by Clayton Knowles
Cats do the darnedest things!
We enjoy having them as our companions, but they often do things that we find puzzling. Why do they do what they do? Of all domesticated animals that share our homes, cats are the closest to their wild, undomesticated cousins. This means we can see many of the same behaviors between our little fluffy Simba and its larger, fiercer cousin Simba. We may think that we are responsible for domesticating cats, but if you ask any expert or pet sitter, it is the felines who have adjusted to living with us. We will examine a few of these quirky actions of our furry friends.
Felines are an extremely observant animal. They are continually examining their environment, learning everything about it. It comes from being both predator and prey. Dogs bark and cats meow; we all know this. But why do a household cat meow and its larger wild cousins do not? This behavior was developed by observing how humans communicate with one another. Cats have noticed that we react to sound much more than anything else. Therefore, they have developed a way to try to communicate with us on our level. Next time your cat meows, take a listen. It might even have a different meow for each member or your family, and one for your pet sitter!
You may also wonder why it seems that cats must sit on everything that you are trying to use. They do this to get our attention. They notice that we give attention to things like laptop computers, television sets, and remote controls. They have a desire to have our attention, so they have deduced that we will give them attention if they take the place of these items.
The cat shows you its affection
Do you notice your cat butting their head against you? The technical term for this is called bunting. This is a friendly gesture, much like a cat’s version of hugging. It means they care for you, and you make them feel safe. They are also marking you as belonging to them because they are rubbing their scent on you. If your cat does this to your pet sitter, they have been welcomed to the family! Another way for a cat to show you that they feel safe around you is to expose their belly or splay their legs in a way that would make a stripper blush. You should feel honored when your kitty does this. They are declaring submission to you and showing you they feel secure around you.
In many cultures around the world, a common gesture to greet someone is to shake hands. A cat shakes hands by exposing its rear end to you. Much of the information a cat gathers about its environment and its companions comes from its nose. Cats can learn a lot about another cat from smelling its rear end. It can determine another cat’s diet, stress levels, mood, and mating availability. Cats assume we can do the same thing. I do refrain from greeting my pet sitter this way when he comes to visit.
Why is it that we can buy toys for our cats, but all they want is the box it comes in? It comes from their days in the wild. Being in a small, enclosed space is a way to feel secure. A cat would usually hide in a small hole or under bushes in the wild in the wild, hidden from prey and predators. This is just the domesticated version of this behavior.
You are sitting watching television and ZOOM! There goes your cat. Why do they do this? It is essentially exercise. A cat that is kept indoors will need ways of releasing pent up energy. This is a way for them to do this. You may not see this behavior as often from a cat that is allowed outside because they have more opportunities to burn off energy. And why is it that such little creatures can sound so loud when they run?
A fun little quirk of cats is when they knead you., meaning they manipulate you with their paws. My favorite pet sitter referred to this as making bread. This behavior rears its head when the cat feels comfortable and stress-free. Kneading was a way to get as much milk from their mother when they were kittens. Cats associate kneading with the warmth and comfort they got from their mommy. You are fortunate when they do this to you.
We have seen cats use the litter box and then bury their number twos. Again, this comes from their days in the wild. By burying their scat, they are covering their tracks, thereby avoiding detection by predator and prey. They also do this to show respect to the more dominant members of the family. Sometimes, however, they may leave their business unburied. When they do this, they try to tell you that they are unhappy about something you have or haven’t done, a change in the household (maybe even a new pet sitter). They may be attempting to assert dominance over a new cat, or they may be unhappy that you haven’t cleaned the litter box.
Why do cats sleep all the time?
Newborns have to sleep most of the time because it allows their little bodies to release growth hormones. For adult cats sleeping will enable them to re-energize for the next hunt. Hunting is an exhausting practice. Why would a household cat, not needing to hunt, still sleep the day away? They are just naturally programmed to do so. A cat that has reached the age of nine has spent about six of those years sleeping.
Cats may be an enigmatic animal. They may not be as forthcoming with affection as a dog. They do weird and wacky things, but that’s what makes them fun to be around. You know how a dog will react to most things, but it is always an adventure with a cat. Let’s pet our cats and tell them we love them.
If you need further advice or if you have questions, ask our expert Clayton! He, Miryadi, and their expert team of pet sitters are here to help you.