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Why does my cat?

Interesting feline behavior: Do you ever wonder why cats do such weird things? There are many feline specific behaviors that have us asking those questions. We’ve attempted to find answers to some of the more common kitty-isms.

Why does my cat rub its face on furniture, and other environmental surroundings?

Cats interact with their environments through use of pheromones, which are chemicals released from various locations on the cats’ face, paws, and around the anal region. These scents notify other cats of their presence, and also serve as a way to ‘mark’ their territory, and to instill a sense of security, in the environment. Rubbing against your leg is your cat’s way of marking you as theirs.  By extension, you can make your cat feel more comfortable at home, and with new surroundings, by making use of artificial pheromone spray (Feliway) to reduce your cat’s anxiety.

Why does my cat sit on the paper (which often I’m trying to read, or work on)?

There are a few theories on this one. One is that cats like to be close to us, and it is an attention-seeking behavior. Again, the pheromone-releasing behavior may come into play here, if your cat is depositing scent onto the paper, thereby feeling more secure in that area.  Others presume that the warmth of the paper is more comforting than other surfaces, and also, cats seem to enjoy anything that makes a high pitched ‘crinkly’ noise (similar to the squeaks that rodent prey may make).

Why does my cat bring home the dead mice?

Even when you faithfully give Fluffy her dinner every night, she still brings home a dead (or injured) mouse, or bird. Cats are carnivorous animals, and still have very strong instincts to hunt. The reason your cat doesn’t just digest the meal, and keep the evidence from you is because your  cat sees you as its family, and wants to teach you how to eat.  This behavior may be most common in females, as they would bring back prey, to teach kittens how to kill and eat.

How can cats often land on their feet, after a fall?

Cats have specialized body mechanics that enable them, most of the time, to land in an upright position. This is especially true for longer falls, where the cat has time to right itself prior to landing.  Slowed down motion videos demonstrate that cats arch their backs in flight, and place their front feet in front of their heads, then align the back legs, and apparently sail, much like a parachute, which slows them down.  Cats have very flexible spines, and their backs remained arched when they land, which reduces the intensity of the fall, and the legs absorb most of the shock. This isn’t to say that cats don’t sustain serious injuries from falling, as they can often break legs, but their injuries can be less traumatic due to their flexibility.

Momma cat in box- editWhy do cats like boxes so much?

Cats like the security of small enclosed spaces. They like the ability to hide somewhere, where they can see what is going on around them, which is an instinctual stalking behavior.  Cats will often squeeze into boxes smaller than they should really be able to fit in, and again, this is due to their flexible spines. Small spaces provide security.  Other felines consider boxes to be play toys, and will hang out in the box, and bat their paws at things that pass by.

At the same time, many cats also gravitate immediately to large boxes they can almost get lost in, and many also seem to enjoy boxes with no sides, and some just seem to like cardboard. Some theorize that cardboard provides more warmth than other textures, which could in part provide an explanation.

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