11 Weird Cat Behaviors (And What They Mean)

Cats are one-of-a-kind creatures. Their peculiar body language and routines contribute to our affection for them. But what do those strange cat habits mean?

Behaviors can be inherited from ancestors and may no longer have a significant impact on daily life. Because domestication is a relatively new phenomenon for cats, some activities cats used to do to survive may no longer be adaptive now that they are adored members of the modern-day home. However, when it comes to behavior, cats are no different than dogs, people, or most other creatures. There is or was a pay-off for them somewhere in what they do, otherwise they would not bother. The trick is to figure out what motivates the unusual behaviors we notice in our cats.

Here is a list of 11 strange cat habits and what they mean.

1. Face Rubbing

What does it indicate when your cat approaches you and rubs her face on your leg, arm, or face from nose to ear? It indicates that she likes you and is delighted to see you.

Cats’ faces contain smell glands. When they rub against you, they are greeting you and mixing odors with you. When you think about it, it’s similar to the European greeting of kissing three times on each cheek.

Hold a relaxed finger within a few inches of a cat’s nose to make a favorable first impression. If she approaches to smell and brushes against your finger, you can gauge her willingness to engage further by softly touching the cheek and neck area. The most courteous place to rub a cat is on its face. Many cats will refuse to be massaged in other areas until they have gotten to know you better.

2. Head Butting Or Bunting

Head butting is an exaggerated kind of face rubbing. If the cat recognizes you or is simply overjoyed to see you, he may not wait for a courteous greeting. Some cats, like your buddy who skips handshakes and goes right for a hug when she meets a new person, head straight for a snuggling connection by butting and twisting their heads against you, pushing you to touch and brush them.

I’m not sure where people get the idea that all cats are aloof. I know some cats who would make Justin Bieber fans blush. However, if you jump directly into intense snuggling, you may become a victim of the next strange cat habit.

3. The Sudden Nip/Bite

Some cats manage their excitement quite well. We all make light of some kitten personalities’ coolness. Others, however, who are younger or have less experience encountering humans, will get stimulated by the petting interaction so rapidly that they appear to be “in over their heads.”

Many cats enjoy caressing until the stimulation becomes too much for them, particularly towards the base of the tail. This can change fast, and once they’ve passed that point, they’ll use a swat or a bite to end the engagement. Others are still having fun, but the arousal causes “play nipping” or “love bites”—soft (and sometimes not so gentle) biting of neighboring hands and fingers. This is most likely a reaction to the thrill of hunting, playing, or mating. The bite would be an expected result of one of such cat interactions.

4. Tail Twitching

As mentioned, the switch from kitty interest to kitty annoyance can happen quickly. So, how do you catch the switch early enough to turn it off? The twitching tail is one thing to look for.

The tail could belong to a cat who appears to be relaxed and napping. A relaxed cat’s tail may wave slowly and luxuriously. However, if you notice the tail speeding up and twitching, take attention! That tail is an outlet for something that is starting to irritate him. It may be followed by ears shifting to the side or back, as well as abrupt exits.

5. Kneading

Kneading or “creating bread” is one of my favorite happy cat actions. This strange behavior is a holdover from the cat’s breastfeeding days.

Manipulation of the mammary glands with their paws enhances milk production. It could also be a relaxing or delightful repeated action that makes your cat feel tired or comfortable.

We may be the object of kneading as a surrogate mother to our home cats. Lap cats frequently knead as they climb up for attention, which might serve as a good reminder to clip the cat’s nails! And did you know that face rubbing involves scent-marking you? Because a cat has smell glands in its paws, kneading is likely to do the same. Many cats exhibit some kneading activity throughout their life, but others elevate it to an art form by pawing, purring, and drooling at the same time.

6. Purring

When it comes to purring… This is a very common cat activity, and many people would not consider it strange.

Kittens start purring as early as two days old! However, it is a very distinctive vocalization among domesticated animals, and discovering how a cat produces it took years of research! Something in the cat’s brain causes the larynx to vibrate 25 to 150 times per second. Lower purrs are produced by fewer vibrations of the vocal chords per second, while higher pitches are produced by faster vibrations. Surprisingly, the purr resonates when air is evacuated as well as when the cat breaths in, adding to the sound diversity.

Most of us associate cat purring with happiness or contentment. Cats, in fact, purr in moments of anxiety, tension, and pain. It is possible that purring while unhappy is similar to people whistling in the dark. Cats may be seeking to self-soothe by doing an act connected with a happier time.

7. Staring With Their Mouths Open

Have you ever noticed your cat gaping with his mouth partially open, as if he has smelled something foul? It could also be defined as grimacing or panting. He is most likely displaying a “Flehmen response,” which is frequently abbreviated as “flehming.”

The name is derived from a German word that refers to lip curling. The cat opens his mouth to allow fragrance to reach the vomeronasal organ (also known as the Jacobsen Organ) in his roof of mouth. Smelling particular scents through the nasal passages alone delivers less information about them. The ensuing facial expression may lead you to believe your cat is giggling over something! And who can argue with that?

8. Sitting In Boxes

Do you want to learn how to “capture a cat”? Simply place a small box on the floor. Cats of all kinds are lured to cozy cages, and even lions and cheetahs appear to like squeezing into such cardboard safe havens.

Being in a box makes the cat feel more secure than being out in the open, especially when the next napping urge strikes. Another advantage of curling oneself into a box is that it captures and reflects body heat, which cats adore. If no boxes are available, your cat may attempt the following strange behavior instead.

9. Transforming Into A Cat Loaf

When we’re cold, we all like to slip our hands and feet under the covers. Cats aren’t much different; they just tuck their paws, tails, and sometimes noses under the “cover” of their own bodies.

A cat’s natural body temperature ranges between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore the ordinary wintertime household may not be warm enough for our felines. Fortunately, because of their slender and flexible bodies, they can tuck all of their extremities under them, giving them the appearance of a traditional American main dish.

10. Trying To Bury Their Food

If your cat doesn’t enjoy his own main course, he may simply walk away in protest. Some cats, on the other hand, exhibit an unsuccessful innate behavior: they try to bury the food.

A cat may seek to bury the remains of a dead animal it has killed in a less-tame setting than your home to prevent attracting other predators to its own territory. Whatever the reasoning, there is something in the fragrance of the meal that triggers similar actions to covering excrement in the cat litter box. However, there isn’t sufficient organic stuff in the normal kitchen, such as soil or leaves, to hide the “dead body.” As a result, the cat appears to be sweeping around the cat food bowl.

One of my guys believes he needs to “hide” the remaining food on the dining room table where I serve my kindling of cats. He scratches at the table cover, eventually flipping it over the bowl. Oh well, that tablecloth needed to be washed anyhow!

11. Howling At Night

We couldn’t talk about strange cat behaviors without discussing the midnight yowl. Whether your cat sleeps in your house or in the wilds of your neighborhood, most cats engage in some nocturnal hunting and prowling.

Cats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. And after sleeping all day, they’re bound to wake up at some point throughout the night. We must also consider how a cat’s appetite influences its behavior. Cats hunt and consume prey that is rather small. A “ideal” meal contains 30-40 calories and is about the size of a mouse or small bird. Unlike our canine companions, who normally receive one or two meals per day in most American families, cats require multiple little meals throughout the day.

One of the issues for indoor cats is that their sleeping vs hunting/eating cycles may differ significantly from those of their humans. When we give in to a cat’s nightly yowling in exchange for a piece of food, the cat recognizes the power it has in its early wake-up call service. Give your cats food puzzle toys or simply hide some cat treats or kibble about the house for felines to hunt to give yourself more relaxation.

However, if you detect sudden changes in a senior cat’s nighttime vocalizations, it could be a sign of cognitive problems. Keep in mind that older cats require more frequent veterinary visits than their younger counterparts. This is far from an exhaustive collection of strange actions.

Regardless of how humans try to categorize them, each cat you meet has unique characteristics. Some cats prefer drinking rushing water to drinking still water from a bowl. There are cats who avoid water and others who enjoy playing in it. The human impulse to define our pets’ behavior for convenient pigeonholing will continue to elude us. This list contains common domesticated cat behaviors, regardless of whether they appear normal or weird to you. Accept your felinity!

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