Cat Behavior: Facts and Tips

Scottish fold cat under blanket

Table of Contents

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People who have never owned cats sometimes think they’re solitary creatures, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Cats are known for being highly social animals, and they communicate deeply with other cats using body language and scent. 

So if you have a cat that you think might be mad at you, it’s not because they’re annoyed with you in particular—it’s because their playful behavior or communication isn’t being met with the same energy as an adult cat.

Cat behavior and communication are not always easy to interpret

Who knew that cats are such a mystery? Even the most stoic among us have probably wondered what our cat is thinking as it stares at us from across the room. 

And yet, we’ve all watched them peacefully curl up in a sunny spot and take a nap—so how do we know they’re happy? The truth is: Cat behavior and communication are not always easy to interpret.

Cats are very independent animals who prefer to be left alone for most of their waking hours. They are not as vocal as dogs (though some breeds, like Siamese cats, tend to be more vocal than others), nor are they quite expressive regarding emotion (their facial expressions tend toward subtlety). 

Cats use body language and scent marking (or “spraying”) to communicate with other cats or humans who enter their territory uninvited; they also use scent marking when they feel threatened or anxious.

Most cats don’t mind being picked up or restrained

You might think a cat would be happy to be picked up and held, but most cats don’t like this. They’re used to being on their terms, so imagine how they feel when a human starts handling them in ways they don’t want. 

Most cats don’t mind being picked up or restrained for short periods (like when getting shots), but taking your feline friend for a walk around the block is not something he’ll ever look forward to.

If you decide to pick up your cat, always support his body by cradling him under his abdomen (not between his front legs). 

Also, remember that many cats are uncomfortable when touched on the tail base and paws; holding them by these areas will make them more likely to struggle against your grasp or try to escape altogether. 

And while it may seem like fun at first glance—and even cute—don’t consider holding him by his tail unless absolutely necessary (as with medical procedures).

Most cats enjoy being petted and groomed

Most cats enjoy being petted and groomed. Cats are more likely to appreciate it if you use a gentle touch rather than a rough one. 

Most cats like to be patted on their head, neck, and shoulders, but you can also give them a light stroke just above the tail (if they’re comfortable with that).

You may notice that many cats have an area on their lower back where they will rub themselves against your legs, indicating how much they enjoy being stroked. This is called ‘bunting.’

Cats prefer to be face-to-face with any other cats they’re interacting with

If a cat’s whiskers are the canary in your coal mine, then you best be paying attention to what they’re telling you. 

The reason cats use their whiskers to sense another cat’s mood and intentions is that they work like radar. The cat’s whiskers detect minute changes in air currents when another feline approaches.

So next time your cat greets another cat by jumping on his bed and rubbing against him, let it be known that he means no harm—he just wants to tell him how much he loves him.

Not all cats enjoy being scratched on the head

Cats are individuals; like all animals, they don’t always enjoy the same things. Some cats don’t like being scratched at all, while others love to be rubbed down with a towel after a bath. 

Some would rather be touched on one part of their body over another—while some felines prefer not to have any contact at all!

Don’t worry if your cat doesn’t seem interested in being stroked or petted: it might just mean they’re happily curled up somewhere else reading a good book! 

And remember that cats are very good at telling us what they want—if you’re unsure whether your feline friend is enjoying being petted, pay attention to their tail movements instead (a relaxed tail means yes).

Cats use scent to communicate

Because cats are such a social species, it’s not surprising that they communicate with each other using scent. In fact, cats use scent to communicate with humans, animals, and their own species!

  • Cats use scent to mark their territory. They rub up against objects (like furniture and doorknobs) or scratch them, to leave behind a scent marker that lets other cats know that this area belongs to them. This is why you might notice your cat “marking” all of the corners of your home as they walk by them—it’s just one way they’re letting everyone else know where they stand!
  • Cats also communicate via pheromones (chemical signals) in their urine or feces; these pheromones can be used by both male and female cats alike. For example, when a male cat is ready for the mating season at around six months old (for domestic shorthaired males), he’ll start marking his territory with more frequent deposits of urine than usual to advertise his availability!
  • Cats also release certain chemicals through their saliva when they groom themselves; these chemicals act like perfume for us humans since we can’t smell them very well ourselves! So if you’ve ever wondered why some people seem drawn toward certain kinds of perfume over others…well, now you know why this happens sometimes 😉

Cats communicate with their body language

You’ve probably noticed that your cat has a lot to say — they’re very expressive creatures, after all. 

Cats use body language to communicate with humans, other cats and animals in their environment (including other pets), and even people. We’re here to help you decode the language of cats so you can understand what your feline friend is trying to tell you.

The scent from another cat can stress out your cat

If your cat is stressed, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce that stress and make them feel more comfortable.

  • As mentioned above, the scent of another cat can be stressful for your cat. You may need to find a way to reduce the amount of scent in the home. If possible, keep any new cats separated from each other until they get used to each other’s scent without confrontation. Once they’ve done this, they will likely be less territorial around one another and less likely to mark or spray in areas where they’re not welcome.
  • If your cat is spraying due to stress, try cleaning up after them with an enzyme cleaner designed to remove stains caused by pet urine or feces. This will help mask their scent, so they don’t feel as threatened by it when they’re outside their litter box.

Cat behavior can also be influenced by nutrition and diet

If you think your cat’s behavior is related to nutrition or diet, you can take a couple of steps to test this. 

One way is through observation and consistency. For example, suppose your kitty has always been very social with humans but recently started acting aggressively towards visitors. 

In that case, it might be worth observing them over time to see if this new behavior continues.

Suppose the problem persists over time and is consistent in nature (i.e., not only does he get aggressive when guests come over—but he also gets aggressive toward everyone). 

In that case, it may be more likely that it’s related more directly to nutrition than anything else (or perhaps another underlying cause altogether). It wouldn’t hurt for you and your vet techs to try different food brands on him!

Play with your cat and provide a scratching post

It’s important to provide your cat with toys and scratching posts. Cats need to scratch for two reasons: 1) to shed their old claws and 2) to mark their territory. 

Scratching posts can satisfy this need by giving them a tall enough object with which they can stretch up and scratch without hurting themselves or damaging your furniture. 

If you don’t have room for a scratching post, another option is providing a pole they can climb on top of and claw away at.

Kittens are socialized differently than adult cats

Kittens are socialized differently than adult cats, and the window of time when they’re most open to new experiences is minimal. 

This phenomenon can significantly affect the cat’s behavior throughout its life—especially if it becomes fearful or aggressive as an adult.

It’s important to understand how kittens develop so that you can ensure your kitten gets all the socialization it needs while it’s young. 

Kittens should also be kept indoors until they’re at least eight weeks old because they’re vulnerable to many infectious diseases (like feline panleukopenia), which can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Understand your cat’s signals

You may think you understand what your cat is saying, but the reality is that they can be extremely subtle. For example, when a cat rolls onto its back and shows you its belly, this isn’t an invitation to pet them; it’s a sign of submission—you should not pet them at all!


We hope we’ve given you some insight into cats and their behavior! As you can see, many exciting things are happening in their heads. 

Humans don’t always understand them, but our cats make up for that by being endlessly entertaining and adorable. 

They’re probably the most fun thing on the Internet right now! So if you ever wonder what your cat is thinking or why it’s behaving a certain way, just remember: 

You’re not alone. They’re all strange creatures with minds of their own—why we love them so much.