Sheharzad-Arshad | DeviantArt
Cats are weird. (Understatement of the year.) If you have a cat, live with a cat, or have ever spent any amount of time with a cat, you’ve probably noticed some strange behaviors. So, aside from the probably-true theory that all cats are aliens descended to Earth, what triggers them to act the way they do? Why do cats...
...Sleep all day?
The word “catnap” describes a quick doze, but cats’ sleepytime is no joke. Cats sleep an average of fifteen hours a day, but can do as much as twenty. Given how much your kitty likes to snooze during the daytime and comes alive when the sun sets, you may think that cats are nocturnal. However, the technical term to describe cats’ wakefulness pattern is crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dusk and dawn.
Cats have retained the instincts of their wild ancestors, who hunted during these hours. The minimal light allowed them to creep around in the shadows, but they avoided pitch-darkness when other predators may have posed a bigger threat. Hunting is an activity requiring large amounts of energy - hence all the napping! So the next time you see your kitty snoozing for hours, just remember there’s actually a little lion in your house.
Meowing is a cat form of communication reserved for humans. Cats meow because they want something from us, or simply to say hello. But cats who cry or yowl can be alarming, especially because the noise often sounds just so human.
Cats cry for a number of reasons. It’s often a form of distress, so check for other symptoms of a medical condition. A recent change in environment, such as a move or bringing home a new member of the household, can be stress-inducing as well. They may also want something quite badly, like food or for you to change their litter! Cats also yowl when it’s time to breed, so spaying or neutering could help curb this issue. Lastly, the most dramatic cats will simply do it as a form of attention-seeking.
Some level of vocalization is normal in cats. If your cat suddenly starts to change its usual meowing or crying habits, it may be worth keeping a journal to see if you can discern the cause. If not, it’s time for a vet check-up.
...Zoom around randomly?
You know that thing cats do where they’re seized by manic energy and start dashing from room to room? What’s up with that? Well, we still aren’t totally sure. Cat behaviorists theorize that it’s to release pent-up energy. After they’ve finished their endless dozing, it’s logical they may want to let out some of their reserves! Cats often have the zoomies at nightfall, right when their wild instinct is telling them it’s time to hunt.
You can help your kitty out by having regular playtime. Though cats are generally pretty zen, they still do need physical and intellectual stimulation to stay happy and healthy. If your cat starts zooming in a way that seems abnormal or is accompanied by other behavior such as biting and licking, it’s possible you have a flea infestation. No fleas? Then it’s time for a vet visit to check for other medical conditions.
It’s hard to say who hates bathtime more: cats, or their human caretakers who risk life and limb every time they need to clean their kitty. Cats meticulously groom themselves, but every once in a while it may be time for a proper bath. You’ll want to wash your cat if it gets into something dirty, or if it has fleas. Outdoor cats and long-haired cats obviously need more grooming attention than others. Cats that are unable to properly groom themselves due to age, obesity, or medical conditions will also need your help with bathing.
The rare cat enjoys getting bathed; for most, it’s the worst kind of betrayal. Scientists think cats’ aversion to water comes from the domestication process, in which cats have been shielded from the elements for many years. However, it may also be due to the fact that their wild ancestors (starting to see the pattern?) often lived in ecosystems with minimal water, or where any water was filled with dangers like crocodiles. That led to one instinct: avoid at all costs!
Even scientists have yet to unlock all the mysteries of cat behavior. In the meantime, the inexplicable weirdness of kitties continues to bring joy into our lives. How else would we get so many hilarious cat videos? We don’t fully understand our cats, and sometimes, that’s okay too - all we can do about it is laugh.