We love our cats but don't always understand their seemingly bizarre behaviors. Sure, some things our cats do are unique to them but other actions are shared by felines the world over. Here are seven weird cat behaviors, and what they mean.
Head bonks. The first three months I had my cat, her head turned pink from head-bonking my lipstick. Rubbing behavior, which includes the forehead, cheeks, and full-body slams, is called bunting, and it transfers the cat's signature smell onto objects to mark territory. That means head bonks are kitty compliments declaring you to be so important, he's marked you as his personal property.
Elevator butt. You've probably seen many cats perform an "elevator butt" pose with their front-end down and tail flagged high. In some instances, it is the equivalent of offering to shake hands as felines sniff each other's anal areas to say howdy. When your cat jumps into your lap, turns around and raises its tail, he or she is offering you the not-so-pleasant invitation to scratch that hard-to-reach itchy spot at the base of the tail. Intact female cats also do the elevator butt posture to entice male cats to get romantic!
Phone frenzy. Many cats come running when owners talk on the phone and they pester and meow like they want in on the conversation. What gives? Your cat sees you talking and since there is no one else there, thinks that you must be talking to them. Also, without realizing it, you may be rewarding that behavior by stroking the cat while you are sitting and talking on the phone, which encourages your kitty to come running next time the phone rings.
Flipping. Why do cats throw themselves onto the ground at your feet and flip back and forth? Sure, sometimes it is because a cat is under the influence of catnip but more often, rolling back and forth places a cat in a vulnerable position, and is a way for cats to request attention. If you you grant the kitty's wish and fuss over it, your cat knows to do this again the next time he wants your love.
Covering poo. Owners take for granted that all cats naturally choose to cover potty deposits but this isn't the case. Some cats -- especially unowned roaming felines -- may not cover at all as uncovered feces can announce who owns the territory. Some indoor cats also want their potty graffiti seen and admired by the other cats or humans. Though is mom-cat is fastidious about covering her mess, her kittens will copy-cat the behavior.
Kneading. There are many names for this common rhythmic paw-pushing kitty behavior -- treading, making bread, even "pawtycake." But one thing is clear, the behavior takes hold when felines are very young, as kittens knead against mom-cat's breasts to stimulate milk flow. When adult cats knead, it generally reflects deep contentment and safety, and yes -- love. Cats typically target soft objects such as fuzzy blankets, pillows, or a beloved owner's lap.
Privacy issues. Why do some cats immediately seek out their humans the minute they head into the bathroom? First, a closed door is a challenge and an affront to a curious cat which is one reason why you'll see furry paws reaching under the door or cats racing to join their people in the bathroom. More importantly, the bathroom gives cats a captive audience as people glued to the facilities aren't able to move away.
Amy D. Shojai also appears on Animal Planet's "Cats-101" and "Dogs-101" and lives in North Texas with a senior citizen Siamese and a smart-aleck German shepherd. Read her blog on Red Room.