Why are cats so creepy sometimes?

You see the question in the title from time to time on the Internet. Obviously, some people think domestic cats are creepy, which is sad. They are not creepy but we have to respect those who think they are. The kind of person who might think cats are creepy are those who might be a little bit nervous about cats or even scared of them. It would also apply to people who don’t understand cats through no fault of their own. Here are five possible reasons why these people might think domestic cats are creepy. Can you think of more?

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Unpredictable behaviour: experts think that to some people domestic cats exhibit unpredictable behaviour. They will because the person concerned doesn’t really know cats. But the point here is that if you have a close relationship with your cat and your lifestyle intersects with your cat’s lifestyle and they merge very comfortably, you can understand your cat and you can predict what he or she will do next. They are no longer unpredictable. The same applies to the cat about you.

But I agree, domestic cats can seem to be unpredictable because they do their own thing such as jumping off your lap to investigate something which you have not heard or seen. And they are very curious by nature which means they dive into things sniffing and listening when there appears to be nothing there. I’ve seen people wonder why their cat looks at a wall inside the home for ages when they can’t see anything on the wall but their cat can. It might be an insect crawling up the wall.

Domestic cat fascinated with a creepy spider high up on a wall
Domestic cat fascinated with a creepy spider high up on a wall. Photo: u/Astral_Parallax.

I think this unpredictability of behaviour comes about partly because they have great senses particularly hearing and smell and because they are inquisitive, they pick up the sounds and smells we don’t and have to investigate them. It looks odd to some people but to those who know it is all part and parcel of feline behaviour.

Night-time activity: we know that cats are crepuscular mean that they tend to be active at dawn and dusk because that is when prey animals are around. And even full-time indoor cat might be more active at dawn and dusk without prey to catch because it is embedded in their DNA. It is entirely instinctive and inherited behaviour from their wild cat ancestor. But this behavioural trait means that they prowl around the house at night doing God knows what. Some people might find this creepy. It might disturb them and upset them knowing that their cat is on the prowl while they are trying to sleep. It might be worth remembering that for cats, the time when we are asleep can be difficult for them. In effect they are abandoned for about eight hours and a time when they expect their human caregiver, their surrogate mother, to be active like them. It may confuse them. Sometimes their response is to wake up their owner and certainly they’ll do this when they want breakfast. Elderly cats suffering from dementia can howl at night for this reason.

The stare: cats can stare intently when they are curious or hunting. Particularly when they are hunting and looking towards their prey animal. It might just be a sound but a cat’s senses are so tuned up that they can locate a prey animal just by sound at quite a distance.

Sometimes cats do stare at their owners. It is said that cats don’t like to be stared at but it depends on the relationship and if it is a good one you can stare at your cat and she might stare back. I do. But cats have this enigmatic face. They have this passive neutral expression (poker face) which combined with a stare can give the impression that they are creepy to some people. It’s a very intense focus and that intensity might be a bit unnerving if a person is a little nervous around cats.

Silent movement: yes, cats are very quiet, stealthy movers because they are first rate predators. They have soft paw pads and they use them to move entirely silently. How many times have you turned around in the kitchen and then just below you is your cat and he wasn’t there a few seconds ago. That’s how you walk into a cat underfoot. It can be difficult. It can be irritating actually because you don’t want to walk into your cat and hurt them. Cats do tend to just appear out of nowhere. And in the opposite way, they can disappear. You can spend quite a long time looking for your cat inside your home sometimes. So, this silent movement and ability to appear out of nowhere can seem creepy.

Fear and anxiety: cats love routines and rhythms. They like predictability. They can be afraid of almost anything which is unfamiliar or which they regard as threatening and which has threatening qualities. Often, they regard anything different or uncertain or new as at least potentially threatening. This fearful response can lead to behaviours that humans might regard as creepy.

They are all natural behaviours and part and parcel of the domestic cat. The more you know your cat the less creepy they become. To me, domestic cats are not creepy. I suspect that to 90% of cat owners, cats are also not creepy. It’s that 10% of people who are unsure about cats and perhaps have a slightly negative viewpoint about the domestic cat who find them creepy.

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