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 she always push things off the counter? And what makes her curl her upper lip and hold her 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 she’s not shy about letting you know. But why does she want in so badly? It could be that your cat just wants to cuddle. Or more likely, she’s learned that you feed her in the morning when you wake up, so the sooner she wakes you, the sooner she feasts. Logic!

The answer? Try giving her a cozy bed sprinkled with catnip in another room. Or initiate a play session before bed so she can chase a feather toy or laser pointer until she’s exhausted enough to sleep through the night. You can also provide her with a food puzzle or timer box to distribute her 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 her 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 her off the counters. Determine which feathered or furred toys she prefers and rotate them throughout the week to keep her 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 Her Mouth

Have you ever noticed your cat sniff at your shirt, then hold her mouth open with that faraway look in her eyes? It’s called the flehmen reaction, and it’s her way of getting a better whiff of the scent — with her 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 her 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 her front paws into you like she’s kneading bread dough? Also known as “making biscuits,” it’s an instinctive behavior that usually starts when a newborn kitten kneads her 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? They may just be her 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.