Common Cat Behaviors

Living with your cat can be an inexplicable adventure. When he or she scratches the furniture, meows for no reason, or races around the house at high speeds, it seems like there is no rhyme or reason behind it. However, all cat behaviors have a reason, even if they look peculiar to human owners. Here are some common cat behaviors and the causes behind them.

If your cat dunks favorite toys in his water bowl, he may be trying to find a safe place for his things. In the wild, cats bring their prey back to a nest area to hide it from predators or other cats. Since most indoor cats don’t really have a nest, they may leave their favorite toys in the middle of their food or water bowls, as the next best thing.

When cats knead happily with their paws while being petted, they are showing their love for you. This behavior descends from the kneading actions of kittens while they nurse. When they press against their mother’s nipples, more milk will flow for them to suckle. Being caressed on your lap reminds your cat of kittenhood and causes him to begin kneading. If you have problems with this behavior, such as clawing, try keeping nails clipped, or put a towel or cushion under his claws when he begins kneading.

Since night time is the best hunting time for a wild cat, our pets are most active during the night. This is why they suddenly want to play when we most want to go to bed. Very young cats and kittens are most likely to be active all night and sleep all day. If you try to make sure you spend some playtime with your cat early in the evening, you may be able to wear him out. This will keep him from being keyed up when it’s time for you to sleep. Single cats can also be entertained if you get them another feline companion to play with. This way, you won’t find your sleep interrupted by a playful feline.

If your cat scratches or paws at glass windows, he’s probably testing it. He can see or hear prey or other interesting things on the other side, and is probably frustrated that he can’t get at what he wants. Pawing at the glass may be a way of expressing this frustration, or hoping that maybe this time things will be different.

If your cat dumps his food dish and makes “burying” motions around it, he may be telling you that he doesn’t like what you’ve served him. This behavior might also indicate that he is displeased with the food’s location, or just that he’s not hungry and wants to save the food for later. In the wild, cats may bury prey for a later time when they want to eat it. Try moving the dish or offering different food.

When your cat attacks your ankles, he’s feeling bored, or just practicing his hunting skills. This is particularly common in kittens. In order to stimulate himself, your cat is using his hunting instinct on you. To reduce this behavior, try to give your cat more toys – stuffed animals, climbing furniture, and things to chase. If this is a ritual, try distracting your cat with a toy before you reach the point where he usually attacks you, to keep it from turning into a bad habit.