Monday, April 3, 2017

Cat Behaviors



CAT BEHAVIORS AND WHAT THEY MEAN

Part I

Face Rubbing 


Mandy Cooper

What does it mean when your cat approaches you and rubs their face on your arm, face or leg? It means that kitty likes you and is pleased to see you. Cats have scent glands in their faces so it's like mingling their scent with yours. Faces are the most polite place to rub a cat. Many cats don't like to be rubbed in other places until they get to know you better.



Head Butting
Head butting is an over the top version of face rubbing. A bit like when a friend goes in for a hug instead of a hand shake. Some cats head straight for a snuggle by butting and twisting their heads against you encouraging you to pat and stroke them.

The sudden nip/bite
Some cats manage their excitement quite well. If you reach a point where stimulation is too much for them, they could cut you off with a swat or a bite. Others enjoying the petting can lead to play nipping or “love bites” (gentle and sometimes not so gentle) biting of nearby hands and fingers. This is likely a response that comes with hunting and playing.

Tail Twitching
The switch from interest to annoyance can happen quickly. When do you know when to back off from petting? One thing to look out for is a twitching tail. The tail may belong to a cat who appears to be comfy or catnapping. The tail of a relaxed cat might perform a slow, swaying motion but if you see a tail speed up or begin moving in a twitchy way, it's usually and outlet for something getting on the cat's nerves. It may be followed by ears moving to the side and back and sudden exit.

Kneading or (making biscuits)

This behaviour is a leftover from the cat's days of nursing on mum using their paws to manipulate production of milk. It may also be a calming or enjoyable behaviour that makes your cat feel relaxed or sleepy. Lap cats will often knead as they climb up for some attention. It is likely the kitty is scent marking you or their beds, blankets, toys, etc as the cat has scent glands in their paws as well. Some take it to a real art form by pawing, purring and drooling altogether.


Purring
This is the most recognized cat behaviour. Kittens begin to purr at 2 days old. Something in the cat's brain triggers the cat's larynx to vibrate. Interestingly, the purr happens both when kitty breathes in and out. Most of us think cats purr when happy or contented but cats also purr at times of fear, stress and pain. It is possible that a cat purrs when scared in an attempt to self soothe themselves.

Staring with their mouths open
Have you ever seen your cat with their mouth partly open looking like they have smelt something bad? They are probably showing what is called a “flehmen response” (drawing in air, captioning the scent and transferring it to a specialized sac located high up in the roof of the mouth and has a large blood supply). This most frequently happens when a cat smells urine. Many male cats show this behaviour when they smell the genitals or urine of a female cat in heat. The expression could also look like the cat is chuckling about something.

Sitting in boxes
Cats of all types are drawn to cosy enclosures. Being in a box helps the cat feel more protected than being out in the open especially when the urge to nap comes along. Another reason cats may like boxes is that it catches and reflects body heat which cats love. 





Transforming into a cat loaf
We like to tuck our hands and feet under the covers when we are cold and cats are no different. They tuck their paws, tail and sometimes their noses under the cover of their own bodies. A cat's normal temperature is about 100 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit so the average winter house may not be warm enough comfortably for our cats. Luckily, they can tuck all their bits under them because of their flexible bodies. 




Trying to bury their food
If a cat doesn't like a dish, they may just walk off in protest. Some cats though display an ineffective instinctual behaviour (they try to bury their food). The cat may have been taught to cover the carcass of a dead animal to avoid attracting other predators. Whatever the thought process, something in the smell of the food sets off similar actions to covering their pees and poops in the litter box. In a kitchen or clean environment, there isn't leaves or soil to cover up the food so kitty looks like they are sweeping around the bowl.
Howling at night 
Whether your kitty spends nights in a home or out in the neighbourhood, most cats do some nocturnal hunting and prowling. Cats are usually most active at dusk and dawn. We should keep in mind how a cat's appetite affects their behaviour. Cats hunt and eat quite small prey. One of the challenges to indoor cats is that their sleeping, hunting and eating patterns may be quite different to us humans. If you give in to night time yowling and feed the cat however, they realize their power in waking you and keep doing it. Hide some treats or kibble around the house for cats to find. If you notice sudden changes in a senior cat though, it might be a reflection of cognitive changes going on. Older cats need to go to the vet for more check ups than younger cats.

Why are cats attracted to people that are not 'cat people'
It's all about body language. When a person tries to remain invisible to a cat, they see this as non threatening so might move towards the non cat person to explore further.

Why do cats chatter their teeth
This is usually heard when there is a bird about that a cat is watching but can't get to. This could also be a sign of frustration, excitement or both.

Why do cats roll over and show their tummies 
When a cat greets its human, it makes a display of trust by exposing its belly. When a cat does this to us, it's either a sign of trust and any contact at this time could look threatening or it is a request for a rough and tumble.
(My cat Molly laying over on her belly. She loves her belly rubbed)





Why do cats have sudden bursts of energy
The day in the life of the average cat doesn't include anything dangerous so energy may not get used up. Often without warning, all of a sudden, this energy will burst out and your cat will act out a little fantasy role playing switching between the hunter and the hunted dashing around with a flicking tail and widely dilated pupils. This often occurs at dusk when cats are more active. It can be triggered by a loud noise or a visit to the litter box.


Why do cats dislike riding in the car 
Cats don't like to leave familiar territory. In a car, cats can't predict what might happen. Cats may also be more sensitive to the movement of the car because their sense of balance is very acute and they may not feel in control. The car will also sound and smell very strange. Cats between 2 and 7 weeks of age tend to tolerate it much better.


What does it mean when your cats tail gets bushy looking 
A cat has the ability to fluff up their tail and the fur along its back to stand erect at a right angle to the skin (pilo-erection). This is used together with an arched back and a sideways stance to signal defensive behaviour to other cats. Some cats that experience sudden fright will puff up their tail before investigating the perceived threat a bit further.




Why do cats like to drink water from the faucet
Some cats may find having their water bowl next to their food bowl confusing. Some cats adapt to this setup easily whereas others seek more acceptable sources. Taps, glasses of water, vases and goldfish bowls are all appealing but the best option is to provide their water well away from the food. Some cats prefer running water so pet drinking fountains can be purchased and be more practical than a running tap.


Why do cats hate aerosol spray
When cats are feeling threatened or pushed into a corner or if they are startled, they may hiss. It's an explosion sound to cats so when an animal or person has provoked that response, they can feel the air passing and they hiss. It's understandable that they don't really appreciate the equivalent of a hiss from an aerosol so close to them. They have very sensitive hairs on their body so a spray will set off these touch receptors very suddenly and the cat may not enjoy or understand the sensation. Chemicals in sprays may also smell very strong to the scent sensitive cat.


Why do cats like to eat grass
Eating grass is a normal behaviour in cats. It's thought that it helps to move food or hairballs through the digestive tract (grass eating often results in vomiting). It could also provide them with essential elements in their diet. Indoor cats without access to grass may chew other plants which they would usually ignore and which can be poisonous.
Please read our article here about poisonous plants:
Toxic plants to your cat 
You can buy cat grass and grow it inside for your cat to eat if they do not go outside at your local pet store.

Why do cats like to play with your hair
Cats groom each other in order to bond and show affection. Your cat thinks you are cool if they chew your hair. Unless your cat is obsessive about grooming your head which could indicate stress and they are trying to self soothe, there is nothing to worry about.

Why do cats like to bite your hands
If your cat grabs and bites your hands when all you want to do is pet them or play with them. It can also be satus induced aggression where they want to control the situation while playing.


Why does your cat like to lick you
Mother cats groom their babies and all cats groom themselves. We know that licking is the way that cats care for their coats and even though we don't have fur, cats lick us too. For cats, grooming is a health necessity but it's also a bonding behaviour. When your cat chooses to lick you, they are indicating not only their desire for you to be healthy and clean but they also want a bond with you. Cats licking you is just a cat's way of saying “I love you”

Why do cats trill
Cats can communicate verbally in many ways. They can meow, purr, chatter and trill and chirp. Unsocialized cats might hiss and growl at one another but seldom meow and almost never trill. We can recognize the meaning of hisses and growls but hopefully rarely experience them as they are associated with threat and aggression. Cats are usually seeking something with a meow and purring is generally perceived as contentment. A trill sound is more like a meow and purr and is frequently used by mother cats to communicate with their kittens so they get used to the sound and are able to recognize her. When your cat trills to you, it's a positive sound. She is calling you to her just like she would her kittens. It's a friendly behaviour reserved for close family.
( I have Norwegein Forest Cats and they trill all the time. I did not realize that is what it was called. I just called it mrrping) -Gena 
One of our cats at BCR chirps when he purrs. His name is Mack
Mack chirp purring

Sources:
Petcha
International cat care


To be continued. Part 2 to come later this week.