Cats are the second most popular pet in the UK and it’s easy to see why. They make fantastic companions while still often maintaining a strong independent personality. We enjoy all their funny little quirks but do your ever wonder, why does my cat do that? Read on to find out some of the reasons behind your cats most entertaining behaviours, and a few less desirable habits.
Firstly, let’s look at sleeping. Everyone does it but chances are your feline friends spend the majority of their day snoozing and sometimes in interesting places. To explain the daytime napping we need to remember where our modern pet cats come from. Domesticated cats are descended from African wild cats that are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn. Most hunting and socializing for these wild animals would occur during these hours leaving the rest of the day to sleep. Despite now living in luxury alongside us, the modern cat still retains this tendency to prefer going about their business at these times and napping all day. Their choice of napping locations is generally high up or hidden away. Again this is a habit inherited from their wild relatives. A hidden or high up location allows them to hide from other predators or spot danger and make an escape quickly.
The daytime naps are rather harmless but some of their night time exploits can be more worrying. Why does your usually docile feline sometimes return home with battle wounds? The answers again lie in their ancestry. African wild cats are solitary creatures, hunting alone, living alone and sleeping alone. They will often have wide areas of land that they consider their territory and they are willing to fight for it. In cities, towns, and villages there are often many cats living in houses in close proximity. Despite having the territory of their own house and garden to protect many cats prefer a wider area. Often territories will overlap or cats will wander across other cats’ territories. This leads to fighting. Neutering your cat can be a good way to reduce any aggression and reduce cat wars in the neighbourhood. If you notice your cat returning home with fresh wounds or any abscesses appear then get them checked out by one of our vets. The sooner they can get cleaned up the better.
Cats sometimes reward us with the bounty from their hunting excursions. A dead mouse on the doorstep, a baby bird by the fridge or sometimes even a livelier creature still putting up a fight. They aren’t doing this to be entertained by your screams or to wreck your new cream carpets! Gifting you with bits and bobs from their hunting trips is their way of teaching you how to hunt. In the wild cats will do this with their young starting off with dead critters and throwing in the odd living morsel to teach their kittens how to hunt. In their eyes, you are no better at hunting than a little kitten and they want to help you. It’s a very natural and common behaviour that is difficult to stop. Try to keep calm and remove the unwanted gifts from the house when this happens.
Despite spending a lot of their waking hours patrolling the outdoors, many cats will still make themselves at home with your furniture. This can vary from napping on your worktops to digging their nails into your brand new sofa. Cat claws are not very forgiving towards furniture, but there are many reasons why cats may choose to claw it. One reason is to help them shed the dead outer layer from their claws. They also may be trying to mark their territory with the scent glands they have in their paws. However, they may simply be bored and wanting a good scratch to stretch out their toes. By providing a scratching post you can give them an alternative location to express these natural behaviours. If clawing furniture has become a habit then the use of some citrus spray or an old sheet on the area may deter them while they discover the scratching post.
Despite their mainly solitary nature, your cat may have moments when they just can’t get enough of you. Whether a loose hairstyle over a desk takes their fancy or some toes are dangling irresistibly over the sofa. With all their spare time spent napping, cats can have outbursts of playful energy. Like most animals, cats learn through play so use it to brush up on their hunting skills. So some toes hanging over the edge represent the perfect unsuspecting victims to practice pouncing. At other times they might become attached to your side, weaving in and out of your legs as you cross the kitchen or nudging your arm as you write out that important letter. This is them getting your attention. They can’t speak so head-butting and getting under your feet is the perfect alternative.
Our feline friends may seem like a weird bunch at times but most of what they do can be explained perfectly when we look at their wild ancestors. Most of these quirks are perfectly normal and harmless. However if you ever have any concerns or worries about a strange habit your pet might have then don’t hesitate to come and talk to one of our vets, they will be happy to help.