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Strange Cat Behaviors and What They Mean

Cats, our eccentric companions who go bump in the night, mystify us with their jumping and sprinting on a daily basis. Unfortunately, they don’t come with an instruction manual to decode their behavior. If you have ever been curious why your cat loves boxes, hates cucumbers, and seems to love offering small animal sacrifices to you, wonder no more. We have compiled a list of the top five mysterious behaviors of cats, and what you can do about them, in this quick and fascinating list:

  1. Kneading Everything with Their Paws:

Making biscuits, cat massages, or just kneading machines, cats caught pressing their paws into all kinds of surfaces has melted the heart of the internet for years. Why cats do this mysterious behavior is equally adorable: it’s a sign of affection. Kneading behaviors start as early as kitten-hood, where young cats knead their mother’s stomach to help milk production. Continuing this behavior into adulthood, cats knead surfaces and people when they are feeling particularly relaxed.

The scent glands, some of which are located in the pads of feet as well as the snout, also are activated, marking the object of their affection with their aroma. These pheromones are normally only detectable by other animals, so feel free to let your cat knead on with their special display of affection.

  1. Sleep All Day, Awake All Night

For some pet parents, having a cat at home means fighting for every minute of sleep at night. Cats, whose ancestors were mostly exclusive night hunters, will naturally use the night hours to practice their own hunting routine. This behavior is reinforced for many traditional households, when people come home and start playing with their cat in the early evening hours. Essentially, being a night owl is normal for a cat and is reinforced through owner stimulation.

There is a solution for this, though. A 2013 study at the University of Messina (Italy) found that cats who lived closely with their daylight loving family were more likely to be sound sleepers at night(1). Cats who were kicked out of the bedroom to play all night will continue their nighttime routine. The answer to this one is: involve your pet in your active daytime routine for a more peaceful night.

  1. Kill Things and Bring Them Back to You:

It never fails to bring a small scream to your lips; finding a dead mouse or bird on your kitchen floor in the morning with your very proud cat waiting over it. While this macabre gift might seem disturbing (or at least disgusting) the reason your cat is bringing you dead prey is because they love you and want to see you grow up well. Just like a caring mama, your cat is giving you all the tools to become a well-developed adult…cat.

Cats learn to hunt from their mothers, who starts bringing them dead prey at an early age. She then graduates to bringing just injured prey, then taking her kittens hunting on their own. This is the normal way cats learn the skills necessary for survival. By bringing you injured or dead prey, your cat is just being a good, nurturing parent. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this behavior, but try limiting their access to their hunting grounds might give them fewer opportunities in the future.

  1. Fitting Themselves into Small Spaces:

If you have a box, your cat has probably already sat in it and squashed it flat. Cats love of fitting themselves in inappropriate places has made them famous, but it also fulfills an important emotional need for cats. Wild cats have always searched for places either high up or secluded and safe to use as a den. Domesticated cats are no different, and that discarded shoe box looks extra inviting as a safe space for your feline. Having spaces to climb to or hide actually decreases your cats stress levels as well.

Far from stopping this behavior, you should embrace it as an excellent method of self-care. If you are unable to provide a cat tree for them to climb on, be sure to put out several boxes of different sizes for your cat to play on or hide in. You will be sure to enjoy the resulting playtime and your cat will as well.

  1. Are Afraid of Cucumbers (Or Other Random Items)

Not so long ago, a video popped up of a cat being terrified of a common salad ingredient: a cucumber. Placed in a conspicuous place, the cucumber appeared while the cat was eating or otherwise occupied, only to cause alarm and terror once the cat had turned around. The truth is that cucumbers and cats are not naturally enemies, the cat is instead reacting to a new item surprising them by magically appearing. A cat’s instincts are programmed to show alarm towards unexpected things (a reaction that has worked well for them for centuries) so a surprise vegetable set off their alarm bells.

While this reaction will hold true for any item introduced in an unexpected way, you should not go around terrifying your cat with household produce. Your cat will remember the negative reaction to this particular product and where they were when it appeared. If you try to scare your cat when they are eating, they may be less likely to approach their food bowl. Overall, while these videos were good to start a conversation, try not recreating them at home.

Do you have a quirky cat at home with a mysterious behavior? Let us know your cat’s strange habits in the comments so we can wonder with you!


Blog author Lauren Pescarus is an admitted Cat Person who admires all pets from afar. She lives at home in Romania with her husband, and loves to buy things for the pets she will soon convince her lucky spouse to bring home. For more information about Lauren’s writing services, follow this LINK

 

 


1 Piccione, G., Marafioti, S., Giannetto, C., Panzera, M., & Fazio, F. (2013). Daily rhythm of total activity pattern in domestic cats (Felis silvestris catus) maintained in two different housing conditions. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 8(4), 189-194. doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2012.09.004

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