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Are cats crazy? You think you're getting on great, and then your innocent feline surprises you with a little nip. You walk into a room, and your little kitty swipes at your ankles from beneath a table. Your cat rubs their head against you, and you think they might just love you, but then you see them rubbing their head against your shoes; do they love your shoes, too?
The common house-cat (although I'm sure our feline friends would protest the word "common") can be a mystery, both for those of us who love them and those who tell us they are "not a cat person". They make gestures we don't understand. But we should try to understand them, because our cat is attempting to communicate with us.
Here, we examine ten strange-looking cat behaviours, and discover their hidden meanings to answer the question "Why is my cat doing that?"
Cats aren't crazy. They just want us to understand them.
Head-butting, more correctly known as "bunting", has two functions. Your cat will rub things in your house (furniture, household objects, even your clothes) in order to release their scent (or pheromones). By covering everything in your home with their own pheromones, your cat creates a comforting familiar environment. It's one way of marking their territory.
Head-butting their human is also a way of stamping ownership, and mixing their smell with that of their human (letting other cats know "this one's taken"), but it serves another purpose. It is an affectionate act, accepting you as a friend, asking for your attention, or forgiving you for abandonment if you've been away.
My Cat is head-butting me: Return affection by tickling your cat behind the ears.
Your cat's tail twitches when it sees something he or she would like to hunt. It's a sign of aggression. If you see your cat's tail twitching, you should leave her alone.
Cats' tails also twitch when they feel anxious, angry or irritated. You should never touch a cat whose tail is twitching.
My Cat's tail is twitching: Your cat is feeling aggressive or threatened. Leave them alone.
Giving a Tiny Meow
If your cat looks up at you and gives a tiny meow, it means they want some attention.
My Cat gave a tiny meow: Let your cat onto your knee and make a fuss of them.
"Pooping" Outside the Litter-Tray
More correctly known as "middening", scent marking with faeces outside the litter-tray is a problem that is rare in indoor cats, but causes a lot of stress to both the animal and to their guardians. I must first state: cats are clean animals, and they would never choose to midden. Middening always has a cause. Causes are emotional: household stress, causing your friend to feel insecure; territory stresses caused by other cats.
Your pet may defecate outside the litter-tray for physical reasons (meaning that they are not technically middening): medical issues, and intestinal parasites could both cause this faecal problem.
My cat is defecating outside the litter tray: Don't lose your temper. Take your cat for a check-up at the vet. If the vet says your cat is physically healthy, ensure your cat feels secure at home.
Kneading with paws
Kittens knead with their paws to release milk from their mothers; by kneading us, adult cats are replicating the warmth of the bond they felt as kittens with their human guardians. Cats treat their "human" in the same way that they treat cats that they love and respect (although it's an exaggeration to say that they see us as stupid cats - though they do think we're rather clumsy).
My Cat is kneading me: Your cat loves you. Enjoy it.