The Kit Cat Fillet Fresh Tuna & Fiber Hairball Fish Cat Treat is a healthy hairball control treat created by nutritionists who are cat lovers. It’s 100% natural with no added colours or preservatives.
It's a way for cats to deposit their pheromones. You may notice your cat bumping its head against you or an object, and then move to rub its cheek. This signature move is called cat bunting.
We can’t smell the scent of a cat’s pheromones, but the scent will be easily picked up by other cats. For our feline friend, the scent is self-soothing and it’s a way to mark their “safe-zones”. Cat bunting is not territorial. It’s your cat’s way of using scent to indicate that the area is safe. If you have multiple cats, they may engage in headbutting with each other. This creates a colony scent, a sign that they feel safe and bonded with each other.
The next time your cat headbutt you, she is just trying to create a colony scent and marking you as part of its safe zone.
Cat kneading may seem strange, but it is an entirely normal activity for our feline friends. They knead on a soft surface, such as a blanket, other cats, or your lap. It appears to be relaxing and soothing for them, and many cats will drift off into sleep, or simply zone out and enjoy the kneading motion. Kneading may be a leftover behaviour from kittenhood when kittens would knead at their mother to help stimulate milk production while they are nursing.
Kneading is also a way to mark territory. Your cat has scent glands in her paws, and scratching and kneading deposit her scent, letting other animals know she was there. Your cat’s kneading is a natural instinctive behaviour, as such do not punish her for it. If her kneading inadvertently scratches your furniture, redirect her attention with toys and treats, or encourage her to knead elsewhere. Give her some blankets to knead on and redirect her attention to these blankets.
6. Randomly biting
As natural skilled predators, cats have sharp teeth and a firm bite. Cat bites can be very unpleasant and are best avoided!
Cats can randomly bite for many reasons – play biting, love nibbling and sudden unprovoked biting when petting. The unprovoked biting is usually the most upsetting for cat owners. A vicious bite to the hand, seemingly out of nowhere when you are gently stroking your cat.
How do you stop your cat from biting? Learn to read your cat’s body language.
It has been shown that repetitive petting of certain sensitive areas can lead to overstimulation and ‘excitement’ in cats. Which can lead to biting. The biting is not intended as aggression. Most cats will give you some warning that they are reaching their petting threshold, but these signs are often subtle and are different with different cats. It can be a gentle swish of the tail or a flattening of the ears. Learn to read your cat’s body language. Stop petting the next time you noticed the threshold signal from your cat.
7. Knocking things off ledges
Yet another mystery with our feline friends. There are many speculations as to why cats love to knock things off ledges. Maybe, it’s a way for your cat to express her instinct to hunt, explore her surroundings, or perhaps, she is just trying to get your attention. Cat behaviourists agree that there could be other undiscovered reasons behind this common cat behaviour.
One way to minimize this action is to make sure your cat has plenty of toys to keep them occupied. Prepare some interactive toys that will keep your kitty occupied even when you are not around. The KONG Connects Bloomz Cat Toy is a versatile, interactive toy. Shaped like a long stalk of flower, with a suction cup at the base of the stalk, allowing the toy to be attached at different locations for varied play experiences. The stalk is spring-loaded and stands ready to sway enticing your cat to pounce and swat at the toy, all the while satisfying her instincts.
8. Late-night zoomies
Why is my cat “zooming” back and forth across the house at 3 am? Almost as quickly as they started, the “zoomies” end and your kitty is back to snoozing on the couch. While “zoomies” is a common behaviour, dealing with a frenzied cat in the middle of the night can be frustrating.
There are 3 common reasons why your cat runs frantically around the house in the middle of the night.
Pent-up energy. This is the most common reason for late-night “zoomies”. Make sure to engage your feline with engaging exercise to use up excess energy throughout the day.
Pain or anxiety. Watch your cat’s body language. Look for behaviours of pain like excessive licking. Take your cat to the vet as soon as possible if she is in pain.
Post-Poop "Zoomies". Watch for signs of digestive disorders like constipation. If you can rule out digestive issues, ensure that your cat's litter box is regularly cleaned. Cats may get the "zoomies" after pooping to run away from an unpleasant smell. Try this Nurture Pro Tofu Cat Litter Original Cat Litter that is biodegradable. It has excellent liquid absorbent features that effectively eliminate odours naturally and is 99% dusty free which leaves no paw tracks.
9. Excessive meowing
Why does my cat keep meowing? There can be many reasons for excessive meowing.
Your cat wants to breed. Females yowl when in heat and males yowl when they smell a female in heat.
They are stressed, lonely or ill.
They want food or water. Do check and ensure that their water bowl is not empty. Many cats become very vocal when it gets close to their feeding times. Don’t give in. Don’t feed every time they cry out to you. Stick to the routine.
Greeting you. Cats meow to greet their human, even when they just meet them in the house. Your cat is just happy to see you.
Attention seeking. Don’t neglect playtime. Spend time with your cat but if the attention-seeking behaviour gets out of control, do not entertain when she starts meowing. Only give her the attention when she is quiet.
10. Squeezing into small spaces
Cats are contortionists. They like to squeeze into small spaces where they feel safer and more secure rather than being exposed to possible danger in wide-open spaces. Cats can squeeze through incredibly narrow spaces because they don't have a rigid collarbone.
Provide your cat with safe spaces to squeeze into. Kitty condos, baskets, boxes, anything that’s the size of a shoebox or larger, can satisfy her needs. Some cat trees combine high perches with enclosed spaces like the Pet Rebels Cheap Bastards Boston 90 Cat Tree. This cat tree will appeal to both the cat’s need for height and enclosed hiding space.
So, now we know that there's a scientific explanation for these creepy cat behaviours. Many of your cat’s behaviour may seem strange to you but they are very normal feline activities. They are your cat’s natural instinctive behaviours. Do not punish them for exhibiting these behaviours, instead learn to understand their body language. If you’re ever concerned about your cat’s behaviour, reach out to your vet for advice.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.