Why Do Cats…?

Cat FAQWhy Do Cats Do the Things That They Do … ?

NOTE: Any health care tips or information found here are NOT to replace a veterinarian visit. Also, what you read here may not be applicable to your cat’s health condition or disease. 

~~~~~And so we begin…

Why are cats so curious?

Cats naturally explore and are constantly on the hunt.


Are cats hard to train?

Well, yes and no. Cats only learn tricks if THEY want to and if there is something in it for them. They can be fast learners and learn by association. Train them with lots of love, patience, repetition and rewards (cat treats). The cat’s IQ is high and only surpassed by monkeys and chimps. They learn by observation, imitation and trial and error. In tests, cats have greater problem solving abilities than dogs.


Do cats dream?

Yes, during a deep-phase of sleeping, the give-away is movement of her paws, twitching whiskers, flicking ears and possibly vocalizing or the mouth moving.


Why do cats swish their tails?

To get their balance before leaping or to mesmerize their prey. She swishes her tail to get the prey to move and knows where her target is at.


Why do cats wag their tails from side to side?

The tail moving from side to side in a gentle manner means contentment. If the cat is sitting quietly, she might be focused on something. Fast, whipping back and forth could be anger or annoyance. Tail wagging in between these descriptions could mean she’s feeling indecisive. Some other tail motions: if the tail is curled up over the head, she’s feeling like she’s hot stuff.  Several quick flicks upward is a greeting.


What about cat ear positions?

When the ears are pointed forward and slightly outward, the cat is relaxed and listening.

When erect and facing forward, the cat is alert and ready to investigate sounds.

When they twitch back and forth, the cat is agitated or anxious.

When the ears are flattened tightly against the head, the cat is signaling annoyance and is feeling defensive (during a fight, the ears are flat against the head to protect them).

When feeling aggressive but not frightened, a cat’s ears will be in a position somewhere between alert and defensive.


What about the cat’s fur and her behavior?

The fur will stand up all over the body if the cat is alarmed or startled. When threatened by another cat, the fur will stand up slightly toward the middle from both sides making the cat appear larger than she is to any enemies.


Why do cats arch their backs?

Two reasons: one is simply to stretch their muscles and the other time they arch their backs is when feeling threatened. If threatened, their fur is usually standing out all over their body to look impressive and “scare away” the threat.


Why do cats sulk?

You are intimidating her. She associates your fixed gaze as you being the rival. A dominant cat will stare down her rival. But when your cat looks away after disciplining, she’s actually surrendering.


Why do cats take off running like they’re on fire?

Pent-up energy that needs released. Instincts make them want to hunt and run.


Why do cats rub against your leg?

She is depositing her scent, or marking her territory, on you. A cat will rub her head or the side of her chin against you, the furniture, or any object. She has glands on her forehead, mouth and chin that produce pheromones and she transfers these onto objects.


Why do cats roll over and expose their stomachs?

It’s a greeting and shows her trust in you. The stomach is the most vulnerable part of the cat and if she is exposing  it, she’s totally comfortable around you. You should feel complimented. She may want her belly rubbed or an invite to play.


Why won’t cats come when called by their name?

She might be napping or something much more exciting is going on and her attention is on that instead of you.


Why do cats love being rubbed or stroked?

We are a substitute for their mothers. Cats have memories of being a kitten and interpret the petting as if being groomed by their mother’s tongue as kittens. It’s a comfort thing.


Why do cats knead?

It’s an action that was done to their mother’s while nursing to help the milk flow. When older cats knead, it’s a sign that they’re happy and relaxed. If they do it to you, it is a compliment. Also, some cats knead an area to make it soft and comfy before taking a snooze in that spot.


Why does my cat interrupt my phone calls?

She has no idea that you are speaking to someone else and thinks you are talking to her. So she gets excited.


Why do cats go to people who really don’t like cats?

The cat is very uncomfortable in a room where everyone is wanting to touch her. She’ll notice a person ignoring her (the one who dislikes cats) and go to that person to seek a safe place away from all the attention.


Why do cats get stuck in trees?

Their claws are constructed for climbing up a tree and if they try to go down headfirst, their claws cannot grip the bark. They have to learn to shimmy down the tree tail/butt first.


Why do cats cover their feces?

In the wild, cats bury their waste to cover their trail from predators. BUT the dominant cat will display the waste to send a message of control or power. With your house cat, YOU are the dominant animal. Usually your cat doesn’t want to “offend” you so they toss litter on their feces.


Why do cats like high places?

They have a great view of everything under them, it feels safer and they can watch for prey.


Why do cats chatter when seeing a bird?

Some cats sound like their teeth are chattering or little bleating noises are heard when they see something they want but can’t get to it. Their lips are usually smacking together, too, but it just means they are excited.


Why do cats hiss and spit when attacked or threatened?

They are imitating snakes…a snake is feared in the animal world and the hissing can repulse an enemy . Hissing is actually common in land animals. When a cat hisses, she breathes out so hard that the moist air is what’s called spitting.


Why do cats like to sleep in the sun?

Cats like to feel warm and secure before they fall to sleep and will many times seek out a sunny location.


Why does catnip make cats act crazy?

It is a response to the herb’s chemical. Catnip produces feelings of ecstasy through the odor, not the taste.


Does a cat’s eyes glow in the dark?

No – the eyes just reflect light.


Can cats see in the dark?

No, they cannot see in total darkness but they can see way better than a human can in semi-darkness. Their eyes are able to detect the smallest amount of available light. And any movement, they are aware of it.


Do cats see in color?

They can tell the difference between certain colors. Shades of blue and green are what they detect.


Why do cats flick their ears when they’re asleep?

The muscles in a cat’s ears rotate 180°. They are able to hear all around them without moving their head. Many times they are dozing, not completely sleeping, and are alert to all the sounds in the room.


Is there a pad of some sort midway up a cat’s rear legs?

Yes, it’s called the carpal pad. Its function is to help keep the cat from skidding.


Why do cats shed their claws?

Cats walk on their claws, not on their paws. This feature is useful for moving at high speeds. Throughout the year, they shed their claws to expose new sharp ones beneath. Scratching posts are great to help remove the old sheaths and ragged edges.


Why do cats retract their claws?

They pull in their claws to protect them and to keep them sharp. Sharpened claws mark their territory by secreting a scent when they scratch items. 


Do you have a “closet cat” or one who runs or cowers from touch, even from loved family members? If your friends have never seen your cat, this is the right remedy for him or her! 

Scaredy Cat Spirit Essences by Jackson Galaxy



126 responses to “Why Do Cats…?

  1. i know you do not claim to know everything, but i could use some help or info on what to do with my problem. i have a calico cat 9 mos. old she has been fixed and was the sweetest and loveable cat until my husband brought home a ten wk old male kitten, also fixed. this male will not leave the female alone, he gets on her back and latches on to her neck,she hisses and meows at him, but it does no good. he will not leave her alone, she stays under the bed most of the timeshe is losing weight, because he wont let her alone long enough to eat or drink and is afraid to come out from under the bed. my once happy healthy cat is miserable and i dont know how to help her( getting rip of the kitten is not an oppsion ). thank you for any help you or your readers could give me.

    • Gina Marie Long Boekhout

      None of my answers may work, but some “ideas”: give your girl cat places to escape that aren’t under the bed like cat towers or shelves on the wall. Maybe separate them for a while to give the girl cat a break and a chance to feel like she has her own “space” where the boy cat cannot get to. Some people use see-thru gates (high enough or made so cats cannot jump or crawl over them) and then they can SEE each other without the boy driving the girl bonkers. Let them play together for chunks of time, then separate them again. I KNOW-separating pets is not easy to do in living quarters sometimes… Also, play with the cats – either together or separately. Feather toys or something on a string, or a string itself (should suggest NOT to leave it lay around in case a cat wants to eat it), balls, a wadded up piece of paper!, an old sock, paper bags. Also, some cats like a good massage (don’t over do it on some cats – they’ll let you know if “time is up” & you should stop).

  2. i bought at a yard sale 2 cats climbers with scratch rolls on it,,she will not get close to them or walk by them

  3. Tick removing my girlfriend and I dug a kitten out of a hole and the poor littlethings has ticks on her. What isthe easiest way to remove them

    • the ASPCA has a great guide to tick removal. but if the ticks have been on her for any length of time (and assuming they were already on her when you rescued her from that hole, they probably have) a trip to the vet is super necessary, to make sure the ticks are gone and she gets the medical attention she probably needs. be very careful, too, because the ticks might be in your house now. i hope kitty is feeling better and its wonderful that you rescued her from that hole! wishing you the best of luck.


  4. We recently got a new cat and my cat of two years does not get along with her and is peeing in the room she sleeps in they have gotten in to a fight hissing and such but getting rid of either of them is not an option so what can I do

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