Strange Cat Behaviors Explained

Cats sometimes demonstrate strange behaviors. But why do our feline companions do some of the things they do?

Jun 15, 2023byErica Martin
strange cat behaviors explained

If you own a cat or have ever owned one, you know they can act strange sometimes. They’ll make noises when they see birds or when they rub on you. They’ll bring you “gifts,” eat things they shouldn’t eat, or even try to fit themselves into tight spaces.

Some of these things can be entertaining to watch, others can downright annoying. But all these behaviors can be explained. We’ll dive into some strange cat behaviors in this article.

Why They Make Chattering Noises When They See Birds

Twitching Ears

There are many theories about why cats make chattering noises when they see birds. The most popular one seems to be that they’re tricking the bird into thinking they’re not a threat by making bird noises. This is one way cats show that they can duplicate the sounds of their prey.

Why They Rub Against You

Affectionate Cat

Most cat owners have had their cat rub on them at some point. Generally, people see it as a sign of affection, but it’s more than that. They’re actually transferring their scent onto you. It’s almost like they’re claiming ownership of the thing or person they’re rubbing against. While they’re transferring their scent to you, they’re also inevitably grabbing your attention, which is something a cat will always have time for!

Why They Bring You “Gifts”

Why do they bring you gifts

There are several reasons cats may bring you dead animals or other gifts. The most common reason is to show you that they love you. In a cat’s mind, nothing says “I love you,” better than a dead bird or mouse on the front porch. So, the next time your cat brings you a dead animal, don’t get mad at them, try praising them instead. Of course, you can then get rid of the animal when they’re not looking!

Why They Eat Non Edible Things

Cat Eating Plant

Cats who eat non-edible things, like paper or fabrics, may have a condition called pica. Some reasons for pica include nutrition deficiency and anxiety. Treatment includes changes in diet and environment. Pica can lead to severe medical conditions in cats, especially if they’ve stopped eating cat food. If you notice this happening, see your vet so you can get a proper diagnosis and start treatment immediately.

Why do They Knead You?

Kneading Cat

Your cat’s instinct to do this goes back to their early nursing days. By pressing their paws on their mother’s mammary glands, they produced more milk. Adult cats do this to show contentment, happiness, or to relieve stress. In any case, consider it a compliment.

“If I Fit, I Sit”

Cat in a box

Cats’ ability to fit into tight spaces can be entertaining. Those cat beds you bought would be more comfortable for them. What makes them curl up in a box, sink, or basket? Cats feel safe and secure in small spaces. Out in the wild, they would not want to be unprotected in an open area because this would make them more vulnerable to predators. Ambush instincts are also present. They can observe their surroundings when they hide in small spaces. According to one study, boxes can also help cats adapt to new surroundings.

Why They Stare at You

Cat Eyes

There is something strange about cats’ eyes. In one moment, they stare you down, the next they want nothing to do with you. If your cat stares at you, they’re probably trying to get your attention. Intensive stares may indicate high alertness. In this case, don’t look your cat in the eye. Cats will see this as fighting aggression.

If you’ve noticed your cat slowly blinking at you, behaviorists call these “kitty kisses.” This is a sign of affection and trust from your cat. Blink slowly and they’ll continue.

Why They Don’t Use Their Litter Box

Sick Cat

Cat owners often complain about this behavior. Medical or behavioral reasons can cause cats not to use their litter boxes. Medical reasons commonly include:

  • UTIs or bladder infections
  • Anal sac, colitis, or constipation
  • Arthritis or other conditions affecting the nerves, muscles, or joints can cause pain.

Behavioral reasons commonly include:

  • Move, birth of a child, or visitors that may cause stress or anxiety.
  • Location and maintenance preferences for boxes and litter.

Consult a veterinarian first to determine the cause. Most cat owners believe their cats are misbehaving when they urinate or poop outside their litter boxes, when in fact, they are trying to avoid a painful trip.

Nighttime Zoomies and Catcalls

Nighttime Zoomie Cat

We all love to hear our cat running down the hall when we’re sound asleep. Or hear them yowling away when we’re trying to sleep. House cats have a lot of energy during the day that needs to be released. That, plus their nighttime hunting instinct, may make sleeping hard for you.

To avoid this, exercise your cat during the day. Also, try feeding them right before you go to bed. To curb their desire to hunt, give them food puzzles to keep them engaged while you sleep.

If your very vocal cat is old, this could be a sign of a serious, but treatable condition. See your vet if this is the case.

Erica Martin
byErica Martin

Erica is a cat lover, and although she doesn’t own any cats currently, she has owned a tabby cat in the past. In her spare time, she likes to play with her friends’ pets when she visits them.