As a popular domesticated animal, cats exhibit a variety of peculiar behaviors that can seem confusing or amusing to their owners. From rubbing their heads against objects to sudden bursts of energy, many cat behaviors carry underlying meaning and can tell us something about how our feline friends perceive the world. In this article, we will explore the meanings behind some of the most common cat behaviors and what they might be trying to communicate to us.

Understanding Your Feline Friend

Cats are fascinating creatures, and any cat owner knows that they can be both loving and mysterious. While cats have a reputation for being aloof and independent, they still communicate with their owners in various ways. Understanding cat behavior is essential for cat owners to take better care of their feline friends. In this article, we will explore some common cat behaviors and what they mean.

Body Language

Cats communicate mostly through body language. Understanding feline body language can help you understand your cat’s mood, needs, and intentions. Here are some common body language cues:

  • Ears: When a cat’s ears are forward, it usually means they are relaxed and happy. But when their ears are flattened against their head, it can indicate fear, aggression, or discomfort.
  • Tail: A cat’s tail is a good indicator of their mood. When a cat’s tail is straight up, it means they are happy and confident. But when the tail is puffed up or tucked between their legs, it can indicate fear or anxiety.
  • Eyes: A cat’s eyes can reveal a lot about their mood. When a cat’s pupils are dilated, it can indicate excitement or fear. But when their pupils are constricted, it can indicate aggression or discomfort.


Cats are vocal animals, and they use different sounds to communicate with their owners. Here are some common vocalizations and what they mean:

  • Meowing: Cats meow for various reasons, such as to ask for food, attention, or to greet their owners. But excessive meowing can indicate stress, anxiety, or illness.
  • Purring: A cat’s purring can mean that they are happy and content. But purring can also indicate pain or discomfort.
  • Hissing: When a cat hisses, it usually means they are scared or feel threatened. Hissing can also indicate aggression or discomfort.
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Play Behavior

Cats are natural hunters, and they love to play. Play behavior is essential for a cat’s physical and mental health. But play behavior can also reveal a lot about a cat’s personality and mood. Here are some common play behaviors and what they mean:

  • Chasing: When a cat chases a toy or another cat, it means they are engaging in natural hunting behavior. Chasing can also indicate that a cat is bored or has excess energy.
  • Scratching: Cats scratch to stretch their muscles, mark their territory, and sharpen their claws. But excessive scratching can indicate stress or anxiety.
  • Biting: When a cat bites during play, it usually means they are overstimulated or excited. But biting can also indicate aggression or discomfort.

Eating Behaviors

Cats are notorious for being picky eaters. Understanding your cat’s eating habits can help you make sure they are getting the nutrition they need. Here are some common eating behaviors and what they mean:

  • Not Eating: If your cat is not eating, it could indicate an underlying health issue or stress. If your cat is not eating for more than 24 hours, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian.
  • Grazing: Some cats prefer to graze throughout the day instead of eating at specific times. Grazing can be a healthy eating behavior as long as your cat is maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Overeating: Overeating can lead to obesity and other health issues. If your cat is overeating, it’s essential to monitor their food intake and provide them with a healthy diet.

Sleeping Behaviors

Cats sleep for an average of 16 hours a day, but their sleeping habits can vary depending on their age, health, and environment. Here are some common sleeping behaviors and what they mean:

  • Napping: Cats love to take naps throughout the day. Napping is a healthy sleeping behavior as long as your cat is getting enough sleep overall.
  • Hiding: Sometimes cats will hide when they are feeling anxious or stressed. If your cat is hiding more than usual, it’s essential to determine the cause of their anxiety and provide them with a safe and comfortable space.
  • Cuddling: Cats often cuddle with their owners or other cats for warmth and comfort. Cuddling is a healthy sleeping behavior and can strengthen the bond between you and your cat.
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FAQs for the topic: What do certain cat behaviors mean?

What does it mean when my cat rubs against me?

When your cat rubs against you, it’s a sign of affection. Cats have scent glands on their cheeks, chin, and forehead, and they mark their territory by rubbing against things and people. When your cat rubs against you, they are not only showing you affection, but they are also marking you as part of their territory. So, when your cat rubs against you, it’s a compliment, and it means they trust you and feel comfortable around you.

Why does my cat knead me with their paws?

Kneading is a common behavior in cats, and it’s a sign that your cat is feeling relaxed, happy, and content. Kneading is a behavior that kittens do to their mothers while nursing, and it’s a way for them to stimulate milk production. As cats grow older, they continue to knead as a way to show affection, and they associate the motion with feelings of comfort and security. So, when your cat kneads you with their paws, it’s a sign that they feel safe and happy.

What does it mean when my cat brings me dead animals?

Cats are natural hunters, and it’s not uncommon for outdoor cats to bring their owners gifts of dead animals. While it may seem gross to us, it’s a sign of affection and trust for your cat. In the wild, cats bring food to their young, and when your cat brings you a dead animal, it’s their way of showing you that they see you as a member of their family. If your cat is an outdoor cat, it’s important to make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations to prevent the transmission of diseases.

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Why does my cat scratch everything?

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, and it’s their way of marking their territory, stretching their muscles, and sharpening their claws. Cats have scent glands in their paws, and when they scratch, they are leaving a mark that says, “this is mine.” To prevent your cat from scratching furniture and other items in your home, provide them with a scratching post or pad, and make it more appealing by sprinkling catnip on it. Teaching them to scratch only on their designated scratching item.

What does it mean when my cat licks me?

Licking is another way that cats show affection for their owners. Mother cats lick their kittens to clean them and stimulate their breathing, and cats continue to lick as a way of showing affection into adulthood. When your cat licks you, they are not only grooming you but also showing you that they trust you and feel comfortable in your presence. Cats are clean creatures, so if your cat licks you frequently, it’s a good sign that they enjoy being around you.

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