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7 Strange Cat Behaviors Explained

cat cat communication cat health

We love our cats, but they can do some pretty weird stuff. Some of these behaviors leave us feeling pretty neglected. Others lead to the creation of memes and viral phrases. Right now, we're going to explain the rest, the ones that leave us scratching our heads.

Playing the Baker

Most cat lovers would give their left arm for a bit of attention. But, we’ve got to be careful. Sometimes our lap cat decides that we’d be a lot more comfortable with a few holes kneaded in us. As we grit our teeth against the sudden sting, we’re left wondering: “Geeze, furball! What was that about!?’” Our cat might not answer, but science can.

This behavior actually stems from a cat’s earliest days. It’s this kneading that jumpstarts their mother’s milk production. As they grow, they continue to use this behavior to help them relax. So, the next time our cat kneads our thighs, we should take it as a compliment. For more about kneading, check out our article, “Why Cats Knead.

If it Fits, They Sits.

7 Strange Cat Behaviors Explained | Vet OrganicsCats, by nature, are ambush predators. They love squeezing themselves into small spaces and observing what goes on around them. In the wild, this ability to hide was often the only thing standing between our cat and its predators.  That instinctual need to hide has stayed with our cat long after most of its predators have died off. So, to a cat, that box is not just a piece of cardboard. It’s a sanctuary.

Rubbing Their Faces on Us

It’s hard to fight back a grin when a normally aloof cat starts to rub his head all over our blue jeans. But, this gesture isn’t just a cat’s way of saying ‘I love you.’ It’s also their way of marking their territory. Thanks to two scent glands in their cheeks, this head-butting actually leaves us smelling like the cat who did it. This scent marker serves as a warning to other cats that this two-legs already to somebody else. For more interesting facts and stats on head-butting read, “Cat Head Bunting: What It Means And How To Respond.

Bringing Us “Gifts”

I7 Strange Cat Behaviors Explained | Vet Organicst might not be a horse head but finding a dead mouse on the pillow can be pretty startling. As we rush to grab a piece of tissue paper, stomach roiling with disgust, it’s easy to get angry at the cat that left it there. But, it’s important not to make a big deal of it. Our cats are not acting out of malice, after all.  They just think we’re untrained, unskilled hunters looking for some tutelage. The fact that they love us enough to share their spoils actually speaks volume about how much they care. For those of us looking to avoid these “gifts,” however, it’s best to keep Turok and his friends inside.

Sleeping on Your Keyboard

With all those cushions and pillows to rest on, why do cats take naps on our laptops?  They’re not exactly comfortable. Scientists believe this behavior originates from a cat’s instinct to seek out warmth. When on, fans or no fans, our electronics emit higher-levels of heat than other objects in a room. To a cat looking for a place to rest, this carbon-fiber heating pad is irresistible. And, since they’re so clever, most cats quickly figure out that taking a seat in front of the computer or TV is a surefire way to get our attention.

Pooping Outside the Litterbox

Even a well-behaved cat sometimes goes outside the litterbox. This is never a pleasant experience, especially for the pet parent stuck with cleaning it up. There are multiple reasons why cat might start pooping in the bathtub or closet, including:

  • It’s dirty. Our feline friends are pretty finicky. If the box is dirty, they’re going to find somewhere else to go. Make sure to clean it at least a couple of times a week. If that’s too much for you, consider picking up one of those robotic litter boxes.
  • It’s in the open.In the wild, a predator could potentially strike a cat on the loo. Therefore, they are reluctant to do their business in the open. Try moving the litter box into a secluded place.
  • They can’t get to it. Older cats can have a hard time getting into high-walled litter boxes. When this might be the case, we can pick up something shallower to see if that does the trick.

If it’s more than a simple cleanliness issue, it’s important that we take them to the vet for treatment. For more about litter box behavior check out our article, “Why Do Cats Bury Their Poop?

Knocking Stuff Off Tables

7 Strange Cat Behaviors Explained | Vet OrganicsWe’ve all been there. One second our cat is fine. The next, they’re declaring war on our grandma’s Ming vase. As we watch it shatter on the floor, we’re filled with disbelief. That thing has sat there for years! Why the heck did our cat decide to take notice of it now!? To be honest, it’s probably because they’re bored. Cats are naturally inquisitive creatures and perfectly capable of finding new, if destructive, ways of amusing themselves. When this starts to happen, it might be time to pick up some new cat toys.


When Garfield spots a sparrow or robin, he might start to make a strange noise. Affectionately known as “chattering,” this vocalization is shockingly similar to birdsong.  Wildlife conservationists now believe that all cats possess an innate ability to mimic the sounds of their prey. This often lulls the target animal into a false sense of security as the cat prepares to pounce.  It’s actually thought that a cat’s meow is their attempt to mimic the cries of a human baby.

Though some cat behaviors are downright adorable, others, like smashing priceless family heirlooms to smithereens, are pretty problematic. While there are some things we can do to curb unwanted behaviors, many of them are just part of what it means to be a cat guardian. If any of these behaviors become worrying, it might be time to consult a behavioral specialist. Either way, we love our cats and their strange behaviors are just plain endearing. 

Michelle Lievense

Michelle is a writer and ghostwriter, specializing in wellness, sustainability, and global social change. She is particularly fond of serving ethical organizations who contribute to a better life for people and animals through humane and environmentally responsible missions. At Vet Organics, Michelle uses her time as a vet tech, her academic studies in animal science and behavior, and nearly a decade working on a ranch teaching animal husbandry to write on a variety of cat and canine health topics. When she isn't writing, Michelle can be found hiking in the mountains of Colorado with her dogs or snuggled up with a good book and her cats.

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