7 Weird Cat Behaviors Explained

(PET CARE) All animals do some pretty strange things—human animals included—but cats take the prize for bizarre antics. From elevator butts and head bonks to kneading your lap, find out what your pet cat’s odd behavior means. — Global Animal
Photo Credit: Lyndsey Renee

Photo Credit: Lyndsey Renee

Paw Nation, Amy D. Shojai

We love our cats but don’t always understand their seemingly bizarre behaviors. Sure, some things our cats do are unique to them but other actions are shared by felines the world over. Here are seven weird cat behaviors, and what they mean.

Head bonks.

The first three months I had my cat, her head turned pink from head-bonking my lipstick. Rubbing behavior, which includes the forehead, cheeks, and full-body slams, is called bunting, and it transfers the cat’s signature smell onto objects to mark territory. That means head bonks are kitty compliments declaring you to be so important, he’s marked you as his personal property.

Elevator butt.

You’ve probably seen many cats perform an “elevator butt” pose with their front-end down and tail flagged high. In some instances, it is the equivalent of offering to shake hands as felines sniff each other’s anal areas to say howdy. When your cat jumps into your lap, turns around and raises its tail, he or she is offering you the not-so-pleasant invitation to scratch that hard-to-reach itchy spot at the base of the tail. Intact female cats also do the elevator butt posture to entice male cats to get romantic!

Phone frenzy.

Many cats come running when owners talk on the phone and they pester and meow like they want in on the conversation. What gives? Your cat sees you talking and since there is no one else there, thinks that you must be talking to them. Also, without realizing it, you may be rewarding that behavior by stroking the cat while you are sitting and talking on the phone, which encourages your kitty to come running next time the phone rings.


Why do cats throw themselves onto the ground at your feet and flip back and forth? Sure, sometimes it is because a cat is under the influence of catnip but more often, rolling back and forth places a cat in a vulnerable position, and is a way for cats to request attention. If you you grant the kitty’s wish and fuss over it, your cat knows to do this again the next time he wants your love.

Covering poop.

Owners take for granted that all cats naturally choose to cover potty deposits but this isn’t the case. Some cats — especially unowned roaming felines — may not cover at all as uncovered feces can announce who owns the territory. Some indoor cats also want their potty graffiti seen and admired by the other cats or humans. Though is mom-cat is fastidious about covering her mess, her kittens will copy-cat the behavior.


There are many names for this common rhythmic paw-pushing kitty behavior — treading, making bread, even “pawtycake.” But one thing is clear, the behavior takes hold when felines are very young, as kittens knead against mom-cat’s breasts to stimulate milk flow. When adult cats knead, it generally reflects deep contentment and safety, and yes — love. Cats typically target soft objects such as fuzzy blankets, pillows, or a beloved owner’s lap.

Privacy issues.

Why do some cats immediately seek out their humans the minute they head into the bathroom? First, a closed door is a challenge and an affront to a curious cat which is one reason why you’ll see furry paws reaching under the door or cats racing to join their people in the bathroom. More importantly, the bathroom gives cats a captive audience as people glued to the facilities aren’t able to move away.

More Paw Nation:

Ever wonder how your cat drinks so elegantly? Here’s how…


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

22 Responses to 7 Weird Cat Behaviors Explained

  1. Terri Lupton August 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    Interesting. Mine was born feral and still exhibits certain undesirable behavior 16 years later. I understand the why of the 'uncovered poop' now and why she doesn't do some of the things 'normal' cats do. She doesn't know how to knead very well and doesn't head bump but we accept her as is. She prefers to be talked to rather than touched. She wasn't around humans much until she picked a home for herself and then moved on to their neighbors. They had to move off island and gave her to us and we brought her with us when we moved shortly thereafter; otherwise she may have just continued moving on and picking her own families!

  2. El Murmurs August 20, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    This is News?

  3. Marty Mintman August 20, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    It amazes me how easily my cats are conditioned. Using my electric toothbrush a while back (runs for 2 minutes) and while I am passing the time, I started scratching my cat's head. Now, as soon as he hears the low hum, he knows it is time for head scratchies! Just tickles me to no end! :)

  4. Michael Glenn Smith August 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    I always sing "As Long as He Kneads Me" when I get kneaded. It usually evokes a louder purr.

  5. Kimberly Favara-Gulomov August 19, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Both of my kitties HAVE to be in the bathroom with me – no matter what's going on! They are fascinated by the shower. One will jump on the ledge and watch me and attack the water droplets that land on the curtain. Very silly. And if I have to use the toilet, both of them run and try to jump into my pants and hide in the pant legs. They love to attack each other – one inside the pants and one outside. It's hilarious. They started to do this to my husband as well. The phone frenzy is actually funny. One of my cats does this but only when I speak to certain people (my mother and my best friend). She HAS to be on my lap, walking around and purring. She sometimes tries to bite the phone too. I had no idea why. These are my first two cats and I'm learning quite a bit about cat behavior :D

  6. Michelle Brooks August 19, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    We changed to an organic kitty food, it made a world of difference. She's lost weight and looks healthier as well

  7. Michelle Brooks August 19, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    Haha, my kitty loves to run in when I am in the loo as well. As soon as I sit down she runs over and puts both front paws up on my lap. She never does that any other time! She doesn't jump up, she just puts her paws there and smiles (yes, smiles). Then she wiggles her little tail in a funny snake like motion. She's so sweet. She was an abused kitty we got at a rescue and she has livened up our home in ways I never thought would happen again. I lost my special needs kitty about a year ago and I miss her so much. I had her for 17 years. I never thought I'd get another kitty, and if I did I never thought I'd be able to love her the same. I don't love her the same but I do love her different! I'm so glad we found each other. They are amazing creatures!

  8. Sissy Napolitano August 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    my silly kitty does the same thing

  9. Trish Radil Lendroth August 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    This is neat… my kitty comes running when I am walking around the house singing. Must be the same deal as the phone.

  10. Jacqueline Shumpert August 19, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Crystal Daniel Underwood Smelly Cat…lol


  1. Your Brain Cubed | Understanding the Body Language of Cats and Dogs - May 15, 2013

    […] air. A cat putting it’s butt in the air can mean it is in estrus or it just wants to have it’s butt scratched. Whose to say it can mean one or the other – or both of these things. Certainly difficult to […]

  2. Inside Nature ~ The Dirt: This Week in Nature (April 26-May 2) | Nature | PBS - May 9, 2013

    […] you understand your cat? Global Animal offers several explanations for common but still bizarre cat behaviors and antics. For example, if […]