Have you ever noticed that your kitty does some very strange things? Surely, if you share your heart and home with a feline, you have observed a few oddities about cat behavior. But have you ever wondered why it is that your cat does these things?

Why do cats meow and purr?

It may not seem weird to you when your cat meows and purrs, as we are all too familiar with this behavior, and it is how we have come to recognize and identify cats. But did you know that meowing is a form of communication used exclusively with humans, and purring is still not fully understood?

Cats evolved the “meow” as a way to communicate with humans. Cats do not generally meow at each other, and cats who do not spend time around humans, like ferals, sometimes do not meow at all. Many other sounds and vocalizations are used, though – a variety of meows, purrs, gurgles, and trills – in many different octaves and tones. In fact, cats can make over 100 different sounds, whereas dogs only vocalize about 10 different sounds.

Many believe that cats purr when they are happy. Others believe it is an expression of calm. Some researchers have proposed that cats purr when feeling “extremes,” such as very strong happiness, or strongly negative feelings, such as feelings of sickness. Other scientists have performed studies that suggest that purrs are used not as an expression of what a cat is feeling, but as an instinctive, natural way for the cat to impart calm to its offspring – making them feel content and relaxed.

Why does my cat head-butt me?

Head-butting, or “bunting,” is done for a variety of reasons. Cats can do this as a form of greeting, and to communicate friendly intentions. Cats also have scent glands on the top of their heads, and use bunting to mark their territory with their scents.

Why does my cat rub his face on everything?

Cats also have scent glands on the sides of their faces, and much like bunting, they rub their faces against things in their territory to leave their scent. If your cat rubs his face against you, understand that he is essentially gently claiming you as “his,” and it is also a sign of affection.

Why does my cat knead me or knead blankets?

There are multiple theories about why cats knead. When kittens are young and still feeding from their mothers’ milk, they knead her belly to stimulate milk production. It is possible that this behavior is mimicking that action from kittenhood. It is also possible that cats knead blankets just to prepare a spot to lie down, and to scent mark the spot. It may also be a sign of affection.

Why does my cat open his mouth after smelling something?

If you have ever seen your cat with his mouth open slightly for a few moments after smelling something, he is merely allowing himself to take a deeper whiff by drawing the scent into a small olfactory organ called the Jacobson’s organ, also known as the vomeronasal organ. This organ is located on the roof of the mouth and is used to analyze and interpret smells and chemical pheromones. Many other animals have this organ, such as horses, dogs, goats, snakes, and rats. Your cat’s brief open-mouthed grimace as it takes in a smell and uses its tongue to direct the scent into the Jacobson’s organ is called the Flehmen Response.

Why does my cat love to sit in boxes, bags, the sink and on top of my computer?

Cats love to hide and snuggle up into small places. It increases their body heat, lowers their stress level, and makes them feel secure. It also provides a good vantage point from which to stalk and lunge, at toys or at your toes, with the element of surprise. Cats like the rounded shape of sinks as they can crawl in and feel surrounded. The heat coming from computers is comforting to cats. Plus, they may do this to draw your attention away from the computer and onto them.

Why does my cat curl up into a little ball when he sleeps?

Cats also do this to retain heat. The tighter and smaller they can roll up the more warmth they can keep in their bodies.

Why does my cat like to sit on top of new things I bring home?

Cats are naturally curious, and could also be doing this to get your attention. They might also see this as a new piece of territory to claim.

Why does my cat react to catnip like he does?

The active ingredient in catnip that drives cats wild is Nepetalactone. Sensitivity to catnip is an inherited trait in cats, and about 50-70% of cats are responsive to it. Kittens do not usually respond as the trait does not surface until 6 months of age or older. The reaction cats have to catnip is not fully neurologically explained, but it seems to stimulate their olfactory receptors, as well as mimic their natural “happy” pheromones, bringing them either euphoria or a sense of calm.

Why does my cat groom himself so meticulously?

Cats, by nature, are clean creatures. They also want to always ensure that their scent is distributed all over their fur coat, so that when they brush and rub their bodies against items in their territory, the scent transfers. You may notice your cat clean himself after you have just finished petting him. This is to remove your scent and replace it with his own again.

Why does my cat look at me and blink slowly when sitting with me?

Be flattered by this, as it is a sign of affection and also means your cat trusts you. Other signs of deep trust are snoring around you (cats do not always enter a deeper form of sleep unless they are feeling very safe and at ease), and rolling over to expose their undersides.

Why does my cat bring me toys and/or birds or small animals he’s caught outside?

Studies show that your cat may be instinctively trying to teach you to hunt, as a wild cat would do for its kittens. It may also just be a gesture of affection. (Thanks a whole lot, kitty!)

Why is my cat obsessed with plastic grocery bags?

Dogs get all the credit for having amazing sense of smell, but cats also have fantastic smelling ability. You cat is curious because he loves bags in general, but he can also smell traces of the groceries you took out of the bags.

Why does my cat chew and eat plants?

Cats lack the digestive enzymes to process vegetable materials, yet they sometimes seem to love chewing grass and other plants around the house or in your yard. Some researchers suggest that cats do this as a method of controlling hairballs. Since cats almost inevitably will regurgitate plant matter, it could be a way of triggering the stomach to empty before hairballs build up and become more problematic.

Why does my cat act crazy at night?

Cats are nocturnal, which means they are more active during the night hours than during the day. As an owner, you may have to try to shift their schedules or manage their environment if their nighttime antics are preventing you from sleeping. Cats like to sleep during the day, especially if the human inhabitants they share a home with are out at work or school. They may also think that making the noise and running around will cause you to get up and give them food, a treat, or some other kind of reward in an effort to preoccupy them. (Cats are smart!) — Kelsey Hardin

Kelsey Hardin is a crazy cat lady and graduate of the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. Living back in Columbus where she grew up, she spends her spare time writing, cuddling cats, crafting, spending time with friends, and catching local concerts and theatre shows.