Cat Behavior Explained

"Cat behavior explained looks at the many things cats do and why they do it. Almost all feline behavior is based on survival skill in the wild and then how those behaviors were adapted either through selective breeding or how your cat is raised."

If you've ever wondered why your cat does some of the things she does, this is the place to find out why. Cat behavior explained may seem mysterious, but there are good reasons for what they do.

Cat Behavior Explained Quick Links

Cat Behavior Questionnaire
Cat Attachment to People
Cat Aggressive Behavior
Aggressive Kitten Behavior
Male Aggressive Cat Behavior
How Cat's Communicate
Feline depression
Effect of Diet and Nutrition
Eating and Drinking Behavior
Cat Aggressive Behavior and Health
Cat Elimination Behavior for urine and solid waste
Landing on Feet
What Makes Cats Purr
Reaction to Catnip
Cat arching the back
Cat Excitement Behavior
Fear Behavior
Cat Behavior Kneading
Male Cat Behavior
Cat mating behavior
Predatory Cat BehaviorRubbing Against Your Leg
Cat Sleeping Behavior
Cat Sleeping too Much
Cat Burying Feces
Redirected Cat Aggression
Scratching Furniture
Cat Separation Anxiety
Fighting between 2 cats in household
Territorial Behavior
Cat Urine Marking Behavior

Natural Remedies to Calm Aggression

Cat Behavior Basics Video

Are Cats Territorial?

Cats behavior explained often has to do with a cats need to always set up an area as their territory. A cat will then decide who is allowed to enter the territory such as the cat's owner. A territory is marked when your cat rubs it's face on objects which mark the area. This releases pheromones, the cat's way of saying this area is mine.

Why Do Cats Exhibit Aggressive Behavior?

Some researchers believe that if your cat was not exposed to other cats they may exhibit aggressive behaviors later in life. It is believed that as a kitten, your cat should receive frequent and soft petting so that they become used to others and physical contact.

Anxiety also leads to aggressive behavior such as if your cat is uncomfortable or moved to a new home.

Do Cats Get Attached to Their Owners?

Cats are good companion animals and prefer frequent, yet short periods of contact. Unlike dogs, cats are somewhat more independent, but will act as a friend to the owner. Not every cat can act as a true loyal companion. Time spent and your cats personality determines if a bond will form between you and your cat. Cats do not always need to be petted or have direct contact in order to feel a bond with the owner.

Some researchers believe that interacting with your cat early in its' life, and frequent contact such as petting or sitting in your lap helps improve the relationship between cat and owner.

Why do Cats Eat and Drink the way they do?

In the wild cats eat small amounts throughout the day. This behavior explains why domestic cats also eat the same way and is why it is recommended that cats are fed throughout the day vs. 1x or 2x. Cats that are fed large amounts often get urinary tract disease because their bodies are not designed for this type of eating.

In the wild cats tend to get their water from the food their eat vs. drinking water like humans or dogs do. If you feed your cat dry food, it doesn't contain moisture so your cat needs to find the water somewhere else. Cats should have some food source that is moist. Cats that do not get enough to drink could be at risk for the diseases idiopathic and Interstitial cystitis.

Why do cats purr ?
Cat behavior explained

While we don't really know why cats purr , we do know how and have some good guesses as to why. Cats are the only animals that purr. Not only do house cats purr; 'big cats' like lions and tigers purr as well. Contrary to popular belief, cats do not only purr when they're happy. They may also purr when they are in distress or in pain. What purpose does purring serve? Well, kittens are born blind and deaf, but they can feel their mother purr, and it lets them know where she is so they can get to her to nurse. Kittens begin purring at about one week old, and that lets the mother cat know they are getting enough milk. How cats purr is by vibrating the vocal chords.

Why do cats knead their paws?

When they are kittens, cats rhythmically knead their mother's belly to increase milk flow as they are nursing. When they are relaxed and content, they will repeat cat behavior kneading as adults.

Why does catnip make cats act crazy?

It's because of the plant's natural chemical, trans-nepetalactone. It's the smell, not the taste, that drives cats wild. It's similar to the essence excreted by female cats, which is why male cats tend to love it the most. However, females are very fond of it as well. Kittens usually do not respond to catnip until they are about two months old.

Why do cats arch their backs?

Sometimes they do it simply to stretch, but they also do it to make themselves look bigger and fiercer when they feel threatened. Their fur will usually stand on end at those times as well.

Why do cats bury their waste or faces?

They do it to protect their trail from predators. Never mind that your house cat doesn't have any predators. It's an instinctual thing.

Why do cats sleep so much?

Cat behavior explained sometimes has genetic causes. Wild cats use lots of energy to hunt, and they need to conserve energy in between hunts. While your kitty doesn't need to hunt, she still has the same genes as her wild ancestors. Now this cat behavior explained.

Why do cats rub against your leg?

Cats rub against your leg, and furniture, to deposit scents called pheromones that mark their territory. As indicated above, cats decide who they want to share their area with.

Why do cats scratch the furniture - this cat behavior explained

Contrary to popular belief, they are not sharpening their claws. Sometimes they are shedding their claws, removing the top layer of claw so that a new, sharp claw beneath is revealed. Other times they are marking their territory. And other times, they are simply stretching their muscles.

Why do cats always land on their feet?

They don't always, but they often do. It's because they have about 60 vertebrae in their backs (humans have just about 34). Also, while humans are disk-shaped, cats are ball-shaped. This makes them much more flexible, so they are able to turn themselves around so that they are more likely to right themselves and land on their feet.

Can Diet and Nutrition Impact Behavior?

Cat behavior explained can be negatively impacted by not having a balanced diet. Not getting certain nutrients can cause certain medical conditions which in turn effect behavior. Also, if cats are fed in ways that are not biologically compatible such as 1 or 2 large feedings a day vs. the preferred smaller frequent meals, then it could change behavior including aggressive behavior.

Can Natural Remedies Calm Aggressive Cat Behavior?

In addition to behavior modification (rewarding good behavior with a treat) or removing the stimulus causing aggression (separating multiple cats etc.) some owners like to add a natural dietary supplement that has properties associated with calming behavior.

Natural approaches contain ingredients such as Scutellaria laterifolia supports the nervous system), Matricaria recutita (used for centuries for natural calming properties, Belladonna (positive effects on oversensitive animals that are prone to hissing and scratching) and Arsen alb. (homeopathic remedy for easily agitated and restless cats).

A good source to research for a remedy made specifically for this purpose is PetAlive Aggression Formula which is made specifically for aggression problems.


Have a Cat Behavior Question or Story That Will Help Others?

Do you have a question or story about cat behavior? Our editors will pick 1 question to answer every week. Please describe when the behavior started, the age, breed and sex of your cat, and any other important details that can help us answer your questions.

We will try and respond as quickly as possible. If you have an urgent question we suggest using this online veterinary cat answer service that is staffed by vets and available 24 hours a day. YOu only pay if you find the answers helpful.

[ ? ]

Upload 1-4 Pictures or Graphics (optional)[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

Questions from Other Visitors and Suggestions from our Vet

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Why do Cat’s Lick? 
My cat spends ages licking my fingers and hands. Why? My cat -a Long Hair Domestic - is about 15 years of age and I have had her for approximately 1 month …

Cat Feces on the Floor 
My male cat is 12 years old. About 1x a week my cat will leave feces somewhere in the house. It used to be only in the basement about 1x every 2 months. …

Cat Depression 
My 3 yr old spayed calico indoor cat suddenly stopped eating and with that came a complete behaviour change. No interaction with us, no grooming, hiding …

Cat Feces Leak 
Reader Question: For about a month our cat has been leaving "droplets" of feces here and there. Could this be diet? We did change his food recently. …

Cat Drinking From Paw 
Reader Question: Why is my cat drinking from her paw? One of my cats recently (last couple of months) started drinking water with her paw - she still …

Train Cat to Bury Feces 
How can you train a 2 year old cat to cover their feces in the litter box? Editor Suggestion, Bury cat feces in litter box Hmmm, I’m not sure that …

Cat Water Behavior Not rated yet
Cat water behavior is a mystery. Some cats play with their water bowl while others have an aversion to be bathed. (The good news is that a house cat usually …

Playful Cat Agression(?) Not rated yet
Reader Question: Is My Female Cat Acting Too Aggressively? We have three cats, two spayed declawed females, three years old. The smaller (8 & 11 …

Cat Tail Up Not rated yet
Can you please explain why my 2 year old newly acquired cat who is loving and never aggressive insists on shoving her rear end in our face with the tail …

Click here to write your own.