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6 Weird Cat Behaviors Decoded

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Six quirky cat behaviors explained.
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A tabby cat standing next to a broken flowerpot.

Any cat owner can attest to their pet's quirky personality. But sometimes those odd tendencies are frustrating, like when your cat knocks over a glass of water on your nightstand while you're sleeping. That weird cat behavior isn't just a quirk of your particular pet — it can be behavioral or evolutionary. And while there are some antics you should generally discourage, the reason behind them is often very sweet. Here are six weird cat behaviors decoded.

 

Why Do Cats Close Their Eyes When You Pet Them?

While your cat can't speak your language, they have their own ways of communicating. One of those is with their eyes. If your cat closes their eyes when you pet them, they're saying they feel safe and trust you completely. If they're giving long, slow blinks, that's usually their way of saying, "I love you." So feel free to do it right back at them.

 

Why Do Cats Lick Plastic Bags?

Have you ever brought home plastic bags from a shopping trip and then turned around to discover your cat licking one? There are two theories on why they do this:

  • It tastes good. Some vets think cats lick plastic because certain bags contain animal fat, known as tallow, or they may also have fish oils or scales in them. Or your cat might smell food that was once in the bag. Just as the smell of a delicious meal is tempting to you, the lingering scent on plastic bags can tempt your cat.
  • They like the sound of it. Another theory is the sound of plastic mimics the sound of catching a rodent, which cats love to do.

It's important to keep your cat from eating any foreign objects. Keep plastic bags out of reach and provide cat toys instead. If you're concerned about their tendencies to chew or lick other objects, speak to your vet about other reasons they could be doing it.

 

Why Do Cats Put Their Butt in Your Face?

Although it may gross you out to have their tail in your face, your cat has the best of intentions. They're showing you they love and trust you by putting themselves in a vulnerable position. Don't worry — you don't need to reciprocate this one. Just give them a nice pet and they'll appreciate it.

 

Why Do Cats Eat Grass and Plants?

It's frustrating to come home to discover that your cat chewed up your houseplant. There are a couple of reasons why your pet might do this:

  • Plants are a source of fiber and nutrients. While your cat may live in domestic bliss, they still have evolutionary instincts. If your cat lived in the wild, they would get their nutrients from the natural surroundings — and greenery is a great source of fiber. Plus, grass can act as a natural laxative.
  • They're bored. Cats sleep a lot, but they want entertainment when they're awake. Playing with (and chewing on) houseplants is one way they keep themselves busy. It's also a way to get your attention. Keep cat toys around, so they have other things to focus on.

Keep in mind that many plants are poisonous to cats, so be sure to speak to your vet about what is suitable to have in your home and yard.

 

Why Do Cats Knead Their Paws?

A cat's tendency to knead stems from when they were a kitten and kneaded to stimulate milk production from their mother. As cats get older, they associate it with comfort, and when they knead (often accompanied by loud purring), they are expressing their happiness. If your cat tends to knead with their claws out, this behavior can serve as a good reminder to keep their nails trimmed.

 

Why Does My Cat Knock Things Over?

Many cat owners struggle with their pets knocking things over, whether it's a glass on a table or books off a shelf. Here are two theories why your cat might have this annoying habit:

  • It's fun to swat at things. Cats use their sensitive paws to check objects out and they enjoy playing with all sorts of things, from cat toys to prey.
  • They want attention. Few things say "stop ignoring me" like knocking something over. And that's why cats often do this while you're sleeping. It's best not to give them the attention they're looking for when they misbehave like this, because that reinforces their frustrating behavior.

Cats are endlessly quirky creatures with all kinds of unusual behaviors. While some of them can be annoying, it turns out that oftentimes your pet is simply trying to show you their love.

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A tabby cat sniffing a water glass.

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