Your Cat’s Oddest Behaviors, Explained

Having a cat for a personal companion can be a very rewarding experience for some people. But cats come with a lot of unusual and quirky personality traits. Have you ever wondered why your cat is always head-butting people? Or why they have to push your water bottle off the kitchen counter continuously?

Cats do some strange things that we try to make sense of in our heads. But no longer do we have to rationalize why they run around the house at three in the morning! Here are the real explanations for some of our feline friends’ strangest behaviors.

Head-Butting Or Rubbing Is Their Way of Saying Hi

saying hello
Cute Cat Store/Pinterest
Cute Cat Store/Pinterest

You may have noticed that whenever you’re around a cat they tend to bump into your legs, face, arm, or pretty much any available surface space on your body. This head-bump doesn’t mean they want to start a fight, though. It’s actually quite the opposite!

The bumping is a gesture, indicating that the cat trusts you and feels safe around you. It’s their way of saying hello! In addition, when they rub against something it transfers pheromones from their body, marking the person or object as safe and trustworthy. Cat behavior experts have named this action “bunting.”

Communicating With Their Eyes Doesn’t Mean They Have It In For You…But It Might

Communicating With Their Eyes Doesn't Mean They Want To Kill You...But It Might
Kim Berndt/Pinterest
Kim Berndt/Pinterest

When a cat stares at you, more often then not they are trying to get your attention. But you have to be careful about the different types of stares. If a cat is staring at you very intensely, it could be an act of aggression, and it’s best not to stare back. You don’t want a cat pouncing on your face!

On the flip side of the coin, when a cat stares at you for a long period of time and then slowly blinks, it’s their way of showing affection. But that doesn’t mean you should go over and pick up the cat!

Laying On Your Stuff Means They Want Attention

Laying On Your Stuff Means They Want Attention
Francie Gross/Pinterest
Francie Gross/Pinterest

You know that feeling when you’re working on something very important on your computer, and your cat comes over and plops down directly on top of the keyboard? We’re here to tell you that there is a reason for your kitty wanting to “un” intentionally write paragraph upon paragraph of gibberish on your final essay.

Your cat is all up in your business because they see that you’re paying more attention to something that is not them. They want that attention so they’ll get between you and the object that you’re using! It’s also territorial, meaning that they’ll rub their scent over your things so other cats know who you belong to.

If Your Cat Is Ignoring You, Don’t Take It Personally

If Your Cat Is Ignoring You Don't Take It Personally
[Cat Memes]/Pinterest
[Cat Memes]/Pinterest

Cats are too smart for their own good; science has proven this. They know their names, and they know their owner’s voice, but unlike their dog counterparts, they tend not to answer. This personality trait is partially because cats will tend to only show affection on their terms.

This isn’t because they don’t hear you, it’s that they are choosing not to respond because they’re not interested in seeing you at the moment. Just don’t take it personally, it’s not out of spite, or because they don’t like you. Your kitty will come when they feel the need to seek out affection or to play.

Kneading You With Their Paws Is A Good Thing

Kneading You With Their Paws Is A Good Thing
Louise Martineau/Pinterest
Louise Martineau/Pinterest

When kittens are born, one of their first instincts is to push on their mother’s mammary glands in order to stimulate her into producing more milk. Pretty much, it’s a survival tactic. This kneading motion stays with cats throughout their lives, not leaving their memory even years after they’ve stopped nursing from their mother.

Adult cats tend to do the motion when they associate a soft surface, or your body, with that of their mother’s. Many cat behavior specialists believe they knead when they’re feeling happy and content with where they are, or when they feel like they need to relieve stress.

Sniffing Your Face Doesn’t Mean They Want To Bite You

Sniffing Your Face Doesn't Mean They Want To Bite You
sunshine 99/Pinterest
sunshine 99/Pinterest

Cats are suspicious by nature. So, if all of a sudden your cat is in your face, sniffing your mouth, nose, hair, and skin, don’t be too alarmed. Yes, it does feel weird for an animal to be in your personal bubble just to sniff you out, but it is because they are taking in your unique scent.

Your face is a great place for a cat to get a nice whiff of your natural aroma. They want to make sure you are still you and not some impostor that they don’t trust. Because, ya know, someone isn’t going to take your entire face and become you.

Pawing At Their Water Is An Instinct

pawing at water
Jan Bishop/Pinterest
Jan Bishop/Pinterest

One of the common myths surrounding cats is that they don’t like water. This isn’t necessarily true for all cats. Some actually love the water, and if you see a cat pawing at their water bowl, it most likely means they’re just engaging in a little playtime.

However, other cats prefer to drink fresh moving water, and when they splash their bowl, it is their way of aerating the water… almost as if they’re trying to give it the bubbling effect of a natural spring or even fresh water from the tap. So this behavior tells us that cats would pretty much be those people ordering bottled water at restaurants.

Chewing On Things Could Mean They’re Stressed

Chewing On Things Could Mean They're Stressed
Kristen Dettloff/Pinterest
Kristen Dettloff/Pinterest

Don’t be distraught if you catch your kitty chewing on something that isn’t food or a toy. The act can be the sign of a condition called pica. Unfortunately, even expert cat behaviorists aren’t certain what causes pica. They think there could be a connection to nutritional issues, or that it may be caused by stress and anxiety.

If you see your cat starting to chew on things, just be sure to keep an eye on them because it can be bad for your kitty’s digestive system. If they continue to chew on non-food items, you might want to think about bringing them to the vet.

Chattering Their Teeth Isn’t Bad For Them

Chattering Their Teeth Isn't Bad For Them
Arata/Pinterest
Arata/Pinterest

If you’ve ever heard your cat chattering its teeth when they see a bird outside, don’t be alarmed. It doesn’t mean they have a toothache and they’re not grinding down their teeth. While experts don’t know exactly why cats make the quick, intense sound, they do have theories.

Some believe that cats make this sound out of frustration, because even though they can see the other animal outside, they can’t reach it through the window. Other’s believe that it has to do with their natural instinct to warm up their jaw muscles in preparation to chase their prey.

Sticking Their Rear-End In Your Face Is A Compliment

Stick Their Back-End In Your Face Is A Compliment
Soraya Blanco/Pinterest
Soraya Blanco/Pinterest

If you’ve been around a cat before then you are aware that they have a tendency to lift their tail and give you a full-on view of their backside. We’ll we’re here to tell you that even though it might not be the best view in the house, it is one that you should take as a compliment.

Cats lifting their tails and sticking their rear ends in your face should be taken as a sign of trust and affection. When they lift their tails it is their way of being friendly and opening up to you — take it as a compliment!

Rolling On The Floor Can Mean A Few Things

Rolling On The Floor Can Mean A Few Things
Purrrfectly Holistic/Pinterest
Purrrfectly Holistic/Pinterest

Cats lie down and roll around on their backs for a number of different reasons. However, there is one main factor that will have a cat on its back. They only roll over when they feel comfortable because showing off their belly is a sign of vulnerability.

The motion can simply be a way to scratch their back and stretch their muscles, or it can be an attempt to play and get your attention to engage in a game. The last reason could be that they are marking their territory, rolling around and transferring their scent on the ground.

Crying At Night Is A Result Of Having No Prey To Chase

Crying At Night Is A Result Of Having No Prey To Chase
Catvills/Pinterest
Catvills/Pinterest

If you own a cat, then you know that they tend to be awake and active at the most inconvenient time: when you’re trying to sleep. This excess energy may then result in them running around the house and wailing.

These cries could have to do with the cat trying to catch prey within the house, or, if there is nothing to be found, they might be cries of frustration. If these cat-calls bother you, specialists recommend playing with your cat during the day in order to tire them out, in the hopes that they’ll be less active at night.

Sprinting Around The House Is A Way To Release Energy

Sprinting Around The House Is A Way To Release Energy
Kimberly/Pinterest
Kimberly/Pinterest

Ever have a moment where you hear a strange noise, and then your cat barrels into your room at top speed out of nowhere? Well, the good news is that it’s not abnormal for your feline friend to be sprinting around the house. Cats have a lot of energy, and since house cats don’t hunt, they need a way to release it.

House cats don’t have a large space to run around and have no prey to catch, so they release this energy in bursts of activity, usually by sprinting through the house. If your cat tends to do this a lot, maybe think about playing with them more.

Be Thankful If A Cat Brings You A “Present”

A cat is playing with mouse toys
Elif Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Elif Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

It’s a bit shocking when a cat drops a lifeless mouse at your feet, but we’re here to tell you that the thought comes from a good place. In order to survive when they’re kittens, the mama cat brings her babies food, so it’s possible that your cat learned the notion from its mother.

If your cat brings you a “present,” or food, it’s their way of accepting you as a member of their pack. Then again, other specialists think it’s nothing more than a cry for attention. We like to think the former explanation is the reason, and they’re accepting humans into their weird cat group.

Lounging Around With Sprawled Out Legs

Lounging Around With Sprawled Out Legs
Shiny Diamond/Pinterest
Shiny Diamond/Pinterest

Walking into a room and seeing your cat lounging on a chair with sprawled out legs can look pretty silly. But it actually means something fairly important. The position means that the cat feels relaxed, comfortable, and safe in the room with you.

When a cat exposes its tummy to you, it is a sign of vulnerability and means that you are not a threat to them. You should feel honored that your cat trusts you enough to rest cozily! And if your kitty sprawls out like this on a regular basis it means that you have one content creature on your hands.

Burying Their Droppings Is Instinct

Burying Their Droppings Is Instinct
Andrea Baker/Pinterest
Andrea Baker/Pinterest

Out of instinct, cats bury their droppings after using the litter box. This is because, in the wild, they don’t want predators to catch their scent or for other cats to kick them out of the group for putting others at risk.

Weirdly enough, if your cat is not covering up their business then there might be something wrong. It could be something materialistic, such as the cat not liking the type of litter or box. Even the location and accessibility could factor into why they’re not covering up their droppings. Others think it could be related to stress, anxiety, or even issues with the cat’s health.

They Do Their Business Outside The Litter Box Because They Don’t Like The Box

They Do Their Business Outside The Litter Box Because They Don't Like The Box
Frank Dimitroff/Pinterest
Frank Dimitroff/Pinterest

It’s always annoying when your pet does their business outside of the designated area, but for a cat, it can also be the sign of a more serious problem. If your cat isn’t using their litter box, it most likely means that they do not care for the actual litter box, the litter itself, or the box’s location. We know, we know… cats are so materialistic.

The only suggestion we have is to try and change it up, the box, litter, and the location. That being said, it could also be a medical issue, in which case you should bring your kitty to the vet.

Stay Away If A Cat Is Twitching Their Ears

Stay Away If A Cat Is Twitching Their Ears
CatTime/Pinterest
CatTime/Pinterest

Cats communicate with their ears. Each of their little movements means something different. When they start twitching their ears back and forth it is usually a sign that the cat is anxious or agitated. You might want to leave your cat alone when they’re in this type of state.

On the other side of the coin, when their ears are facing forward it means that they are good and content. Just keep an eye out for when their ears are either backward or lying flat down, because it means they’re irritated or feeling scared and defensive.

Attacking Your Feet Is Their Way Of Playing And Practicing

playful-kitten-01
Pet City WA/Pinterest
Pet City WA/Pinterest

Imagine this: you’re sitting on the couch, minding your own business, when a ball of fur comes out of nowhere and starts attacking your feet. This can be a surprising situation, especially if you’re not wearing any socks and your kitty’s sharp little claws and teeth nick you.

The good news is that they’re not trying to attack you. Well, not really. This behavior usually means that your cat wants to play and that it’s practicing its pounces and jumps. Most cats are playful by nature, and when they’re bored, they’re looking for some type of game. If you’re not into foot attacks, give them a toy or string!

Cats Will Sleep All Day To Save Energy

Cats Will Sleep All Day To Save Energy
Yvonne Linder/Pinterest
Yvonne Linder/Pinterest

When kittens sleep, they release growth hormones that are important for their development. This means that young cats sleep a lot, even more than adults, so don’t let it be a cause for concern! That being said, adult cats are known to doze off from time to time.

Cats do this to save energy, a trait left over from when they had to expend lots of energy hunting for their next meal in the wild. They will also fall asleep easily if they’re bored and there is nothing for them to do. So, if you’d like your kitty to be awake more, try playing with it!

Head Pressing Is Immediate Cause To Go To The Vet

Head Pressing Is Immediate Cause To Go To The Vet
Chanee Olson/Pinterest
Chanee Olson/Pinterest

Occasionally, cats will press their heads up against a wall or other hard object for no apparent reason, accompanied by unusual vocal sounds that cats don’t typically make. And, no, it’s not because they’re feeling guilty about something that they may or may not have done.

If your pet is doing this odd act, keep in mind that it is not normal, and you should bring them to the vet as soon as possible. Head pressing is often a sign of damage to the nervous system from some type of trauma, a tumor, poisoning, or other causes.

Purring Is A Form Of Communication And Happiness

Purring Is A Form Of Communication And Happiness
Cute Cats/Pinterest
Cute Cats/Pinterest

There is something oddly satisfying about having your kitty purr while you are petting them. Unfortunately, purring isn’t as simple as we’d like to think, and scientists know less about the behavior than any other cat noise. Yes, sometimes the sound means that the cat is happy and satisfied, but it can mean various other things, too.

Cats purr as a form of communication, but also as a way to calm themselves down when they’re feeling anxious or stressed. The vibration from the sound soothes them, even causing their owners to calm down, too.

They Follow You To The Bathroom Because They’re Curious

They Follow You To The Bathroom Because They're Curious
Cristina Saenz/Pinterest
Cristina Saenz/Pinterest

It can feel like an invasion of privacy when your cat rushes to follow you into the bathroom. Unfortunately, science does not have an answer as to why felines do this, but they do have a good guess. Some experts believe that your cat might feel vulnerable without you by their side, so they follow you to feel safe.

Others believe that it’s in their nature to follow you because cats are curious creatures. They just want to know what’s going on in their house! Then again, maybe they just want attention and know that you have nothing better to do while in there.

Moving Their Tail Back And Forth Means They’re Not Happy

Moving Their Tail Back And Forth Means They're Not Happy
Chanelle Lay/Pinterest
Chanelle Lay/Pinterest

Unlike their dog counterparts, when cats wag their tails it does not mean they are happy to see you. Most often then not, when a cat moves its tail back and forth it means that they are not a happy kitty and would like to be left alone.

The action means that your cat is annoyed and it would prefer to be left alone. However, if a cat is twitching its tail, it usually means that it is very interesting in something, such as a red dot on the wall.

Hissing Is A Self-Explanatory Behavior

Hissing Is A Self Explanatory Behavior
Evelina Mastrolorenzi/Pinterest
Evelina Mastrolorenzi/Pinterest

Most people know to back away slowly if a cat is hissing at them. And, yes, cats do hiss when they get angry at someone or something, but they also make the sound when they are feeling afraid or agitated.

Kitties will most likely hiss when they feel threatened by a person or another animal. They can either be approaching the cat too quickly or maybe you did something that the cat did not approve of. Either way, if a cat starts hissing at you, it’s best to not get too close and to let it calm down instead. They’re usually back to their “normal” selves in a few minutes.

Knocking Things Off The Table For “Hunting Practice”

Knocking Things Off The Table For
u/CatYak/reddit
u/CatYak/reddit

It’s not surprising that cats like knocking things off of tables, especially if that something is being used by their human. If you don’t know what we’re talking about just look to YouTube videos of cats knocking things off of tables. Scientists say this behavior is simply a way cats practice hunting.

In the wild, cats play with their prey, so batting things away is good practice, even if it is at the expense of your water bottle. Cats are also naturally curious animals, and easily bored, so they might be trying to get your attention to start a game.

Catnip Makes Them Feel Extreme Joy

Catnip Makes Them Feel Extreme Joy
Fieggentrio/Pinterest
Fieggentrio/Pinterest

To humans, catnip doesn’t look like anything special, it’s just a leafy plant that is related to mint. That doesn’t mean cats don’t go crazy over sniffing it, though. Catnip contains nepetalactone, which is an oil that stimulates sensors in cats’ noses.

This reaction gives around 70 percent of cats a feeling of extreme joy and even, in some cases, hallucinogenic experiences. Your cat may run around, roll, salivate, and make weird noises under the influence of catnip, of which only lasts about ten minutes. Even big jungle cats such as lions and tigers have shown reactions to the leaf.

Biting Their Nails Could Mean They’re Bored

Biting Their Nails Could Mean They're Bored
Centro Veterinario Mejorada/Facebook
Centro Veterinario Mejorada/Facebook

When people bite their nails it is usually a sign of anxiety, nerves, or it might just be a bad habit. With cats, it is often the same reason. If your cat is chewing its nails, it could be a sign that they are nervous about what is going on around them. Then again, it could be that they are just bored with everything.

This could also be an effort to thoroughly groom itself. But if a cat is continuously biting its nails, it might be time for a vet checkup because it could mean they have a parasite or infection.

Sleeping On Your Chest Is A Sign That they Feel Safe

Sleeping On Your Chest Is A Sign That they Feel Safe
Thresa Rogan/Pinterest
Thresa Rogan/Pinterest

It can be a very comfortable feeling having your cat fall asleep on your chest. In fact, it is comforting for your cat, too. Your cat most likely enjoys the warmth of your body while they’re sleeping, and might be more comfortable there than anywhere else in the house.

Lying on your chest gives them a sense of security, as they most likely feel safer sleeping close to you. Also, they probably enjoy the rhythmic movements of your breath, as well as your smell. So, when your cat falls asleep on you, take it as a sign of affection!

Biting Allows A Cat To Express Themselves

Biting Allows A Cat To Express Themselves
Asya Rose/Pinterest
Asya Rose/Pinterest

It’s never fun when your cat bites you, but when it does, there are several reasons for it. In the wild, biting is a normal way for cats to express themselves, so it makes sense that they continue the habit even though they’re domesticated.

Your kitty might bite you because it’s angry or stressed, and they’re trying to communicate those emotions to you in the only way they know how. Others believe that it is just a defense mechanism when they’re afraid. Then some think biting is equivalent to playing. All we know is that it hurts!