Weird cat behavior isn't unheard of, but what does it mean? Photography ©stockcam | Getty Images.
Weird cat behavior isn't unheard of, but what does it mean? Photography ©stockcam | Getty Images.

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.
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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.

Read more about weird cat behaviors on Catster.com:

30 thoughts on “8 Weird Cat Behaviors That Stump Kitty Parents”

  1. We have 4 cats, three are the babies of our first cat. Kitty (mom cat) used to love to spend time with my daughter and she actually had her kittens in her closet lol. My daughter was very responsible and tended to the mother in every way she should. She has always done research to keep herself informed on everything involving the cats. All are healthy loved and well cared for by all in our family(myself, husband, and daughter) however at some point we arent sure why but kitty(mom) became very annoyed with my daughter and let’s her know anytime she gets near her. Kitty now follows me around like she is attached to my hip and goes out of her way to ignore my daughter. The kittens who are now about a year old are all very well behaved playful and energetic. The 3 follow my daughter around like she is their mom, yet are loving and playful with us too. Why or what would have caused the major flip in how kitty reacts to my daughter ignoring her flipping her tail at her and sometimes even kinda growling at her. My daughter is not doing anything out of the norm to cause the behavior from kitty. Any ideas on why she has had such a change of heart towards my daughter and how we can correct the behavior?!

  2. Pingback: Wondering, 'Why Does My Cat Follow Me?' We've Got Answers – Petcobestfood.com

  3. Hey, Carol. I just adopted a cat that likes to drink out of the bathroom faucet. I looked it up and found an interesting fact that goes back to the wild cats that will drink running water because they know it’s fresh.

  4. I have 5 rescued girls and 1 has taken to laying in the litter box. I thought she was being “punished” or in time out, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Nothing changed here to stress her. Any ideas???

  5. I have an upstairs cat and a downstairs cat. My downstairs cat Heidi was always an inside cat until my mother started to let her out. She loves it outside, she doesn’t go far. Heidi has a cat door, that she knows she can come in at anytime, unless I call her.
    Albus. is my upstairs inside male cat. He had pneumonia when I first got him. So I kept him away from Heidi. Heidi hisses at Albus now when she sees him. The funny thing is that they are both content living like this. They have their own territory. I spend time with both. They are both 13 yrs old. Upstairs affection and downstairs affection. Jeanne

  6. My 3 year old cat, Sadie, has developed a strange behavior since we moved to a new home 3 months ago. Her feeding area is configured almost exactly as at our former home, including the same area rug under our kitchen table nearby. In the last two months, I am crunching when I step on the area rug. When I lift the rug, I find many pieces of Sadie’s dry food, she has pushed, not one or two, but many pieces of food under the rug.

    Could this behavior be caused by food dissatisfaction or stress related to the move or something else.

    1. Hi Vicky,
      Thanks for reaching out!
      Here are some articles that might help provide some insight:

      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-care-9-tips-moving-with-cats-easier
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-care-moving-house-5-tips-cats
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/moving-new-home-cat-health-behavior-tips-easing-stress-anxiety

      If Sadie is not eating, please be sure to contact your vet!
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-not-eating-what-to-do-when-cat-wont-eat
      https://www.catster.com/cat-food/what-to-do-when-your-cat-wont-eat

  7. the “not burying” in the litter box, 2 explanations-
    1, “see this? scoop it now!”
    if you have more than 1 cat -“I RULE!” the one who doesnt bury is the dominant cat.

    As for the racing through the house like they’re late for an appointment- here’s my theory:
    They race like mad, stop look around, bathe go eat food, bathe then go poo.
    Running stimulates their digestion. Just like cats in the wild- they chase their food down, kill, eat, poo, bathe and then take a good nap.

    of course not true for all cats, every time.

  8. We have 2 cats that we adopted from shelters. Rocky, our 11 month old Maine Coon-mix, used to suck on our necks, when we first adopted him at 2 months of age. He has since outgrown that, thankfully,(no more kittie “hickies”), and now when we pet him, one hand does ALL of the petting, while the other hand holds his adorable face and he gently sucks on the area between our thumb and forefinger!! He loves having his belly rubbed, too. He lets us know when he wants his belly rubbed, when he’s laying in our lap on his back and then he’ll lift one of his back legs up and out, lol. Then his “motor” starts running!

  9. One of my cats likes to chew. I bought him a special silicon toy that he loves and he also like chewing on my fingers at bed time snuggle time. Thankfully, it doesnt usually hurt; it seems more like a love bite. Hes not trying to play but instead seems very content and purrs while chewing almost like he is doing it out of comfort, kind of like how some cats still will suckle on something like they used to when they nursed. I know as a general rule it is not good to encourage cats to bite you but if it is actually an affectionate thing, I don’t want to discourage him from showing affection either.

  10. My Nipsi has followed me into the bathroom ever since I adopted her, when she was two years old. She purrs her head off, and I pick her up while I’m on the toilet, and purrs even louder when I put her on her back and rub her belly.

    She also jumps on the shower rod when I’m showering.

  11. One of my cats has this thing mostly with her water fountain and the bathroom sink. If I turn on the the water faucet in the sink she will stick her head under it and let the water dribble down her forehead,nose and slurp it with her tongue. Then she will start digging with one paw or both like she is trying to bury it all the while keeping her head under the running water. With the fountain she will dig with her paw(s) which dislocates the unit that pushes the water up like a bubbler fountain. The other unit she will sometimes slosh the water out because of this digging behavior. None of the other cats display her behavior. Anyone have any ideas!!??

    1. Hi Carol,
      She might just like playing with water! Here are some other articles that might provide further insight:

      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/why-is-cat-drinking-water-weird
      https://www.catster.com/cat-food/how-much-water-should-a-cat-drink
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-facts-behavior-cats-weird-water
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-not-drinking-water-get-your-cat-to-drink-more-water
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/why-cats-hate-water-and-what-to-do-about-it

    2. And here we humans were taught cats do not care for water play. Apparently some do. I think it may be due to their play mode where they like to chase or play with things that move. If your cat doesn’t mind water on her then I be that’s why she is doing it.

  12. I have recently adopted a kitten and her weirdest behavior is to sit on my shoulder then walk down my body (while I’m standing) and perch on my behind. So that I’m standing there bent at 90 degrees while she is quite comfy.

  13. my Taffy had this thing for me to come into the kitchen to watch him eat. when I come home from work, I feed him. then I go into the bedroom to change clothes. he sits at the entrance of my bedroom door and wait for me to finish changing. then he beckons at me by “chirping” and wants me to come into the kitchen and watch over him while he eats. lol!! he is somethin else!! lol!

    1. Awhy that is the cutest thing, EVER!!!! you’re lucky to have such a sweet and wonderful kitty
      Love & Light to you both

  14. Cat in number 3 has “Hunter Eyes” when the pupils get big watch out!

    Why does my cat sometimes chase her tail?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thanks for reaching out! We are actually writing an article on this, which we will publish soon. Stay tuned!

  15. Here’s a good one I know you won’t be able to help me with but would be nice if you could. My cat is a beautiful longhaired black 3 yr. old. Found her when she was about 4/5 wks old. bottle fed used to use Litterbox – but since she was old enough to be out on her own in-house she pees & poops in the sink & tub..on plastic bags, magazines, scatter rugs. Any advice??

    1. Hi Karen,

      Thanks for reaching out. We suggest asking a vet for specific advice on this issue, but these articles might provide some insight as well:
      https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/cat-not-using-the-litter-box
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/6-common-litter-box-no-nos
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/make-your-cat-love-his-litter-box
      https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/does-your-cat-pee-on-the-sofa-or-bed-heres-why

    2. Mary-Lou Mayfield

      First most likely cause, litter pan not clean enough. Be sure to scoop solid wastes out immediately (or as soon as you find it), and change wet litter every few days. Better yet, have 2 pans and clean them on different days.

    3. Yes, of course, scooping the litter box is important. If you are not doing that at least once a day, it could be an issue. Also, for non-clumping litter, change all litter out once a week. Can add baking soda to litter also.
      My first thought though was that your kitty doesn’t like the type of litter you are using and it may be uncomfortable on her feet. Or, if it is scented, she may not like the scent. To test this out, get disposable aluminum roast pans and several different types (and different textures) of litter, put them out, introduce her to one of them and see if she chooses to use one of them.
      Additionally, your kitty may like a different location for her litter box especially if it is by here food/water dishes. Try test litter boxes in a few locations and see if this makes a difference or not, too.
      Good luck!

  16. Why do cats unroll the toilet paper?
    I have 2 cats; one can walk through a room and you’d never know she was there. The other will deliberately, slowly, knock everything off the night stand- one at a time!!!- at 3AM.
    One of my cats refuses to bury anything in the litter box, but will spend way too much time trying to dig through the tile flooring.

  17. Pingback: 8 Weird Cat Behaviors That Stump Kitty Parents | Speaking of Pets at Rescue Pet Supply

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