Strange Cat behavior
There is no such thing as strange cat behavior. It is simply behavior that we do not understand. When people search for “strange cat behavior” they should be searching for, “cat behavior explained” or some such term.
Why am I being so pedantic? Well, searching for behavior that is strange puts the onus on the cat. It implies that the cat is acting in a strange way. It implies that the cat is odd and unpredictable etc. This maligns the cat and places us in an unnaturally elevated position in the hierarchy of all animals. The cat is highly predictable and reliable. The cat is responsive to stimuli and reacts to the circumstances that we create as cat caretakers.
Most often we should look to ourselves to find the answer to apparent “strange cat behavior”. It is often the case that we are the ones who are acting strangely!
There will always be a logical reason for a cat’s behavior. If the behavior is not dictated directly or indirectly by the circumstances that we have created for the cat, then there will be a medical reason for the behavior.
A good veterinarian or animal behaviorist would rarely use the term “strange cat behavior”. They would most likely have a ready answer or at least be able to work one out.
Let us take some examples. I’ll do a Google search for “strange cat behavior”…(I am writing this as I search)
The first one I bump into is a post on a colleagues website entitled, “Cats strange urination”. One of two cats is urinating on the floor and couch leaving small spots of urine. This may well be a medical problem (cystitis comes to mind) or stress related or litter box related (sharing a litter box rather than having his or her own litter box for example. The strange behavior comes back to us, even the health issues as we are a cat’s caretaker. We are responsible for the cat’s health.
Another post on the same site refers to a cat that vocalises by howling and dragging “bright colored “Mardi Gras” beaded necklaces” in his mouth to the water. Well this looks like natural behavior to. It is the wildcat in him showing! The cat is no doubt catching prey. Domestic cats need to express their innate wild cat instincts and that normally means play that mimics hunting and stalking.
The next is a post entitled, “My cat is obsessed with his tail”. These are in fact quite common problems (apparent obsessive behavior). They are medically based. Either stress induced or an allergic reaction causing irritation as one possible answer. There are others, of course.
Another typical normal type problem is a post headed, “cats imitating urinating”. This is a post as are the other that was listed under “Weird Cat Behavior”. But, as I am sure almost every visitor to this site will agree, this behavior is almost certainly due to a urinary tract bacterial infection. The cat feels like urinating but nothing is produced or a very small dark urine is produced. This could be cystitis for example. Lower urinary tract infections are one of the more common medical issued in the domestic cat – all very normal and not strange at all.
Here is another post on a cat website, entitled, “My Cat Is Weird”….The 6 month old kitten “He likes to put his face in a pillow or really any surface and then move his front paws back and forth but he is not scratching..” Well, there is no doubt the cat was kneading; a carry over from his days as a kitten kneading his mothers breast to stimulate milk flow. Normal behavior. Adult cats knead too as we keep cats in permanent kitten hood.
I could go on but won’t! The point I am making is that these are not examples of strange cat behavior but normal cat behavior under the circumstances (medical or environmental) that the cat finds him or herself.
I just feel a need to make this point; to reflect the behavior of the cat back to us. For me – and I know that I have a particular point of view associated with a person who is extremely sympathetic towards the cat – we need to place greater emphasis on ourselves as the cause and managers of cat behavior.
And we need to ensure that as cat caretakers we are sufficiently educated in a domestic cat’s ways and habits to demystify their behavior and most importantly have proper expectations as to their behavior.
The more knowledgeable that we are about cat behavior the less strange it becomes until it all looks entirely normal.
Perhaps one day no one will use Google to search for, “strange cat behavior”….