For centuries, we've asked the question, "Are you a cat or a dog person?" Cats are independent and often unpredictable, while dog owners can seemingly read their dog's minds a little easier. Cat's strange behavior often mystify people while sometimes creating hilarious results.
Here are some unusual habits cats have and clues to why.
Does your cat act like it is trying to talk to that bird outside? It is probably quite the contrary. Behaviorists believe that when a cat is chattering their teeth when glancing at a bird or another potential prey, it's likely because they're frustrated they can't get outside to hunt. Another theory is that they are preparing their mouth muscles for killing their prey.
Kneading the Dough
There are endless cat videos of cats gingerly placing their paws on you and massaging you. Why is that? Kneading is a sign of comfort, but animal behaviorists also link this action back to their kitten days. When trying to get their mother's milk, a kitten's instinct is to put pressure on their mother's mammary glands by pressing their paws against them. This helped the milk flow!
As an adult cat, this is a soothing technique to relieve some stress and helps mark their territory with their scent.
Smacking Things Off Surfaces
It may seem like your cat is pushing things off surfaces just to torture you, and frankly, that may be a little true! According to PetMD, cats swat stuff on the floor for a variety of reasons. One, it could be an instinct of hunting. Adi Hovav, the senior feline behavior counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center, explains, "Cats are hardwired to hunt for their food, so knocking things over may be a manifestation of this instinct."
Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant, continues, "Cats use their paws to test and explore objects, and the movement, sound, and touch or feel of the object helps them understand what might be safe or not."
Is your cat trying to get better reception? When a cat twitches their ears back and forth, they may be listening for a sound or are annoyed. If you see your cat's ears slightly pointed up instead, this is just showing alertness, and it's okay to approach.
Love for Small Spaces
Cats love sticking their heads out of small boxes, hiding under tight surfaces, and more. Why do cats want to squeeze themselves in these seemingly uncomfortable spots? In a word: Security. Historically, cats look for tight spaces to feel safe and comfortable in, while they can keep a watchful eye on the outside world.
Cats have long been staring at you, at walls, or at inanimate objects forever. What's with all the staring? First things first, cats are visual hunters. Unlike humans who need to blink, cats don't need to blink very often as it helps them keep a close eye on their moving prey. If they're looking at you for long periods, however, they aren't trying to eat you!
Dr. Katherine Primm of Applebrook Animal Hospital stated, "Obviously cats understand non-verbal communication. Maybe she is using your appearance to help her choose how she should respond to something, and also sharing with you how she feels about it. Her eyes are reading your cues, and her body language may be telling you something, too. She may want to be sure that you are watching her in return because you share a family group bond. Your shared look can reaffirm your bond and assure the social stability of your group. If you are calm, she is calm. If you look on edge, she will be, too."
However, this doesn't explain why they stare at walls, but cats can capture subtle movements that the human eye can't see. They may see light patterns, dust particles, or more. In fact, a 2014 study showed that cats and dogs could see spectrums of light we can't see with our naked eye, including UV rays.