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anonymous QUESTIONS AND ANSERS WHY DO CATS? March 21, 2006 12:00 AM

Why does your cat wash your hair or face?
The first thing a kitten experiences, even before it can see, is its mother licking and washing.  Grooming is a demonstration of love and caring.  So, if your cat occasionally washes your hair or licks your face, he is showing you his acceptance and caring of you as a fellow feline. 

»Why does a cat "knead" or "make biscuits"?
When a kitten is nursing, it typically kneads its paws against its mother, either as a sign of contentment or to encourage the milk flow.  When the cat matures, it kneads to show its contentment and pleasure. 

»Why does a cat go to the visitor who doesn't like cats?
When one cat is threatening another, it stares boldly, sometimes hisses, and frequently moves in toward the other cat.  Usually, the person who doesn't like cats avoids looking at it, doesn't talk to it, and sits quietly, hoping to be ignored by the cat.  The cat, therefore, sees the person's behavior as "cat-friendly" and practically inviting.

»Why does your cat push its head against you? 
This is called "head butts".  This is a cat's way of showing affection. Some cats will turn their head, and push it against a human (or another cat). 

»Why does a cat do a stiff-legged hop/touch against a human?
That is the cat's body language of saying, "hey, hi there, how ya doin'?"

»Why does your cat rub up against you?
Cats have scent glands along the tail, on each side of their head, on their lips, base of their tail, chin, near their sex organs, and between their  front paws. They use these glands to scent mark their territory. When the cat rubs you, he is marking you with his scent, claiming you as "his."  Too, he is picking up your scent. Cats rub up against furniture or doorways for the same reason - to mark the item as "his".  (Urine spraying is also a territorial marking, by the way.)

»Why does a cat sometimes wash its fur immediately after being petted?
There are two theories on this behavior.  One theory proposes that the cat is getting rid of the human smell.  The other is that the cat is furthering the pleasure of his association with you by tasting your scent.

»Why do some cats suck wool or clothing?
There are a couple of theories on this:
The cat was weaned too early and the scent of the lanolin reminds the cat of his mother, or 
The cat has a lack of fiber in his diet.

»Why does a cat walk sloooowly, looking straight forward when passing another cat?
All cats are territorial to an extent - the range of a particular inside cat may extend from a small space in a room to the entire house, depending on their hierarchical ranking in the family.

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anonymous  March 21, 2006 12:04 AM

»Why does a cat use a litterbox?
In the wild, cats learned to bury their feces to hide their presence from predators or rivals.  That trait remains ingrained in our domestic house cats.

»Why does a cat scratch outside the litterbox, instead of inside it?
The cat has probably had several unpleasant experiences of getting his feet soggy or dirty - make sure the litterbox is cleaned out frequently.

»Why does a cat purr?
Usually, a cat purrs because it is content.  A mother cat purrs to let her kittens know she is nearby, and kittens purr in response to their mother's grooming.  Older kittens purr to entice adults to play.  Some adults will purr to show an aggressor that they are non-threatening. Take note, however, that some cats will purr when frightened or in pain.  By the way, no one has yet to discover how a cat purrs.

»Why does a cat sometimes scratch the floor as though he is trying to bury his food dish?


It may be a holdover of the wild trait of burying food for later.  Or, it may be that he is trying to tell you that the food is not to his liking.

»Why does a cat attack human's ankles?
Kitten play always involves mock battles, with surprise attacks, pounces, and leaps.  The kitty is basically trying to play, as he would with another cat.  Direct him to less painful game play - chasing balls, cords, and so on.

»Why are some people allergic to cats?
It's not the cat's fur that causes allergies. It's a protein (FEL D1) in the cat's saliva. When a cat grooms itself, it deposits this protein on its fur (and the protein then may be transferred to upholstery and carpets).  Some cats have less (or more) of this protein.  Though there is no way to predict which cat in a litter, if any, will be less hypoallergenic, though females seem to be the lesser hypoallergenic.  Bathing a cat reduces the amount of protein in the cat's fur, so the human's physical reaction is lessened.  I have also been told that putting a few drops of vinegar in the cat's water bowl helps to minimize the effects of the protein.

»Why does your cat turn his/her back on you after a scolding, or if you've been gone for a while?
Typically, a person's body language when reprimanding a pet includes staring or other overtly "aggressive" behavior.  The cat usually responds in a submissive fashion.  In a sense, it is telling you he has surrendered to you, as a fellow cat, and is discouraging attack.   (By the way, you will get better results from a cat if you enforce his positive behavior instead of reprimanding any negative behavior.)

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anonymous  March 21, 2006 12:08 AM

»Why does your cat bring you dead or dying creatures?
There are at least four differing theories on this behavior: 
- Your cat is bringing you a present, in appreciation for you feeding it or as a sign of affection.
- Your cat realizes you are a totally incompetent mouser and is trying to educate you.
- The cat is bringing her prey home to where it is safe, where she usually eats.
- The cat is simply trying to make sure you have fresh food.
»Why does a cat play with its prey?
Cats are attracted by movement, so if a stalked prey keeps moving, the cat's desire to attack continues to be  stimulated.  If the cat gets very excited over the stalking/killing, he may continue to play with the prey after it is dead.

»Why do some cats put their toys in their water or food dish?
Cats look upon their food area as part of their territory, and that particular area of their territory usually doesn't change from day to day - so the cats are likely putting their favorite toys away in a "safe" place.  Some cats will consistently put away their toys when they're through playing with them - you might try putting your cat's toys in a small basket near one of his favorite spots and see if he will put them away on his own.

 »Why does your cat take a small bite on your arm or cheek and hold on for a few seconds?
Some cats, when they are very happy and feeling extremely affectionate toward the Big Unfurry Cat, will gently take a piece of  human skin between their teeth and hold it for a few seconds.  Think of it as the feline equivalent of kissing.

»Why do cats roll over on their backs?
Cats roll over on their backs for a variety of reasons:  if your cat flops down in front of you and rolls over on his back for a belly skritch, it's a sign of his complete trust in you that you won't ever hurt him.  Other times, he wants to play.  If the cat is female and in heat, it's a form of foreplay.  It's also a part of their social standing.  Domesticated cats don't display this as much as wild ones do. Wild cats have a very similar social structure to that of wolves.

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anonymous  March 21, 2006 12:11 AM

»Why does a cat lick photographs or plastic bags?
It has been speculated that they are tasting the slight "odor" that emanates from these products.  They may also enjoy the texture of the items on their tongue.

»Why do some cats go crazy over catnip, but others ignore it?
The response to catnip is the result of a gene in the cat; if the cat doesn't have the gene, it cannot physically react to catnip.  Some cats will react to catnip by rolling around on the floor in delight, others will just quickly eat it up and wander off, while others will ignore it completely.

»Why does a cat sometimes "sneer" when smelling something?
When a cat curls back its upper lip and looks like it's sneering, it has just discovered an interesting, usually intense odor and is smelling it more deeply.  Called "flehming, it is drawing the odors into an organ (Jacobson's organ), in the roof of its mouth.

»Why do cats sometimes scratch at windows?
It may be that they are verifying that there is actually a barrier between them and whatever they see outside.

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anonymous  March 21, 2006 12:13 AM

»Why does a cat hate getting wet?
Actually, many cats enjoy water and at least one breed is known to enjoy fishing and swimming.  But, it has to be on their own terms - being picked up by two human hands and dunked in a sink full of water is not on the cat's "own terms."

»Why do some cats insist on drinking from a dripping faucet?
Cats - like most other animals - prefer their food and water fresh, and running water is most appealing for that reason. Too, the motion of water coming out of a faucet is probably appealing to their sense of hearing and sight.  Some cats will even put their paw into their water dish and "swirl" it around so they can drinking "running" water.»Why does a cat hide when it is sick or dying?
Instinct tells a cat to hide where a predator can't find them.  When a cat is ill, it may think it is being stalked - so it hides. 

»Why does a cat spend so much time grooming?
Besides the obvious purpose of hygiene and the social aspects, grooming helps cats cope with confrontation or embarassment (you may have noticed that if a cat accidentally falls off a chair, the first thing he does is nonchalantly wash himself, as though he intended to get down in the first place.)

»Why does a cat frequently demand attention when you're on the telephone?
The cat, since it can't see the person you are talking to, presumes you are talking to him, and is responding to what he perceives is your conversation with him.

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anonymous  March 21, 2006 12:15 AM

»Why does a cat scratch the furniture or a scratching post?
While some people think a cat scratches to sharpen its claws, that is probably inaccurate.  There are typically two reasons for scratching:  the cat is marking its territory (cats have sweat glands between their paw pads, and scratching leaves their scent on the clawed object); or, the cat is "filing down" its nails and removing the outer layer

»Why does a cat suddenly bite or hiss at a person after it's been petted for a while?
If a person persists in touching a sensitive area (such as the cat's tail, ears, or belly), the cat might give a gentle nip to as a way of staying "stop."  Too, some cats can tolerate pleasurable stroking only for short periods of time; again, he may communicate "stop it" with a nip or cuff of his paw.

»Why do some cats insist on tipping over their water dish, or take food out of the dish and drop it on the floor to eat?
Most cats do not like to eat or drink out of bowls if the sides touch their whiskers.  Also, if a bowl is too deep, the cat may take the food out for convenience.  A wider, shallower bowl will probably eliminate this behavior.

 »Why does a cat chatter when he sees a bird?
When a cat kills prey, it bites down quickly several times.  The "chatter" is simulating the cat's behavior at the time of attack.
Alternatively (according to a visitor): it's pure and simple frustration. When a cat is stalking or killing a bird, they're almost invariably completely silent. It's when they are shut off from the prey that they chatter.

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anonymous  March 21, 2006 12:16 AM

»Why is a cat able to land on its feet from a fall?
When falling, the cat uses its tail to right itself and swivels its body in mid-air, so that it is facing the ground, and lands with its back arched to absorb the shock. Cats have very flexible bodies, so the swiveling is easy for them to do.

»Why do cats like crinkly sounds?
Crinkly sounds are similar to the high-pitched noises of rodents, birds, and crickets, so the crisp, crinkly sound of a crumpled piece of paper or walking into a paper bag stimulates the cat's "prey response.

"»Why does a cat swish his tail?
Cats use their tail to communicate their mood.

»Why do cats chew on plants?
It could be that the grass helps the cat get rid of fur swallowed while grooming, or that grass provides fiber or vitamins and minerals not found in meat.  Some plants are poisonous to a cat; others are okay for nibbling.

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HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! October 25, 2006 8:27 PM

Hey Belinda, How are you?  I need some advice and help. Why do cats often use the litter box quite well, and then times go on the floor?  Our cat who is 3, has always gone  in the litter box, and sometimes will go on the floor. She goes in the basement next to the litter box, on the new carpet, the old carpet, the floor, no rhyme or reason. For awhile she was doing it behind the couch, and she stopped that, and now I find little poopsies all over.  Not everyday, but often enough it is starting to get to me. She also doesn't clean herself well. I mean most cats clean themselves lick lick lick, very seldom does she clean anywhere. She is starting to get natted hair, even though we brush her. Help I don't know what to do with her anymore. I am frustrated as her poopsies smell horrendous, even if it is a little drop. I have tried cleaners, I have two litter boxes, they are cleaned everyday, sometimes twice, cuz I thought maybe she didn't like the mess, how can I train her to go in the potty?  LOL  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 
 October 26, 2006 11:03 AM

some times cats do this when they are sick, but also a big reason for a cat to start going to the bathroom in other areas is the litter is too full (some cats will only go in the box if it is scooped out after every time they go potty, very clean finicky cats there lol) or because there was a change in the household, a new pet was brought in, a new person or baby, too much tension in the house (cats can read our moods very well, mine because of back pain always wants to be on me or right against me , hes 25 lbs so this doesnt help my back much lol but hes showing he feels my pain and loves me) also if they are mad at someone in the house, say you started a new job and the hours are different or if you werent working before and now are, hes showing his displeasure. if you havent had any changes in the house, and try scooping the litter a couple times a day and that doesnt work then you need to take him to the vet and make sure theres nothing wrong with him. (sample of the stool taken with you)
im not swure about the not cleaning, is it a long haired cat? I know they can become matted some times, my daughters cat when we got him was all mated, but now he iisnt, he grooms himself tho. but many I talked to said they had to brush their long haired cat regularly.
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 October 26, 2006 11:07 AM

well i missed the part about cleaning the litter every day, try putting her in the bathroom, or small room with the litter boxes, praise her every time she goes and when she goles in it all the time then move it to were you want it (the litter) and show her where it is.
if her poop smells really bad you may want to change her food, maybe a higher protien one. also  try a chicken or turkey flavor, no fish (fish can make smelly poops in some animals, I mean worse smelly )

a vet check would be a good idea to rule out any sickness, take a poop sample and if theres nothing in the poop they will probably do a blood test. good luck!
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Litter Type June 30, 2007 7:03 PM

Might I suggest that you may also want to try changing the type of litter that you use.

Some litters have a smell as odour control which some cats find unplesant. Some also find particular types of litter unplesant on thier sensitive paw pads. Its also possible with some absorbant litters that the litter may get in the eye which is very irritive and could put your cat off.

Some experementation is required to find out what the nature of the issue is.

It is however vital that the cat be corrected for its behavior and this will take months not days due to the age of the animal.

Whenever you find a "deposit" pick up the cat and show him/her, an angry finger whould be waved at the cat in line of sight and a stern NO ( not yelling ) should be issued. Then the cat should be put in the litter box and praised, additional praise should be given if the cat then uses the litter box. Under no circumstances should you smack your pet.

If you see your cat using the litter box at other times tell them that you think they are wonderful and realy praise them up.

Also most cats generaly prefer thier litter to clump so they don't get wet feet.

Also if you do find a mess somewhere and your cat generaly uses the litter box it maybe nessesary to think about the human part of the equation.

Some people get upset with thier animals over messes and dont think about the fact that they closed a door to keep warm or stopped thier animal in some other way from being able to get to thier toilet... Don't you blame your cat if this is the situation get cat savy and think about how what your about to do will affect the cats ability to go to its catbox.

I hope these hints help.

And remember "Cats are people too."

Cheers

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Not Using the Litter Box February 16, 2008 6:12 AM

Hello,

I just thought I would ask if your cat is declawed or not.  Declawing does not usually cause obvious pain to cats, but it definately causes them pain.  They have to adjust the way that they walk and many of the muscles that they don't use the way they would if they had claws become weak.  DECLAWED CATS GET ARTHRITIS.  The rate of litter box problems is much higher in declawed cats than in cats with claws.

If you cat is declawed you might want to look at treatments for arthritis.  You could then try putting puppy pads in the box instead of litter (I'm thinking this might be gentler on the paws than scratching at the litter, but it will definately be more expensive you you'll probably need to change it more often).

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 April 10, 2010 2:55 PM

Wow, those questions and answers were great.  Alot of stuff I didn't know.  Thanks.

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Need help with younger cats behavior February 24, 2011 10:22 PM

Hi !  The "mom" of 2 rescue cats (a 4 & 1/2 to 5 yr old female, a 1 yr 7 mo old male- both fixed).. I have recently had concerns about my "baby boy". Kaley had a hard life before moving in with me 2 years ago and is *so* grateful to have a home with all the toys, goodies, warmth & security that she melts everyone's hearts. Lately, Caleb has taken to dropping food in his water bowl and last night - he decided to defecate in it.  I was not only horrified - I was .  I prescribe to the one litter box per cat *plus* one per cat ...so there are plenty of litter boxes in the house.  They are well fed and taken care of.  Even though he is fixed,  he has started being aggressive to Kaley when he wakes up.  She *won't* defend herself.  She learned when she was at an attnys "rescue shelter" with 13 other cats that she was the "low man on the totem pole" so she went without food and slept in the snow or under/in cars instead of the *one* heated igloo the attorney provided.  So she is grateful for everything.
Caleb .. *I* found...abandoned by his mom (bat ears and all) in a wood pile.  And he has been just as spoiled as Kaley.  Why this sudden aggressive behavior and the defecation in their night time water bowl?  They both have cat beds next to mine - yet sleep with me. 
I don't know whether to spoil Caleb more - or just keep him in a cat carrier every night until I get up so he can't hurt Kaley!  Neither seems to be effective........ in the cat carrier he mews all night long because he is lonely... but in the bedroom I am awakened by the sound of Kaleys howl of pain.  I now understand why he is putting food in his bowl and will also change to flat plates for their food so they no longer put those "crunchy bites" on my floor after they are done eating!
Thanks!  Any input is valued .

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Random question January 22, 2012 10:46 PM

My cat likes to run around the house but some times when he runs he locks his knees and runs stiff legged, he is young so its not stiffness from old age...is he doing it just for fun?...he sounds like a galloping horse running through our house like that on our hard floors

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