Cats are precious creatures that add value to the lives of the people who are lucky enough to have them. This article is dedicated to our feline friends. Let’s take a few minutes and talk about their common behaviors that make them such unique animals.
Meow! That can mean many things in kitty talk. It is simply a cat’s own means of communicating with you. It is interesting to note that cats don’t meow to talk to each other, just to talk to humans. If your cat is meowing, here are some things she might be trying to tell you.
- Hello! It may be as simple as that. When you come home, when she crosses your path in the house and when you speak to her, she just wants to greet you.
- Pay attention to me! Your cat may want to be stroked, played with or talked to. Especially if your cat has been left alone all day, she may be vying for your affection.
- I am hungry! When it is time to eat, cats can become quite demanding. Some cats start meowing automatically when you walk into the kitchen or come near their food supply.
- Let me go outside, or come back inside! If you allow your cat to go outdoors, you may notice him meowing at your sliding glass door or windows.
- I am looking for a mate! Females “yowl” to advertise that they are receptive to males, and males do the same to tell the female they want her right back.
When cats purr, it should be seen as a reassuring sign to pet owners that all is well. In fact, animal behaviorist believe that the original function of purring was for a kitten to communicate with the mother that “everything is okay.” The mother cat will often purr back in response to the kitten, to show her mutual support.
- Older cats are often found purring when they play with or approach other cats. They do this in order to let the other cat know they are friendly and want to come closer.
- Don’t be surprised if you hear your kitty purring at the vet’s office. This is because cats also purr when they are distressed or afraid, in an attempt to comfort themselves.
Looking for ways to make your kitty purr in bliss?
- Buy her a comfy kitty bed and position it near a window, where he can bask in the sunlight or watch the world go by.
- Stroke her gently, in her favorite petting spots, with the grain of her fur.
- Buy him toys, such as scratching posts to expend pent up energy.
- Keep her favorite kitty treats at hand.
- Give him catnip from time to time.
One thing is for certain, cats like to scratch. It is within their very nature. Cats scratch while they are playing and they scratch when they are stretching. They may also scratch to mark their territory or to signal their dominance around other cats. Cats also scratch on different things in order to remove their old outer claws to reveal a fresh pair underneath.
Some cat owners become distressed when they find their cats scratching things that they wish they wouldn’t. Your favorite sofa, pretty draperies or fresh carpeting can all fall victim to a cat’s scratching. People respond to destructive scratching with very different measures. Some work with their cats, providing them with alternatives, while others simply decide to throw in the towel and have their cat declawed.
Here is what you can do about destructive scratching:
- Scratching Posts: Provide your cat with a variety of different types of scratching posts to try out. They should be made of various types of materials, including cardboard, carpeting, wood, sisal and upholstery. Position some of them vertically, and some of them horizontally, to see which your cat prefers.
- Bait Them With Catnip: You can encourage your cat to come over and check out her scratching posts by scenting them with catnip and hanging toys on them.
- Discourage Scratching in Targeted Areas: Consider removing or covering objects that you don’t want your cat to scratch, for a time. For example, turn your speakers toward the wall. You can try putting double-sided sticky tape on areas of furniture that your cat tries to scratch.
- Trim your cat’s nails on a regular basis.
- Try Soft Claws®: These are plastic caps that you can put over your cat’s claws. Put on with adhesive, they last for 4 to 6 weeks. This will stop your cat’s claws from causing any damage.
- Surprise him: If you catch your cat in the act, there are a couple of things you can try. You can clap your hands loudly or spray your cat with a little water. The ASPCA recommends doing these things only as a last resort.
Some people choose declawing because they see it as a “quick fix” to a scratching problem. The term “declawing” is a bit misleading. Some people think that declawing is akin to a cat getting a manicure. This is far from the truth. To give you the human equivalent, it is like amputating each of your fingers at the last knuckle. After the cat is declawed, he experiences a significant amount of pain and distress. For these reasons, 14 countries around the globe have banned declawing cats.
- 31% of all cat owners in the United States have their cats declawed.
- Declawing is a major surgery that involves the amputation of the entire last joint of the toe.
- After surgery, the cat will have trouble walking for several days.
- The pain the cat experiences can be overwhelming.
- Complications such as bleeding, swelling and infection may occur, in about half of declawed cats.
- Results of a Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine study showed that about 20% of declawed cats experience complications such as infection, nail regrowth and lameness.
- After declawing, the cat has to learn how to balance himself unnaturally.
- Some cats become biters because they don’t have their claws to defend themselves.
- Due to pain when scratching in their litter box, some cats may stop using their litter box
- 30% or more of veterinarians do not prescribe any pain medicine to declawed cats.
Curious Cat Behaviors
Chattering at Birds
Have you ever heard your cat make a clacking sound when birds fly by the window? Many animal behaviorists suspect that cats do this because of their desire to go outside and catch the bird. Others suspect that the cat’s jaw muscles are preparing themselves for the act of killing prey.
This familiar act is displayed by many cats. When your kitty gives you a head butt, behaviorists agree that your cat is saying, “Greetings. I trust you and feel safe.” It is also a means of sharing facial pheromones with you. Also known as bunting, if your cat doesn’t do it, not to worry, it just may not be his style.
Bringing You Presents
Have you ever had your cat give you a “present” of a dead mouse? There are many theories about why cats do this. One of these is that her mother may have done this for her. Or, she may just be sharing her “food” with you to thank you for feeding her. It is also possible that she sees you as a friend and is just trying to share her successful hunt with you. If you dislike your cat bringing you these gifts of love, avoid punishing her for doing what she does naturally. Instead, just try to keep her indoors, or put a bell on her collar, making it more difficult for her to catch her prey.
Does your kitty like to press her paws rhythmically against you, giving you a little cat massage? This is another charming habit of many cats. Sometimes referred to as “making biscuits,” kneading is a way that your cat may alleviate anxiety while at the same time marking you with her scent. Kittens begin to do this shortly after birth, in order to stimulate milk flow from their mother. If your cat is kneading a lot and it bothers you, talk to your veterinarian to see if there is anything that can be done.
Curling up in Small Spaces
There are plenty of places your kitty could choose as a resting spot. You have a nice, big sofa, and plenty of open space on the carpet. So, why would he prefer curling up in a tiny little box, barely large enough to hold him? Or, perhaps he would rather hide in a small cubbyhole underneath your bed instead of sprawling out on top your comforter. What gives? Cats do this because small spaces make them feel more safe and secure. This makes sense instinctively. In the wild, if a cat is out in the open, he becomes susceptible to predators.
Staring at You
Has your cat ever had their eyes fixated on you for a time, not even blinking? Chances are, she is just trying to get your attention for one reason or another. Usually cats do this when they want some food.
On the other hand, you may notice that your cat has their back turned to you and isn’t the least bit interested in paying you any attention. Just like people, at times cats just want to be left alone. When your cat is acting like he wants some space, give it to him. He will feel more secure with you because you are respecting his need to be alone at times. If you do this, he is sure to seek you out later for love and affection.
Being Active at Night
Cats are known to enjoy sleeping for long periods at a time. Even still, when cats are awake they can be quite active. Don’t be surprised if your cat is ready to play and scamper about in the nighttime hours. Young kittens in particular may drive their owners into a state of sleep deprivation. It is in your cat’s nature to be nocturnal. Although domestication has caused cats to be awake more during the day, their instinct to hunt and play at night still exists. If this becomes a problem in your home, try providing your cat with plenty of toys and activities to occupy them during the daytime hours.
Although feline aggression isn’t viewed as being as serious as dog aggression, it is still an issue that is faced by some cat owners. The teeth and claws of cats can cause potential damage to the object of their aggression. A cat that is too aggressive can be a risk to a household, posing potential danger to both family and visitors. It is important to identify the cause of your cat’s aggression to avoid triggering it.
Signs of Offensive Feline Aggression
- Hissing, yowling or growling
- A stiff, straight-legged upright stance
- A stiff, lowered tail or one held straight down to the ground
- Hackles up, including fur on the tail
- Directly facing opponent, moving toward him
- Direct stare with constricted pupils
Signs of Defensive Feline Aggression
- Crouching down
- Head and tail are tucked in
- Ears flattened out on the head
- Turning sideways to the opponent
- Open-mouthed hissing
- May deliver quick strikes with the claws out
Aggressiveness Between Cats
The most common type of aggression between cats happens between unneutered males. These cats often challenge each other in order to gain access to territory and potential mating opportunities. This typically happens with Tomcats that are kept outdoors. When aggressiveness happens between housecats, it is generally more subtle. This aggressiveness is likely to be related to one cat being larger than the other, or simply unpleasant social experiences they have had with the other cats.
Fearful or Defensive Aggression
This type of aggression happens when a cat perceives a threat and feels he cannot escape it. The more threatened a cat feels, the more dramatic his response. When a cat feels he has no other choice, he may begin hissing and spitting, growling, swatting, biting and scratching. The best way to deal with a cat that displays defensive aggression is to just avoid him until he has calmed down.
Although cats with territorial aggression often direct it towards other cats, some exhibit this behavior toward certain family members as well. If a cat considers someone as an intruder on their turf, they may stalk and chase them. Some cats patrol their turf, as well as rub their chins and spray their urine on areas they have claimed as their own. A cat may consider its territory to be the entire house, part of the house, the block or the neighborhood.
It is common for kittens and young cats that are less than 2 years of age to play rough. The most common type of feline aggression is play aggression. Although a cat might just be having fun, if their rough play becomes too much, it can cause injury to people or damage to household items. Instances of playful aggression may become more prevalent if the cat spends a lot of time alone without any opportunity to play.
Unfortunately, redirected aggression is also very common in cats. It is perhaps the most dangerous form of cat aggression, because it seems to happen out of the blue. This type of aggression happens when a cat becomes agitated by an animal or a person he can’t get at. For example, your cat sees another cat on the other side of the window and he cannot attack like he wants to. So, maybe even as long as an hour later, a person approaches the cat and gets attacked instead. This can also happen if a person tries to break up a catfight.
Some cats enjoy being petted and coddled over, while others find it hard to tolerate. Petting-induced aggression occurs when a cat suddenly decides he doesn’t want to be petted anymore. He may nip the person doing the petting and may then run off. Animal behaviorists suspect that the stroking can quickly become unpleasant if it is repeated over and over.
Maternal aggression occurs when a cat or sometimes a person approaches her kittens. A mother cat can be quite aggressive, especially for a few days after birth. Because of this, it best to avoid handling kittens during these first few days.
When Aggression is a Concern
If your cat is overly aggressive, the ASPCA recommends taking them to the veterinarian to rule out a medical condition. For example, cats who have orthopedic problems, thyroid abnormalities or neurological disorders to name a few may display increased irritability and aggression. In addition to this, some older cats can suffer from confusion and insecurity which could trigger aggressive behavior.
Cats are curious, inquisitive creatures. They have unique personalities, as well as looks. Whether they are napping, playing rough or being frisky, they express their emotions in ways that only felines can. So if your kitty will let you, snuggle up and enjoy his company before his mood changes.