cat scratching

Few animals have inspired more internet videos than the cat. Why? Because cats keep us baffled with their oddball behaviors. Why does your cat scratch doors? Why must they always push things off the counter? And what makes them curl their upper lip and hold their mouth open as if in a daze? Well, we have some answers to your questions about kitty’s baffling habits.

There’s a Cat at the Door

Have you been forced to banish your cat from your bedroom so you can get a good night’s sleep? Well, your cat wants in. And they are not shy about letting you know. But why do they want in so badly? It could be that your cat just wants to cuddle. Or more likely, they have learned that you feed them in the morning when you wake up, so the sooner they wake you, the sooner they feast. Logic!

The answer? Try giving them a cozy bed sprinkled with catnip in another room. Or initiate a play session before bed so they can chase a feather toy or laser pointer until they are exhausted enough to sleep through the night. You can also provide them with a food puzzle or timer box to distribute their food without bothering you.

Some cats scratch at doors simply because they like the texture. Scratching helps remove the outer sheath of their nails, allows them to mark the object with the scent glands in their paws, and it’s a great way to stretch. Give your cat a more acceptable alternative with a scratching post or climbing tree, and trim their nails regularly.

What’s Up on the Counter Must Come Down

Another popular kitty behavior is pushing pens, TV remotes and glass vases off of the counter (or any other high surface). What’s up with that? Typically, it’s a bored kitty trying to prod some object into motion, leading to a game of chase. Better yet, the sound of things shattering usually brings a human to the scene — so your cat gets attention — and the naughty behavior is reinforced.

There’s a two-part solution: (1) Ward off kitty boredom with scheduled playtime every day and (2) Try to keep them off the counters. Determine which feathered or furred toys they prefer and rotate them throughout the week to keep them interested. Then, make the counters less attractive as a perch by covering them with surfaces and textures cats typically don’t like, such as tinfoil or cardboard.

Smelling With Their Mouth

Have you ever noticed your cat sniff at your shirt, then hold their mouth open with that faraway look in their eyes? It’s called the flehmen reaction, and it’s their way of getting a better whiff of the scent — with their mouth. Cats have a unique batch of sensory cells called the Jacobson’s organ, located on the roof of their mouths. By drawing a scent into their mouth and over the organ, your cat can better interpret the scent in question.

There’s no need for a solution to this, but now you know why it happens!

Your Cat Kneads You

Does your cat rhythmically paddle their front paws into you like they are kneading bread dough? Also known as “making biscuits,” it’s an instinctive behavior that usually starts when a newborn kitten kneads their mother’s chest to start the milk flowing. Cats often continue this behavior later in life as a way to calm themselves down, to mark you with the scent glands in their paw pads or just because they feel comfortable with you.

What about your cat’s other weird behaviors? That may just be their way of keeping you guessing.

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.