Cats have many silly and amusing behaviors, but some may leave you scratching your head. Have you ever seen your cat rolling around on the ground, kneading a pillow, or lifting their butt in the air? Many pet parents think that their cat is a bit bizarre, but the truth is that most of these behaviors have perfectly reasonable explanations. Here we’ll look at five strange cat behaviors and their causes.
1. Flipping or Rolling
You’ve probably seen your cat flop down on the ground then perform a strange ritual in which they twist, gyrate, and roll back and forth like a furry log. But what’s it all about?
- Causes: This frisky behavior can be brought on by exposure to catnip, and it can also be a straightforward way of requesting attention. When a cat exposes their belly, they are showing that they are submissive and ready for petting or play. Rolling can also be a way to soothe an itchy back or get a good stretch.
2. Covering Poop
Dogs have no qualms about leaving their poop out in the open, so why is it that some cats feel the need to cover theirs up? Most owners think it is because cats have a natural tendency toward cleanliness, but this behavior has much more to do with territorial instincts.
- Causes: Like many mammals, cats evolved to send signals to one another about social status through urine and feces marking. Most indoor cats feel submissive to their owners, and therefore bury their waste. In the cases of feral cat colonies or multi-cat homes, the most dominant cat will typically leave their feces uncovered to show dominance while the subordinate cats cover their waste. In addition, some wild or outdoor cats may choose to bury their poop as a way of flying under the radar from predators.
A cat who is pushing their paws in and out against a soft object isn’t fantasizing about being a baker. Instead, this relatively common behavior has mostly instinctual causes.
- Causes: Most kittens begin kneading as a way to stimulate their mother’s milk production, but some cats continue this comforting motion well into adulthood. Kneading can be a way for a cat to offer you affection, create a cozy resting spot (sort of like fluffing a pillow), stretch their limbs, or mark possessions and territory with their scent. For some intact (un-spayed) female cats, kneading is a way of signaling fertility and interest in mating, so you may see this behavior at the start of the heat cycle.
4. Head Bumping
Does your cat ever walk up and bonk you with their forehead, cheeks, or entire body? This pushy behavior, known as bunting, is actually a compliment.
- Causes: Cats transfer their scent onto objects through marking and rubbing as a way to claim territory, and when a cat bumps you, they are doing something similar. Instead of marking territory, however, a cat who bonks or rubs up against you is leaving a scent that signals safety and trust. While many cats engage in bunting, don’t be concerned if yours doesn’t. The intensity and frequency can vary from cat to cat.
5. Elevator Butt
This bold behavior is characterized by a bowed position in which the rear end is raised and the tail is flying high. Your cat may take up this position when exploring around the yard, meeting other cats, or in response to petting.
- Causes: Your cat’s tail area contains scent glands that provide information about their gender, mood, and health. Many male cats take up the elevator butt position when they are urine marking as a way to get a more accurate shot or to look more dominant. Intact female cats starting their heat cycle may bow and present their rear ends to male cats as a signal that they are ready to mate. But what if your cat is giving you a face full of furry butt? It usually means that your kitty is asking for a scratch or enjoying the petting that you are giving them. The area around the tail is a sensitive spot, and most cats like the stimulating sensation
More on Cat Behavior
The Benefits of a Playful Cat
Why Do Cats Purr?
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.