Cats are exceptional creatures. Independent, curious, and often aloof, the feline species has alluring qualities that keep us intrigued and entertained. But, have you ever wondered why your cat does what they do? Many feline behaviors are funny, while others are downright strange. If your furry friend fits one of the descriptions below, read on to see if their behavior is normal or cause for concern:
#1: The cat who butts their head
Many cats use their heads and faces to nudge, nuzzle, and push against you—and it’s mainly in the name of love. We think this behavior holds two purposes in the eyes of a cat:
- Showing affection — If your cat displays head-butting behavior, take it as a compliment.
- Marking territory — Cats have several facial glands that secrete pheromones (i.e., feel-good, species-specific scents), which allows them to claim things or areas—including you—as their own.
#2: The gift-giving cat
Some cats are exceptionally generous, especially those who spend time outdoors. If you’ve ever received a dead mouse, bird, or lizard from your cat, you may feel disgusted, but this behavior may signal your cat’s devotion to you. However, gift-giving may have innocent undertones, but should not be encouraged. Supporting your cat’s hunting instinct is important, but not at the risk of parasitic infections, fight wounds, or other potentially dangerous complications. The safest place for your pet is indoors, ensuring you give them opportunities to practice their hunting abilities by playing or hiding small toys or treats in hard-to-reach places in your home.
#3: The cat who nibbles
Cats are sensory creatures, constantly exploring their surroundings with their eyes, ears, paws, and nose. But let’s not forget one of the most important ways to understand our environment—through taste. If your cat likes to gnaw, nibble, or eat items in your home, their behavior is normal, but should be monitored. Nibblers are at risk for foreign body ingestion or obstruction should an object become lodged in their intestinal tract. String is especially enticing and a common cause of obstruction in cats. You’ll also need to keep toxic houseplants, such as lilies, aloe vera, and snake plants, out of paws’ reach.
#4: The water-loving cat
If your feline friend loves to play in her water bowl or sip from the running faucet, she’s 100% normal. Refusing water from her bowl also is normal, but likely an instinctual preference, since running water in the wild tends to be safer than stagnant sources. Excessive drinking, however, is not normal. If you find yourself constantly refilling your kitty’s water source or witness her lapping non-stop at the faucet, that may be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes, or another internal condition, and they need veterinary attention. For hydro-loving cats who do not like to drink water from their bowl, consider purchasing a drinking fountain so they have a constant stream of running water.
#5: The litter-box-refusing feline
A top concern among cat owners—and a primary reason for relinquishment to the shelter—is inappropriate urination and defecation. There are a myriad of reasons for this behavior. Your cat could simply be particular about their litter box. Finicky felines may have preferences about the litter box location, other users, and the litter type. As a rule of thumb, you should provide one litter box per cat, plus one, with litter boxes available on each home level. You may need to try different box types to see what your cat prefers. If the behavior persists, consult with your Town & Country Animal Hospital veterinarian.
#6: The cat who is a night owl
Does your cat get a case of the zoomies at night? Or, do they wake you up vocalizing or crying? Active night-time behavior could be normal for your cat, or a sign of something more serious. Try keeping them entertained during the day with plenty of mental stimulation and exercise, so they are more likely to sleep at night. You may also consider offering a small meal before bed, in case they are waking because they are hungry. Vocalizing or crying in the wee hours of the night, however, may signal pain, a thyroid problem, or cognitive dysfunction—all medical concerns that should be reported to our veterinary team.
At Town & Country Animal Hospital, your cat is one of our top priorities. If you are ever unsure about your pet’s behavior, consult with our veterinary team—we’re here to offer you peace of mind and impeccable veterinary care.