Cat behavior may seem tricky to understand, but we can help you know your cat better. When you understand why your cat does the things they do, cat behavior seems like less of a mystery and starts to become a second language. Here are 5 things your cat is trying to communicate to you.
#1 – I’m Not Going Outside The Litter Box To Spite You
As a cat, I’m incapable of understanding spite. If I’m going anywhere other than the litter box, I’m not doing it to get back at you for some perceived slight – there is almost definitely another reason for my behavior. Some things that would cause me to stop using my litter box include:
- The litter box hasn’t been cleaned in a while
- I have a urinary tract infection
- I’m in pain (this is especially common in cats that have been declawed)
- I don’t like the location of the litter box because it’s too loud, too far away, too close to my food and water, or some other reason
- The cover is trapping stinky fumes in the box with me
- There aren’t enough litter boxes – there should be one for every cat in the house plus one spare available at all times
- Another pet is keeping me away from the litter box
- I don’t like the type of litter you use
- Something made me afraid of the litter box, like diarrhea, constipation, or a loud boom of thunder
#2 – Cat Behavior Is More Complex Than You Might Expect
You may think I’m perfectly happy to stay home alone and sleep all day without much interaction with you, but the truth is that my cat behavior may indicate that I may be bored or suffering from separation anxiety. Here are some signs I might be bored:
- I sleep too much. Cats sleep an average of 15 hours per day. If I can’t stay awake longer than it takes to eat, it might be because I’m bored and would appreciate some active playtime with you.
- I eat too much (or not enough). If I’ve become chubby or you’ve had to limit how much you feed me every day, I may be eating just to pass the time.
- I groom myself too much. If I’m developing bald spots from grooming myself too much, I may be bored. I also may be suffering pain or anxiety, so a trip to the vet is in order first before increasing my play time.
- I’m destroying stuff. If I’ve started tearing up your curtains, unrolling toilet paper, or causing other sorts of mayhem, I’m just trying to keep myself entertained.
While you may think of dogs as suffering from separation anxiety, we cats can suffer from anxiety, too. Here are some signs I might have anxiety:
- I’ve become destructive when I wasn’t before
- I’m hiding more than usual
- I’ve stopped using my litter box
- I’m talking more than usual
- I’m lethargic, shaky, or vomiting. These could also be signs of a health problem, so it’s time for a trip to the vet
- I’m eating more or less than usual
- I’m more active than usual and seem restless
#3 – I Wish You Would Appreciate The Dead “Gifts” I Bring You
You may think the dead creatures I bring you are gross, but to me, they’re presents to show how much I love you. I don’t understand why you scream and yell at me for bringing you food to thank you for your love, food, and shelter. Try thanking me and exchanging my gift for an appropriate kitty treat before disposing of my “gift.”
#4 – Cat Behavior 101: What My Tail, Meows, And Other Body Language Mean
Even though we can’t speak English, we cats have learned how to communicate with you. The trick is that you have to learn what our tail, meows, body language, and other cat behavior mean.
Adult cats don’t meow at other cats; they only meow at humans. What do my meows mean? According to a guest post on Psychology Today:
- Short meow or a quick mew means “Hello”
- Multiple meows at you are an excited greeting, like when you come home from work
- Mid-pitch meow is a plea for food, attention, or something else
- Drawn out meow is a demand, like “Let me out!”
- Low pitch meow is a complaint
- High pitch meow indicates pain or anger
You can tell a lot about what I’m thinking or feeling based on what my tail is doing:
- Whipping my tail back and forth means I’m nervous and might be aggressive
- Tapping tail means I’m not actually asleep; my eyes may be closed, but I’m aware of my surroundings
- Downward curve in my tail means I’m feeling defensive. Approach with caution!
- Straight up tail is a sign of aggression, especially when accompanied by hissing
- Straight up with a hook means I’m friendly. I’m probably rubbing against your leg right now.
- Low or neutral tail means that I’m relaxed and approachable
Other cat behavior body language:
Cats behavior is pretty complex. Some other body language to pay attention to includes:
- Ears straight up mean I’m happy, playful, or listening to something
- Ears folded backward are a sign of aggression and will often be accompanied by hissing
- Ears flat against the head indicate fear, which can lead to aggression
- Dilated (big) pupils may indicate fear, surprise, or the stimulant effect of catnip
- Constricted (small) pupils may indicate aggression unless I’m in a particularly well-lit area
- Slow blinking means I’m relaxed, comfortable, and trusting that my surroundings are safe
- Droopy eyes also indicate that I’m relaxed and happy
#5 – I Need Something To Scratch
Scratching is a natural behavior that helps prevent my claws from getting too long, gives me a chance to stretch, and allows me to mark my territory because I have scent glands on my paws. If you don’t want me to scratch your furniture, please bring me a scratching post to use. There are many different types of scratching posts, and you may have to try a few different types and put catnip on them to get me to use it, but once I get used to the scratching post, I’ll leave your furniture alone.
Please don’t declaw me. The surgery is equivalent to cutting your fingers off at the first knuckle, and it can cause a lot of health and behavioral problems, like:
- Refusing to use the litter box because the litter bothers my feet
- Biting more because I don’t have nails to defend myself
- Nerve damage
- Foot or back pain
Bonus: Sometimes I Need Help With My Grooming
Even though I spend a lot of time grooming myself, sometimes I need help. If I’m shedding a lot or my long hair is getting matted, it may be time for a trip to the groomer. Lucky Dawg Grooming knows how to make me feel better when I need grooming.
You can make an appointment for me to come to their grooming salon in Torrance, CA by calling 310-784-0775. Better yet, have their mobile grooming van come to our house, so you don’t have to drive me in the car, and make an appointment by calling 310-784-0566.