25 random cat behaviors finally explained
There's a reason cats are the most favored animal on the internet — and why you'll find literally thousands of cat memes and funny cat videos circulating on any given day. Cats are super weird, in the best way possible. And they don't even try to hide it.
If you've been rooming with a four-legged feline for more than a few months, then you know by now: Your cat does some crazy stuff when she thinks no one's watching.
1. Nail biting
There are a few reasons that your kitty may bite her nails. One is that she is in desperate need of a trim and is "telling" you to clip them for her. Two, she's an anxious kitty with a bad habit. Just like humans bite their nails when nervous or bored, so does your cat. As this habit may be hard to break, find the root of the problem to see if it is indeed a ball of nerves causing her to nibble at her nails.
Next Up: Eye of the tiger
2. Eye of the tiger
When your cat is giving you the "eye of the tiger" or looking at something intensely, watch out! She's probably ready to pounce on her next prey. Cats like to examine their victims to ensure that when they are finally ready to spring, it will be for good reason. Unless you don't want your cat to pounce on the object (think a new pair of Tory Burch flip flops), let her practice her natural instinct.
Next Up: Random sprint
3. Random sprint
Does your cat run at an enormously fast speed and bounce off of the couch? No need to fear. Your cat, who can run up to 31 miles per hour, is just exercising! Most house cats have an extreme amount of energy that gets pent up and needs to be released. If you're not regularly exercising your kitty, you may want to start playing or walking him to avoid random sprints through the house.
Next Up: Unladylike sitting
4. Unladylike sitting
Why do you sit in an unladylike position? Because it's comfortable, of course! Same goes for your kitty. When she is sprawled with her legs open, she is relaxed, happy and trusting in you. She knows that she is safe in your presence, so she can relax.
Next Up: Rubbing against you
5. Rubbing against you
The reason your cat rubs against furniture is the same reason she likes to rub herself against you. She is giving you her "scent;" you are her human, and she wants the whole world to know. By releasing pheromones from her head, your cat is showing pride in her ownership over you.
Next Up: Uncovered poop
6. Uncovered poop
For most people, cats are a great pet because they pretty much clean up after themselves. (Now if they could only clean their own litter box!) But uncovered poo is usually an indication of an angry kitty. Did you recently show him dominance? This could be his treat to show you that he is, in fact, the dominant one in your relationship.
Next Up: Hissing
Not only does your cat hiss to express anger, but also fear. Most cats will hiss when agitated, or to simply warn you to back off and avoid a kitty fit. Other cats will hiss when they're afraid of something or someone. A hiss may also erupt when they feel threatened by a new member of the animal family. Let your cat calm down, and show him that all is right in his world.
Next Up: Sniffing your face
8. Sniffing your face
Cats are naturally curious animals, and this includes a huge curiosity in humans. They love to smell your face, breath and overall scent. They truly enjoy the warmth that humans present. If you don't mind, let her smell as much as she'd like — as it will only make her love and trust you more.
Next Up: Twitching ears
9. Twitching ears
When your cat's ears are twitching back and forth, they are expressing a feeling of anxiety or agitation. This action is to show whoever is irritating them to back off. If not, they may act on the anxiety by running away, hissing or swatting at the source.
Next Up: Ears pointed
10. Ears pointed
Upright, slightly pointed ears are usually an indication of your cat being alert. He is listening intently to his surroundings and is ready to spring into action if needed. Let your cat act on his natural instincts, as it will make him feel good about his abilities.
Next Up: Little meow
11. Little meow
A short and sweet meow is a greeting from your kitty. Usually heard when first seeing you, your cat is simply saying, "Hello." This will usually be met with a jump into your lap or a rub against you. Give your kitty a hello back with a nice rubdown.
Next Up: Loud meow
12. Loud meow
Feed me mom, and do it now! When your cat is hungry, he may give out a longer, louder meow that almost sounds like he's whining. And it's because he kind of is. Acknowledge the meow with food or explanation of when the food is to come.
Next Up: Imitating a baby
13. Imitating a baby
Your cat learns to communicate with you in the same way that a baby does — through listening intently and imitating. So when your cat meows like a baby, she is probably imitating the "baby" way that you speak with her. It's typical for humans to speak to an animal in the same way that they speak with a baby — through simple words and soft vocalization. Your kitty just wants to engage in the conversation.
Next Up: Chattering
Have you heard that weird teeth-chattering sound that comes from your cat? If so, your cat is probably frustrated that he can't get to what he wants. The sound that can imitate a baby goat comes from being excited and aggravated. It's completely normal, although the sound can be quite awkward.
Next Up: Crazy cat lady
15. Crazy cat lady
There are a few reasons why your cat may get crazy. One, like previously mentioned, she's letting go of excess energy. Two, she has a bite, itch or something irritating her skin that she can't seem to relieve. Going crazy by rolling on the ground, making awkward meowing noises and running around may make her feel better. Give her a flea bath if you notice the crazy cat lady actions often.
Next Up: Laying on your things
16. Laying on your things
Books, newspapers or computer keyboards — you name it and your cat has probably laid on it while you're using it. Not only does kitty want to be near you, as he knows that you will give him the loving attention that he desires, he also likes to feel secure. When you're doing something that makes you relax, being near you will make him relax as well. Plus, just maybe, you'll remember his smell and want to be near him again.
Next Up: Rolling in the Street
17. Rolling in the street
Cats love rolling on the ground to show you when they want to play, and that they trust you. It often takes a lot of time to earn their trust by being submissive in front of you; it shows that they have rendered themselves to you. A playful roll is just that — an attempt to have playtime with their owner.
Next Up: Sleeping on your chest
18. Sleeping on your chest
There is no scientific reasoning behind your kitty loving a good chest cuddle, but there is a good guess. Your cat loves to feel your warmth and heartbeat. He likes being close to you, and feels secure knowing that when he's on top of you, you aren't going anywhere without him knowing. So if it doesn't bug you, embrace his cuddles.
Next Up: Sneaky cat
19. Sneaky cat
Your cat is a naturally sneaky character. Intrinsically designed to hunt prey, your cat uses her sneakiness to get what she wants. Cats, one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, like to know that they can outsmart someone or something. When they are being sneaky, they are just being their sly, smart selves.
Next Up: Kneading paws
20. Kneading paws
When your kitty kneads her paws, it means that she is happy and content. Usually in coordination with a bout of loud purring, your kitty kneading her paws (with claws out) in the same spot repeatedly is referred to as milk-treading. A trait taught by their mothers when nursing, kitties would knead their paws to get milk out of their mother.
Next Up: Tummy up
21. Tummy up
Come pet me, Mom! When a cat's stomach is in the air, she is comfortable and ready for a rubdown. She trusts you, and wants you to come give her some snuggles. Make her happy and give her a quick pat down.
Next Up: Night owl
22. Night owl
Your cat's first ancestor, the African wildcat, was nocturnal. So it's no surprise that your feline roommate is a night owl. Since cats typically only take naps, it's easy to get bored in the long hours of the night, when his best playmate is sleeping. To avoid night activity, give your cat quality playtime before bed, and feed him before you hit the hay.
Next Up: Potty outside the litter box
23. Potty outside the litter box
This will teach you to not make your cat angry again. Typically, when a cat takes a potty outside of the litter box, they are teaching someone a lesson. If it's not you, and is perhaps a guest or roommate, your cat may be jealous of your mate. Have the recipient of your cat's not-so-kind gesture show him some love to display that they can both love you together.
Next Up: Biting
Cats bite for all reasons: because they're stressed, annoyed, angry, want to play or just because they can. What? Yes, cats bite because they are born to. Don't be alarmed if one minute she's purring with love and the next, she's taking a nibble. Whatever your reaction is to the bite, just don't yell at her. Simply tell her, "No" and walk away or blow in her face to show your unappreciation for the love bite.
Next Up: Feet attacks
25. Feet attacks
When your kitten attacks your feet or shoes, he is simply playing attack with you. Practicing his moves — pounces, jumps and attacks — is just a simple way of playing. Engage him in a game with a piece of yarn or a laser to keep him from your precious, manicured toes.
Originally published June 2013. Updated Oct. 2016.