Why Cats Do Things

Why cats do things are answered in this tabled list:
Action - Why does a cat.... Reason why cats do things
Lick us We are mother cats to them. It is a sign of affection
Knead us This is a throwback to kitten hood to make mother's milk flow at the nipple. We should be honored and should put up with it.
Go to a visitor that is hostile to cats Cats go towards trouble out of inquisitiveness. I also don't think cats know the person is hostile just that the person is something new to be investigated. Mine just hides from new visitors so this is not a universal trait
Head Butt This is a transference of scent a sign of affection and to bind the relationsip.
Rub against us This is scent exchange to bind the relationship and make it more comfortable for the cat. And to make close contact.
Lick their fur after being stroked 1.To sense through licking our scent. A form of scent exchange 2. to lick off our scent to leave their scent.
Suck wool or clothing Never seen this but could be due to a lack of fiber in food or too early weaning.
Pass a strange cat slowly To avoid conflict.
Use a litterbox automatically It replicates burying feces in the wild to hide scent (damping down odor display)
Purr This first starts with a baby at the nipple to signal milk is being received. Purring does not necessarily mean contentment.
Attack our ankles To play and play is practicing for hunting
Cause allergies Some people are allergic to the allergen Fel d 1 in a cat's saliva and some aren't.
Like being stroked It mimics a mother cat's lick.
Scratch furniture 1. to strip off the claw's outer sheath 2. to scent mark 3. execrise the claw's muscles.
Roll over belly up It is a passive, friendly reaction to a close friend.
Hop on hind legs to greet us To try a perform the classic head to head greeting cat to cat but with a giant (us)
Groom so much 1. Cleaning 2. Smoth fur for insulation 3. To lick of vitamin D on the fur from sunlight 4. Stimulate glands under the skin.
Wag its tail A sign of mental conflict between keeping snug and exploring
Spray on garden wall To tell other cats of their presence and when present - scent signalling
Go out when we come in Cats are crepuscular and go out at dawn and dusk to hunt. We are normally coming in at dawn
Cry to be let out and let in Doors are barriers to natural movement to check territory regularly. Cats don't understand doors.
Arch back To look bigger when faced with foe
Hiss To sound like a snake and snakes are known by animals to be dangerous. It accompanies spitting another snake action.
Wag its tail when hunting on a lawn This is due to mental conflict. The urge to hunt is countered by the lack of cover provided by the lawn
Chatter teeth when seeing a bird To practice the movement of her teeth when biting into the neck to break the spinal cord of the prey
Sway the head when staring at prey To get a more accurate fix on distance using binocular vision.
Eat Grass To eat folic acid, a vitamin, in the grass for dietary reasons.
Eyes glow in the dark Because there is a reflective layer at rear of the eye that magnifies the light for better night vision.
Eyes form slits The iris (opening) is verical to allow better light input modification by half closing the eye.
Move kittens to a new nest For convenience, to bring the kittens nearer the source of prey for them to begin eating prey for the fist time.
Throw toys into the air Kittens do this to practice catching an escaping bird that had just been caught as prey. Or practicing catching a fish.
A tom cat bite the scruff of the females neck when mating To pacify her. This mimics the actions of a mother cat when she picks up her kittens. They go limp to make carrying easier.
Female scream during mating The males penis is barbed. It hurts when removed.
Sneer To smell better by bringing into action a gland on the roof of the mouth in facilitating air flow.
Lick it nose for no reason This is displacement behavior. It is like us scratching out heads or biting our nails.
React to catnip There is a natural chemical in catnip that causes this. It is like a mild drug for humans.


The reason why cats do things is often not obvious and the obvious reason why cats do things is not often the right reason. The answer to why cats do things is usually found in the wild cat instincts and basic animal behavior.



From Why Cats Do Things to Home Page

Why cat do things source:
  • Maine source - Cat Watching by Desmond Morris
  • Internet

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