10 Common Cat Behaviors Explained

Cats are especially expressive creatures, and they’re constantly telling you exactly how they’re feeling – all you have to do is learn to “speak cat”! Here are 10 common cat behaviors interpreted, so that you can understand their needs and personality better:

  1. Sniffing your face: Cats rely heavily on their strong sense of smell to give them information about food, prey, and their general surroundings. When a cat sniffs your face, they’re simply trying to commit your scent to memory. It helps them build trust and familiarity, so let your cat sniff away!
  2. Rubbing cheeks on everything: When a cat rubs their cheeks against your hand, the doorway, furniture, or other objects around the house they are essentially marking their territory. Cats have scent glands around their mouth, chin, and cheeks that leave behind their unique scent when rubbed. This behavior is known as “bunting.”
  3. Slow blink: You may have noticed your cat studying you from afar, with a relaxed gaze and a slow-motion blink. When your cat slow-blinks, they’re telling you they are comfortable in your presence and enjoy your company. You can return the gesture by slowing shutting your eyes and opening them.
  4. Head-butts: When it comes to showing affection, our feline friends don’t hold back. Some cats like to butt their heads against your hand or face to ask for attention or head scratches. This is a friendly and loving gesture between cat and human, and means your cat is in the mood to be social.
  5. Kneading: Also known as “making biscuits,” cats sometimes make a kneading gesture with their front paws. This behavior has its roots in kittens’ activity when nursing, and it can be comforting and calming to cats of any age. It used to be believed that this behavior was a sign the cat was weaned from their mother too soon, but there is little evidence to support this.
  6. Surprise “gifts”: Cats are known for their excellent hunting abilities, and although housecats no longer need these skills to feed themselves, their instinct to hunt is still strong. It’s not uncommon for cats to bring their humans the remains of a dead (or live!) rodent or bird. If your cat does this, it’s because they are trying to mother you or teach you to hunt.
  7. Purring: A cat’s purr is recognized as a sign of contentment, but cats actually purr for a few different reasons. For instance, cats sometimes purr to calm themselves down when sick, stressed, or injured. Purring releases endorphins that can reduce pain, and the small vibrations can even help with healing.
  8. Chattering: Chattering is a funny sound cats commonly make when watching a bird through the window. Cats chatter to mimic the chirps and chatters that birds make, or that their prey would make. Some people believe that chattering indicates their frustration at not being able to hunt or catch the bird they are watching. Or, it could be a sign of eager excitement.
  9. Lying belly up: A cat is at their most vulnerable state when lying with an upturned belly and legs spread out. Lying belly up means your cat is comfortable, relaxed, and trusting. When they lie in this position, they are saying, “I feel safe around you.” Flopping down and rolling over at your feet might also be an invitation for petting or snuggles.
  10. Tail curved around you: Cats aren’t always so If your cat snuggles up to you and wraps their tail around you, he or she is giving you a hug!

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