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Weird cat behavior isn't unheard of, but what does it mean? Photography ©stockcam | Getty Images.
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8 Weird Cat Behaviors That Stump Kitty Parents

Is your cat's bizarre behavior normal — or a reason to call the vet? From head butting to putting toys in the food dish and beyond, we talk about some weird cat behaviors and why they happen.

Rita Reimers  |  Aug 7th 2018


Cats are known for their mysterious ways and off-the-wall behaviors in general. There are some cats, however, where those weird cat behaviors are just so quirky and bizarre that you don’t know if you should laugh or call your vet.

Here are eight weird cat behaviors that I’ve come across, and I will attempt to explain just why some happen. Does your cat do any of these?

1. Staring at the wall

A gray cat staring.

Does your cat just stare at the wall? Photography ©debibishop | E+ / Getty Images.

Have you ever seen your cat sitting perfectly still, just staring at the wall? My cats do that quite a lot. So then of course I start looking around, trying to figure out what they see that I don’t.

While it’s a common and harmless habit most cats have, it does tend to make me wonder if my cats are a bit like Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense!

2. Knocking things over

It's common for cats to play with their prey, but considered a weird cat behavior when they 're knocking things to the floor. Photography ©Aleksandr_Kulikov | Getty Images.

It’s common for cats to play with their prey, but considered a weird cat behavior when they ‘re knocking things to the floor. Photography ©Aleksandr_Kulikov | Getty Images.

Particularly when I am busy working in my office, my cat, Sonny, will come along and randomly knock objects to the floor. It seems the more I ignore him, the more things end up on my floor.

While it’s common for cats to play with their prey — and this behavior has been likened to that — I’m not so sure that’s always the case. Personally, I think Sonny is trying to annoy me just enough so I’ll get up and open the bag of treats for him.

3. Stealing things

An excited cat playing with a toy, about to pounce.

Does your cat steal things from you? Photography ©sjallenphotography | Thinkstock.

We’ve all seen those videos of cats stealing things from the neighbors and bringing them home. The reason it’s so funny is that cats really do take things that don’t belong to them, and quite regularly.

When cats steal and then hide things, they’re mimicking the hunt they would be doing in the wild, burying their catch to eat later. My friend Linda laments, “My cat, Karma, is smart enough to open the jar where I keep my hair ties, take one, then put the lid back on. I am running out of hair ties, and I am bitter!”

4. Head butting

Head butting is just one weird cat behavior you might notice with your cat. Photography ©krblokhin | Getty Images.

Head butting is just one weird cat behavior you might notice with your cat. Photography ©krblokhin | Getty Images.

Bonk, bonk, bonk! That’s the sound of a cat hitting a person with his head, trying to get some attention. Head butting, or bunting, as is the proper term, is a very high honor a cat bestows upon those accepted as members of his tribe. As he bunts, he’s also marking them with his scent, declaring his ownership.

This weird cat behavior is used solely for social bonding, showing friendliness and acceptance. I also think this is how cats poke us to get our attention; my Punkin does this if I take too long to pet him when he sits next to me on the sofa.

5. Putting toys in the food dish

Kitten playing with a toy mouse on the floor.

Do your cat’s toys end up in the food dish? Photography by ©Wildroze | Getty Images.

My friend Linda sent me a photo the other day. Her cat, Kizzy, had put a toy in his empty food bowl after he had eaten his dinner. “Why does he do this?” This is another throwback to the wild when, as a wildcat, Kizzy would have been outside hunting and gathering food.

Some cats will put their toys in their food dish as a safe place to keep them for later, just like a cat in the wild would bury his catch to hide it from predators. “Oh that makes sense,” Linda says. “He never did that until we brought Karma home.” Sounds to me like someone doesn’t want to share his toys!

6. Teeth chattering and chirping

Cat looking out a window at birds and birdseed.

Does your cat chatter and chirp? Photography ©justinecottonphotography | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Did you ever hear a cat chirp? Usually it’s accompanied by the gnashing of teeth, which sounds like someone’s teeth chattering in the cold, and whiskers that stand on end. I saw my cat, Simon, doing the chirp n’ chatter the other day when he was staring at the wall. Turns out, he was watching a tiny little bug who was just out of reach, so he couldn’t swat it down.

Frustration and excitement often cause the chattering behavior, especially when they see birds outside that they cannot hunt. I’ve seen my spoiled house cats staring out the window at birds, frustrated they can’t get to their prey. Believe me, they’re happier with the prey-in-cans anyway; no work required!

7. Zooming from room to room

A hyper or excited cat with his mouth open and arms stretched wide.

Why do cats get the zoomies? Photography ©stocknroll | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Wait, what was that orange streak? Why its Colby suddenly deciding he MUST run RIGHT NOW with all his might from the living room into my office and back. “Zoomies” are how cats burn off their pent-up energy, left over from their hard day of hanging around the house waiting for supper.

Um OK, but why right then? And why at top speed in the middle of the night when the house is very, very quiet? Maybe your cat has a vendetta against you, and payback is, well you know, a zooming cat keeping you up at night!

8. Playing/sleeping in boxes

A cat hanging around in a box is another weird cat behavior that raises some questions. Photography ©Aksenovko | Getty Images.

A cat hanging around in a box is another weird cat behavior that raises some questions. Photography ©Aksenovko | Getty Images.

We’ve all heard “If I fits, I sits” when explaining the cat-in-box syndrome. Even large cats in the wild will sit in a box given the opportunity (Google it and see!). But just why do cats love boxes so much?

A deep box is a cozy place to curl up for a nap, hidden away safely from predators while they take a comfortable snooze. Add a blanket to the box, or not — either way, cats love to cozy up inside. When our Chewy.com order comes, the cats can’t wait for the brand new boxes to be emptied, so they can claim new napping spots.

And let’s not forget the great fun they have tearing the cardboard into tiny bits, all over my carpet. Yeah, thanks fellas!

The bottom line on weird cat behaviors

These are just a few of the weird cat behaviors that are oh-so-common in the feline world. We can play into some of them and have a wonderful time bonding with our kitties in their zany little moments, now that we understand what drives them.

Tell us: What weird cat behaviors truly baffle you?

Thumbnail: Photography ©stockcam | Getty Images.

Rita Reimers’ Cat Behavior Coaching has helped many cat owners better understand their feline friends. Visit RitaReimers.com to read her cat behavior blog or to book a cat behavior coaching session. Rita is also the CEO/owner of JustForCatsPetsitting.com. Connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

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