You’ve probably noticed that cats display some behaviors that we humans find pretty strange. Some bring us dead mice or birds as gifts, while others stare intently at a point in space—and most are prone to random bursts of energy (or “zoomies”). Here we’ll shed some light on five common but odd cat behaviors.
1. Chirping & Chattering
If your cat is perched at a window and sees a bird outside, you may notice your feline begin to make some odd sounds. With some cats sounds like chatter, while with others it’s almost a series of chirps. You may notice your cat’s lower jaw quiver a bit as it does this, with the animal’s excitement intensifying the longer the bird is within view. Animal behaviorists tell us this is a sort of warm up for a hunt, much like the revving of the rear legs before a pounce. It’s a way a cat quite literally practices its “bite and hold” techniques. The sounds may be signs of sheer excitement or of agitation, since the bird remains out of reach.
Ever notice your cat at rest with just the tip of its tongue sticking out? That’s called blepping and though it’s adorable, cuteness is not its primary aim. Cats collect a great deal of information about other surroundings via smell. There are also sensory organs on the roof of a cat’s mouth that help it process particular scents, like the pheromones of other cats. When you see your cat holding its mouth open as if in a half snarl (called “the Flehmen response”), it’s actually trying to understand an interesting scent. Blepping is part of this process. Cats’ senses of smell and taste, like ours, are closely linked. Their senses are so finely tuned that they can almost “taste the air,” and that’s what they’re doing when they blep. Of course, when we notice and praise them for it, they tend to do it more often.
3. Scooping Water with a Paw
Some cats don’t like drinking directly from a water bowl, preferring instead to scoop of a paw-full of water and lick the droplets from their pads. It may not seem like the most efficient method, but for some cats it’s the only way to go. Animal behaviorists believe there are several factors that may promote paw-drinking in cats. Some cats, they say, don’t like the sensation of their whiskers touching the sides of a bowl. For others, the water level is simply too low, so they prefer to bring their refreshment to their mouths. And for others, it’s just fun to drink that way. None of this should be surprising to cat lovers, who’ve always known that cats have an abundance of personal style.
4. Talking Back to People
Cats are known for their expressive meows. But oddly enough, they don’t meow a lot when communicating with each other. Sure, they vocalize when fighting or mating, but they save most of their idle chatter for us. Behaviorists believe cats talk to us because, well, we talk to them. Essentially, to our cats, we are just large weird cats who can open cans. They know that we talk a lot to them, and though they don’t always grasp our meaning, they know we can often understand them. So, if a meow gets your attention at feeding time, and you respond by providing food, you’re reinforcing the cat’s behavior. For the cat, she just knows she gets fed when she makes a fuss.
5. Hiding in Boxes
When you bring home a new purchase and cast aside the box, your cat is likely to leap or crawl inside to test it out for size. Often cats will prefer a discarded cardboard box to the special hide-away you’ve lovingly prepared for them.
Why? Well, cats are naturally curious and they are also den animals that like to observe the world from a place they cannot easily be seen. This combination makes a cardboard box virtually irresistible to most felines. They also love to play, and a box provides the perfect setting for some fun that not likely to get them into too much trouble.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this quick review, and that it’s helped you better understand our feline friends!
Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.
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