Cats are an endless source of amusement and befuddlement. These funny felines make wonderful roommates, but their behavior can also be truly peculiar.
If this is your first time owning a cat, you might be bewildered trying to determine what is normal behavior and what could indicate a need for medical attention. That’s why we have put together this handy guide on cat behavior.
Cats may be tiny, but they’re fierce. Their teeth and claws can cause some serious pain, and cat bites and scratches can lead to what’s known as cat scratch fever. If your cat is very aggressive, whether with you or other people or pets, it’s a sign of stress. Take it seriously and look for its root cause. Often times, cats will experience something that provokes them, and may lash out aggressively even hours later. If you are struggling to determine where your cat’s aggression stems from, come consult with us at our Fort Collins animal hospital.
Attacking When Pet
Most cats enjoy pets from humans, but only when they feel like it. If they are feeling annoyed by your affection, they should let you know with avoidant behavior or a gentle nip. Look out for signs of aggression that could mean you will soon be attacked: dilated pupils, turning their head sharply towards you, or a twitching tail all indicate that they have had enough and will soon strike.
Common Signs of Stress
Cats make it clear when they are stressed out. Some behaviors you may run into when your cat is stressed out include:
- Not using the litter box
- Obsessive grooming
- Loss of appetite or thirst
- Frequent hiding
- Frequent hissing or growling
If your cat is continuously going outside the litter box, this can indicate a urinary tract infection, or that you aren’t cleaning the box enough. If you struggle with this issue frequently, consult with a vet.
Bringing You Dead Prey
When your cat was a kitten, their mother taught them to hunt. When your cat is under your care, you become their mother, so when they bring you these special “presents,” it’s their way of showing off for you. This is a natural instinct for your cat, and punishing them for it is only going to confuse them. If it bothers you, keep your kitty inside, or outfit them with a bell to warn their prey that they’re coming.
You might notice your cat putting toys in or next to their food bowl. Essentially, they are gathering prey to eat later. This is the same reason why you might see them “burying” their food by moving their paw next to their dish — it’s a natural instinct to save food. If you notice your cat stealing shiny things and stashing them away, this can be an indication of anxiety.
New cat owners are often amazed by how much they groom themselves! When you see your cat licking their paws, rubbing their face, and licking their body, limbs, and tail, this is a normal part of their routine. It’s typical that your cat will spend many hours grooming in a day.
Chewing on Things
Cats often engage in playful chewing, and if this is on their toys, this isn’t an issue. However, many cats find things like electrical cords and houseplants irresistible. Prevent this by keeping your cords secure and offering alternative, safe plastic toys for them to chew on. If you have houseplants, make sure they are varieties that are safe for cats — many plants are toxic to our feline friends. If your cat is chewing on other objects, try using a bitter apple or eucalyptus oil to dissuade them.
Staring at You
Many people who are new to cat behavior are a little unnerved by their staring. Anyone who has tried to win a staring contest with a cat knows that they are masters at it. The truth is, cats are curious creatures, and they want to know what you’re doing. They’re watching your behavior, and if it’s near mealtime, they may be staring waiting for you to feed them. They may also be trying to communicate something to you through body language. For example, cats often slowly blink at their owners to let them know that they love them. When this happens, return their gaze with a slow blink back and they will understand that you love them.
There is no shortage of fascinating cat behavior to explore, so we encourage you to visit our Fort Collins animal hospital if you have any questions about the way your cat is behaving. Contact us today to get started!