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Cat behaviour - What's your cat trying to tell you?

Updated on August 19, 2010

Cats and weird.  Anyone that owns a cat will agree that their behaviour can be a bit odd at time and quite unpredictable.  However, a lot of the weird things that your cat does actually has a meaning behind it.  Below is a list of the most common things that cats do with a possible explanation about why they do it.

Purring

Many people associate a purring cat as a happy cat but it's not always the case. A cat that in pain or distress will purr. It's a known fact that friendly cats that are in pain will purr when approached by people. This probably suggests that cats will purr to show that they are friendly and approachable so that the person will not be scared and will help the cat.

From a very young age, as young as 2 days, a kitten will start to purr although a human might not be able to hear it.  But as it grows the purr will become louder.  A kitten purring is a way for it to tell its mother that everything is fine and that the kitten is content.

Greeting

Cats will normally greet each other by rubbing faces. When a cat greets you by standing on its hind legs, it is usually trying to reach your face so that it can rub its faces against yours. If you were to lower yourself so your face is within reach, your cat will probably rub their face with yours. However, a cat will only do this to human that it trusts.

Another friendly way for a cat to greet its owner is known as the 'belly-up' position.  The 'belly-u' position is when the cat will roll on its back, stretching its legs as far as possible, yawning and excersing its claws. For a cat, the 'belly-up' position is when the cat is the most vulnerable and indicates total trust for the person involved. 

Another way for a cat to greet you is to rub itself against you leg.  Cats have scent glands around their whiskers, around the mouth and at the base of the tail. The rubbing will cause some of the scent to be passed onto you and is a way for the cat to mark you being theirs. Only other cats can smell this scent so when another cat approaches you they will know that you belong to another cat.

Kneading

Kneading is when a cat pushes its paws continuously into something, usually when it is sitting on the owners lap. This behaviour comes from the cats kitten days, where the kitten would knead their mother while suckling to make the milk flow more freely. That time in the kittens life is when it feels the most safe and content and this behaviour has been carried over into adulthood too. A cat sees its owners as surrogate mothers and will retain some kitten characteristics through their adult life.

Gifts

We all love receiving gifts and cats know this too. However the gifts given by cats are usually dead animals such as mice or birds. While this may not sound very nice, it will seem perfectly normal for your cat. A mother will often bring prey home to her kitten to teach them how to hunt so this behaviour is not very common for cats who do not have kittens and have been neutered. However, it can still occur and the cat should not be punished for it.

Burying Faeces

In the wild, cats mark their territory by laying the faeces around so that other cats know that this belong to someone else. The same concept occurs in the household too. The cat will see you as the dominant one and will cover it faeces for that reason. In a household with more than one cat, you might find that one covers its faeces and the other doesn't. This just mean that one cat is the dominant one over the other and it perfectly normal.

Wagging Tail

Whereas dogs wag their tails when they are happy, a cat will wag its tail when it is angry or when it is feeling indecisive - it wants to do two things at once and cannot make up its mind which action to take.

Eating Grass

A cat will often eat grass when it need to clean out its stomach be vomiting, usually to get rid of fur balls. Some studies have shown that a cat will also eat grass to obtain some Folic Acid (which a cat needs in small quantities for its well being ad health) which is usually missing from a cats diet.

Eating off the floor

A very common behaviour found in cats is taking food out of its bowl and eating it off the floor. There are a number of possible reasons why a cat might do this. One such reason is that the cat might find the pieces of food too big and will separate it out from the rest of the food so that it can chew it into smaller pieces. Another reason is that if that cats whiskers touch the sides of the bowl while it is eating, it might find it uncomfortable to will eat off the floor to avoid this.

Mad Dash

Found mostly in indoor cats, a mad dash is when the cats will run around the house/room at full speed and jump off furniture. This will occur for cats who have a lot of pent up energy and is a way for them to quickly burn it off.

Since cats are nocturnal creatures, this will usually happen late in the evenings when they are at their most active.

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    • profile image

      Salma 

      5 years ago

      Valuable info. Especially about cats purring when distressed and the mad dash part. Thank you!

    • profile image

      Tman116 

      7 years ago

      Thank u she let the chipmunk go after she brung it to me.

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