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Cat Symptoms and Quirks

Updated on May 6, 2021
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HGlick has rescued and placed stray cats for over 20 years and has personally fostered more than 10 during that time.

Cat Symptoms usually manifest themselves as a health problem that points towards an illness or disease. Your cat might sneeze or wheeze, giving indications that an upper respiratory infection is present. She might have diarrhea or might be scratching her ear. She might show a discharge from her eye. She may be showing signs of slowing down with age. (etc..etc.etc.etc.) These are all symptoms that tell us it might be time to bring the old boy or gal to visit the vet. Many symptoms are serious and need to be addressed immediately.

But what about the symptoms that define quirks in your kitty. What makes a cat, be A C.A.T (crazy and .tenacious) animal. Why does catnip make them flip out? Why does your cat interrupt you when you're speaking on the phone? Why do cats always run to the one person in the room who doesn't like cats? Why do cats suddenly take off at 90 miles per hour? The #1 question presented by all cat owners is: Why do Cats feel compelled to bring that dead mouse into the house? What are all these crazy cat behavior problems all about? I will try to shed some light on these and more great questions of mankind(ehrrr catkind) one at a time.

Why are cats so curious? Cats are probably the most curious animal around. However, they can sometimes get into a lot of trouble because of this curiosity. By nature, the cat is a hunter and explorer and is constantly on the prowl. So part of the reason for this is that they are always looking for food.

Some 'hunts' don't always end up so successful. In 1986, one cat got shut in the refrigerator for 12 hours. "Victa" was pronounced dead by a vet but suddenly stood up and walked away. There are many tales similar to this that add to the irony of the saying that "Cats Have 9 Lives"

Why does catnip make them flip out? When your cat sniffs catnip, she immediately enters into a wacky state that sometimes resembles Curly from the Three Stooges spinning around on the floor, on his side in a high pitched voice wailing "me-me-me-me-me-me-me". This is actually a response to the herb's powerful chemical, trans-nepetalactone. It is strangely familiar to the scent excreted by the female cat, which is why the male cat tends to like it the most. However, females also appreciate it because of the smell, which is a mild stimulant. The herb Valerian from your spice rack will produce the same behavior. Catnip will not do any harm, but shouldn't be given to cats with kidney ailments.

Why will a cat rub up against your leg? When your cat gives you head nuggies, by rubbing the side of her head and chin on you or when she rubs up against a piece of furniture or tree, she is marking the territory with her scent. In essence, she is saying "This is mine"

Like it or not, you're one of her possessions.

To anoint you with her special scent she uses glands around her mouth and chin, and on her forehead. These glands produce chemicals called pheromones, which she transfers by rubbing up against you.

Why does a cat roll over and show her stomach? This is the ultimate compliment and rare form of greeting. It indicates complete trust. Totally exposing her stomach, indicates how secure she feels, because lying in this position exposes her most vulnerable part - and she knows it.

Sometimes she may be just asking for a caress by flopping down this way, and sometimes she just wants to play or have her tender tummy stroked. But sleeping on her back is another matter entirely, her trust in you is "to the moon"!!

Why does your cat interrupt you when you're speaking on the phone? You know the drill. You're on the phone and here comes kitty. She leaps to the table, gives you head nuggies, and occasionally starts talking to you with short persistent. meows. You gently put her on the floor only to have her repeat the process over and over. This crazy behavior is not her attempt to be part of the phone call, nor is she jealous that you are speaking with someone else. As a matter of fact she doesn't even know you are speaking to someone else. She thinks you're talking to her! You're probably speaking in soft melodic tones, and that's what she is responding to. A more serious call about a business will probably not cause this quirky behavior.

Why do cats sleep so much? They are downright cat-a-tonic, aren't they? They clock in nearly 16 hours out of a 24 hour day. This has evolved because of their ancestors' success as a predator and hunter. Their bodies are designed for short bursts of energy needed for high performance over short distances. (Housecats sometimes repeat this behavior with their sudden bursts of motion) They are so efficient at stalking and killing their prey that they end up with time to spare. What better way to spend it, than having a 16-hour siesta. Actually, cats sleep very lightly, so they make up for the lack of quality sleep with the length of time they sleep. Even, if your kitty is in a deep sleep, don't try pulling her tail. Their brains are wired to always be on the alert, and she may greet you with an arm hickey.

A funny quirk about cats is that they love to fall asleep in the sun. This makes up for the slight drop in body temperature while they are asleep. Some cats even change their body positions to follow the movements of the sun.

Why do cats always run to the one person in the room who doesn't like cats? I believe this to be the most hysterical behavior that a cat possesses. When she enters a room full of people, she actually believes she is in a room full of other cats, only larger and louder than she is. All this attention makes her very uncomfortable so she makes a beeline for the only non-threatening person (errr cat) in the room. A special hint to all you cat haters out there. If you don't want your friend's cat smooching all over you, start meowing and acting as though you love her.

Why do cats swish their tails? Veterinarian Jim Grubb gives two possible reasons for this behavior. Reason one is to get their balance before leaping. Reason two is to mesmerize their prey. Since kitty can not see their prey if they freeze, she is trying to initiate the slightest movement in them, so she can pounce on her reward.

Why do cats arch their backs? This is actually part of kitty's complex body language system. This is her response to feeling threatened. Sometimes she'll even turn sideways to present a more menacing profile in an attempt to scare away the threat or a predator. The arch is able to get so high because her spine contains nearly 60 vertebrae. We humans only have 34.

Why do cats suddenly take off at 90 miles per hour? They're actually only going 31 miles per hour. This behavior is the result of pent-up energy that suddenly overflows. Our kitties are really night stalkers and natural predators. The sedentary lifestyle that we thrust upon them occasionally results in this frenzy of activity. Sometimes the smallest noise triggers this activity. Even though the kitty is in an environment where there is nothing to hunt, she still has one paw in the jungle and will feel the need to hunt anyway.

Why do cats "knead" when they are happy? This is another example of a cat retaining fond memories of her childhood. The loud purring, followed by the claw sharpening on a soft spot on your body is called "milk treading" When you relax and sit quietly your unwittingly giving your cat the same signal she received as a child, that mom was ready to let her suckle. When older cats behave this way, it's a good sign that they're content and very likely are recalling the best days of their lives.

Why do cats spend so much time grooming? There are several reasons why she grooms herself so carefully. Cats clean themselves with their saliva, which is thought to contain a detergent-like deodorizing substance that keeps their coat soft, shiny, and clean. However, this social grooming process has other important functions. It removes excessive dead hair and skin, tones up the muscles, and stimulates blood circulation...This process is performed excessively by a mother on her newborns.

Why do Cats feel compelled to bring that dead mouse into the house? Returning with the spoils of the hunt is your cat's way of proudly giving you a present. Accept the gift gratefully. At least she doesn't expect you to break open a bottle of wine and join her in a celebratory meal.

The origin of this particular trait of cat behavior isn't known for sure. In the wild big cats do it as a social gesture. Perhaps, eating their prey in the safety of their den brings them comfort, It lets them think they are safe from other predators who may wish to steal their meal. Desmond Morris, in "Cat watching", says that house cats present their owners with prey to introduce them to the concept of hunting.

Indoor cats do no have ample opportunities at exercising this hunting instinct, so we may as well be gracious when they plop that occasional squeaky toy or catnip mouse on our laps.

These Cat Symptoms and quirks that our feline friends exhibit can usually be traced back to their childhood experiences or from their ancestors in the jungle. Quite often these traits can be very amusing, while at the same time fascinating.

References: Why Do Cat's Sulk by Arline Bleecker Copyright 1995

Crazy, Funny, Whacky Cats Gone Wild


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