Cats make fantastic pets, but you may have noticed your cat doing some pretty unusual things, from “making biscuits” and hiding in tight spaces, to chattering and head-booping. What is considered normal, and when is it time for a trip to Cranberry Holistic Pet Care? Let’s explore some of your feline friend’s unusual, but normal, behaviors, and unravel the mysteries behind the “why.”
Question: Why does my cat knead?
Answer: While you may think your cat has simply watched too many Cooking Channel shows when the chef is making biscuits, the act of kneading has nothing to do with their baking skills. Kneading can be traced to a multitude of causes, but no one theory appears correct. Some of the more common reasons your cat may knead include:
- Leftover instinct from nursing
- To display emotion
- To stretch
- To create a nest
- To claim territory
- To signal to a mate
Cats have scent glands in their paws, so much of their kneading activity seems related to pheromone marking. By leaving behind scent markers, your cat may be communicating with other cats in your household. Or, depending on the situation, they may be kneading to show their stress or happiness.
Q: What does my cat’s chattering noise mean?
A: You’ll most often hear your cat chattering when they see a bird right outside the window. Their teeth-chattering is not because they are cold, but because they are excited about potential prey, and frustrated because they cannot reach it. Your cat may also chatter when playing with prey-shaped toys, such as catnip mice and tiny, plush animals, and when playing with a laser pointer, which is the ultimate unattainable prey.
Q: Why does my cat bump their head against me?
A: You should treasure a head boop from your feline companion. Cats bestow this bunting behavior only on creatures they like, whether it’s another cat, the household dog, or you. When your cat butts you with their head, they are essentially saying, “I love you,” and marking you as their own. Scent glands are not only located in your cat’s paws, but also hidden in their cheeks. As your cat rubs their face against you, they are depositing pheromones that promote a bonding, comforting feeling. Consider your kitty’s unexpected head butt the ultimate affectionate gesture.
Q: Why does my cat curl their lip?
A: When your cat curls their lip and sneers, they aren’t saying they are disgruntled, although they seem to be copping an attitude. This action is called the flehmen response. When your cat curls their lip, the tongue traps scents and pheromones against the vomeronasal organ, which is a duct on the roof of their mouth. Horses also have a vomeronasal organ, so you may have seen odd expressions on equine faces as they sniff out a strange odor. You’ll likely notice your cat curl their lip after you have visited a friend with pets, or if they smell an unusual scent through an open window.
Q: Why does my cat wink at me?
A: When your cat winks at you, do you break out in a blush? You should definitely feel special if your cat favors you with a wink or a slow blink, which is sometimes called a cat kiss. A cat who winks or slowly blinks is showing they are comfortable with their surroundings, and especially with you. As a prey animal, cats can have trouble relaxing, but a wink is a clear sign your cat trusts you to keep them safe and secure. You can signal back to your cat by slowly shutting and opening your eyes, and they will likely wink back again. Cats may also wink or slowly blink at each other to show they are not a threat. Direct stares are usually considered a challenge in the animal world, but a cat wink means the opposite.
Have you noticed a never-before-seen behavior in your cat? If you’re unsure whether it’s normal, capture the behavior on video, if possible, and then give us a call to make an appointment with our Cranberry Holistic Pet Care veterinarian.