Your cat’s antics can say a lot about what they’re thinking. Cats are funny animals that’s half the reason Youtube exists and they’re funny because so much of what they do seems inexplicable. Partly this is because, even after thousands of years of domestication, cats have retained many quirks and instincts that made more sense in the wild than they do in your living room. Here are some of the behaviors that your cat may display, where they come from, and what they mean (if anything) about how your cat is feeling.
Most cat owners have seen this behavior; your friend may spend several minutes idly pawing at the carpet, or couch, or bed, as if he’s making biscuits (as it’s commonly called). There are several reasons for this behavior: wild cats will knead the grass where they bed down for the night, which serves a double function it evens out the nest for a comfortable sleep, and it also stimulates scent glands in the paw pads that mark the area as occupied. Kittens will also knead on their mother’s abdomen to stimulate milk glands, and just like other domesticated animals, cats tend to carry more juvenile behaviors into adulthood than their wild cousins. When your adult cats knead, you know that they’re comfortable, happy, and feeling at home.
2. Bringing You a Dead Animal
While this is one of their more unpleasant behaviors your cat might exhibit, it actually has an encouraging meaning. Your cat has likely noticed that you don’t stalk and hunt like she does, so she may bring you a dead animal as if to say, ‘Look, this is how it’s done’; the same way she might do with her own kittens when she’s teaching them to hunt. Alternately, this behavior may be a sign of social cohesion, demonstrating her value to the group by presenting a contribution to the group leader (you). While the latter explanation is a better ego-boost, either one means that your cat is trying to be helpful.
3. Chasing a laser pointer
One of the most charming cat behaviors is their fascination with laser pointers; they’ll stalk that little red dot up and down walls and all across the house. It turns out that it’s nothing to do with the light, but with the type of movement. Cats instinctively interpret erratic movements objects that rapidly change direction and speed as a sign of life; and in the wild, anything as energetic and spry as your laser pointer might taste pretty good if they could just catch it. For the same reason, cats are often fascinated by springy toys inanimate objects in the wild don’t behave that way, so the toy appears life-like. The fact that cats will do this over and over without ever catching their prey suggests that either their hunting instinct is so strong as to overpower their sense of futility, or they eventually learn that it’s a game and just enjoy the practice.
4. Meticulous self-grooming
Your cat can spend much of its day licking its fur and sharpening its claws (hopefully on a designated scratching post). Many cat owners assume that their cats simply prefer to be clean; but that’s only half the answer. Scratching does little to sharpen a cat’s claws, but it does provide a satisfying stretch that stimulates the same scent glands that release during kneading. Licking fur fulfills the same purpose; it stimulates the glands that produce the cat’s marking scent while removing foreign smells. Both of these behaviors are not so much about cleanliness as about marking territory. In the wild, a cat can simply claim turf by urinating on it, but that’s frowned upon in human society, so the cat grooms and scratches as a compromise, asserting herself in a way that is less offensive to her human housemates.