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Weird Cat Behaviors Explained
As any cat owner knows, cats have many behavior traits. Some of these behaviors are easy enough to figure out - when your cat scratches on your bedroom door early in the morning, odds are good that she wants you to get up and feed her, or at least let her in the room. However, some of kitty's quirks might be more mysterious. What is your cat thinking or feeling when she's doing something weird?
Why do cats sleep in sinks?
The internet is full of pictures of cats in sinks. You may even have a cat of your own who likes to hang out in your sink (and clog the drain with his fur). What is it about sinks that draws some cats to them?
It's the same reason cats like to sleep in boxes (even boxes that are almost too small for them), drawers, laundry baskets, or cubbyholes. A smaller space (like a sink) is more like a den, and therefore feels more secure to the cat. Some cats may also be looking for a place to cool down, and the sink may be one of the cooler spots in the house.
What about drinking out of the toilet?
I once had a cat who seemed to think water from the toilet was the only water worth drinking. I know there are many other cats in the world who have similar "tastes." Why do cats like to drink water from such a nasty place?
Cats don't see the toilet bowl in the same way we do. They see it as a source of fresh water (the water is changed every time the toilet is flushed), and it's usually cooler than the water that's been sitting around all day in a bowl. The water in a toilet sometimes moves, and your cat might be entertained by this.
It's generally not a good idea to let your cat drink toilet water, due to obvious sanitary issues as well as residue from cleaning chemicals. Fortunately, you can break most cats of the habit by keeping the toilet lid closed and changing your cat's water frequently. Providing your cat a "pet fountain" instead of a regular drinking bowl is another option.
Why do cats sometimes suddenly run around like maniacs?
Many people with cats have experienced this at one time or another. All of a sudden, the cat jumps up and runs around the house, darting here and there and maybe running up and down the stairs. This is sometimes called "night crazies" because it seems to happen most often (though not always) at night. There are a few possible reasons for a cat "going crazy."
The cat may just be playing around and burning off some extra energy. This is the most common reason in young cats and kittens, but it's not exclusive to the young ones. My mother's 20-year old cat did it occasionally (though less often than he did when he was younger). However, there could also be a physical reason for the behavior. A surprise flea bite or itch in a spot your cat can't reach can turn him temporarily spastic. Another thing to watch out for is a disorder called Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome, or "rippling skin disorder." If your cat's skin actually ripples and he bites or scratches at himself (primarily on the back or tail), get him checked by a vet. The condition could be a type of obsessive compulsive disorder in some cats, but it can also have physical causes such as allergies, exposure to toxins, or neurological disorders.
Why do cats lick our heads or hair?
My husband and I had a cat who loved to lick our heads, especially when we were fresh out of the shower. It turns out that it's a fairly common behavior, and there are a few reasons cats do it.
Mother cats lick and groom their kittens, and adult cats remember this experience. If cats feel close to each other, one will often groom the other as a way of saying, "You're part of my group." This extends to human family members as well. So, when your cat slurps you, he might just be showing you affection. It could also be that you don't smell enough like him any more and he wants to reestablish you as part of his "clan".
Why do some cats suck on fabric?
This is often called "wool sucking," because wool seems to be the material of choice. However, other fabrics are not immune. Some cats will even suckle on a human finger, a toy, a part of their own body, or another cat. Most people wouldn't think anything strange of seeing this behavior in a kitten, but when it comes to adult cats, it's a different story.
For adult cats, this is usually another type of obsessive compulsive disorder. It happens often in cats who were weaned too early. Ideally, kittens should be with their mothers until they are 8 - 12 weeks old (12 weeks is best). If they are taken away earlier, they still instinctively want to suckle on something, and fabric is soft and warm like the mother. Some cats only engage in wool sucking when they are stressed, because it feels comforting to them. It tends to be more common in certain breeds, such as the Siamese. There's also the possibility that the behavior is due to a deficiency in the diet, so a checkup with your veterinarian is always a good idea, just in case.
If your cat is ingesting material (of it you're just tired of finding your blankets wet from cat saliva), you can try to break your cat of the habit by distracting her when you catch her suckling. Be sure to give her a favorite treat or some ear scratches when she stops. Another option is to provide her with her own blanket or toy for suckling - terrycloth is safe and usually attractive to cats.