Does your cat ever do anything that leaves you completely dumbfounded? Let’s be honest; cats are unique creatures. They are expressive, intelligent, and quick to let you know precisely how they’re feeling. Sometimes, however, you don’t know exactly what they’re trying to tell you. Luckily, we’re here to explain common cat behaviors.
Common Cat Behaviors and What They Mean
Want to learn how to better communicate with your feline? These common cat behaviors can be confusing until you understand just what your cat is trying to say.
Sniffing Your Face
Does your cat ever sit on your chest and sniff your face? Like any feline, cats rely heavily on their nose to tell them what’s going on around them. They learn about potential prey, dangers, other cats, and their general surroundings. When your cat sniffs your face, they’re taking in information too: what you smell like! Sniffing your face allows your cat to familiarize themselves with your scent so that they can recognize it, and you, in the future. Once they commit your scent to memory, they are better able to identify you going forward. Think of your cat sniffing your face as a way of saying hello.
In addition to sniffing our faces, our cats often bump their heads into us as well. Whether they head-butt into your face, hand, or some other body part, this light bumping is usually a sign of affection. In addition to a sign of love, you can consider this initiation by your feline friend as an invitation for more social interaction; whether that additional interaction is more affection or a round of play is up to you and your cat.
Not to be confused with head-butting, sometimes you may see your cat rub their cheeks on things: corners, furniture, even you. Why do they do this? There’s a scientific explanation. Cats have scent glands around their mouth, cheeks, and chin. When they rub these glands, called sebaceous glands, they leave behind their unique scent on objects. So when your cat rubs their cheeks on corners, furniture, and you, they’re claiming all this as their territory. This behavior is also known as “bunting.” If you have multiple male cats, you might notice the more dominant cat rubbing its cheeks on objects more often than a subordinate male.
If you have multiple cats and ever need to take one to the vet or away from home for some time, they will likely come home smelling differently. When you reintroduce your cat, their strange smell can cause conflict with your other cat(s). To be safe, rub something with your other cat’s scent on the returning kitty to make sure they smell as though they belong. The same goes for introducing a new cat; if you can, rub your other cat’s scent on the newcomer before introducing them.
Most people know that purring is a sign of contentment for our kitties, but is it always? Sure, one of the best ways to know your cat is content is to hold them in your lap and hear them purring away. Who doesn’t love that rhythmic vibration and sound? It may surprise you, however, that cats purr for a wide variety of reasons.
Purring is a born behavior, meaning kittens know how to do it from birth, without learning it from their mother. Kittens start purring when they are just a few days old. To purr, a cat’s brain signals the laryngeal muscles to open and close the glottis, causing the vocal cords to separate. The purring sound is the result of air hitting the vibrating muscles. When kittens are born, they are deaf and blind, so the ability to purr allows kittens to communicate with their mother and littermates.
Some cats purr when they’re sick, stressed, or injured. Studies show that the frequency at which a cat purrs can trigger cells to heal. Purrs resonate at 25 to 150 Hertz, frequencies that are known to affect bones and soft tissues. This fact means that a cat’s purr can help repair bone, heals wounds, or even relieve pain. Purring also releases endorphins that reduce pain and stress. Who knew so much was packed into a purr!
Have you ever seen your cat making biscuits? No, we don’t mean baking in the kitchen! Making biscuits, also known as kneading, is when cats make a repetitive pressing gesture with alternating front paws. This activity has its roots in kittenhood; it is the behavior kittens practice on their mothers’ bellies to encourage milk production while nursing. That being said, even in adulthood, you will probably see your cat kneading a blanket, furniture, or even you. The behavior is calming and comforting, and you’re likely to see it shortly before your cat curls up for a nap.
The Slow Blink
Have you ever looked across the room and noticed your cat studying you intently? If you pay close attention, you may see your cat slowly close and reopen its eyes while holding your gaze. A slow blink from your cat indicates that they feel comfortable and safe in your presence. Want to “speak cat” to your kitty? Let them know the feeling is mutual by returning the gesture: slowly shut and open your eyes, so your cat knows you feel safe with them too.
Another way your cat tells you they feel safe and vulnerable with you is by lying belly up. Exposing their soft underbelly is a cat’s most vulnerable position. To willingly assume such a position in your presence means they trust you implicitly and know you will keep them safe. If your cat flops down and rolls over in front of you, there’s a great chance they are ready for affection or even play.
Bringing You Gifts
Did you know that cats are one of the world’s most successful hunters? The small, cuddly, fluffy felines in our homes are, in fact, one of the most successful groups of hunters in existence. While our cats don’t need to hunt to feed themselves, the instinct driving them to hunt is still quite strong. It’s not uncommon to come home to a surprise gift on your doorstep – or worse – in your house. Rodents, birds, lizards, most any small animal is fair game for your cat to prey upon. While you might not appreciate a dead, or even live, critter in your home, try not to be too hard on your cat; if they’re bringing you prey, it’s likely because they want to feed you or even teach you how to hunt.
Learning How To Speak Cat
We love our feline friends so much, and we’d do anything to make them as happy as possible. We buy them the best food, use the most fun toys, and hire professionals to take care of them when we’re gone. So why wouldn’t we want to learn how to “speak cat” too? The more we understand our cat’s behavior, the better we can communicate with them. With the right knowledge, we can tell our kitties we love them and assure them that they are safe and loved right where they are. What crazy antics do your cats get up to? Let us know!