The 5 Most Mystifying Things My Cat Does


My kitty Cleocatra is pretty understandable, despite her continued refusal to speak English. Some of her behavior is pretty clear. When she sits on the toilet lid expectantly as I put my makeup on, I know she wants me to open the bathroom window so she can watch traffic. When she gives a pathetic, half-muffed meow while dragging her toy mouse on a stick in her mouth, I know it’s playtime. (She’s got me fairly well trained.)

But a few of her behaviors (some of which you’ll see in the photos below) completely mystify me. Thankfully, certified cat behavior consultant and Catster writer Marilyn Krieger (the Cat Coach) weighed in with some cat insight.

1. She’s afraid of plastic bags, but not dogs or actual scary things

Whenever I shake open a new trash bag, Cleo looks at me like I’m holding a machine gun before darting away wildly. Same with the vacuum! But when the neighbor dogs bound right up to the window, she stares calmly outside, completely unfazed. (And Charles the neighbor dog actually snuck inside and chased her around once!)

"It’s hard to know why she responds in this way to plastic bags," Krieger begins. "It could be the sound or fluttering movement or the rush of air is startling her. Also, she may have had an experience early in life with a plastic bag that scared her." Krieger has a good point — I adopted Cleo when she was three, and she could definitely have had a scary plastic bag encounter before then. (Poor girl!)

2. She paws at my record and book collections

Cleo’s always loved sniffing my books, but she’s started pawing at their pages in my bookshelf as if trying to suggest a bedtime story. Or I’ll be lying in bed when I hear a scratch-scratch-scratch on the edge of my dad’s old records (don’t tell him!). Is she trying to pick one out? Does she secretly want to be a DJ? (Do I just need to trim her nails?)

"Sounds like she may be bored," Krieger says. Clearly I need to get her the Cat DJ Scratching Deck so she can start DJing my parties.

3. She likes to use the bathroom when I do

Not only does Cleo tend to follow me from room to room, but if I’m peeing, she wants to, too. It’s completely adorable yet a little confusing. Does my gentle tinkle have the same effect on her as someone trying to hold it in at Niagara Falls? Or is she just keeping me company? (Her litter box is in the bathroom.) Maybe it’s simply a chance to do her duty while the bathroom light is on.

4. She licks my bathrobe

I work from home, so my fuzzy fleece bathrobe from 1994 is basically my second skin. When Cleo’s taking a bath on my lap (inevitably while I’m trying to work), sometimes she’ll lean over and give my bathrobe a sort of pity lick. I’m not sure if she’s aiming for my hand but got lazy, or it’s a hint that I need to throw my bathrobe in the wash. (I swear it’s not covered in dried ice cream!)

5. She hates seeing the bottom of the food dish

What’s the deal with this one? Even if there’s food in her bowl, Cleo gives me a persecuted face if she can see the bottom of it. How dare I, right? (Don’t tell her, but If I’m feeling lazy, I just move the food around.) My dad reassures me it’s not just Cleo; this is a normal cat thing. But what gives?! I’ll never stop marveling at it.

Have any theories to help me out? What confusing antics does your cat get up to?

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Read more by Holly Richmond:

About the author: Holly is a freelance writer who loves cats, words, and glitter. She lives in Portland with her cat, Cleocatra, and writes at Find her on Twitter: @hrichmofo

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