6 odd cat behaviors explained
If you have ever wondered why cats rub up against you, make mad dashes around the house late at night, or exhibit other somewhat odd behaviors, read on.
1. Why do cats run around the house late at night? Maybe it’s their way of saying “See, I exercised! Now leave me alone so I can take a nap.” Racing around the house often starts in the early evening, and can go on all hours of the night till morning. It actually stems from instinct, when all kinds of cats—from lions to pumas to house cats—are on the hunt. They run, dive, and chase prey. Yes, I know there is no prey in your house, but it’s their instinct.
2. Why do cats smell our breath? It’s to see if we are eating better than they are. Cats can learn a lot about us by smelling our breath. They are imprinting our scent into their brains.
3. Why do cats bat their food out of their dishes? They enjoy watching us stumble about the kitchen in our bare feet when we step on the dry crunchy bits. Well, that’s my theory, anyway. But scientists will tell us that it’s because cats need to simulate the capture and conquest of their prey.
4. Why do cats knead on our chests with their claws? Are they actually trying to check our tolerance to pain? Nope. This up and down kneading action stems from nursing. Kittens press against their mother with one paw and then the other. When an adult cat kneads, it reminds her of her mother when she was a kitten.
5. Why do cats rub up against our legs? They think we’re big lint brushes, right? Actually, this is a way of sharing their scent with you. It’s a bonding experience that lets other cats know that you are owned by a cat.
6. Why do cats groom us? It’s not grooming; it’s tasting! So for your own safety, buy better cat food. I’m kidding; the truth is, cats that get along often groom each other as well as groom themselves. So they are extending the same courtesy to us.
Michele C. Hollow lives with Chai and Karma, her two rescue cats. She writes the animal advocacy blog, Pet News and Views, and is the author of The Everything Guide to Working With Animals. She is working on a book about a WWI service dog.