Category Archives: strange behaviors of cats

The Bizarre Behaviors of Cats

By Julia Williams

Cats are such strange creatures. Not strange in a bad way, just prone to bizarre behavior that can leave you wondering what exactly is going on in that pretty little head of theirs.  I suppose there are cat critics who’d argue that nothing is going on in their heads and that’s why they act so peculiar. However, I’m convinced that cats know exactly why they do the things they do! And I think they might even do some things precisely because it keeps us guessing. I think they don’t want us to “figure them out” because being decoded would go against their feline nature, i.e., pretending to be independent and oblivious to us.

After decades of living with cats, I’ve concluded that it’s pointless to try to understand why they do such strange things. Most if not all of the funny things cats do will never be understood. Knowing the crafty feline mind like I do, I wouldn’t put it past them to pretend to be asleep when they’re actually lying there concocting yet another kooky behavior to confuse their gullible human.

A cat’s fascination with boxes is high on my list of the behaviors I find perplexing. What’s up with that? I saw a photo cartoon that had a bunch of boxes on a deserted road, and each box had a cat sitting in it. The caption said, “The cat traps are working.” Funny, but so true! I daresay there isn’t a cat alive that doesn’t love boxes. They sleep in them, play in them, slide through them (Maru!) and wedge themselves into the teensiest box like feline contortionists. Why? And how can that even be comfortable?

Moreover, why would they prefer sleeping in that hard box or on the cold floor instead of their cozy cat bed? Who sleeps on the floor, anyway? I was so excited when I got my cats a multi-level scratching post/cat condo with three places that looked (to my dumb eye) like great places to sleep. They took one look at this thing and bolted off to find their favorite box. It’s become a lovely piece of “corner art” now.

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Why Does My Cat Do That?


By Ruthie Bently

Anyone who’s ever shared their life with a cat has spent time watching them. Cats are fascinating creatures, and when an owner takes the time to watch them they get a better insight into the mind, instincts, likes and dislikes of their feline friend. If you live with multiple cats, you can watch them interact with each other. Domestic cats are not as large as tigers or lions, but you get a glimpse into what life in a pride may be like when you watch a group of cats. We might not always understand why our cats do what they do, but there’s always a reason behind their actions.

Your cat’s behavior may be driven by instinct, or one of their senses (smell, hearing or sight). I had a cat that tried to bury their food bowl by folding the cloth placemat the bowl sat on over their dish. This is instinctual and is done to protect the cat from predators. While domestic cats don’t hide their food up a tree (as a jaguar does), by burying it they are hiding their meal from another animal. Kittens learn to bury food from their mother. This is also a behavior for self-preservation; it keeps a predator from finding the kittens in the nest. Cats that drop toys in their water dish are hiding them in a place they feel is safe.

Kittens knead their mother to increase the milk flow from their mother’s nipples; a cat may do it as they settle in your lap for a nap. It is a pleasurable remembrance from kittenhood that’s done to show love to their owner, and may be accompanied by purring and drooling. Sucking on fingers and toes may be performed by a kitten when their mother is not available for a snack. It is also an adult behavior linked to weaning too early, as is sucking on wool, clothing, buttons, zippers or small objects around the house.

Does your cat wait until you are in bed to begin playing? They race up and down their cat tree at the speed of light. They whiz through the bedroom bouncing off the furniture and charging underneath it. They attack your feet under the blankets or bring you their favorite toy in an attempt to get you to play with them. Cats will even try to hunt the insects they see buzzing outside the window. A cat’s eyesight is superior at night and instinct tells them this is when they should be hunting. Cats sleep between sixteen and eighteen hours a day; if you work away from home, they don’t have you to play with during the day. If this nighttime behavior is unacceptable to you, try tiring your cat out before bed by playing fetch with them or using an interactive toy like a peacock feather.

Does your cat jump on the sink when you’re washing your hands or dishes, and begin drinking out of the faucet? Or do they sit in the bathroom sink and meow for you to come and turn it on for them? Cats would rather drink running water than water sitting in a dish. It contains more oxygen and is fresher than the water in their dish even if it’s changed every day. Consider getting a cat fountain. The one I like recirculates the water and comes with charcoal filters to keep the water clean. You can even purchase a hydroponic wheat grass accessory and grow your own cat grass right in the fountain.

Have you ever walked into a room and your cat grabs you around the ankle and bites you? If your cat is a kitten they may be teething. An older cat may have aggression issues and need an outlet. Declawed cats may begin biting due to frustration. It could be due to a simple case of boredom. If your cat waylays you in the same place, carry a favorite toy in a pocket and toss it for them before you are grabbed. A cat being petted in your lap may bite or growl suddenly to let you know they’ve had enough and want you to stop. Offer a toy as a safe alternative to distract them from you and teach them that biting people is not appropriate with a forceful “No.”

Does your cat chitter at something they see on television or outside, like a chipmunk, bird or a bug? Cat behaviorists compare this sound to a bite that wild cats use to dispatch their prey quickly. An inside cat may become alert and seem excited; the sound may be accompanied by rapid tail wagging. Does your cat meow in an excessive manner? See my article on night calling for some solutions.

Observing your cat gives you a chance to see inside a world non-cat owners don’t understand. Remember that cats are ruled by instincts, and their senses can make life easier and more enjoyable for all.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Stop Wool Sucking in Cats


By Julia Williams

I had a gray tabby cat named Binky who was the sweetest, most affectionate feline I’ve ever known. Binky was my kitty companion for 19 years, and I loved her dearly. But Binky had a bizarre habit – she sucked on my blankets and sweaters until they became a soggy mess. Like countless other cat owners confronted with such odd behavior, I thought something must be mentally wrong with Binky. Should Binky see a cat therapist, I wondered? I opted to consult with my vet instead, who informed me that Binky’s behavior was actually fairly common. It even had a name: wool sucking.

What causes wool sucking in cats?

Some cats, like Binky, become fixated with sucking, licking or chewing on fabrics. Because wool is generally the fabric of choice, this behavior became known as wool sucking. Although there is no definitive answer as to why cats engage in wool sucking, it is believed to be a misdirected, compulsive behavior related to nursing and too-early weaning of kittens. Genetics may also play a part. Although many people wonder if there might be something missing in the cat’s diet that causes them to be wool suckers, my vet said this was highly unlikely.

For survival reasons, a young kitten’s drive to nurse is quite strong. Healthy kittens nurse vigorously until they are about six to seven weeks old. After that, the momma cat usually rebuffs the kittens when they try to nurse, until they are completely weaned and eating solid food on their own. As the kitten grows older and naturally progresses to solid food, their drive to nurse fades. But in some cases, when a kitten experiences abrupt early weaning while their nursing drive is still strong, they may turn to non-nutritional substitutes that have the same feel as Mom, such as that soft wool blanket on your bed.

Is wool sucking dangerous for your cat?

Wool sucking is a strange behavior, to be sure. Having spittle -soaked blankets is no picnic either. But is wool sucking harmful to your cat? As long as the behavior stays at the wool sucking stage and doesn’t progress to the chewing and swallowing stage, it may not be a problem that requires intervention on your part. The kitten may also outgrow the behavior in time. If they don’t, and the wool sucking turns to chewing and swallowing, the behavior could be dangerous for your cat because they could suffer intestinal obstruction from the ingested fabric.

What can you do about wool sucking?

As I said, sometimes the wool sucking will subside on its own. It may go away completely, or your kitten or cat may only engage in wool sucking in times of stress or conflict. If your cat engages in wool sucking, the right course of action would be to have your cat examined by your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for the behavior. Then, depending upon what your vet recommends, you may want to consider consulting with a cat behaviorist.

If your vet feels that your cat’s wool sucking is endangering its health, they may suggest one of the following treatments:

Aversion – If your cat only sucks on one or two objects, you can try a pet deterrent spray. Just be sure to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it won’t harm the fabric.

Eliminate or reduce sources of stress for your cat – Some possible stressors include: separation anxiety, conflicts with other cats and dogs in your household, neighborhood cats coming into your yard, rowdy visitors and loud noises.

Redirect the wool-eating – When you see your cat chomping on your favorite sweater or blanket, offer it something else to suck on, such as a fuzzy sock or a soft cat toy.

Drug Therapy – Your veterinarian may prescribe medication such as anti-anxiety or anti-depressants.

Discourage the behavior – If you catch your cat in the act of wool sucking, gently tap them on the nose and say, “No” in a firm voice. You can also help to discourage the wool sucking by not giving them access to the objects they like to suck on. For example, keep all clothes picked up and put away, and always make your bed so the blanket is covered up.

I found Binky in my backyard when she was only about five weeks old, so the theory that wool sucking is caused by abrupt early weaning makes sense to me. Binky never did outgrow the wool sucking behavior completely, but since she did it less frequently as she got older and never progressed to wool eating, I viewed it more as an annoyance rather than a problem which required treatment. As in all cases where your cat exhibits strange behavior, you should discuss it with your vet to determine if treatment is necessary.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Keep Cats Off Your Kitchen Counters


By Julia Williams

Cats are notorious counter surfers. Dogs do this too, but cats have an advantage over some dog breeds who would counter surf, if only they could jump that high. Nearly all cats, except very old or obese ones, are agile enough to get up onto the kitchen counters. I don’t believe they counter surf just because they can, though. My cats get onto the counters because that’s where the food is. It doesn’t matter that I never leave any food out; they see me preparing food there, and one can surmise that they keep checking every day on the premise that it could happen.

I don’t really know why they counter surf, but I do know a thing or two about how to keep cats off kitchen counters. I’ve had plenty of practice at that, especially since Rocky joined my household six years ago. For reasons I can’t fathom, this cat has major food issues. Rocky is on a “seafood” diet – i.e., he sees food and he eats it. He has perfected his food-snatching technique as well, and can snag food off the counter in a nanosecond.

All of the different methods I’ve tried to keep Rocky off the kitchen counters don’t work for long, but they do work for my other cats and I think they’d also work for most cats. Rocky is just “special,” and I’ve learned to either watch my food like a hawk while preparing it, or lock Rocky in the bedroom until every morsel is put away. It’s simpler that way and it works for me, unless I have a memory lapse.

Such as, the time I baked some cookies that came with caramel topping. I watched him carefully as they cooled enough so I could drizzle on the gooey caramel. Because the caramel needed to harden before I could put them away, I took Rocky with me into my home office. A short while later I realized I’d forgotten all about the cookies, and Rocky. He sauntered in, licking his chops. Uh-oh! I ran into the kitchen to see how many cookies he’d eaten. To my surprise the cookies were still there – but they were licked clean of all the caramel!

Here are some things you can do to keep cats off the kitchen counters. Try one, and if it doesn’t work, try another, because dirty cat paws that have been digging in a litter box have no business being on the kitchen counters.

Clean up after food preparation, and never leave anything edible on the counter. You might be surprised by what foods a cat will sample, especially if you have a feline like Rocky. Plus, if they find a tasty tidbit on the counter one day, they’re more likely to keep checking it.

The spray bottle is a classic cat training tool that I’ve used successfully (on every cat except Rocky, of course). Spray a fine mist of water into their face when they are on the kitchen counters, and tell them firmly to “get down.” Most cats hate water, but a fine mist won’t hurt them and they quickly learn that the counters are a no-cat zone.

Coins in a can is another method I’ve used to keep my cats off the counters. You just give it a good shake; the noise startles them and they jump down. This worked for Rocky until he got used to the noise. I’ve used a whistle too, but it scared my other two cats too much (and seemed unfair since they’d done nothing wrong).

Sticky tape on the edge of the counter is touted as a good cat deterrent, but I found it very inconvenient.

Booby traps: there’s a hilarious video online of an invention called the Blender Defender. This homemade booby trap features a motion-detecting blender and strobe lights that activate when a cat jumps up on the kitchen counter. In the video, the unsuspecting cat jumped four feet in the air and promptly fell off the counter. Price to make the Blender Defender: $214. Video of ambushed cat: priceless.

The long-handler grabber gizmo was actually designed for getting things down from high shelves; however, I recently discovered it works wonders to deter Rocky from jumping on my counter while I’m preparing food. The pinching motion freaks him out, so now I keep it handy whenever I have food on the counter. If he even glances up at the counter, I “pretend” grab at him and he runs out of the kitchen.

The Tattle Tale is a motion sensor machine that sounds a loud alarm whenever it detects the vibration of a cat jumping onto the counter. I haven’t actually tried this but it sounds promising, and might be worth getting. It sells for $24.99.

Remember, you may have to try several methods to find one that works for you. But with patience and training, you should be able to keep your cat off the kitchen counter.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

The Strange Behaviors of Cats


By Julia Williams

Does your cat do weird things? Rest assured, if your feline friend regularly engages in strange behavior that makes no sense to you –you’re not alone. I could fill a book with all of the peculiar things my cats have done over the years. It leads me to believe there must be some unwritten “rule of paw” that every cat knows about and agrees to adhere to, once they get adopted by a human. It probably goes something like this: “I will always engage in strange behaviors that drive my human crazy.”

Okay, maybe not. But having been around cats all of my life, it does seem like they are always doing odd things for no particular reason. Perhaps my cats have a perfectly good reason why they won’t sleep in the adorable plush cat bed I bought for them, but will curl up inches away from it on the cold, hardwood floor instead; if so, it eludes me. Perhaps they know exactly what makes a cardboard box – any cardboard box – so darn irresistible. I’ve seen my cats turn into little Cirque du Soleil-like contortionists to wedge themselves into a teeny tiny cardboard box for a nap. It doesn’t look the least bit comfortable to me, yet they snooze away.

My cats are disinterested in most of the cute cat toys I buy for them. They like to play with straws instead, and will even steal them out of my drink when I’m not looking! My idiot kitties used to hang their behinds off the side of their litter box and leave little “droppings” on the floor, but I put an end to this objectionable behavior by switching to a covered cat box. However, I have not yet found a solution to their confounding habit of forever trying to stick their furry little rumps in my face. “No Thank You” doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about that behavior.

My cats have always been very good about using the various scratching posts I’ve strategically placed around my house. Nevertheless, every so often I will catch Rocky (a.k.a., my “problem child”) in the act of sharpening his claws on the carpet – right next to one of the scratching posts!

One odd cat behavior that always makes me laugh is the overzealous and prolonged digging in the litter box. Sometimes it lasts so long, I think they must surely be trying to dig a hole to China. Another funny cat behavior is when they scratch the floor next to their food bowl. Some theorize this is because they’re unhappy with the food offering and are trying to cover it, but I’m not convinced. I’ve been feeding them FELIDAE cat food exclusively for about five years, and they seem to love it. Why would it be acceptable 99 days out of 100?

Kneading is a common behavior that almost all cats do. Kneading is a vestige of kittenhood, when they would knead the momma cat’s belly during nursing, to help the milk flow. When adult cats do it (very often on their human “mom’s” belly!) it’s typically thought to indicate that they’re happy and content.

A strange behavior my cat Annabelle does that looks similar to kneading is what I call “angry marching in place.” She will furiously march with just her back legs, usually on the bedspread or the carpet, with an odd expression on her face. I have no idea why she does this, but she looks more possessed than happy when doing it.

Does your cat follow you into the bathroom? I’m not sure why felines are so fascinated with what goes on in that room and want to be in there with you, but most cat owners I’ve talked to say this is a typical behavior at their house. I learned long ago to warn my guests to firmly shut the door when they use my bathroom. Otherwise, they could find themselves sitting on the throne with a cat staring at them, and the door flung wide open. Cats never gently nudge open a door; they push it open with all their might.

Drooling while being petted is another common cat behavior. Animal behaviorist’s say this simply means your kitty is happy and relaxed, and enjoying the attention you’re lavishing upon them. It makes sense to me. My three cats all drool excessively when I pet or brush them, but never at any other time. Once, at the end of a marathon brushing session with Annabelle, I reached down to kiss her paw and discovered that it was sopping wet! (I’m much more careful about what I kiss now).

Cats are funny creatures, to be sure. But those of us who love them, accept their strange behaviors because it’s a part of what makes them so endearing. If you’d like to share your own cat’s quirky behaviors, please feel free to leave a comment.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.