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8 Cat Behaviors Explained

By Michele C. Hollow for Pet News and Views

Karma and Chai at 14 weeks.

Karma and Chai at 14 weeks.

Every once in a while my cats, Chai and Karma, make mad dashes around the house. It usually happens at night. We have three floors in our house, and they practically fly up and down the steps.  If you ever wondered why cats get the night crazes, why they rub up against you, and why they exhibit other somewhat strange behaviors, read on.

Racing around the house often starts in the early evening, and can go on all hours of the night till morning. It stems from instinct, when all kinds of cats–from lions to pumas to house cats–are on the hunt. They run, dive, and chase prey. Yes, I know there is no prey in your house, but it’s their instinct.

Why Do Cats Purr? Kittens purr to let their mother’s know that everything is all right. Cats purr when they feel safe and happy.

Why Do Cats Caterwaul? Caterwauling and random meowing often occurs at night. The loud, sometimes distressing, sound is a mating call. Doesn’t sound romantic to you, but it does catch the attention of other cats. A caterwaul is the cry of a cat in heat. Okay, your cat is fixed, and she still does it. This is a way to communicate with you. Yes, I know it is 2 a.m. Cats are nocturnal creatures, and when they are in close contact with humans, they talk more. Cats in the wild rarely speak. They use body language and scent to communicate. You can invite you cat to sleep in your room. This sometimes curtails this habit.

Why Do Cats Lick Themselves? In addition to keeping clean and smooth, licking cools a cat off in hot weather. Licking also helps cats stay warm; they fluff up their fur with their tongues, and that creates a blanket effect.

Why Do Cat’s Tongues Feel Rough? Ever been licked by a cat? A cat’s tongue is rough to the touch,”kind of like fine sandpaper. Cats use their tongues to brush their fur.

Why Do Cats Arch their Backs and Puff Up? When a cat puffs up and arches his back, he looks bigger and tough. Actually, he is scared or angry. This is a way to keep others at a safe distance.

Why Do Cats Knead? This up and down kneading action stems from nursing. Kittens press against their mother with one paw and then the other. When adult cats knead, it reminds her of her mother when she was a kitten.

How Can A Cat’s Whiskers Help Them? Cats have 24 whiskers–12 on each side. Cats use their whiskers to see if they can get through tight spaces. If their whiskers can fit through an opening, then the rest of their body can too.

Why Do Cats Rub Up Against Your Legs? This is a way of sharing their scent with you. It’s a bonding experience that lets other cats know that you are owned by a cat!

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