Cats can be weird. They knead on blankets as if they were making bread dough, bump their heads repeatedly and chat like parakeets when they play with their toys. As if all of this wasn’t silly enough, they sometimes zoom around the house for no apparent reason and poke their butts in your face when you try to stroke them. Although cats do a lot of crazy things that don’t make sense to us, these behaviors make a lot of sense for cats, according to experts.
Poke that head
When cats bump their heads against you, it is a sign of affection. But what’s behind this way of saying “I love you”?
“Head butts and cheek rubbing are caused by odor nuisance that causes cats to release the ‘facial pheromone’ from their cheeks,” said Liv Hagen, manager of Shelter Behavior Services at the Minnesota Animal Humane Society. “They rub this pheromone on objects and people who claim it for themselves.”
The head, cheeks, and neck are also the most convenient places for a cat to be petted. So this can be an offer for an interaction that is positive for the cat.
“The cat shows you what feels good,” she says.
Rubbing the face can also be a way for a cat to calm down when it feels insecure. “You may have noticed that your friend’s shy cat is keeping a distance from you, but she rubs herself madly on the chair she’s sitting in,” says Liv. “This is behavior that can help cats feel safe about something. “I don’t know you and I feel a little stressed, but I know this chair is mine and it makes me feel better!”
Have to knead
One of the most common, yet mysterious, behaviors that cat owners often observe is kneading. Your cat places its front paws on a soft blanket, pillow, or stomach and begins to alternate left paw with right and pull out. This action is often accompanied by a dazed expression and sometimes a drooling mouth.
According to Liv, kneading behavior in cats is a sign of satisfaction.
“Kneading can come from childhood when cats knead while breastfeeding,” she says. “Experiences that satisfy a biological need are very positive for animals, and the behaviors that are shown during these experiences are tied to and can be carried over to other positive comfort situations.”
According to Liv, kneading begins in response to the gratification of satisfying a biological need (e.g., being close to mother and getting milk) and later translates into needing for affection, social interaction, comfort, and safety.
“When a cat kneads like a pile of blankets on its human or other object, it can be its way of recognizing satisfaction and contentment,” she says.
Chat it up
If you have a cat, you are probably no stranger to “chatter”. Your cat will spot a bird out the window or chase a toy. He begins to chatter his teeth and make soft chirping noises as he stares carefully at his “prey”.
According to Jill Goldman, PhD, a certified applied animal behaviorist based in Los Angeles, California, this chatter is one of at least 12 vowel sounds cats make. Why are you doing that?
“The chatter is believed to be an involuntary act while cats are watching prey,” says Dr. Goldman. “Its function is uncertain, but it is possible that the jerking jaw movement is a replica of the actions the cat uses to kill its prey.”
Seeing your cat running around like a maniac for no apparent reason can be pretty fun. Although it may seem random, your cat has real motives for this crazy behavior.
Related: What Are the Cat Zoomies and Are They Ever Something to Worry About?
“Zoomies can appear as impromptu fun or actually respond to a specific trigger,” says Liv. “Sometimes a lack of play or an uncomfortable situation can trigger zoomies. If your cat has regular veterinary visits, a clean health certificate, and space to run and play hunting games, they are probably having a dull moment. Enjoy!”
Liv is a word of caution for cat parents who are present during a meeting with cat zoomies.
“Zooming in can be very exciting for cats,” she says. “Some cats will fall over when they finish zooming, but running and letting go can also cause over-stimulation. Be aware of the twitching, clapping, and tail lashing, all of which could be signs that your cat is about to turn its exuberance on you. “
In this situation, Liv recommends being ready to keep your cat busy with a magic wand toy or tossing treats that the cat can chase and “kill”.
Present the butt
Do you know how much your cat likes to stick its face in your face all the time? It turns out that this behavior is related to head butts. The presentation of the butt, according to Dr. Goldman basically the end of the sequence of scent exchanges and social greetings.
“When friendly cats exchange scents, they rub their bodies together, usually moving in opposite directions, starting head-to-head, then body and ending with their butts facing each other,” says Dr. Goldman. “Cats rub their heads, bodies and tails side by side to exchange smells from scent glands on their head, mouth, chin, ears and tail. This
Your cat’s butt will likely land in your face: you haven’t moved in sync. “
Continue reading: Curb your cat’s naughty behavior