Have you ever watched your cat suddenly bounce off the walls, start attacking you or your furniture, begin chasing invisible mice or phantom spirits, knocking things off high places, and both carrying around and hiding strange objects. Don’t worry: This is perfectly normal feline behavior.
If you happen to be scratching your head as you watch in bewilderment, wondering about these often annoying behaviors, then you are not alone. Every feline behavior has a reason which can be interpreted rather easily. Cats are predatory animals and your cat is playing by acting out his or her hunting instincts.
These crazies frequently occur when cats are bored or are feeling lonely. Additionally, since cats are crepuscular animals (hunting at dawn or dusk), their energetic bursts often transpire at dawn or dusk. With no way to easily dispel this excess of abundance of energy, kitties can turn into Tasmanian Devils or Whirling Dervishes.
This deportment is particularly true for indoor-only cats who don’t have access to real trees on which to climb on nor any mice, birds or other wee critters to chase. Instead they compensate by using their incredible imagination to invent ways to engage in these activities. Meanwhile their caretakers are engaged in wringing their hands in frustration.
However, there is good news for caretakers. These problems can be easily prevented/solved by offering their cats sessions of play therapy. This includes providing cats with acceptable outlets during the day and later in the evening – this can cure a host of “woes.” One great idea is a high, securely built cat trees placed near a window – this allows the cats to observe the scampering wildlife. There is hardly anything more entertaining to felines than watching nature’s own kitty TV!
Interactive playtime using a toy or feathered wand is very enticing to cats. Cats love to chase and attack anything that moves – it mimics what they appear to be prey. Fifteen minutes twice a day of this highly bonding activity will help to expel excess energy. To add to the natural feline rhythm, feeding cats after playtime simulates the normal feline rhythm of hunt, kill, eat. At the conclusion of this instinctual pattern, most cats will generally curl up for a nap.
Kitten behaviors can be quite puzzling as well. Some kittens will continue kneading and suckling on a soft object well into adulthood (see video below featuring Horatio, a FloridaWild patient). Some kittens may try to suckle on fingers and hands. Many think this might be a sign of premature weaning. Some guardians thoroughly enjoy this behavior, however, there are some who find it to be an unacceptable behavior. If you are the latter, then there are things you can do to help deter this behavior. Kittens can be compassionately discouraged from suckling on you/your clothes by gently putting them on the floor and walking away. Since giving kittens any attention may tend to reinforce this habit, pay them no attention. Some kittens will feel more secure by having their own little cozy bed with a blanket or a pillow to knead on.
As you can see, cat behavior really isn’t that mysterious. Since kitties can’t speak to us in our language, then they will always try to find interesting ways to communicate their needs. As Cat Daddy Jackson Galaxy, the Cat Whisperer often says, “there is no such thing as a bad cat. There are just cats who are misunderstood.”
Take a few minutes to thoroughly enjoy this amusing video by Simons Cat demonstrating many typical humorous (and sometimes aggravating) kitty behaviors.
By: Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW (Ret)