Cats are wonderful companions, perfect for purring in your lap or making you laugh with their antics. But, do you sometimes look at your cat and wonder what they’re doing and what is going through their mind? Whether your cat is attempting to squeeze into a tiny cardboard box, sneering at the open window, or offering a headbutt, their behavior has a reason. Our Towne Centre Animal Hospital team investigates some of the most common odd behaviors you may notice in your feline friend. 

#1: Your cat curls their lip in a sneer

Have you ever noticed your cat sniff something, then curl their lip into a sneer? If your cat is sitting next to your open window, enjoying the breeze, or investigating the lemon in your tea, they may sniff and then raise their lip. This action is known as the flehmen response. In addition to deciphering scents through their nose, cats have an organ located on the roof of their mouth that decodes smells, so they will open their mouth and curl their lip to draw in unusual scents. You may think your cat is making a face at a gross smell, but they’re actually gathering more information about the scent.

#2: Your cat kneads your lap or a blanket before settling down

When your feline friend settles in for a cat nap, they may knead your lap, couch, or blanket. This push-and-pull motion is left over from kittenhood, when kittens would knead as they nursed, and is often a sign of contentment and relaxation. Cats also have scent glands in their paw pads, and releasing pheromones as they knead marks the spot as theirs, and imparts information about their mood.

#3: Your cat is overly enthusiastic about cardboard boxes

No matter the size of cardboard box you have lying around, your cat will likely attempt to squeeze in. Cats are obsessed with boxes and other small spaces and, although they appear uncomfortable, they are happy tucked away in tight spots. As both a predator and a prey species, cats are unique, and lurking in a small, dark area fulfills both sides of their nature. 

#4: Your cat purrs despite appearing uncomfortable

Cats are typically known for purring when they’re content, but they can also purr when ill, injured, or stressed. A behavior generally associated with happiness being exhibited during unpleasant times may seem odd, but it makes sense from your cat’s viewpoint. When sick or stressed, your cat purrs to feel more relaxed and comfortable. Cats who are anxious—for example, when visiting their veterinarian—often purr to help soothe themselves, not because they’re delighted to be away from the comforts of home. If your cat’s purring seems out of place, look at the big picture to see if something more serious is occurring. 

#5: Your cat knocks items off your tables and counters

No, your cat isn’t being a jerk when they knock glasses, picture frames, and other breakable items onto the floor. Instead, they are likely exploring the object with their paws, the same way they bat at their prey. As an added bonus, you likely give them extra attention when they push a full water glass off the table, making the experience more rewarding.

#6: Your cat rubs their head against yours

Your cat’s headbutt is a sign of true love—the action displays contentment and affection, and is your cat’s way of saying, “I love you.” When your cat rubs against your face, they deposit scent markers that claim you as their special human. These pheromones signal to other cats that you are a wonderful cat owner, and that your pet is enamored with you.

#7: Your cat likes to drink from the faucet

Many people believe cats hate water, but some cats come running when they hear the shower. If your cat likes to dabble in the shower spray, or drink directly from a running faucet, it’s likely a natural instinct. Your feline’s wild ancestors knew running water held less risk of bacterial contamination than stagnant water. If you keep finding running faucets throughout your home, don’t blame your kids, and instead purchase a drinking fountain for your cat.

Not all unusual feline behaviors are normal. Some, like urinating or defecating outside the litter box, or a personality change, can be the result of a medical condition. If you’re uncertain whether your cat’s behavior is normal, contact our Towne Centre Animal Hospital team for an appointment.