9 Ways to Decipher Mysterious Cat Behavior

Cats are a turducken of mystery: enigma wrapped in riddle wrapped in purring singularity. Their famed reflexes are a physiological manifestation of their fickle souls, which espouse cuddly love one moment and claw-swiping disgust the next. But despite their cryptic nature, there are plenty of behavioral patterns we can discern amongst cats. Nine of which are presented below, with the intent of informing you of how to please—and arm yourself against—the little puma in your home.

1. The Best Type of Names for Cats

It turns out that cats seem to respond more consistently to one particular type of name. As shown in the below video from Dr. Uri Burstyn, a.k.a. the Helpful Vancouver Vet, we see how cats respond at far higher rates to high-frequency sounds versus low-frequency ones. This is due to the fact that cats’ ears have evolved to pick up on high-frequency sounds from prey like rodents and birds. So if you want to give your cat a name it will respond to, make sure it ends with some kind of sound as in “Marley.”

2. How to Read Cats’ Facial Expressions

Key to understanding your cat’s behavior is understanding its facial expressions. According to this paper published by the US National Library of Medicine, a lot of useful emotional data can be gathered from watching the subtle changes on your cat’s mug. Cats, for example, will often lick their noses or drop their jaws when they’re angry. When they’re relaxed, they’ll often turn their heads and look to the right.


3. Why Cats Love to Knock Stuff Off of Other Stuff

It may sound unfair, but you can’t blame your cat when it knocks stuff off your shelves, tables, or bookcases full of LEGO. According to cat researcher Mikel Delgado from the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, cats send random objects clanging, thudding, and crashing to the ground because “they have learned it is a quick and easy way to get their human’s attention.” Which means you may have only yourself to blame when your cat rains down ruin.


4. The Reason Cats Love Catching Rodents

As mentioned, cats have ears that are specially tuned to the high-frequency communications of their prey, which is often some kind of rodent. But why do they love catching rodents? Because we bred them to love it. According to the below video from MinuteEarth, when people transitioned from hunter-gatherer societies to stationary farmer societies, food piled up and rodents flooded in for said food. The tamed cats people had around feasted on the rodents, and the ones who ate the most were selected for.

5. Why Cats Always Land on Their Feet

Many of the feats cats can pull off seem downright absurd: chief among them, the ability to always land on their feet after falling through the air. They’re able to pull off this gymnastic fantastique thanks to a combination of mechanical gifts built into their flesh and bones, as explained by this BBC clip. (Yes, we know that’s not a house cat, but the same principles apply.)

6. Why Cats Love Scratching Up Furniture

No, your cat isn’t trying to mar the entirety of your living space when it scratches up all of your furniture. According to Tony Buffington, author of the book Cat Mastery, cats scratch up furniture in order to keep their claws sharp. This is because before they were domesticated, cats needed sharp claws to climb, hunt, and defend themselves, and just like their ancestors, modern-day kitties like to keep in prime kill-shape.

7. The Safest Way to Pet a Cat

According to Lauren Finka, a Postdoctoral Researcher studying the welfare of domestic cats, our feline companions can have trouble accepting pets because of the fact that for much of human history, they were used as “mere pest control” (Finka’s words). Because of their station in life, cats became quite solitary, and thusly wary of other creatures, especially other species, touching them. To help a cat get over its hermit-y past, Finka says you should give a cat total freedom to move or leave while petting it, as well as focus on the base of its ears, the bottom of its chin, and around its cheeks.


8. The Reasons Your Cat Loves Sleeping in Your Bed

Every single reason your cat loves sleeping in your bed is adorable. Yes, that’s probably obvious, but at least go ahead and verify what you’ve known all along by watching the below video from YouTubers Chris and Jess, who own the pretty famous cats, Cole and Marmalade. The video notes that cats love your bed because it’s comfortable and feels like a safe place, especially with you in it. Also, if your cat sleeps on top of you, that’s a sign of affection.

9. How Flat Cats Can Get

Finally we get to some straight numbers regarding the very important question: How flat can cats get? The research—yeah, let’s go ahead and call it that, we’re not building reusable rockets here—was done by YouTube user mugumogu, who owns the Insta-famous cat duo, Hana and Maru. Using a sliding cardboard door, mugumogu determined that Maru, the more vertically malleable of the pair, could flatten down to 8 centimeters or 3.2 inches.

What do you think of these tips aimed at decrypting cats’ consistently coded behavior? Give us your thoughts in the comments!

Feature image: Image Catalog 

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