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Why do cats do these weird things? A guide to some of the most common and baffling feline behaviours

A guide to some of the most common and baffling feline behaviours

Sitting in a rectangle on the ground

Have you ever noticed that your cat likes to sit inside a box, a basket, or even a tape outline on the floor? This is because cats feel more secure and comfortable in enclosed spaces, where they can hide from potential threats and observe their surroundings. Cats also have a natural instinct to mark their territory, and sitting in a defined area helps them claim it as their own. A rectangle on the ground may not look like much to us, but to a cat, it's a cozy and safe spot. 

Blinking slowly at you

When your cat blinks slowly at you, it's not because they are sleepy or bored. It's actually a sign of affection and trust. Cats use their eyes to communicate their emotions, and a slow blink is like a cat's way of saying "I love you" or "I'm happy with you". By closing their eyes, they are showing that they are relaxed and vulnerable around you, and that they don't see you as a threat. You can blink back at your cat to return the gesture and strengthen your bond. 

Biting when petted

Sometimes, your cat may bite you gently or nip at your hand when you are petting them. This is not necessarily a sign of aggression or dislike. It could be that your cat is overstimulated by the touch and wants to end the interaction. Cats have different thresholds for how much petting they can tolerate, and some may prefer shorter or less intense sessions. It could also be that your cat is trying to play with you or get your attention. Cats often use their teeth and claws to communicate and interact with each other, and they may not realize that humans are more sensitive. To avoid biting, pay attention to your cat's body language and stop petting when they show signs of discomfort or irritation, such as twitching their tail, flattening their ears, or growling. 

Chattering at birds

Have you ever heard your cat make a strange clicking or chattering sound when they see a bird outside the window? This is because they are expressing their frustration and excitement at not being able to catch their prey. Cats are natural hunters, and they have a strong instinct to chase and kill small animals. When they see a bird that is out of their reach, they may mimic the sound of the bird or the sound of their teeth snapping, as a way of coping with their unfulfilled desire. Some experts also suggest that cats may be trying to lure the bird closer by imitating its call, or that they may be practicing their killing bite. 

Kneading with their paws

When your cat kneads you with their paws, it's not because they are trying to make bread or massage you. It's actually a behaviour that they learned as kittens, when they would knead their mother's belly to stimulate milk production. Kneading is a sign of contentment and comfort, and it means that your cat feels safe and happy with you. Cats may also knead to mark their territory, as they have scent glands in their paws, or to prepare a soft surface for sleeping or resting. 

Cats are fascinating and mysterious creatures, and they often do things that we don't understand or expect. But these behaviours are what makes cats truly unique…. And by learning their signals we can improve our human-cat interactions, and the fun of being a cat-parent. 

Dr David and the Vetopia Team. 

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