Why do cats sulk?

Try to imagine the world through a cat's eyes. From way down there on the ground, everything looks pretty big - huge, in fact. Just imagine how big you look to her - especially when you scold her. It isn't what you say so much as how you say it. The poor little thing becomes so intimidated, she just turns her back and refuses - under any condition - to look at you. You may think she is sulking; perhaps even punishing you. But actually it's her way of withdrawing. In order to tone down the threat of hostility from this gigantic creature (meaning you), she's really only avoiding eye contact. When you look down at your cat as you discipline her, she associates your fixed gaze with 'the enemy'. In hostile situations, the dominant cat always stares at her rival, who looks away rather than risk increasing the hostility. When you stare at your cat (especially in an angry way), you become the dominant rival...and, let's face it, you're much bigger and scarier. So when she turns away, she isn't sulking; she has simply surrendered. For many animals, eyes are a signal of power with which to intimidate an enemy. Nature has even lent a helping hand. In comparison to your cat's size, for instance, her eyes are enormous.

Why won't my cat come when I call her?

There's an old joke that goes something like this: When you call a dog, he comes right over to you. When you call a cat, she takes a message and maybe, just maybe, she'll get back to you later. More likely, your cat doesn't answer your call because she's off somewhere snoozing. And, although you think it's important for her to come running (a trip to the vet, bath time, dinner, etc.), she doesn't see any reason to stop what she's doing.

Why does your cat interrupt when you're on the phone?

You're cat interrupts while you are talking on the phone because she actually thinks you're talking to her! You're probably speaking in soft, melodic tones, and that's what Kitty is responding to. (A business call is less likely to result in this behavior.)

Why do cats always run to the one person in the room who doesn't like cats?

When Kitty enters a room full of people, what she actually sees is a room full of other cats - except they're all larger and louder than she is. All these people-cats start staring at Kitty and saying how beautiful and graceful she is. All this staring makes Kitty very uncomfortable. That's when she notices the only person in the room who's not staring at her - the person who doesn't like cats. Kitty is feeling intimidated by all those stares, so she seeks out the safe lap. The only one in the room not moving, not waving their hands, not meowing and not staring is the cat-hater. Kitty makes a beeling right for him or her. For people who don't like cats, next time you are in a room with one pretend like you like her.

What makes cats purr?

The purr comes from two membrane folds, called false vocal cords, that are situated in the larynx behind the actual vocal cords. Cats purr at 26 cycles per second, the same an an idling diesel engine. Cats purr when they inhale and exhale, all the time keeping their mouth completely closed. Scientists think purring is produced by blood in a large vein in the chest cavity that vibrates and is then magnified by air in the windpipe.

Why are cats so curious?

By nature, the cat is an explorer and is constantly on the hunt. So part of the reason for their curiosity is that they're always looking for food.

Do cats dream?

They sure do. Just like humans, cats alternate phases of deep and light sleep. Dreaming occurs during the deep-sleep phase. During a cat's deep-sleep phase, the giveaway to the "Do-they-dream?" mystery is that they move their paws and claws, twitch their whiskers and flick their ears. Sometimes they even vocalize.

Why do cats' tails quiver?

When the tip of her tail is quivering, it can mean mild irritation. But if the tail is erect - and the whole length of it seems to be quivering with joy or excitement - that's exactly what she's trying to tell you.

Why do they 'swish' their tails?

Two of the most likely guesses are. One reason is to get their balance before leaping - like building up a head of steam or cranking up the engine for those flying leaps; and two, to mesmerize the 'prey' they're looking for. Since you kitty can't see prey if the prey 'freezes', she moves her tail to initiate the slightest movement in her target, which she can then spot.

What does it mean when she 'lashes' her tail from side to side?

The tail waving quietly from side to side is a sure sign of contentment; and if she sits quietly with her tail gently wagging back and forth, she's concentrating intently on something. But vigourous lashing back and forth is a clear sign of anger. It signals annoyance, and it's a good sign that she's very upset. A tail-wagging tempo that falls somewhere between heavy-duty and halfhearted can mean your cat feels very indecisive.

What else can 'tails tell'?

When her tail is bent forward over her head, it means she's feeling like top cat; when she waves it quietly from side to side like a lady's fan, she's contented; several quick flicks upward is a greeting - both for you and other cats.

What do the different ear positions mean?

When her ears point forward and slightly outward, she is relaxed and carefully listening to everything that's going on. When they're erect and facing forward, she's alert and ready to investigate a noise she's heard. When they twitch nervously back and forth, she is agitated or anxious. When she flattens her ears tightly against her head, she's signaling annoyance and is feeling defensive. When she's feeling aggressive (but not frightened) she'll put her ears at half-mast - in a position somewhere between alert and defensive.

What can we tell about a cat's behavior from her fur?

When she is scared her hair will stand up on end all over her body. When she feels threatened, however, her hair stands up only in a narrow band along her spine and on her tail. The hair also will incline slightly toward the middle from both sides, and forms a sharp ridge. This is nature's way of making her appear larger than she is to her enemies.

Can we read anything in their whiskers?

When you're pointed forward and fanned out, it means your cat is tense. Not nervous necessarily, but alert, excited and ready to act. When a cat bunches her whiskers together and flattens them to the side of her face, she's feeling reserved, timid, or even shy. When they point sideways and are not terribly spread out, your cat is comfortable, calm, relaxed, friendly, satisfied - or just indifferent.

Why do cats arch their backs?

The cat's arching back is actually part of her complex body-language system. The arched back usually is accompanied by her hair standing out all over her body, especially on her tail. This is your kitty's response to feeling threatened. Sometimes, she'll even turn sideways to present an even more impressive profile in order to scare away a threatening animal. The arch is able to get so high because her spine contains nearly 60 vertebrae (we humans only have about 34) which fit together loosely, giving her that incredible flexibility.

Why do cats suddenly take off at 90 miles an hour?

Actually, it's 31 miles per hour. One cat observer calls this familiar mad dash the "frantic tarantella." At full tilst, they clock an amazing 31 mph and cover about three times their own length per leap. This behavior is a result of pent-up energy that suddenly overflows. Sometimes only the smallest noise triggers this massive reaction.

What does it mean when your cat does that unusual little 'hop'?

It's your cat's way of saying 'welcome', and it's actually a throwback to the head-to-head greeting behavior she learned from her own Mom. In your cat's mine, you've replaced her real Mom, so you get the same greeting...sort of.

Why will a cat rub up against your leg?

When she rubs her head or the side of her chin against you - or anything else - she's actually depositing her scent on you. She considers you part of her territory. She uses glands on her forehead and around her mouth and chin to do this. These glands produce chemicals called pheromones, which she transfers by rubbing against you. You should be grateful for the rubbing: Your cat could choose to 'mark' her territory by spraying it with urine.

Why does a cat roll over and show her stomach?

This is a rare form of greeting - and the ultimate compliment. It indicates complete trust. She uses her body language to show how much she loves you and how comfortable she is around you. Totally exposing her stomach reveals how secure she feels, because lying in this position exposes her most vulnerable part - and she knows it. Sometimes, she may just be asking for a caress by flopping down this way; sometimes it means she's asking you to play; sometimes she may just want that tender tummy stroked.

Why do cats chase birds?

Because they can. Your little carnivore Kitty is just a bundle of instincts, and it probably isn't news to you that she'll play with anything that moves.

Why do cats act as if they were born to be stroked?

Because in their minds, they were. They respond to our stroking because they see us as their mothers; and they interpret our stroking as if they were being groomed by their real Mom's tongue - just like when they were kittens.

Why do cats 'knead' when they're happy?

That loud purring followed by her sharpening her claws on some sof spot on your body is called 'milk-treading'. When you relax and sit quietly, you're unwittingly giving your cat the same signal she got from her mother when she was a kitten - that Mom was ready to let her suckle.

Why do cats get stuck in trees?

Actually, we only think they do. Eventually, they all come down. Until then, their pitiful caterwauling seems designed to turn us - and our local fire departments - into emergency feline rescuers. Their claws are constructed for climbing up. The problem is, because their claws curve the wrong way - it's always most impossible for them to climb down. If you're patient, though, Kitty will eventually figure out how to do it - slowly shimmying backward as her claws cling (the right way!) to the tree bark.

Why does Kitty 'torture' her prey?

She has no need to hunt because we feed her. She still has a strong need to keep her natural hunting skills in good working order though. So she hunts, but she doesn't kill. It's very likely that she has no idea she's supposed to eat this poor creature. And Kitty doesn't know how to inflict that 'killing bite'. If cats haven't been taught by their mothers to kill swiftly, they aren't likely to pick up this hunting skill themselves.

Why does a cat bury her mess?

Many experts suggest that cats bury their feces in the first place because they're so fussy. Cats bury their waste to protect their trail from predators.

Why do cats like to hang out and sleep in high places?

Just about anything up high gives them a great view from which to keep an eye on their property. It's safe and secure, and they can keep a watchful look-out for prey.

do cats have a memory?

Your cat's memory can be up to 200 times more retentive than a dog's. But Kitty uses her memory only for what she regards as useful functions - and usually only what suits her. Her memory is quite selective.

Why does a cat quiver her jaw when she sees a bird?

We really don't know the answer to this one. That odd behavior that resembles teeth-chattering is usually produced when your cat sees something she wants, but cannot get to - like a fly on the wall or a bird outside the window. And even though her mouth is open slightly, her lips are pulled back, jaw opening and closing rapidly, it's not really considered an attempt at communication. The noise she makes is a combination of her lip-smacking and teeth-chattering as she gets more excited. She may even emit small bleating noises like a baby goat. But so far, none of this is believed to have any function.

Speaking of noise, what exactly is caterwauling?

The dictionary defines it simply as 'quarreling noisily'. It is, without a doubt, a 'song' of threat and war. Rival cats will emit these wailing sounds as they approach each other.

Why does a cat hiss and spit when attacked or threatened?

Believe it or not, they're imitating snakes. When your kittys hisses, she opens her mouth halfway, draws back her upper lip and wrinkles her face. As she does this, she expels her breath so hard that, if you were close enough, you could feel the jet of air. The moisture she releases with this gusty breath is what we call spitting. Cats are so fearful of being hissed at that yours probably will shy away if you blow into her face or merely open a soda pop bottle near her.

Why does your cat always want to be out when she's in...and in when she's out?

Your cat has a powerful need to check out her territory from time to time. And though she adores making these repeated inspections, she never wants to spend too much time on it. The reason her checking is so rhythmic is because of the built-in time clock of her scent marks. When she's outside she rubs a territory marker or sprays urine on it to keep rivals away. The scent wears away after a while and she needs to go back out and do it all over again. After that she is ready to come back into her nice cozy home.

Why are cats territorial?

All cats are territorial by nature, even those who live indoors. They're very protective of their space. Your cat establishes territory for the same reasons you live in your home or apartment: She needs a safe place for sleeping, eating, and relaxing. Each cat's territory includes a few different kinds of spaces: private, commonly held grounds, and meeting grounds. There's also an outer part of her territory, when she can hunt and roam.

Why do cats feel compelled to bring that dead mouse into the house?

As with any hunter, returning with the spoils of the hunt is your cat's way of proudly bringing you back a present. Accept the gift gratefully - at least she doesn't expect you to eat it! House cats present prey to their owners in an effort to introduce them to the concept of hunting. Indoor cats don't have a lot of opportunity to exercise their hunting instincts. That means you'll have to tolerate the occasional catnip mouse or squeaky toy instead.

What do your cat's eyes reveal about her moods?

The pupils of a hungry cat's eyes, for instance, will dilate up to five times their normal size when Kitty spies her food bowl - even if it's empty. They'll also appear as big black pools when she's frightened or threatened. Don't overlook those eyelids, either: Half closed, they says she's totally relaxed; when they're fully closed, she's either very satisfied - or asleep! Your cat will also shut her eyes for protection against a dominant rival. When she feels forced into submission, she 'cuts off' the image of her tormentor. The victor perceives this as defeat and usually walks away. In China, peasants tell time by looking at a cat's eyes, which dilate and contract according to the sun's strength. The pupils are narrowest at noon.

Why are cats so tough to train?

You can't bribe them with sweets. Their taste buds don't have any sweet receptors (as meat-eaters they don't need them). I have a feeling that cats only lead us to believe they can't be trained, because they don't want to be bothered.

How smart are cats?

According to Dr. David Greene, author of Your Incredible Cat, your cat may possess an IQ that is surpassed only in the animal kingdom by monkeys and chimps. We know that cats think and adapt to changing circumstances, and that they learn by observation, imitation, and trial and erro. Cats seem to learn more quickly from their own mothers than from examples set by unrelated cats. It seems they can imitate humans, too. My cat Abigail has learned that the doorknob opens the door. She actually trys to open it herself when she wants out of or into a room. Evidence from lab experiments indicates that cats possess a high level of intelligence skills. Dr. Ronald Adams has shown that cats can remember problem-solving strategies and that they use insight to think their own way out of unusual situations. Cats have been known to exhibit greater problem-solving strategies than dogs. And tests conducted by the University of Michigan and the Department of Animal Behavior at the American Museum of Natural History concluded that while canine memory lasts as no more than five minutes, cats' recall can last as long as sixteen hours - exceeding even that of monkeys and orangutans.

Do cats think?

Generally, a cats intelligence is confined to cautiousness - with a guarded view of the world. They're smart enough to know danger, and remarkably well equipped to avoid it. Their curiosity is related to their high intelligence, and they will work endlessly in order to get the results they want - food, for example. 1