Cats are notoriously mysterious, but veterinarian Dr. Jeff Werber explains that your cat’s behavior may tell you more than you think.
“Compared to dogs, it is much harder to decipher a cat’s behavior to know what is going on behind those glass-like eyes,” says Werber. If you’re stumped by a change in your kitty’s patterns, he suggests that you consider a constellation of factors before determining what prompted the behavioral change. It could be a medical issue, or your cat could just be mad at you. Werber also says, “If you know your cat and spend time with your cat, you’ll be in the best position to interpret the following behaviors.”
1. Kneading: I’m happy
I always assumed a kneading cat was just treating me like a litter box, but Werber says that kneading behavior is a sign of happiness. “Kneading signals contentment and harkens back to nursing behavior.”
2. Eating grass: My stomach hurts
Sometimes cats just like to eat grass, but noshing on greens can also signal a medical problem. “She might have a digestion issue,” Werber explains. If your cat is eating grass, watch closely and take it to the vet if you feel concerned about tummy woes.
3. Pooping in your bed: I’m angry
There’s nothing quite like jumping into a bed with a hidden cat turd in it, and your cat probably knows it. “If you just got a second cat, or a dog, or a baby and your cat starts pooping in your bed, it’s probably personal,” Werber says. Yes, pooping in your bed often means your cat is mad at you. However, the litter box might just be too dirty for your cat’s sensibilities. Keep it fresh by cleaning it regularly.
4. Watching outdoor activity: I’m embracing my inner hunter
What’s going through the mind of a kitty that is watching birds outside? “Visual interaction with the outdoors is how your cat engages her hunter instinct,” Werber says. In other words, your cat is dreaming of leaping into hunting action. “You can purchase interactive toys, like lasers or feathers on a pole, to help her feel like she’s hunting indoors, too.”
5. Salivating excessively: I’m in pain
Werber says that a drooling cat may have one of two things going on. It may have a broken tooth or could have ingested a plant that is hurting its stomach. Either way, it’s a good idea to call the vet.
6. Hiding: I’m sick
Cats like to hide, but if you notice a change in your cat’s hiding behaviors, it could be trying to tell you something. Werber explains that cats will often isolate themselves when they’re sick, so keep an eye on the behavior and intervene if it gets worse.
7. Urinating outside the box: I’m mad
Cats will often spray or urinate outside the box if they are angry with you. My blind cat Snowball was mad at me all the time growing up, so he was constantly spraying my room. It was gross. But Werber says that cats will also urinate outside the box if they have a urinary tract infection. “If your cat is going in and out of the litter box crying, you’ll need to take her to the vet immediately.”
8. Excessive grooming: I’m anxious
Too much licking? Your cat could have anxiety. “Excessive grooming can be an anxiety issue, or it could indicate a skin problem,” Werber says.
9. Not eating: My mouth hurts
“Not eating could be a sign of an oral health problem, such as a gum or tooth issue. Or it could be that she’s sick of the brand of food or mad that you moved the dish,” Werber says. Watch closely. If food is falling out of your cat’s mouth when it tries to eat, call the vet for an oral health check. If your cat’s just being a diva about its food, it will get over it eventually.
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