15 Strange Cat Behaviors Explained

a close up of a cat with very long hair
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Cats are mysterious creatures with behaviors that are sometimes strange or confusing to us humans. However, understanding the reasons behind these behaviors can give us insight into our feline friends’ instincts, communication methods, and unique personalities. Here are some strange cat behaviors explained!


shallow focus photography of gray kitten
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When cats rhythmically push their paws against a soft surface, such as blankets or your lap, it’s reminiscent of their kittenhood. As kittens, they kneaded their mother’s mammary glands to stimulate milk flow and find comfort. Kneading is a soothing behavior that signals contentment and relaxation in adult cats.


person holding brown cat on white textile
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Cats have scent glands on their heads, which mark objects or individuals with their specific scent. When your cat rubs its head against you, furniture, or other pets, it is leaving its scent as a way to claim ownership and show affection.

Pawing water before drinking

a cat sitting on a window sill next to a glass of water
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Some cats may instinctively paw at the water in their bowl before drinking. This behavior is thought to arise from their hunting nature, as they would use their paws to detect movement in water sources and ensure its safety.


short-fur brown cat
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Cats are known to experience sudden bursts of energy, leading to racing around the house at high speeds. This behavior is common in young or indoor cats needing exercise and mental stimulation. The zoomies help them release pent-up energy and engage with their environment.

Bringing “gifts”

Gray Cat Hunting on Meadow
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When your cat presents you with a dead mouse, bird, or other small prey, it is a display of their hunting prowess and an expression of their desire to share their success. This behavior is their way of showing affection and meeting their instinctual need to provide for their human “family.”

Chattering at birds

brown and white cat on gray concrete floor
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When cats spot birds outside, they may produce chattering or chittering sounds with their teeth. It’s believed to be an expression of their hunting excitement and frustration at not being able to reach the prey. The sound mimics the chirping of birds and serves as an instinctual response.


woman carrying cat while standing on porch
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Cats commonly purr when they’re content, relaxed, or seeking comfort. While purring is often associated with positive emotions, cats may also purr when they’re injured, anxious, or stressed. It acts as a self-soothing mechanism and a means of communication with their caregivers or other cats.

Rolling over

a cat that is laying down in the grass
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Cats occasionally roll onto their backs, exposing their vulnerable belly. While it can be seen as an invitation for belly rubs, it primarily serves as a defensive posture. By exposing their claws and teeth, they are ready to protect themselves if they feel threatened.

Kicking during play

white and brown cat lying on white and black textile
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Cats kicking with their hind legs during play resembles their hunting technique. It allows them to immobilize prey by gripping and scratching with their claws. This behavior is an expression of their predatory instincts and a way to engage in interactive play.

Chewing on non-food items

selective focus photography of brown tabby cat on pathway
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Some cats chew on objects like plastic, cords, or fabric. This behavior can arise from different reasons, including teething in kittens, exploration of the environment, or anxiety relief. However, it’s essential to redirect this behavior and provide appropriate chew toys to prevent health hazards.

Excessive grooming

cat licking its paw
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Felines are meticulous groomers who spend a lot of time cleaning their fur. While grooming is a natural behavior, excessive licking or grooming can indicate anxiousness, skin allergies, or underlying health issues. Monitoring their grooming habits and seeking veterinary advice when necessary is important for their well-being.

Pouncing on moving objects

Close-up Photo of Cute Sleeping Cat
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Cats possess strong predatory instincts, and pouncing on moving objects is an instinctual behavior for them. Whether it’s a toy, bug, or just you moving feet under a blanket, pouncing gives them an opportunity to practice their hunting skills and play.

Staring into space

white cat on brown dried leaves
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From time to time, you may catch your cat staring into space. Cats have excellent hearing and keen sensitivity to movement, and their focused stare might indicate they are observing something in their environment that is beyond human perception, such as distant sounds or subtle movements.

Sleeping in odd places

white and gray kitten on white textile
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Cats have an innate instinct to find warm, secure, and hidden spots for sleeping. This behavior is a holdover from their wild ancestors, who looked for safe locations to rest and protect themselves from predators. Cats may choose unusual spots like boxes, sinks, or high surfaces to satisfy this instinct.

Licking and chewing on plastic bags

cat, pet, licking
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Some cats like to lick and chew on plastic bags, which can be a dangerous and potentially deadly behavior. Plastic bags pose a choking hazard, and cats may ingest pieces of plastic, leading to bowel obstruction or tears in the intestines. While the exact reason for this behavior is unknown, it may indicate boredom, stress, or a lack of proper cat enrichment activities.