Cats are like children. And like children, sometimes our cats do things that absolutely baffle us. Share this behavior with a non-cat owner, and you might get a blank look. But share it with a fellow cat parent, and you’ll get enthusiastic agreement — “My cat does the exact same thing. How weird!”
And yes, our cats do some really weird things. Have you ever stopped to wonder: why?
We’ve gathered some strange cat behaviors that only cat owners will understand… and have explained them (as best as we could). Here’s what we came up with:
Why your cat randomly runs around at night.
The strange cat behavior: We’ve all been there: we’re lying in bed, finally drifting off to sleep, when suddenly we hear the cat go bounding up and down the hallway. What makes our cats act like they’re possessed in the middle of the night!?
The explanation: Cats are crepuscular. That means that in nature, they are the most active at dusk and dawn and sleep during the day. Spending precious daytime hours awake with you might be throwing off his sleep schedule a bit (remember all those times your cat woke you up at night to cuddle. It’s a bit like that). Cats also tend to sleep in sections: instead of one long sleep period, your cat is probably taking a few long naps and waking up several times throughout the night.
This behavior is usually silly and harmless, but if your cat is keeping you from sleeping, you can try a few different methods to calm him down before bedtime. Feed the last big meal before bed, or set aside some play time right before bed. Either solution may keep your cat — and you — sleeping more soundly.
Why your cat keeps changing where he sleeps.
The strange cat behavior: You bought your cat that handmade catbed on Etsy, or one of our supersoft new beds and he actually sleeps in it… about once a week. Every time he naps, he switches where he sleeps. Sometimes it makes sense: he’s just chasing that perfect sunny spot around the house. Other times it just seems so random.
The explanation: Turns out there’s method to your cat’s apparent madness, and it all goes back to instinct. Cat ancestors rotated their sleeping spot to prevent a buildup of parasites. In other words, your cat is just changing his bed-sheets, so to speak! Then again, he might just be seeking comfort in his sleeping space, like your scent in the dirty laundry, or the warmth of a heating pipe during the winter.
Why your cat only eats from the center of the bowl.
The strange cat behavior: Sometimes it seems like your cat just pushes all his food to the sides of the bowl instead of eating it. He’ll eat only from the center, then look at you as though asking why you gave him so little food.
The explanation: Cats use their whiskers to gauge if a space is large enough for him to fit inside. When a cat is eating, the whiskers are telling him where the edges of the bowl are — and if the bowl is too small, his sensitive whiskers will bump against the side and cause your cat discomfort. This is a silly problem that’s actually surprisingly simple to solve: get a bigger bowl. Opt for a shallower, wider bowl and your cat won’t feel so claustrophobic anymore.
Why your cat can’t see a piece of food on the floor right in front of him.
The strange cat behavior: Once your cat drops a piece of food on the floor, it might as well disappear into thin air. No matter how hard he looks, he can’t seem to find the food that’s lying right under his nose.
The explanation: Cats have a 200 degree field of vision, compared to humans’ 180. They also have excellent night vision thanks to the shape of their eyes. This gives them better peripheral vision for spotting prey out of the corner of their eyes, even when it’s dark. The improved vision comes at a price, though: the ability to see right in front of you. Cats can’t change the shape of their eye lenses, so while they can see things at about 20 feet clearly, they have trouble seeing things that are up close.
Why your cat can’t decide if he wants in or out.
The strange cat behavior: Your cat asks to be let out, so you let him out. Just as you’re about to walk away, you hear your cat meowling to be let back in. Only as soon as he’s in, he demands to be let out again. Will it ever end!?
The explanation: Your home is a part of your cat’s territory, and if you have an outdoor cat, so is a portion of the area surrounding your home. By closing the door, you are leaving your cat cut off from a part of his territory. The issue isn’t that he wants to be outside or inside — it’s that he wants to have access to his own territory at all times. And we don’t blame him: imagine only being allowed into your own home when someone else decides to open the door for you!