Once upon a time, you thought your cat was a simple creature. However, the more you watch, the odder they seem. Why does my cat do that, you wonder? Cats, like people, all have their own personal idiosyncrasies. But, some are unique to felines. Let our Palmer Veterinary Clinic team demystify some common, though odd, cat behaviors.
#1: Why does my cat knead?
Also known as “making biscuits,” kneading is a behavior left over in adult cats from kittenhood. Kittens knead to help release milk from the mother cat’s mammary glands. Why does your cat knead on you? Like the rooting behavior of a newborn, kneading has a positive, direct outcome for kittens. When repeated throughout life, kneading can become linked with feelings of comfort and wellbeing, such as your cat kneading to prepare a comfortable bed when they decide to nap. If they knead on your lap—ouch—your cat is likely expressing how comfortable they are with you and that you belong to them. Kneading is also how cats can effectively mark their territory.
#2: Why do cats bury their poop—or not?
Burying their poop is a natural instinct for cats, for several reasons. In the wild, cats bury their poop to hide it from potential predators, and to remain undetected in a territory belonging to another cat. Conversely, they may leave their poop unburied to mark their territory.
If your cat suddenly stops burying their poop, that may indicate that they don’t like their litter, their litter box is too small, or they are uncomfortable with a household change (e.g., a new cat). Keep an eye on your cat and their behavior, because if they do not stop, a visit to our hospital may be in order to rule out any medical problems.
#3: My cat brings me “gifts”—why?
Most of us don’t exactly love a dead rodent on our doorstep. Cats bring “gifts” as a token of friendship, to show gratitude for feeding them, and to ensure you’re getting enough food (i.e., they’re trying to teach you to hunt). Cats are proud of their hunting accomplishments, and want to share their talents with their favorite people—you.
#4: Why do cats like hiding in small spaces?
Have you ever found your cat curled into a small space in your closet between mounds of clothing, or curled up in your bathroom sink? This behavior likely goes back to an instinct formed in the wild, when wild cats sought security to avoid predators. Your cat still feels secure and comfortable in small spaces, so next time you unpack a box, leave it out, and your cat will likely curl up inside.
#5: Why does my cat knock things over?
If you’ve ever had a young cat or kitten, you probably banged your head against the wall in frustration over their tendency to knock anything and everything over. Cats have been known to knock over picture frames, plants, books—almost anything on a shelf or table. This is infuriating, but normal, behavior. Cats have sensitive paws and knock things over to check them out. They all do this with prey, as well. Your cat is only one catnip mouse away from a lion.
#6: What is my cat saying with their “zoomies”?
Cats and kittens can have a lot of energy that they expel in short bursts of what we affectionately call the “zoomies.” They may race from room to room, jumping on furniture, and sometimes launching themselves off the walls.
All this activity is likely normal. Cats can have the athletic prowess of Olympic athletes, and they need outlets for all their energy and agility. Try channeling your cat’s energy by playing a fast game of laser pointer tag, offering a feather wand toy, or providing vertical shelves and hammocks to encourage them to climb. Overall, ensure that your cat’s case of the zoomies does not injure them by closing all windows, and putting away anything that can get knocked over or fall on your cat.
#7: Why do cats like sipping from the faucet when they don’t like water?
That cats don’t like water is a myth. In fact, some cats prefer to drink from a running bathroom or kitchen faucet. Some will jump into the sink and wait for you to turn on the water so they can drink from the water stream. This behavior may also be a throwback to their wild cat instincts, because drinking water from a running source was safer then than drinking stagnant water, which may contain bacteria or other contaminants. Most cats like clean, fresh water, so this may also be your cat’s commentary on the state of their water bowl. If you don’t mind the occasional kitty sip from the faucet, you do not need to prevent this behavior. Or, you can give your cat the gift of fresh flowing water with a pet water fountain.
Each cat is an individual with their own personality and behaviors. Most behaviors are normal and natural, and give us amazing insight into our cat’s needs, and what helps them thrive. However, a sudden behavior change may indicate a medical problem. We take your cat’s health seriously, so if you have any concerns, contact us at Palmer Veterinary Clinic and schedule an appointment.