Felis catus is the very proper name for our furry friends also known as cats! These lovable, funny, curious animals are among my very favorites to work with. Currently having two of my own and fostering over 12 litters has helped me learn why these loving animals act and do the weird things we all have seen them do. Understanding your furbaby is very important to connecting with them and being able to honor boundaries that can be different with each individual cat.
Purrs: We all have heard the calming rumble that cats make, starting as young as just a few days old. We usually associate it with the cat being happy or content. Truth is, there are many reasons a cat will purr. If their body is relaxed and the purr is loud and happy sounding, more than likely your kitty is enjoying itself. When this purr is combined with a short cry or meow your furbaby may be trying to tell you they are hungry or want something. A mother cat will teach their kittens to purr as a way to communicate with and soothe their young, just like a mother singing a lullaby. Some research even suggests that a low purr can be a means of healing for a sick or injured cat. The low frequency of purrs creates a series of vibrations that can heal bones and wounds, build muscle and repair tendons, ease breathing and lessen pain and swelling.
Hissing: When your cat feels scared or threatened it will let out a puff of air known as a hiss. This sound is thought to be made to resemble the sound that a snake makes, a very feared predator. When frightened, your cat lets out a loud hiss to try to scare whatever is scaring them. This could be a warning that they may be aggressive and try to attack, but in most circumstances after hissing they will turn and run. A territorial hiss is something a little different. When a stranger enters their space (your home) they feel the need to defend and show the stranger (a new kitten perhaps) they are boss. This type of hissing is a natural process that all cats go through and should not be punished. Certain pheromone sprays can be used to help relax and reduce the chance of fighting when introducing a new animal into the home.
Rubbing up against things (including legs): One would like to think that when their precious feline rubs its face and body on them it is a sign of affection, like a little kitty hug. However it is a little more than a “hug.” The main scent glands in cats are located in their tail, the side of their body and their face. With every brush past they are actually not trying to show love but marking us as their possession, as well as communicating with other cats such things as, “I’m in heat and I need a man” or “Stay away, this is my home.” When you own more than one cat you may see them rubbing or butting their heads together. This is something that is only done when they are completely comfortable with each other and it helps them feel more secure in the family.
So whether your furry child wants to be loved, fed, left alone or to mark you as their own possession, please keep in mind that everything they do is usually carefully thought out and is being done with a purpose. Making sure to spay or neuter your feline friend is very important, especially if you are having trouble with aggression towards other animals, or marking (spraying) inside your home. There are many more weird things that our cats will do and we will wonder why the heck they do it, but embracing this is the first step to being the most amazing cat owner you can be.
What weird things does your cat do?