6 Strange Cat Behaviors Explained


If you have a cat, you might be wondering about some of her strange cat behaviors. Cats tend to exhibit weird behaviors sometimes, and that’s what many cat parents love about them. Once you understand what they’re doing and why, you’ll see why it’s so cute! Here are the top strange cat behaviors explained.

strange cat behaviors1.   Head Rubbing  

Your cat loves to rub her head on your leg, or wake you up with a head rub on your face – right? Cats will rub their heads on any part of you they can reach, including your arms and head. This is your cat’s way of showing affection and/or marking territory by rubbing pheromones on you. Someone once said that getting a head butt from your cat is equal to getting a high five from your best buddy! It is perfectly fine to head rub back – just be gentle.

2.     Petting Overload

All cat parents have been there. You’re petting your happily purring cat when she suddenly turns and bites you. Sometimes cats will come to you for attention only returning the favor with an attack. This is your cat’s way of saying she’s had enough or feels uncomfortable. Nothing you need to do, except just stop petting and ignore them. The majority of cats exhibit this behavior and it is the most common complaint against cats. Don’t worry. Your cat isn’t angry with you. She’s just over-stimulated and has had enough. Sometimes she’ll just walk away from you, and sometimes she will bite or attack. Watch for signs that your cat is becoming uncomfortable such as a flicking tail, body twitches, or flattened ears. If you see one or more of these signs, stop petting her.

3.     Sneering

Sometimes, cats will walk in while you’re relaxing, seemingly just to sit and stare at you. He’ll curl his upper lip up with his mouth open and sometimes flick his tongue at you. The next second he’s sleeping peacefully. The truth is your cat isn’t really sneering at you. The behavior is known as flehmen. Horses and big cats also do this. They do this in a spot they are interested in and actually close their nostrils so they can inhale with their mouths. It’s simply a way of detecting pheromones through a gland on the top of their mouths.

4.   Water Play

The prevailing wisdom is that cats hate water. Not always true – some absolutely love it! They’ll drink from faucets, jump in a bathtub, and play around with their water bowls. This strange cat behavior is just that – weird. Some cats hate water, and some cats love it. However, all cats want control. If you put water on them, they’ll hate it. Cats who love playing with water want to do it their way or no way. Cats seem to be attracted to the sound of dripping or flowing water, as well as the motion of water. It has been theorized that running water is preferred to a bowl of water because historically it would contain less contaminates.

5.   Mimicking You

Has your cat been doing what you do? Eating when you eat? Sleeping when you sleep? While cats are naturally nocturnal, they do mimic the humans they live with. Indoor cats are more likely to mimic you, while outdoor cats usually remain nocturnal. A study in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior showed that cats ate as much as their people did and tended to be obese if their people were. A study in Applied Animal Behavior also demonstrated that cats adopt the personality traits of the people they live with. Traits such as arrogance, shyness, curiosity, and openness to others are seen in cats that live with people who exhibit those same traits.

6.   Sleeping and Scratching

Dr. Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan pet insurance, explains some strange cat behaviors: “Instead of an eight-hour stretch of sleep, wild cats nap throughout the day and night so they’re always well-rested for their next ‘hunt’ – a behavior that’s been passed down to our domesticated pets.  And when your feline friend is perched on your highest piece of furniture, they’re not being anti-social; they’re actually surveying the land below – another instinctual behavior.  Having cats of my own, I know how frustrating it can be to find little claw marks all over your house.  But scratching not only helps sharpen and trim their nails, it’s also how cats mark their territory.  You may want to consider a scratching post for your furry friend – they may even like scratching at the post more than your couch!”


Photo: Thinkstock

Have you noticed any strange cat behaviors from your kitten?

Nicky LaMarco has been a freelance writer since 2001. Nicky is an experienced ghostwriter and copywriter. She also writes for a variety of magazines. Nicky lives in Maine with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. Learn more about her at www.nickylamarco.com.