The 27 Most Amazing & Useful Cat Behavior Facts

Facts about cat behavior:

  • They spend 50% of their day grooming themselves
  • When they climb up a tree, they can’t go downwards
  • They only meow to humans and not cats
  • Playing keeps them healthy
  • They knead on their owners to mark territory
  • Cats have over 100 vocalizations
  • Purring doesn’t always mean a happy cat

If you have ever wondered if you can know all about your cat’s behavior, you have come to the right place.

This article will list the most interesting and useful cat behavior facts.

Even if you consider yourself a cat expert, there is always a thing or two you can learn here. Keep reading to know more.


1. Cats spend 30-50% of their day grooming themselves

You have probably seen your cat licking its fur, but never thought they spend so much time grooming themselves.

Every cat has its grooming ritual. But most cats begin with licking their mouth, chin, and whiskers first.

Then they proceed to lick each shoulder and foreleg, and then the flanks, hind flanks, genitals, and tail from tip to end. 

Grooming is behavior they learn from kittenhood. Mother cats teach their kittens to groom themselves when they are very young. By the time they are weaned, kittens are self-bathing.

The importance of grooming involves more than just keeping the cats looking good. Licking stimulates the production of sebum which is responsible for protecting the fur, and making it shine.

Grooming also removes loose hair, dirt, and parasites like fleas. It also cools them down on a hot day. Cats that are sick may not groom themselves and have an unkempt look.


2. Cats can jump as high as five times their height

A cat’s jumping ability is impressive. They have a very flexible spinal column, and extremely powerful legs that propel them upward.

That’s why you will see your cat effortlessly jumping on top of kitchen counters, tables, and beds.

You may have noticed that when a cat is about to make a high jump, they will twist their bodies so it seems like they are fidgeting and nervous.

In reality, though, it is testing its starting surface for stability, judging the distance to be covered, and estimating how much force it will need to exert to do a successful leap.

A cat needs to make all these calculations, because in a short time it will be releasing a lot of energy, and this requires a lot of effort.

A cat will also use its tail for balance, and to maintain its body’s orientation when jumping.


3. When cats climb a tree they can’t go downwards.

We have all heard stories of cats stuck up in a tree. The reason is that they are afraid to go down, but it mainly has to do with their paw makeup.

 A cat’s claws are designed to propel them upwards.

Once up, a cat may have trouble coordinating its hind and front feet. Their claws are facing downward, so they have to go down a tree backward.


4. Cats only meow to humans and not other cats

One common vocalization that all cat owners understand is a meow. However, this form of communication is mainly directed to humans. 

Adult cats don’t meow to each other. They meow to humans to say hello, ask for food, be let in, solicit attention, and inform us when there is something wrong.

Cats have learned that meowing gets humans to do what they want.


5. Purring doesn’t always mean a happy cat

The purr has long been known to be a sign of feline contentment. They purr when being petted, groomed, or playing with their owner.

However, cats don’t only purr when they are happy. They purr when they are sick, dying, or giving birth.


6. Cats knead on you to mark their territory

Experts have tried to come up with various explanations as to why cats knead. One being that a cat kneading on you is marking its territory.

They have scent glands located on their paws. When a cat gives you that gentle massage, it’s depositing its scent on you, marking you as a member of its tribe.

Cats feel calm and relaxed when kneading. It also is a self-soothing behavior they picked up as kittens when they used to knead on their mother’s belly to stimulate milk production.


7. Cats bouncing off walls is normal

Kittens are known to be especially playful and energetic. Yet, even adult cats can jump up and down on the furniture, and go a little crazy.

Sometimes this can be a reaction to catnip which can make a cat act weird for a short time.

Bouncing off walls is part of the playful activity of felines. All this activity is normal, but it can lead to injuries.


8. Cats chew on weird things due to boredom or illness

Some cats will chew on odd things like rubber bands, wool blankets, or plastic bags. This can be due to boredom, illness, or anxiety.

This behavior can also be seen in cats that were weaned too early, and feel the urge to nurse on soft items.

Even though the habit might seem amusing, it is dangerous and can lead to choking, and other problems.


9. Cats love to sleep in tight places

You might set up a cozy cat bed for your furry friend, but they decide to squeeze into tight small spaces like drawers and bathroom cabinets, and sleep there.

Such places help them feel safe and secure. It is a behavior that can be traced back to their ancestors in the wild who would sleep in tight corners, hidden away from predators.


10. Cats are active at dawn and dusk

Cats like to sleep all day but are active and alert at night. This can be a habit they retained from their ancestors in the wild who liked to hunt in low light to take advantage of their keen eyesight.


11. Cats spend 70% of their lives sleeping

If you think your cat sleeps a lot, you are right. According to Veterinary Hub, cats spend 70% of their lives sleeping.

That translates to around 13 to 16 hours of sleep a day.


12. Cats walk like camels and giraffes

The walking sequence of a cat is both right feet first, followed by both left feet. So just like giraffes and camels, they move half of their bodies forward at once.

In fact, these are the only animals that walk that way.


13. A house cat can reach speeds of up to 30mph

Just watching a cat run around the house playing with its toys, can give us an idea of how fast it can be.

They can hit speeds of up to 30 mph, which means they can beat Usain Bolt in a 200-meter race.


14. Cats may yawn as a way to end confrontation with another animal

It’s interesting to know that cats can be sassy even during a confrontation. Even though they normally yawn after waking up as they stretch, cats also yawn in times of conflict.

They yawn to peacefully end a standoff with another cat or animal. It’s as if they are saying “talk to the hand’” This could be a subtle show of dominance.

If you yawn at a cat, you are telling them you mean no harm.


15. Cats have up to 100 vocalizations

Most of us cat owners are familiar with the meow vocalization. Some cat behaviorists suggest that cats developed the human meow after they were domesticated, and there are different tones for different requests.

The “feed me” meow is different from the “I am not happy meow.” Humans know the distinction between these different meows.

There is also the growl when your cat feels threatened, and is about to attack another animal or person. Cats hiss when in distress or warning others not to approach.

Purring is a sign of a happy and content cat.

Besides these sounds, cats can produce almost 100 vocalizations.


16. Cats like to sleep on their owner’s dirty laundry

Cats are clean animals that like to groom themselves each time. So their attraction to dirty laundry might seem strange.

Your cat likes to sleep on dirty laundry due to the distinct odor. Cats can detect their owner’s unique scent, and your clothing smells distinctly like you.

This gives your cat familiarity and comfort while it rests.


17. Cats like privacy when using the litterbox

The best places for litter boxes for cats are quiet, easy-to-reach corners that offer privacy.

Cats prefer to do their business in a private area, free from traffic, away from food and water bowls.

Location is a major factor to consider when choosing where to put your cat’s litter box.


18 Cats can heal themselves through purring

Many cats purr when they are in pain or hurt. It might be a way to soothe themselves, but purring helps cats get better faster.

A domestic cat’s purr has a frequency of between 25 and 150 Hertz. This happens to be the same frequency at which muscles and bones best grow, and repair themselves.

The low series of vibrations within their body can:

  • Ease breathing
  • Lessen pain and swelling
  • Heal bones and wounds
  • Build muscle and repair tendon

This probably explains why cats can survive high falls, and recover quickly after surgery.


19. Cats can get jealous of other cats or humans

Cats may show jealousy when their owner is paying more attention to another pet or person.

For example, if you used to spend a lot of time playing with your cat, and the arrival of a new baby has diverted your attention, a cat can get jealous.

The cat feels threatened by the presence of another cat, or a new member of the family. Signs of jealousy in cats are eliminating outside the litterbox, knocking over glasses, spraying over walls, and other vertical surfaces.


20. Cats’ rear on your face is a sign of friendship

Frankly, humans might not find this body language so appealing; it’s disgusting. But if you want to understand why cats show humans their butt, think of it from the cat’s perspective.

Tail sniffing is normal among felines as part of cat talk. When cats greet each other for the first time, they sniff each other’s faces and necks.  This could be like nodding to a stranger.

Once they feel comfortable with each other, the cats progress to sniffing the anal area. This could be similar to a handshake while saying “nice to meet you.”


21. Play has health benefits for cats

Cats love to be mentally, and physically stimulated. You will see them running around the yard chasing objects, or even playing with your feet. Cats love to play with their owners.

Play is not just for fun and games. It helps kittens learn survival skills like chasing, hunting, and stalking.

This basic instinct to hunt remains strong even in indoor cats. Play is also important to keep your cat happy, and healthy.

Play provides important exercise for cats and also helps them maintain a healthy weight. It’s the best way to prevent behavioral problems that can arise from boredom.  


22. Cats stick out their tongues to pick up chemical signals

Sometimes a cat will stop what it’s doing, stare into space and stick its tongue out. This lasts for a few seconds and then stops.

But the cat normally forgets to pull back its tongue right back in, and humans catch sight of that portion of the tongue sticking out.

There is a scientific explanation for this goofy behavior. It is called the Flehmen response.

It happens when the cat is curious about something, and is busy analyzing some interesting chemical signals it has picked up from the air.

The scent is collected in the mouth, and the tongue flicks it up into a special organ. This action can be used to pick up sex hormones of other cats, or other interesting smells in the air, such as your dirty clothes.

These chemical cues help a cat feel secure in its environment.


23. Cats don’t always land on their feet

Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t always land on their feet when they fall. However, they always manage to get their four paws on the ground.

Felines have a fantastic sense of balance. If they sense they are plummeting downwards, they twist their backbones mid-air.

This makes it possible to adjust their positions, so they don’t fall flat on the ground.

Additionally, cats can spread their 4 legs out, creating a “parachute effect” in the air. This means their fall isn’t going to be hard.


24. Cats naturally walk on their tiptoes

This is what makes cats so light on their feet. They walk on their toes and this gives them their amazing pouncing ability.

Cats are digitigrade mammals.


25. Cats can hunt accurately almost in complete darkness

Cats have sharp vision even in a poorly lit environment. That’s why they can see a mouse or small insect passing by even in almost pitch darkness.

The back of a cat’s eye has a reflective layer called tapetum lucidum. Its function is to collect all available light, intensify it and reflect it out to the retina.

This allows a cat to be able to process images even in almost complete darkness. This unique ability allows them to stay a step ahead of predators.


26. Slow blink is a cat kiss and worth a thousand beautiful words

The eye blink is a way cats signal that their intentions are not hostile.

It is when a cat looks at its owner and slowly intentionally opens and closes its eyes. This is a sure way a cat shows it loves and trusts the owner completely.

Cats blink slowly at humans they trust. They also use this signal to smooth their interactions with other cats.

Jackson Galaxy, a cat behavior expert, says there are some pretty strong feelings behind the slow cat blink.

The fact that a cat is willing to close its eyes in the presence of another, shows they are allowing themselves to be vulnerable to that person.  

In fact, a slow blink is often considered the equivalent of a kiss to their human owners. It is a sign of affection.

Cat owners are encouraged to blink back slowly at their cats.


27. Climbing in high places makes a cat feel safe

Cats, in general, like high places and are great climbers. As I mentioned earlier, our feline friends can jump up to 5 times their heights. This behavior is genetic because cats are natural predators.

Being on high ground gives them a better view of their surroundings. This makes cats feel safe because they are sure they can watch any predators approaching.

A cat will also prefer to climb to hide. Perhaps a kitten keeps bothering an adult cat. It will occupy the highest perch for a nice catnap without being disturbed.

You can buy a cat tree or cat perch for your cat if they enjoy climbing high shelves, above the refrigerator, or cabinets.

Writer: Flora Ojow

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