Why does my cat… it’s a valid question. As a group, we felines have a reputation for being quite mysterious. Far be it from me to destroy your illusions. But since you asked…
Calling on my Mom for assistance, I decided to compile a list of the top five “why does my cat” google predictions (at least today’s predictions…). And don’t forget to check out my “Why Does My Dog” post. So here they are in descending order. Google’s top five cat inquiries:
Well, it’s not exactly universal. Some cats (especially my Bengal and Maine Coon friends) may actually be quite fond of water. But it’s true that felines, in general, are not known for our aquatic loving personalities. And there are a few reasons why.
First of all, if I didn’t come up with the idea on my own, I want no part of it. Really, who thinks that picking up a perfectly happy cat and placing her in a tub full of water is a good idea? If I wanted to play in the water, I would do so. Without any human assistance. I am, in fact, quite capable of cleaning myself, thank you very much.
Because domestic cats are descended from desert-dwelling wildcats, an affinity for water would be maladaptive. Basically, because our ancestors lived in a desert, it would serve us well to have a dislike of the wet stuff, since it was pretty scarce.
And, good gracious, having a wet fur coat is an absolute nightmare! The tiny barbs on a cat tongue have to clean, fluff, and organize every little hair on the body. When fur becomes a wet, heavy, soggy mess, let’s just say it feels a lot like sadness.
Kneading, making bread, making biscuits, massaging, making dough. We all know the motion of which I speak. Extend paw swords, grab the warmest, coziest piece of bedding, cloth, or human flesh available, squeeze, release, and repeat.
So what’s the deal with that? Well, making biscuits is actually one of the first motions that kittens develop after birth. As they nurse from the mother, the kneading motion stimulates milk let down. The kneading motion is also soothing for the kitten, almost like a pacifier in baby humans. The paws also contain scent glands, so this can also help as a territorial marker.
Domestic cats actually retain many of their juvenile traits into adulthood. Kneading can be among those behaviors. Cats knead for a few reasons. Sometimes it just helps fluff the pillows. But most of the time it’s a sign of affection and contentment. And it means your feline claims you as her own. So the next time you feel those little daggers sink deep into your leg, don’t get all bent out of shape. Just be honored, and get that baby some nail caps.
Uhhh, because they’re so friggin’ cute! But maybe that’s not the most scientific answer. Let me try this again.
Whiskers (or vibrissae) are long, tactile hairs that cats (among other animals) use to navigate their surroundings. Cats typically have whiskers around the mouth, above the eyes, and near the back of the carpus (or wrists). The tactile sensitivity of whiskers is quite useful for critters that navigate at night in the dark. (And, of course, I personally find them particularly useful for any kind of navigation!)
If a whisker gets plucked (don’t even let it cross your little pea brains!), it is extremely painful. If cut the present whiskers will not grow longer. They will eventually be shed, just like the normal hair coat. Once shed, they will be replaced with healthy vibrissae.
So if you find a whisker laying around the house, or if for some reason your feline friend had to get her whiskers clipped, no need to panic. She will still be able to balance and find her way around. She may have less coordination in areas of poor visualization. But, never fear, like the springtime after a long winter, her whiskers will bloom once again.
?? Do people really ask this? My question is, “why do humans waste so much time on pointless chitter chatter?” Really, folks. Count the number of words the average human speaks in a day and compare that to even the most loquacious feline (yes, I’m talking about you, Siamese friends). Not even close, is it? We felines only speak when we have something important to say.
This question can actually get into some pretty serious stuff, so let’s start with the basics. Meowing is another juvenile behavior that some cats maintain as adults. But, in fact, most cats don’t use meows to communicate with one another. That is reserved almost solely for their human companions. (Let’s be honest – most humans suck at reading cat body language).
Cats may vocalize out of boredom, for attention, for food, or to express frustration. But excessive vocalization could be the sign of something more serious. Pain, anxiety, or illness can all make a cat meow. Hormonal imbalances, metabolic illness, arthritis, or cognitive dysfunction are a few of the broad categories of problems that need to be investigated. So any time a feline seems to have increased vocalizations, she needs to be examined by the vet right away to make sure there is no serious underlying illness.
Just like kneading and meowing, purring is a juvenile behavior that domestic cats retain into adulthood. Kittens with their mothers will purr even before their eyes are opened. And their mother will most likely purr back. It is a sign of mutual affection and contentment. Adult cats also purr to communicate with each other. Watch my brothers Milton and Isaac showing affection through allogrooming and purring.
But all keen cat observers know that purring is not always a sign that a feline is happy. In times of distress, pain, giving birth, or severe anxiety, purring can be used as a method of self-comfort and healing. In fact, the low frequency of a purr has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and healing effects on bones and joints, muscles, and soft tissues.There has been an association between purring and decreased stress levels and possibly decreased heart attacks in humans.
So don’t say your cat friend never did anything for you. As for my mom, she insists that she can’t sleep without a purring cat on her head.
Of course, googling an animal’s behavior may be a fun idea. As long as the animal isn’t sick. If you think your cat is acting off in any way, bring her in for a check-up at the vet’s immediately. Felines are notorious for hiding illness, so by the time a human notices something is amiss, it’s usually pretty bad.
For more interesting feline facts, check out the book Answers to the 50 Questions Cat Lovers Ask.
If you have any pet questions of your own, you are welcome to contact me, and I’ll do my best to answer. In the meantime, make sure you keep your dear feline friends purring for joy.
Until next time… keeping Pebbles Strong.
Dog’s breath. Even in the nicest of canines, it can reek like a…
As most of you probably know by now, my mom is a veterinarian. In…