Unusual Cat Behaviors Explained

Behavior and Training  •  Pam Karkow  •  Friday, May 15, 2020

For the many cat lovers of the world, there is a certain draw and admiration toward these graceful creatures. For most, I believe that attraction is to a cat’s unapologetic way of living. But the same qualities of a cat that can lure their owners into submission can also be a source of frustration when behaviors cannot be explained. 

Below, I have listed some common unusual behaviors of cats, the why behind the behavior, and suggestions for what to do, when strange behavior strikes.

Sleeping on newspapers.

According to certified animal trainer, Mikkel Becker, when a cat lies on newspaper, it absorbs his body’s warmth, “turning it into a ‘heated bed’ of sorts.” (Real Simple: The Vets Will See You Now May 2016). There is no harm in your cat lying on newspapers, but if you don’t want to share, buy your cat his own heating pad. Try K&H Thermo-Kitty Mat. One reviewer said her cat had “never looked so comfortable.”

Depositing “little surprises” on the front doorstep.

Cats are natural hunters, so it makes sense that they will capture their prey from time to time. Some experts believe when they share their treats with their owners it is a sign of affection.Dr. Lorie Huston, DVM, says keeping your cat indoors is the easiest solution. But if you have an outside cat, attaching a small bell to his collar can alert prey that he is on the prowl.

Slopping water out of bowl and preferring to drink off the floor.

Cats are instinctively playful, but sometimes they can be picky drinkers. In the feature, The Vets Will See You Now, in the May 2016 Issue of Real Simple, Donna Solomon, DVM, theorizes that cats don’t like how it feels when their whiskers touch the side of the bowl. Switch to a flatter, wider dish or try a moving-water fountain.  Drinkwell Original Pet Fountain has an adjustable flow control knob so you can customize the water flow.

Chewing on plants.

In the article, Why Does My Cat Eat Grass, Dr. Wailani Sung, DVM, suspects that eating grass can help a cat feel better if he is dealing with digestive problems. She also thinks cats may eat grass or other plants to obtain nutrients that are lacking in their diet. Be careful to keep plants that are poisonous out of your cat’s reach. See Poisonous Plants for Cats for a complete list.


Kneading means rhythmically alternating paws, pushing in and out, against something soft. Kittens knead instinctively to help stimulate their mom’s milk production. They may continue this kneading out of habit or because they associate the motion with the comfort of nursing. Virginia Wells of PetPlace.com claims “A kneady cat is a happy cat,” but if your cat’s “kneadiness” is a problem, you can curb the habit by providing more stimulation for him.  See PetMD’s post on how to Construct a Cat Playroom for some tips.

Rest assured knowing that even though your cat’s habits may bother you, all of the above are normal, instinctual, and common cat behaviors. 

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