There’s nothing quite like the comfort and companionship cats provide. They’re notoriously moody, of course, but even the most icy and aloof felines muster up an approving purr from time to time.
Their independent, low-maintenance nature makes cats the perfect pets, and keeping in tune with their needs isn’t particularly hard when they manage to meow for their meals. But there are also times when our feline friends leave us scratching our heads.
Do you know what to do when your cat bares its belly? How about when its tail starts twitching? From the unassuming cat loaf to the midnight crazies, here is a list of some of the most common cat behaviors and what they mean.
10. Twitching Tail
A twitchy-tailed feline may be trying to signal disapproval. If you’ve ever wondered how many pets you’re allowed before your cute kitty turns into a nightmare of razor sharp terror, watch its tail.
A calm cat will move its tail slowly from side to side, while an anxious one may jerk it around at a quicker pace. It’s typically not a sign of excitement, but one of annoyance. Watch for those claws to come out soon!
The most satisfying morning stretches are often accompanied by kneading paws. It’s not unusual for cats to knead in other situations either. Young kittens will knead their mothers bellies as they nurse to get the most milk, and the memorized movement simply carries on into old age.
Some cats mark their territory with kneading, so accept it as a sign of affection and play along. You’ll likely hear some deep purring along with the pressing paws. It means your feline is feeling good!
8. Loafing Around
What’s more comforting than the smell of freshly baked bread? The sight of a freshly formed cat loaf, perhaps.
Just like cats enjoy lounging in the well-lit spots of your home to soak up the heat of the sun, curling their paws under into a loaf helps regulate body heat. According to Blind Cat Rescue, a cat’s internal temperature averages between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s likely your cat is just feeling a little drafty and is trying to conserve warmth.
Or maybe it’s just into bread.
Most people recognize purring as a sign of affection and acknowledgment, and they’d be right. But cats also purr when they’re feeling scared, anxious, or in pain.
A cat purrs by vibrating the cords in its larynx while breathing in or out. The vibration is much greater than that of the human voice, and many feline experts believe the act of purring can sooth a stressed cat. Wired reported that purring may stimulate bones that could become weak and brittle, and one cat may even go so far as to lay next to another to purr if one of them is injured.
6. Burying & Scratching
After a good meal, some cats will paw around the perimeter of their dish in an effort to bury their food. It’s an instinctual motion, related to burying the carcass of a kill in the wild, where it would otherwise attract larger threats. Swiping kibble around on a counter doesn’t exactly accomplish the same goal, but it’s the intent that matters to the cat.
You may notice cats do the same after finishing up in the litter box. A cat can tell quite a lot from the smell of another, and covering up its tracks helps disguise its whereabouts from predators. There may be far fewer predators in your home than in the great outdoors, but old habits die hard, and instincts even harder.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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