Skip to main content

What Your Cat's Behaviors, Body Language, and Sounds Mean

I have owned cats for over 60 years. Between them and their vets, I have learned a great deal about how they tick.

If you've ever wondered what your cat might be trying to communicate to you with their behaviors, body language, and sounds, then this article will help you find some answers.

If you've ever wondered what your cat might be trying to communicate to you with their behaviors, body language, and sounds, then this article will help you find some answers.

What Is My Cat Trying to Say?

Your cat speaks to you in so many different ways that sometimes it’s hard to know what they are saying. To know where your cat is coming from, the first thing you should know is that your cat considers you to be their human, belonging to them in every respect—and all of their actions are based on that fact. So when your cat does something that angers you, keep in mind that they may be trying to tell you something.

This article will break down a whole bunch of commonly asked questions relating to why cats do what they do, what their body language indicates, and what they might be trying to communicate to you when they speak. Read on to finally figure out what your trusted feline friend might be trying to say to you.

What Is Normal Cat Behavior?

Here are a handful of common questions relating to cats and their often puzzling behaviors, along with some answers that should help shed some light why they do what they do:

Why Is My Cat Peeing or Pooping in the House?

Overly full litter boxes can make your cat upset enough to leave smelly presents on your pillow or favorite chair as a hint—meaning it has been too long between cleanings and you need to step up to the plate. Cats like themselves and their environment to be clean. That’s why they are always cleaning themselves. Imagine how you would feel if you were a perfectionist about cleaning and had to walk over your own waste in order to relieve yourself. "Yuck" is putting it mildly.

Why Does My Cat Clean Itself Right After I’ve Pet It or Picked It Up?

If your cat cleans itself right after you pet it or pick it up, it could be due to a few reasons. They might be annoyed that you touched them, for whatever reason, and they are cleaning off the scent—in most instances, that is an insult to you.

It is also possible that you have a scent on you that they do not like. The scent could be perfume, lotion, or even another cat you might have petted. Be aware that strong smells of perfumed items can actually anger a cat. If they ingest a lot of it, it could also make them sick. So if you have cats, keep your arsenal of perfumed items for those special nights and be sure to wash them off before cuddling Fluffy.

Why Does My Cat Reach a Paw Out to Me?

Your cat might reach for you with a paw, claws in or out, to indicate a desire for attention. Or, maybe, they might purposely lie down in your way for attention. They might sit on something they know is off-limits to gain your attention. Cats like their attention, but they also like their toys. If you don't give them several, they might use you or your things instead.

Why Has My Cat’s Behavior Suddenly Changed After Many Years?

As cats get older, sometimes their personalities change. Some cats that start out rambunctious and generally averse to snuggling eventually soften up over the years and turn into super cuddly lap animals that want to be around you all the time. These kinds of gradual changes are totally natural and not all that different from the sorts of changes that humans experience throughout their lives.

If such a shift happens very suddenly and in a fairly unexpected way, however, that might point to a deeper problem with your feline friend. For instance, if they are generally an independent kind of cat but then out of nowhere want to be by your side at all times, that could indicate that they are sick and fearful of being left alone in their weakened state. If you notice a change that seems curiously abrupt and bizarre, it's best to take them into the vet for a check-up to see if anything is wrong.

Why Is My Cat Extending Its Claws?

A cat will extend its claws for many different things, such as to kneed. (When they are content, they might put their paws out, claws extended, and then pull them in rhythmically, which is how they get their mother’s milk to flow.)

A cat might also extend its claws in anger or fear. Claws are also extended for cleaning purposes or scratching, which can mean several things, such as ownership, sharpening claws for a fight, or dominance. Claws can be removed, but please try to refrain from doing this. Instead, you can set up a weekly routine of trimming their claws, and give them plenty of things to scratch.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Pethelpful

Why Does My Cat Rub up Against Me?

Cats will touch you and your things, pee on you or your things (otherwise known as marking), or rub against you or something you own in order to let other cats in the area know that you are theirs. Yup, when they lovingly rub their face against your face, they are leaving their scent all over you. Cats will generally mark a new home to override the scent of another cat. Fixed cats may also mark if the scent is strong or reeks of a full male. Those cat nostrils are so strong that they can pick up a scent from miles away—just like a hound dog, only with less noise.

You also assume a similar answer to the related question of: "Why does my cat put its paw on me?" That is, it's usually just another way of communicating affection. While it isn't always that simple, when your cat does this, it is more often than not displaying its level of comfortability with you.

Cat Behavior Explained

BehaviorMeaning

Pees or poops in your house (despite being litter trained)

Its litter may be full, and it wants you to clean it. Also done to mark its territory and communicate ownership to other cats.

Cleans itself after you pet it

You may have a scent on you (perfumes/other cats) that it wants to remove from its body.

Lies down on your stuff while you're trying to do something

It wants attention and is tired of being ignored.

Extends its claws

It could just be for kneading. It could also be out of fear or anger. Or a more practical reason like for scratching or cleaning.

Rubs up against you

It's rubbing its scent on you and marking you as its own. Also sometimes done to demand attention.

Brings you dead animals

Done as a gift to you, since it sees itself as your owner. Also done to display strength and hunting prowess.

Looks at you before it goes to sleep

Checking to make sure you're looking out for it, as it will soon be vulnerable and seeks your protection while sleeping.

Why Does My Cat Bring Me Dead Animals?

Cats, remember, believe that they own you. And to do a proper job, they must feed you. That is why outside cats will often kill an animal and leave it as a gift on your window or doorstep. As horrid as this may seem to you, it is perfectly natural for your cat.

Another reason for leaving little "gifts" is to show you that they are strong and capable. I have seen cats leave snakes, rats, and even squirrels as gifts. Oh, and just so you know, if you throw the gift away, your cat may be hurt by your actions. If you must—and most of us do—place it in several bags and then bury it in the trash can.

Why Does My Cat Look at Me a Bunch of Times Before It Goes to Sleep?

Your cat is most likely checking to make sure you're still there. It's trying to indicate to you that it's about to sleep and thus will be vulnerable to attack. It wants to make sure you know to protect it and keep an eye out for any predators.

When a cat walks with their tail straight up, it means that they are relaxed, confident, and want to be noticed.

When a cat walks with their tail straight up, it means that they are relaxed, confident, and want to be noticed.

How Do You Tell if a Cat Likes You?

Here's some useful information to help explain what some of your cat's body language might indicate:

What Do My Cat’s Tail Movements Mean?

When a cat walks with their tail straight up, it means that they are relaxed, confident, and want to be noticed. If you don’t notice fast enough, they might get directly underfoot and swirl from one leg to the other. Of course, it is worse if you have something they want, like canned food or milk. They will start to yell if you aren't forthcoming or fast enough for them.

When a cat walks with their tail between their legs, it is a sign that they are afraid of something or might be submitting to a more dominant cat or human. They might also roll over and offer their belly to a dominant cat to show that they are not contesting the dominance. If a cat offers their belly to you, they are telling you that they submit to your dominance. But don’t let that fool you, because they still believe they own you.

If a cat walks with its tail down and dragging, it is trying to be hidden or unnoticed. If that behavior lasts for longer than a day, you might want to take the cat to the vet for a bit of a check-up. A cat might also lay its tail on something showing possession, or flick its tail at something that angers it. They often flick their tail to warn you that you are getting on their nerves, and you probably should stop—or the claws will come out.

A cat that is upset will not only hiss, but their tail will become the biggest bristled bottle brush you have ever seen. Be wary and don't attempt to comfort your cat when they are upset. An upset cat doesn't know the difference and might bite or scratch you in "defense."

Cat Tail Movements Explained

Tail PositionMeaning

Tail straight up

Relaxed, confident, looking for attention.

Tail between its legs

Afraid, cautious, submissive.

Tail down and dragging

Trying to be hidden and unnoticed. (Could indicate pain or other discomfort. See a vet if this persists.)

Tail bristled and flicking

Upset, aggressive, and potentially about to attack.

What Do My Cat’s Ear Movements Mean?

When a cat lays back its ears, it usually means that it's upset and might attack. When they cock one ear to the side, it’s like someone raising an eyebrow or looking at you like you have three heads. When they bring both ears hard forward, they are trying to hear what is being said to them or perhaps trying to make out a distant sound (or another cat in the area).

But if your cat's ears are forward but relaxed, then it is at ease, potentially aware of its surroundings but not necessarily on alert or scared.

What Do My Cat’s Eye Movements Mean?

You can actually tell a good amount about how your cat is feeling by watching their eyes. If their eyes are barely open or fully closed, they are relaxed and either preparing to sleep or just enjoying your company and a good lounge. In fact, that familiar sight of seeing your cat look at you and slowly blink its eyes is a clear sign of affection and often referred to as "kitty kisses."

If their eyes are narrowed but not in a lazy way, they are most likely alert and focused. They may even be scared or aggressive. So look out for other body language clues to help further indicate how they're feeling.

But if their eyes are fully open and wide, they are almost certainly on high alert and potentially trying to find out if they are in danger. Similarly, wide pupils can also indicate high interest and focus or excitement, potentially pointing to them being fearful or aggressive. Look for other clues to help decipher what they're thinking.

Did you know that when your cat meows at you, it is really just calling your attention to something?

Did you know that when your cat meows at you, it is really just calling your attention to something?

What Is My Cat Trying to Tell Me?

Here are a few explanations for some of the sounds your cat might make for you and what they might be trying to tell you:

Why Does My Cat Meow at Me?

Did you know that when your cat meows at you, it is really just calling your attention to something? Perhaps you forgot breakfast or the litter box is full. Or they might just be calling another cat to play. Though since cats rarely meow at other cats, if you hear yours making distinct meows in your general direction, those sounds are probably intended for your ears.

They might meow to go out or to come in. They might meow to tell you that you need a lap cat today, or they might be thinking that you have been working too hard and need a break. (Cats have a way of insinuating themselves in such a way as to coax you into believing that you actually came up with a particular idea.)

Note: If your cat is meowing at you more than usual (and perhaps in a slightly louder or more aggressive tone), it's a good idea to follow them and see if they lead you somewhere. This repeated meowing can help them let you know that they need more food, that the litter is full and needs to be cleaned, or sometimes even more drastic matters, such as the fact that maybe they just had kittens and want you to help protect them.

Cat Verbal Communication Explained

Verbal QueueMeaning

Meowing

Usually done to communicate it wants you to notice something, such as an empty food bowl, a full litter, or something it wants you to see (in which case, you should try following it).

Purring

An involuntary response that indicates comfort and affection. A good sign that it's pleased with whatever you're doing.

Hissing

Indicates fear or aggression. You should probably take a step back when they do this.

Why Does My Cat Purr at Me?

When cats are happy with you, they purr when you pet them or cuddle them. A cat's purr is involuntary. They hear their mother purring when she is feeding and cleaning them and soon add their own voice when they are happy or content.

Oh, and don't get upset if your cat is purring but also simultaneously trying to get away from you. Generally, it means that they like you and want to be petted, but they were busy and you interrupted them.

Note: If you want to communicate back to your cat that you love them, then petting them on the head or on the cheeks is a good way to do so. Similarly, when a cat touches the top of their head to you, they are saying they love and trust you.

Why Does My Cat Hiss at Me?

Naturally, hissing indicates fear or aggression. The cat is essentially demanding that you back away and leave it alone. Even cats that deeply love you can do this from time to time, sometimes just because they want some space to themselves for a while. Or perhaps you pet them in a spot where they're sore and they want you to stop doing so.

Unsurprisingly, hissing is such a clear message that it actually works both ways. So if you want your cat to stop doing something—like biting you too hard, for instance—you can hiss at them a little. They'll most likely get the message.

When a cat turns its back on you and flicks its tail, watch out!

When a cat turns its back on you and flicks its tail, watch out!

Does Your Cat Feel Insulted?

When a cat turns its back on you and flicks its tail, watch out! It's ticked off and ready to fight if you persist in whatever it is you’re doing. Under most instances, they will walk away feeling their message has been understood. However, they might just decide that this is the last straw and decide to fight back.

What's the best way to end an agitated cat attack? Stop and cry out—loudly. In cat language, an attack between two generally friendly participants ends immediately after one of them cries out in pain. Also, by holding still until they let go, you are saving yourself long deep cuts that could occur through pulling away from them.

It's also worth noting that a cat can feel insulted for many different reasons, including:

  • You took their chair.
  • You are sitting on their blanket.
  • You splashed them while washing your hands.
  • You have bought the generic food again.
  • You gave them a bath.
  • You took them to the vet.
  • You left them with a bunch of kids.
  • You didn't get the good litter.
  • You forgot to greet them when you came in the house.
  • You didn't go looking for them if they weren't at the door waiting for you.
  • You didn't change the water today.
  • You put glassware on their favorite shelf, and it fell off when they tried to lie down.
  • You had the nerve to bring in fish and then hide it behind a solid wall.

Note: Cats can also be insulted even if you didn't do anything that you can understand. They are quite fickle that way.

Signs That Your Cat Might Be Sick

In general, your cats' behaviors—as puzzling as they might sometimes be to you—are often just part of who they are and how they express themselves, and thus shouldn't be cause of too much worry on your part. There are, however, a few indicators that might point to your poor feline potentially feeling a bit under the weather and/or in need of some medical attention.

Here are some important signs to watch out for:

  • Excessive licking, chewing, or scratching: Of course, these are all part of normal cat behavior and critical parts of their totally healthy self-maintenance. But if you notice that your cat has been doing one or more of these at an alarmingly higher rate than usual, it could mean that they are suffering from ticks, fleas, or parasites. So it would be a good idea to check to see if you can spot any of them in your feline's fur. Additionally, if you notice any significant hair loss or breaking of the skin, have them get checked out by a vet.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea: This is another one that does unfortunately happen periodically and isn't always a cause for concern. But if your cat begins doing it a lot in a short amount of time, it could mean that they've ingested something toxic or are experiencing other digestion problems. If it lasts for more than a day—or if abdominal swelling and pain are apparent—take them in to see a vet right away.
  • Different, strong odors: If you notice any new, pungent odors coming from your cat, it might be a good idea to take them in to get checked out. Often times, strange new smells indicate infections, ulcers, and other ailments that need to be treated as soon as possible. Even odors that aren't necessarily "bad"—such as a sweet, fruity smell—can occasionally be warning signs of serious illnesses like diabetes. So if you notice any weird new smells coming from your cat that you can't identify, it's probably best to have a veterinary professional take a look.
  • Cat flu: Much like humans, cats can occasionally contract a form of that pesky flu virus. This typically results familiar flu symptoms like watery eyes, a runny nose, and profuse sneezing. If you notice these symptoms, you can attempt to help your cat feel better by cleaning the mucus off their eyes and nose with a cotton ball or damp washcloth, making sure they eat enough food, and repeatedly checking to ensure that they are breathing normally. If you find the latter to be strained and/or they don't seem to be getting better, take them in to a vet to be checked out.

Strays

Stray cats can be brought inside, but you should always follow general common sense and the following:

  • Strays need quiet time before you introduce them to the other cats.
  • Litter boxes and sleeping beds should be periodically switched so all of the cats can smell each other.
  • Be sure to remain close once you do introduce them in case they aren't quite ready to be friendly.
  • Remember to get strays checked by a vet before you take them in and expose them to your other cats to protect your cats from serious illnesses like Feline Leukemia.
  • It is best to have a stray dog taken by a professional and checked for behavioral problems (as well as illnesses) before taking them into your home.

Common Sense

Many questions owners often ask about cats, can be answered by taking a common sense approach. Just think of your cat as a permanent guest in your home and a lot will then be explained.

  • Guests often do things differently. They might eat at different times, clean differently or stay up all night. This helps you to better understand your cat who has very differently behaviors.
  • When behavior changes drastically, look for a cause such as a change in home life like you got a new dog or someone new moved in with you.
  • If the cat doesn't use the litter box try to think of why. Is the side too high for my elderly cat; are my two cats fighting each other over the litter box usage or maybe the toddler goes after the cat every time he gets into the box.
  • If your cat pees everywhere, try to see the outside and inside of your home as he would. Since scent is how they mark their safe territory, a cat will pee as close to where the outside cat peed as they can, generally on your bed or the rug if that's against the outside wall.
  • If your cat meows a lot, try to think about who he might be calling. Sometimes it is just to get your attention, and sometimes it is something he lost outside. Yes, cats do grieve for their close friends and/or mates.

Using Common Sense can make it so much easier to figure out what your cat is trying to tell you.

Pay Attention to the Signals Your Cat Is Sending You

They might be trying to tell you something, and it might be important—or at least it is to them. Learn the unique ways your cat communicates with you. Each cat is different and has its own personality, so their communication might be different. Keep this in mind, and they will eventually let you know.

If you're looking for additional information on what your cat might be trying to tell you, consider checking out these other great PetHelpful articles:

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: My cat is meowing at me constantly, and then she grabs some part of my hand and drags me to a closet. When I looked, there was nothing in there. This has been going on for almost a week. What is she trying to tell me?

Answer: Your cat may be trying to tell you that she is going to have kittens, and that is her choice spot, so get it fixed up for her. If she is fixed, then that is obviously not the case. Or, she may be trying to tell you that an outside creature has been napping in there - check for feces or urine in the area. She might just be trying to tell you she wants to have access because it is her favorite spot. Try leaving the door open to see if she sleeps in there a lot.

Question: When my cat is lying down to sleep, he always turns his head and looks at me. Then he'll go back to sleep for a few seconds and look at me again. This happens at least four times before he falls asleep. What does this mean?

Answer: Cats like to know they are safe and secure. Your cat may be just trying to ensure you are still near him so he can be safe while sleeping. He might also be checking to see if you have moved and thus changed the 'playing field.' It is nothing to worry about, unless you think his eccentricity is dangerous (I wouldn't).

Question: I'm trying to find the answer for when a kitten is meowing and purring a lot while getting all in my face and rubbing and licking my face. Like she sniffs me and gets super close, I don't know what she wants when she does this. She just walks all over my body meowing at me and rubbing her body all over me and stuff, what could it mean from a kitten? She also grabs my hand and starts licking/nibbling my fingernail/tip.

Answer: First I will tell you that the rubbing is her way of putting her scent all over you. This is something all cats do, even kittens. The meowing could be her way of letting you know she wants to be close to you or it could mean you have not given her enough attention. Cats, especially kittens, need lots of love and a great deal of play time. As for the licking and nibbling, many cats do that. I have one that is ten and still sucks on my little finger. Some say it means the cat was taken from mom too soon, but I disagree. I believe it is just something some cats like to do.

Question: My cat is a full outdoor cat and always has been. She has never liked the indoors, and with winter already here and her usual spot taken up by dogs, I decided to buy her a huge cage and turned it into the cat's house (I have 4 but she's the oldest). At first, she loved it, but now she doesn't want to be there anymore and decides to sleep out in the cold, what does that mean?

Answer: Most likely one of your other cats has marked it for their own. This will make her chose outdoors rather than fight. You might want to buy her a new one and make sure there are enough for all of the cats. Also, make sure you have hay or straw, not cloth, inside the cage because cloth will absorb the moisture from the air and will then freeze to a bed of ice.

Question: What does it mean if a cat faces away from the owner?

Answer: A cat who faces away from an owner on purpose is trying to tell you they are angry (it is considered to be an insult). The faster the tail whips will tell you how angry. However, sometimes cats do it because they just get bummed, or they just want to be left alone.

Question: My kitten is 6 months old and always uses her litter box. Recently, she has started peeing by the door and even pooped in a shopping bag that was out in the living room. I got rid of the bag, so she poops in the litter box again but he still pees outside of it. Any reason for the change? And it's not just spraying, it is full blown peeing.

Answer: Cats can start peeing for several reasons. Here are a few you can address to see if they help: something has changed in the household; there is a new cat outside the house and possibly spraying on the house (the cat needs to be fixed, if she isn't already); the cat is having trouble getting into the box (try getting a smaller one) or does not like the litter (try a different brand perhaps with no scent or finer litter); check to see if she has injured herself perhaps by jumping or racing around the house; take her to the vet to see if she has worms or an infection in her bladder; make sure you shew away outside cats and dogs (don't offer them food or a safe place to sleep for instance); your cat may be bored since kittens have so much energy (try playing with her every day to tire her out).

Question: Why is my cat lying down on her back and giving us soft meows?

Answer: Often, this is a sign that she trusts you, but also might be that she is seeking tummy rubs for pain or uncomfortable feelings. If she is not fixed, she could be showing you that she is pregnant. Sometimes cats will roll over so that you rub their belly and then they scratch you. This is a sign your cat wants to play. Get her things you can use to play with her such as a toy on a string.

Question: My cat raises her back and walks sideways with her tail flattened whenever I enter her room. Why does she do that?

Answer: My first question to you would be: is your cat kept in a separate room? That would mean that she is not exposed to you throughout the day. This will make her frightened of you when you do enter the room. If the cat is slowly introduced into the family, she might stop the practice once she is comfortable. If that is not the case, then she might simply be reacting as she has learned from her mother or siblings.

Question: Every so often, my cat will do this weird meowing thing. It is not like an angry meow, or an "I want food" type of meow. It is kind of in the middle. He'll creep up like he wants me to pet him, but instead, he timidly bites me. And, of course, I push him off the bed, but he just comes back up, slowly creeps towards me, and does the same thing. I don't understand. Why does he do this?

Answer: I have a few ideas that might help. Cats will sometimes bite gently (called a love nip) and want to play with you. When you push your cat away, you are confusing him. Try distracting him with play using a stick with something on it instead. Also, check his teeth to see if there is something wrong with one of them. Bad teeth can be a problem for cats because they can't eat and it can poison their system. Another thing you can do is make sure he has scratch pads. I find the ones made out of cardboard are the ones they like best.

Question: My two year old cat has been laying on her side for most of the day. Every time she rolls on her side she meows very loudly in like a crying way and gets up and moves to a new spot. What is the problem?

Answer: There could be several causes. One could be that she is hurting and can't find a comfortable spot. She may have jumped wrong or been caught by another animal. If this hasn't eased or stopped, I would get her to the vet for a check-up.

Question: When I pet my cat, he half bends his legs. Why does he do that?

Answer: I don't really know why. Each cat has their own unique behaviors just like we do; sort of like one person jumps about while playing video games and another will sit still (and perhaps think the first guy is a bit crazy).

Question: My cat has lost 8 to 9 pounds. He is 22 and seems to be licking himself a lot. What does these things mean?

Answer: Older cats may loose weight because they are having trouble with their teeth. You might want to change his diet to canned food which is easier to eat. Another reason could be that he has developed a problem health-wise. For example, diabetes or kidney disease. I would take him to the vet.

Question: I was petting my cat, which she is fine with, but then she digs her claws into my wrist and starts biting my hand pretty hard while growling. As I start walking away, she does a soft meow to get my attention again. Is she just playing rough or could there be something wrong with her?

Answer: There could be many reasons, but I think your cat can smell another cat on your hand. This would make your cat feel like he must protect his area.

Question: Why does my cat show signs of affection and then out of nowhere show negative or aggressive tendencies towards me? It is back and forth every day for the past three months (keep in mind he is only 6 months old).

Answer: Kittens want to play more than anything. They have huge amounts of pent-up energy just aching to get out by pouncing, jumping, biting and scratching their pretend prey. Not many are constant cuddles. Try wearing him out more with play, tunnels and cat condos to occupy him. He will cuddle more and fight less when worn out from play.

Question: Why does a cat put his paw out to hit you when you go by?

Answer: A cat reaches out to you for attention and play. Because they wish to play, and you are moving, you are deemed temporary prey. Also, sometimes cats are hiding and reaching out to 'catch' you in a game of hide-and-seek. Be sure to stop and play for a moment of relaxing.

Question: I just recently noticed he peed on my bedroom carpet. By the feel of the carpet when it dried, I realized he had peed there before like months ago. Today I caught him for the first time, and he saw that I saw him, and knew he was in trouble. I could also tell he was peeing somewhere else because there's not enough kitty waste in the litter box. He is not ill, very healthy, vaccinated, and gets treats almost daily. What is going on with him?

Answer: With your cat being male I wonder if he is fixed. A fixed cat, especially a male, can suffer from crystals in his urine that makes it hard and painful to pee. He would pee in other places because when the dam bursts he has no choice. I would get the cat to the vet to see what might be the problem and/or change his food to something that is for urinary health. Also, check his litter. He might not like the feel of it, and that could be the other reason. I hope this helps, Cherylone.

Question: When I lay down, my cat will meow, straddle my leg and then bite my sock? What is she doing?

Answer: This could be many things. You might have the scent of another cat on your socks from brushing against something another cat has marked. You might just have socks she likes. Sometimes cats will nibble on parts of you because they want to play. Try playing with her and/or giving her toys to keep her busy.

Question: My cat seems to be mad at me. A friend of mine is a groomer and we both groomed him. He seems different since we did so. He has never been groomed so I thought it would be easier if we did it at home. Now he won't even sit with me, and will only let me feed him and clean his box. What can I do to make it right? He also has been very finicky on what he is eating, please help me.

Answer: Your cat probably is angry at you because you turned his home into something he didn't like. Now he fears that it will happen again in the area where he felt safe. If you groom him again, I would not do it in the house if possible. Also, make sure he has plenty of high shelves to climb up on. This will give him a place he can go that you can't reach, theoretically. Also, play with him, which may take awhile, but don't stop trying.

Question: Why does my cat hide under my bed at night time and refuse to come out?

Answer: Your cat is probably suffering from poor night vision even though cats generally have incredible night vision. Try using a small night light to offer the cat a way to see. Be certain the cat does not stay outside at night as well because poor night vision can make him vulnerable to attack by other animals.

Question: Why does my cat cuddle after I feed him?

Answer: Cats have a usual routine they follow. The usual routine is to clean up after eating and then sleep. I would guess you have become part of his routine as a thank you for taking care of him, and because most cats love to be cuddled by their "people."

Question: I have an indoor cat that all a sudden started to stay upstairs and starts meowing. When we finally get him downstairs, he will go in the litter box and cry, and he doesn't even go potty. Then he runs to the back door and wants outside. He has never been outside his whole life. If we try to go outside, he will try to go out. It's been going on for just about a week now. Before that, he was fine and always stayed with us downstairs and hardly cried. Can you tell me why he has started doing this?

Answer: Cats are hard to decode sometimes, but your cat seems to be displaying difficulties using the litter box. Cats, especially male ones, can get crystals in their bladder which can cause infection and death if they are not cleared up. I suggest you take your cat to the vet for a checkup. Also, try to feed your cat food that works for urinary tract health. If your cat is not fixed, you might be looking at a cat that wants to get outside to mate. Getting him fixed will help with that.

Question: My cat is spayed, but every 2-3 weeks she gets extremely vocal, paces the house yowling, and is very friendly. I took her to the vet 2 weeks ago and she got a clean bill of health, but she didn't do any of these things there. She has tons of toys, including towers, balls, feathers, scratching posts, etc. What gives? Because I am at my wits end, and so is my dog!

Answer: I believe the answer is that she wants attention from you. Play with her instead of letting her playing alone. Be sure to give her attention when she comes to you for it, and make sure the dog and the cat are getting along. Windows and high places to hide are also good things to entertain a cat. I also suggest you make play a routine so your cat doesn't keep getting bored. As for the yowling, it could be leftovers from her hormones as her levels drop; or, it could simply be her way of getting you to pay more attention to her. My cats, both males and neutered, will call occasionally to each other by yowling from another room. Then, when the other one comes, they pounce and the wrestling begins. She may also be calling to another cat that she can smell outside. You should check for strays just in case that is the case.

Question: When I touch or lift up my cat's tail, she meows sadly. Why is that?

Answer: Cats do not like to have their tail touched, even when it is gentle. In her case, she might be trying to tell you that in her own way. Just to be safe, you might want to have a vet check to see if she has an injury there.

Question: My female cat usually hates me, and doesn't ever want to be bothered or picked up or even let me pet her. The past two weeks, she has been following me around, sleeping with me, wanting me to pet her and give her all my attention. It's very unlike her. Why is she acting different towards me?

Answer: Cats can turn their attention for several reasons. She may have decided she likes you and is finally trusting you or she may just want attention, period. I am not sure why they change, but I also have one that refused attention and hissed at everyone but me. Then we moved and he was suddenly the most loving cat there was. He now likes everyone. I can't say why, but enjoy it while you can.

Question: When I pick up my kitty he is always digging his front claws into my shoulder and back. I have never dropped him. Why would my cat claw at my shoulder and back?

Answer: It truly depends upon the background of the cat. An abused or stray cat would not feel safe in the arms of a human. If the cat does not have a violent past, it could be that he just likes to hang on tight. A possible solution is to get his claws trimmed regularly to keep the grabbing to a minimum.

Question: My cat was dying in my arms and she held on to me, then bit my finger and wouldn't let me go. What does this mean?

Answer: Cats live by scent and family. You are your cat's family and she took that taste and scent to her grave because it was comforting to her.

Question: Why does my cat walk towards me when I stroke her back?

Answer: Stroking the back of a feline is the usual way to pet them and many love it; in fact, most of them do. Some will show you by lifting their backs, some will walk closer, some will move away and then come back and some will just walk away. If your cat moves away, she is trying to tell you she doesn't want anymore. Walking closer means more, more, more.

Question: Why is my cat not letting me pet him or pick him up?

Answer: I don't know your cat so I don't know his temperament but I would hazard a guess that he used to allow petting and lifting. Once he begins to fight you over those items, it could mean he has injured himself or has a blockage in his intestines. If his behavior is not new, then I would say he is simply a cat who doesn't like to be petted or picked up.

Question: Why does my cat grind her back legs and purr at the same time?

Answer: The purr of a cat is involuntary. When they feel something that comforts them, they purr. There is something about the feeling your cat experiences when she grinds her back legs that causes her to purr.

Question: My cat is pretty distant with us. He's not very vocal about emotions. He bites as a warning and doesn't purr even if he's enjoying affection, but he often likes to be near us and not be petted. He'll lay by us with his back or side to us a lot just because he knows we take it as him not wanting us to pet him. Is our cat's behavior pretty standard or is there a reason he acts that way?

Answer: I can't be certain since I don't know your cat's history. However, many cats do not like to be petted, especially ones that have been previously abused. It may take a bit for him to get comfortable with you, but many do usually melt eventually. I suggest you take your cat to the vet just in case an injury is causing the issue. Then, try treats and playing to get him to come out and spend more time with you.

Question: My cat used to come into my room all the time. She used to lay in bed with me for hours. When I’m not home, she will cry at my door until it is opened. She used to stand outside my door and cry even when I am home. Now she doesn’t ever step into my room. Every time I bring her in she immediately runs out. I’ll call for her, and she will just stand outside my doorway looking at me. What does this mean?

Answer: There are many possibilities, but my best guess is that you have touched or brushed against another cat or something the cat marked. Your cat smells this on your clothes and is now confused. She doesn't know why that cat smell is in the room that used to be hers. Try washing recently worn garments and wiping down sneakers. Try loving her outside of the bedroom to let her know you still love her. Offer her something from your room that you know she likes, but put it outside the room. Also, check to see if an outside cat is coming to your window and perhaps marking it with his/her scent. Be sure to close your window when you leave to prevent the smell from coming inside.

Question: What does it mean when my cat kneads me?

Answer: Cats knead when they are happy and/or content. As babies, when their mother fed them, they would knead to get the milk flowing.

Question: Every morning I come out of my room about 6 am. My cat (who is 1 in Oct), meows really loud at me and follows me everywhere I go, even to the point where he goes between my legs nearly tripping me. I feed him (and his older sister), but if I take too long or ignore his meowing, he takes a swipe at my legs. I try to pat him (he is very to himself after being in a shelter for so long) and he isn't always happy about the pats. How do I get him to stop meowing and tripping me in the morning?

Answer: Your cat is trying to communicate to you about something. Perhaps his litter box is too dirty or he doesn't like the toys you have. He might want to sit in a window to watch the outside, but you don't have a shelf where he can do that. Or he might want you to move faster with the feeding, which is probably the problem in this case. Try getting a timed feeder that will dispense the food automatically. This will cause the cats to be eating when you are waking up.

Question: My cat follows me everywhere and then sits down right next to me. Is that because he loves me?

Answer: Partly, but your cat is most likely feeling unsafe in your home for some reason and is using you as protection. Check to see if there is anything such as strays marking the outside of the house, new children in the area or even if you have gotten a new pet or roommate. Try to do things like putting water sprayers outside that will surprise the strays and send them away. Also, keep your entire surroundings in mind when playing with your cat. Make the house more cat-like by putting up shelves, especially near windows, that allow him to watch the outside.

Question: Sometimes my cat's back paws step up and down while she’s standing in place. Most of the time her tail is violently twitching, almost like it’s vibrating. I don’t understand what this means, and I can’t find an explanation anywhere. What could it possibly mean?

Answer: This could be a medical issue such as muscle twitches in the back leg. The cat doesn't know what is actually happening so she gets angry and her tail shows the anger. Check for an injury on the back paw such as a split or cut of some type. Also, check the tail, especially the area near the rump. If she isn't fixed, her hormones could be causing the problem. Or it could be a chemical problem. I would suggest you record the action and then take your cat and the video to your vet for more information.

Question: Why do cats play the door game after I have fed them? They want in then back out. This goes on and on, why?

Answer: Cats like to control situations and will often slow down their movements and requests for that to work. If you don't want to 'play', just ignore him a few times and he will settle down. Be patient though, because cats are stubborn.

Question: My mom had a guy friend come over for a dinner and my cat, who is also male, was freaking out. Every time he got close to him my cat would just run off and hide. He only does this with my sister's male dog when she brings him over or this guy. My cat has no problem with me (also a guy) or my friends who are also guys, so this begs the question as to what’s going on?

Answer: The first question I will ask is 'do you have him fixed?' If no, he might be reacting to the male hormones being given off by the two. The cat's normal instinct is to hide or fight. Next, he might just not like their smell. People give off smells just like animals do and many animals do not like the scent of some people. For the dog, well, you can try to get them to make friends, some cats do over time. For the guy, try having him play with the cat using a toy with a long handle and/or treats.

Question: My cat acts erratic at nighttime and runs up and down the stairs. If doors are shut, he opens them and runs into the room meowing. If my mum falls asleep, he jumps on the bed and paws her eyes until she’s awake! How do you help an anxious cat?

Answer: Get a sprayer or small sound blaster that will only operated when on and sensing movement. Put the item next to a door you do not want opened at night. You might wake up to a loud noise a few times, but your cat will quickly get the message. Also, if you keep your cat active during the day, he will be too tired at night to be active. Play time, laser chasing, window watching, and climbing shelves are all good ways to keep your cat active during the day. Just remember, the change won't happen over night since cats are normally nocturnal.

Question: A cat that I don’t know the owner of cuddled me, but I accidentally put my hand on the edge of her fur and she scratched. When I tried to pet her, she hissed. What is going on? What did I do?

Answer: Cats cuddle for several reasons-food, protection and love are the biggest, but I suggest that you never pet them unless you know them. Cats live via a hierarchy and will fight to the death to defend their territory. If you had the smell of another animal (not just a cat) on your hand, the cat might have been acting out against the smell. If you want to pet the cat, you might try giving it a little food in a bowl that you put down and walk away from. Over time the cat will get used to your smell on the bowl and might approach you. If she hisses or growls though, move away slowly while talking calmly to her. Also, be aware that outdoor animals can have many diseases that can cause illness in other animals and can be transmitted to humans. If you still want to touch the cat, always wash your hands after touching any cat you don't know.

Question: My cat laid in his cat litter and almost fell asleep. Is this a bad thing or do all cats do that?

Answer: Usually, cats will only lay in their litter box if they are afraid of something in their environment, like a mean cat. This keeps them where their scent is and often prevents another cat from using the litter box. If you have more than one cat, make sure you have at least one litter box for each cat (2 cats-2 litter boxes). Also, check your area for new arrivals or loud noises and try to comfort your cat when he appears to be nervous or lays in the litter box. Also, check for stray cats, which are usually unfixed and cause a great deal of stress to an inside cat.

Question: I'm on the laptop working and my cat sits behind the screen and attacks my hands while I'm typing. Why is this?

Answer: Your cat wants your attention. Since you are working on the laptop, he is attacking your hands to get you to pay attention to him. If you don't stop, be prepared for him to do more, like sitting on the keyboard or shoving the cover closed.

Question: My kitten has been eating canned food for a couple of days now, and she stopped drinking water from her bowl, but still seems interested in water elsewhere. She has also started licking my clothes, and blankets for no apparent reason. Why won't she drink her water?

Answer: Cats don't like water and many will not drink it unless they absolutely have to get fluids into themselves. Canned cat food contains liquid that gives the cat fluids. Many don't really need anything else. For your cat, however, I would check to ensure the water you give her is clear and in a clean bowl. After a small amount of time, a cat's saliva can soil the side of the bowl but is not easily seen. As for the clothes and blankets, she may like how it feels on her tongue, or she can smell something on them.

Question: My 3-year-old orange striped tabby cat has been kneading excessively and arching his back while doing so. He gets angry if you touch him while he's doing it. Is this a sign he's sick?

Answer: I can't be sure what is causing this behavior. If he is fixed, this could be a sign something is wrong. If he is not fixed, it could be a sign he wishes to go out and find a mate. If he is neither, you might want to take him to the vet for a check-up.

Question: Every time I eat an orange, my cat digs her face into my hands. She even rubs her teeth on the palms of my hands. I don’t know why but I do know oranges aren’t good for them. Aren’t cats supposed to hate the smell of citrus fruits?

Answer: Yes, and most do. I would wash my hands right after eating oranges to remove as much of the scent as possible. As far as her liking the smell of oranges, every cat, like us, is different and she is just a unique girl.

Question: My cat was fine a couple of hours ago, but now he is crawling around like he is scared. He is 4 years old. Why would he be doing this?

Answer: Something like this could mean the cat heard something outside that frightened him. It could be a loud sound or another cat hanging around the house. It could also mean he jumped and hurt himself. If you are still seeing this trait in him, you might want to take him to the vet.

Question: My female cat is running around meowing she found a way into my ceiling and looks down at me meowing like crazy. I tried letting her on the porch ( her favorite place), but she just wants to go up there and meow at me! What could be wrong? Is she trying to tell me something?

Answer: There could be many reasons why she is doing this. One could be she is in heat. If she is fixed then that is not the case. She might also want to show you something up there (perhaps a baby of hers). Other reasons could be that she has gone up there and hurt herself so she doesn't want to come down. Try looking into the spot to see if there is something there. If she is fixed and there is nothing there, you might want to speak with a vet to see if they have any ideas.

Question: My cat always licks my fingers or hand, pretty much anything you put near him. Is this good or bad?

Answer: It is fine for him to do this, he is probably trying to identify things that way. Some cats have nasal issues which could also cause them to try everything that comes near them for identification since their sense of smell is compromised. There are many cats that just like to lick everything.

Question: My cat loves attention and loves being petted. But, even so, he usually licks himself after I pet him. Why is this?

Answer: I joke with family and friends that when I touch my cat he needs to clean himself all over again. The truth is, they have a chemical in their saliva that deodorizes and protects their skin. It also is a way to get the blood flowing in the skin. Most likely he is cleaning to get the blood flowing again.

Question: Is it possible for a cat to 'own' more than one person? A neighbor's cat keeps fussing around me at every opportunity. Apparently, it had been a rescued street cat and I wondered whether he just 'does the rounds' or something. Can you help?

Answer: It is definitely possible for a cat to own, love or care about more than one person. In this case, I believe it to be true because the cat was an outside cat for a long time. He will appreciate your attentions more because he didn't have them before. Is this him making rounds as you asked? Maybe, but I think he just knows a friend when he sees one.

Question: Is it normal for cats to lay down and breathe in a weird way? He is like in a weird position with his eyes open and he is breathing very fast. And, when I pick him up, he lays down very quickly. What's happening to my cat that would cause him to breathe quickly? I'm really worried and there aren't any vets open.

Answer: Because their spine is much more flexible than ours, cats can easily twist and turn themselves into pretzel-like positions without discomfort. Like us, cats can also sleep with their eyes open to some degree. The breathing fast and immediately laying back down does concern me a little, but it could be nothing at all. Don't panic, just wait till a vet is open, ask for an evaluation, and be sure to keep him warm and comfortable until then. I am, however, fairly certain he is just dreaming in his sleep. I have a cat with a large protein lump beneath his neck that causes him to wheeze in his sleep. The vet said not to worry because it wasn't malignant. I am hopeful this is the case for your cat as well.

© 2011 Cheryl Simonds

Comments

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on September 09, 2020:

There are several possibilities; she is unfixed and wants to mate; she is playing; she is smelling another cat outside and is trying to protect her territory; something has changed in the household. There are many more, but these are the most common. I hope this helps, Cheryl.

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on September 09, 2020:

Possibly because the cat does not like the danger your son is in when outside and wants him to go back inside where it is safe. Another possibility is the cat simply wants his company. I hope this helps, Cheryl.

Makayla on September 05, 2020:

My cat Molly just recently started running around with her nails out. Her ears moving, tail twitching, and acting kind of like she's scared. But other times she's her normal self. Shes never really done this before. And she does a howl type meow sometimes. Why would she suddenly start acting scared like this?

Clare Sanchez on August 26, 2020:

If my son leaves the house to ride his scooter up and down the street the cat follows him out and sits at the bottom of the street and meows very loudly and constantly until he returns .. why is this

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on August 23, 2020:

Your cat is probably just being himself.. They all have their unique behaviors. I hope this helps, Cheryl.

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on August 23, 2020:

Sounds like the cat was running from something or someone; also, cats really can't drink milk because they can't digest it. Try meat or canned cat food. Then you can use it to get the cat off of your balcony. I hope this helps, Cheryl.

Vineeth on August 21, 2020:

One stray cat has entered my flat and is staying in my balcony and is not leaving the house. We tried to feed it milk also but it is still not coming up to drink. What is wrong with the cat?

Jake on August 16, 2020:

My cat has continually jumped on to my bed rested got of and then did it again Could their be any pointers to this behaviour

Cheryl Simonds (author) from Connecticut on August 12, 2020:

Your cat could be demonstrating labor, but with cats it is hard to tell until they get close to delivering. If her nipples are large, she is probably getting ready to deliver. Get a box, line it with a blanket you don't care if it gets bloody and put it in a hidden quiet place. Show her where it is and she will, hopefully, use that to deliver. It is best to let her do her thing. She knows the routine even if she has never given birth. Good Luck.

TheCrawfishMommy83 on August 11, 2020: