Why Does My Cat Do This? - PetHelpful - By fellow animal lovers and experts
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Why Does My Cat Do This?

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

Why Does My Cat Do This?

Why Does My Cat Do This?

Common Cat Behavior

Cats do unusual things, and sometimes that makes us wonder why. Find out more about cat behavior and why cats do the things they do. In this article, we will talk about why cats do the following:

  • Cry loudly, especially at night
  • Climb on everything
  • Swirl around my legs
  • Pee everywhere
  • Rub on everything
  • Sleep in such weird positions
  • Scratch everywhere
  • Try to get out all the time
  • Hiss at my guests (and sometimes me)
  • Expose their belly to me
  • Miscellaneous Information

Note: Although many cats behave in the same way, there are always exceptions to the rules.

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Cry Loudly, Especially at Night

Cats are nocturnal animals, which means they are usually more active at night. They want to hunt, catch, and play. They spend their days sleeping, so at night they call to anyone who might be listening to see if they will play with them. Sometimes they are crying at a stray outside, telling him or her to go away. Or, if they are in heat (unfixed), they are calling for them to come mate. Often they will cry to get your attention. Maybe you didn't clean their box or forgot to feed them. Generally, though, it is because they want you to pay attention to them. Wearing them out with play, just before bed, can cause them to nap more at night.

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Climb on Everything

Cats love high places. It gives them a sense of safety and allows them to watch everything going on below. Plus, they live by scent. By climbing onto things, even if they aren't that high, the cat leaves his scent behind. One way to help with this behavior is to put up several shelves so the cat can climb onto them and leave your furniture alone.

Make sure the shelves are aligned so your cat can jump from one to the other. Make sure you have several cat items in front of windows so your cat can look outside. Have plenty of cat furniture around the house to give your cat a feeling of belonging. If your cat can watch from high up and see the world outside of his home, he is less likely to climb onto the china cabinet and knock down Grandma's serving platter.

Swirl Around My Legs

Cats are way down low to the floor and we humans are way up high. In order to get our attention, they need to get underfoot. At least that is what they think must be done. The more they cry and swirl, the more anxious they are to get your attention. My cats are always looking for food and they swirl and cry until I feed them.

Cats may also swirl to get your attention about something going on around you. Cats have warned people of carbon monoxide fumes, fires, illness, injury, and so many more. So, if they aren't wanting a treat or to play with you, be sure to check for other causes of their dance around the legs..

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Pee Everywhere

Peeing is one way for cats to put their scent on things. Cats lives are built on scent, their scent to be specific, and others around them. Everything needs to be marked by them. This tells other cats: "Hey, this is my spot, stay away." However, If you feel the cat is having difficulties peeing, take him to a vet as soon as possible.

Cats may pee because:

  • Another cat left their scent in the area
  • There are cats outside the house
  • They are stressed
  • Their litter box is dirty
  • It hurts to pee (usually crystals in their urine)
  • They can't get in the box due to an injury or arthritis
  • You brought in another cat
  • The other cats are trapping them in the litter box when they try to go
  • They are unfixed and want to mate
  • You brought in another person
  • They can't look outside
  • They have nothing to keep them occupied
  • They have nothing on which they can leave their scent, such as cat furniture
  • A wild animal has invaded their space
  • Someone is being very aggressive with them
  • They are afraid
  • They were previously in a dangerous situation
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Rub on Everything

Cats live by their scent. If their home is filled with their scent, they are content. To accomplish this, cats rub on things to leave their scent. They have scent pockets all over them, and by rubbing on things (and quite often you) they leave their scent behind. When you leave the house and then return later, you have picked up scents from everywhere you went. Your cat will check out the new smells and then re-mark you with his own scent.

Believe it or not, your cat can smell another cat even if you just brushed against a bush where a strange cat left his mark. You can't smell it, but your cat can. So when your cat keeps smelling you, he is actually smelling where you have been. Then, when rubs on you, he is loving you as well as marking you all over again.

Sleep in Such Weird Positions

Cats have the unusual ability to tie themselves in knots without any difficult. They curl up in unbelievable beds, like vases, because they have vertebrae that allow them to do this. And they take great pride, I think, in displaying this to us continuously.

Scratch Everywhere

Cats need to keep their claws sharp and their home filled with their scent. Cats have scent glands between their claws. Scratching things puts their scent on it, but more importantly helps them to file their claws down so they don't get too long. Long claws can injure you or get stuck in the soft pads of the cat's paws.

To prevent scratching, try offering your cat alternative items to scratch:

  • scratch pads
  • cat trees
  • hanging scratch pads
  • cardboard beds

Place these items in the spots where your cat is scratching. Use two sided tape on the things they have scratched to help remind them not to scratch there. As long as they have an alternative nearby, they will leave your furniture and walls alone. It might take a little bit, so be patient. Trimming your cat's claws can also be a good way to deter furniture scratching.

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Try to Get Out All the Time

Cats are very curious animals. They can smell things that are outside of their home, and they want to check them out. They may also want to defend their home from strays. Or they just want to know what it is like to be outside. I recommend that you keep your cats inside because they could:

  • get hit by a car
  • acquire a serious illness like feline leukemia or rabies
  • get injured in a fight for food or territory
  • climb a tree and get stuck
  • eat something they shouldn't
  • face people who don't like cats
  • get injured by a wild animal

If your cat still wants to go outside, try these ideas:

  • Get a cat yard installed in your yard with forty-five-degree angles over the tops. Make a connecting tunnel using a cat door so your cat can go out into the protected yard whenever he wants.
  • Get a harness and leash to walk your cat on a regular basis. This will help him to smell everything and will give you and your cat exercise.
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Hiss at My Guests and Sometimes Me

There are many reasons why a cat might hiss. For example:

  • They don't like someone's smell
  • There is another cat in or around their environment
  • They are hurt
  • They are frightened
  • Someone has a cat of the same gender that is unfixed
  • You have done something that seriously affected your cat, such as trying to hand him to someone he doesn't like
  • He was previously in an abusive situation
  • He is cornered and frightened

Expose Their Belly to Me

Cats live by their instincts whether they are in a safe home or out in the great outdoors. Keeping their most vulnerable area protected keeps them safe. However, if the cat feels safe with you, they will often show their belly to show their trust. If you try to touch their belly, be careful because some cats will expose their belly but scratch or bite if you touch it.

My cats are thirteen and ten years old. They often show me their belly and let me pet them there, but that wasn't always the case. It takes time and patience for animals to get to that stage. So offer to pet them, but be prepared to move if they swat or nip.

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Miscellaneous Information

Cats do things for a reason, the solution is to discover what that reason is so you can fix the situation. Sometimes cats just want attention from you. They do things to make you see them. They want to play or see outside. They might be bored or lonely.

Sometimes cats are trying to communicate to you. They can't talk, but they can do other things that are saying:

  • my litter box is too dirty for me to use (imagine walking on poop to go poop)
  • I haven't been fed yet
  • I need water
  • something is outside
  • someone is mean
  • even help me get rid of a hairball (there are foods and medications that you can use to help keep your cat free of hairballs).

Cats don't usually scream if they are hurt. This would show weakness to another cat. Be sure you track your cat's usual behavior so that you can see if they are acting differently. This generally means something is wrong such as Illness, injury, danger.

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.

© 2020 Cheryl Simonds

I would love to hear from you.

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

I have had to put many cats down and lost many cats to accidents and illness. I cry for weeks afterwards and still have some of their things in the house. Of course, they have different owners now, since I could never give up having cats. Cheryl

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

Pamela, you have been very fortunate. I hope you continue to be smiled on by cats. Cheryl

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

Peggy, thank you. I was hoping to get the word out there for cat people and those who should be cat people. Cheryl

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

Lison, cats are so unusual that I sometimes wonder if they think they are teaching us, LOL. Cheryl

Lison Molina on March 08, 2020:

I would be so sad if my cat died .

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 07, 2020:

I know cats can be a bit of a pain with some of the things they do, but my cat just passed aways in Nov. after 13 1/2 years and I would give anything to have him back. We emptied the litter box weekly and he had his own scratching post so he was a really good cat. He never hissed as us either.

I never let him outside as I I had a cat get hit by a car and didn't want to have that happen again. You covered all the problems that could occur, but I have been pretty fortunate where cats are concerned.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 07, 2020:

For people who are not familiar with the antics and behaviors of cats, this is useful information to know.

Lison Molina on March 07, 2020:

True ,sometimes i find my cat on the toilet .