Have you ever found yourself observing your cat’s behavior and wondering why they do some of the odd things they do? We’re right there with you! Cats have their idiosyncrasies – just like other animals and people – but some of these curiosities are unique to felines.
At Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital, we receive many questions and comments from our cat-loving clients. Below are answers to some of the most frequent cat questions we hear.
10 Common Cat Questions From Perplexed Cat Lovers
Why do they do it? Let’s explore!
- Can cats really jump 8 times their body length? Well, not quite 8 times, but they can jump approximately 5 times their height from a standing position. No wonder they seem like tiny panthers!
- Why do cats like boxes? Finding a tight space to hide out is an instinctual behavior in cats, both wild and domestic. This can help them gain an advantage over their prey, where they can watch them unseen. Boxes also provide mental enrichment and, like you might have guessed, another place to nap.
- Do females “spray” like males? There’s a misconception among pet owners that only male cats spray (urinate) to mark their territory. While it’s true this behavior is more often seen in males, females also do this to denote territory.
- Are cats smarter than dogs? Intelligence in pets is typically associated with an animal’s ability to be trained. This is widely debated. Yes, it’s true that dogs can master verbal commands, but it’s equally true in the animal kingdom that skills like stealth, hunting, and dexterity are more important than simple parlor tricks. We’re certain cats are intelligent in ways that are unique to their species.
- Why does my cat wipe their face on my furniture (and my leg)? Cats have several scent glands on their face. Rubbing up against you and your belongings is a way to mark their territory. Consider it a sign of love.
- Where did the idea that cats have nine lives come from? While we’re not sure of its exact origin, an old English proverb states: “A cat has nine lives. For three, he plays; for three, he strays; and for the last three, he stays.” Since nine was once perceived by the Greeks as a number associated with magic, the notion that cats (who are sacred animals in their own right) have nine lives just stuck around. But, of course, this isn’t true.
- How do I know if my cat’s happy? Happiness can manifest in a number of ways in cats. Look for: playfulness, relaxed appearance, good appetite, curiosity, purring, rubbing against you (see above), and great health.
- Why do cats knead? Kneading is a behavior left over from kittenhood. Cats do this to release milk from their mother’s mammary glands. Kneading also helps them prepare a more comfortable bed for wherever they choose to nap.
- Why do cats have whiskers? Whiskers are sensitive organs that help a cat (and many other animals) navigate tight crawl spaces, avoid harm to the eyes, and detect subtle changes in the wind in order to discern movement from prey.
- Why are cats afraid of water? Some cats, both in the wild and certain breeds like Maine Coons, seem to be unperturbed by water. However, it’s thought that cats avoid water because it weighs them down when they’re wet. Therefore, it’s more difficult for them to escape quickly or catch prey.