Cats are beautiful, elegant creatures that have long fascinated humankind – to the point where, in Ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods.
However, despite humanity’s long historic relationship with cats, the simple truth is that the way cats behave remains an enigma.
In truth, it could be argued that their mysterious ways are one of the major attractions of cats; they fascinate us because often, it’s downright impossible to figure out what on earth they are thinking.
As a result, cats make for genuinely wonderful pets; humans can’t seem to get enough of their odd little ways. Below, we’ve tried to look deeper into cat behaviour so that you can understand your furry friend better.
#1 – Activity times
Cats are frequently described as “nocturnal” animals, but this isn’t the case: cats are actually crepuscular rather than nocturnal.
Crepuscular animals are most active around dusk and dawn, choosing to sleep during the day and for much of the night.
So if you have ever tried to persuade your cat to play during the day, had your cat excitedly greet you when you get home from work or wondered why your furry friend wakes you up early in the morning, you can now see these behaviours as a sign of their crepuscular nature.
#2 – Tail talk
If you want to know your cat’s thoughts and feelings, its tail is the ultimate guide.
For example, a tail pointed directly upwards and rigid is likely a sign that your cat is feeling anxious or particularly alert. In contrast, a swishing seat is usually a sign of anger.
It’s well worth studying your cat’s tail; you’ll quickly begin associating certain tail movements with specific activities – feeding time – which can deepen your understanding of your cat’s feelings.
#3 – “Five sides” coverage
If you have ever wondered why cats want to squash themselves into small, confined spaces, then the “five sides” theory could help explain this odd behaviour.
Many cats will feel most content when surrounded on five sides; to their left, their right, above, beneath, and behind them – essentially, so that only their faces are exposed.
Suppose you find your cat seems to appreciate the five-side coverage. If that’s the case, you might want to look into igloo-style beds, which are made to fit this quirky trait of cats.
#4 – The behaviour/health issues link
The vast majority of cats will seek to hide illnesses, which means that all cat owners have to become a kind of Feline Illness Detective, continually checking their cat’s behaviour to try and ensure all is well. Here are a few signs to keep an eye out for:
- Appear to be hungry, but refuse to eat when offered food
- Eating less than normal
- Sleeping more than usual
- Spending more time alone
Suppose your cat is persistently showing any of the above signs. In that case, it’s worth considering taking them to the vet and pursuing animal energy healing and similar therapies – even if the behaviour change is relatively subtle or the concerning behaviour only occurs intermittently.
Given cats’ propensity for hiding illness, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
#5 – The “zoomies.”
Some – though not all – cats are prone to what is colloquially known as the “zoomies” – a sudden burst of activity that involves running around, jumping, and yowling at the top of their lungs. Zoomies often occur with seemingly no warning and then subside instantly, almost as if nothing had happened.
Zoomies are known as frenetic random periods of activity (FRAPs) for cat behavioural experts. FRAPs are entirely normal; it’s theorized that they are a way of burning off excess energy and having a little fun, so most of the time, just sitting back and watching the show is okay.
However, if your cat suddenly seems to experience more FRAPs than is usual, it may be worth a quick discussion with your vet to check that all is well.
#6 – Demonstrations of love
Cats are naturally rather aloof, which can mean that cat owners often find themselves wondering if their cat actually loves them. The good news is that cats can, and do, demonstrate love for “their” humans, albeit in rather subtle ways. Here are a few signs to look out for:
- Nuzzling: if a cat nuzzles you with the side of their face, they’re depositing their scent onto you – essentially claiming you as its own and a family member.
- Quivering tails; if your cat approaches you with their tail upright and quivering, then they’re extremely happy to see you. Some cat behaviour experts suggest that cats will only quiver their tails for their “favourite” human.
- Sitting on or near you; while many believe that cats only sit on humans for warmth, this isn’t the case – the heat is more of a bonus for your four-legged friend. Cats will only sit on, or near, humans they trust implicitly and feel affectionate towards.
- Grooming: between cats, grooming is to show affection and strengthen their bonds with other cats. If your cat licks you, then it’s essentially a sign that they see you in the same way; like a big, albeit bald, cat that they feel a strong connection to.
- Kneading; kneading – when a cat raises and lowers their paws repetitively – is a sign of contentment and allows cats to deposit their scent further. As a result, if a cat kneads you, they’re essentially saying that they’re thrilled around you, while also “claiming” you as a family member.
While cats may have a reputation as mysterious creatures who are impossible to understand, years of research and observation from owners has greatly improved our knowledge of how and why our feline friends behave as they do.
By observing your cat’s behaviour, you can check their health, indulge their instinctive preferences, and build a strong relationship of trust and understanding between you. Enjoy!