- During this period of self-isolation, you might be spending more time with your cat than ever before.
- Cats can do some strange and gross things, but often these may be a sign they respect you and feel comfortable in your home.
- For example, bringing in prey from outside and cleaning themselves in front of you are signs they like you.
- However, toileting outside of their litter tray could be a sign something is wrong.
- If your cat is behaving out of the ordinary, it’s usually a sign they are stressed, or even ill.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Cats can be confusing creatures at times. Sometimes it’s hard to decipher their mood or work out what it is they want.
You’re probably spending a lot of time with your furry friend thanks to self-isolation measures recommended by the government and World Health Organisation, so their quirks might be even more apparent.
According to Daniel Cummings, the behaviour manager at Cats Protection, whatever they’re after may have less to do with us than we think.
“As much as we like to think we are the be-all and end-all of our cats’ lives, this is not the case,” he told Insider. “More often than not, a behaviour the cat displays has little to do with humans and a lot to do with a cat’s innate behaviour patterns and ethology.”
However, there are a few things cats do that show they are comfortable and happy around their owners.
Here are seven of them, according to cat behaviour experts.
1. Your cat brings you gifts
When cats bring gifts to their owners, like prey, it’s a sign they think your house is a safe place to store them for later.
“Cats have retained this behaviour from their most recent wild ancestor, the African Wildcat,” said Cummings. “Some cats also display the hunting behaviour but have no instinct to eat the prey. They just catch what is moving and carry it around, then at some point (usually in the house), they drop it.”
It’s a common misconception that cats bring in sacrifices to please their owners, he said, but it could still be a sign you’re one of your cat’s favourites.
“If your cat is caching prey in your house, clearly they feel safe and secure enough in the house and their territory,” he said.
2. They claw at your face to wake you
Clare Hamilton, a vet at the animal hospital Hamilton Specialist Referrals, told Insider it’s common for cats to bump and claw their owners’ faces to wake them up in the morning.
“Most cat owners note that this happens at the same time of the morning, so rather than being a sign of affection it is the cat’s natural instinct to be fed,” she said. “Cats have a very accurate internal clock and pick up indicators of the time of day.”
So they will get used to the time of day they are usually fed, and remind their owners if they miss it.
3. They go to the toilet outside of their litter tray
While cat owners may usually think toileting outside of their litter tray is a form of punishment, it’s actually an indicator something is wrong.
“Either there is a problem with the latrine site (litter tray area), the cat is feeling stressed, or both,” said Cummings. “So as much as it sucks for us, it’s probably a bigger problem for the cat.”
For instance, the cat could have a medical problem like a urinary tract infection, so it’s always best to take them to a vet to make sure. If it’s a sign of stress, then punishing the cat is only going to make it worse. Once the issue is resolved, they will usually start going in their litter tray again.
Also, cats like to mark their territory by spraying urine around their homes, said Hamilton.
“They use this technique to send a message to other animals that they own their property and not to disturb,” she said. “This can be seen as a way of showing affection as the cat feels secure in their household and with their owners.”
4. They follow you to the bathroom
According to cat website Meowingtons, cats may follow their owners to the bathroom for several reasons. They may feel vulnerable without you, because they see you as their “source of safety and comfort (as well as food).”
“So when you disappear behind a closed door, they might feel less safe than normal and as such seek you out to continue to take advantage of the comfort and safety you provide them,” the post says.
They might also want to check you’re burying your waste like a good cat, and not leaving it out which could attract predators.
Cats are also curious by nature, so they might just like following you around to see what you’re doing. They consider the house their territory, so if a room is closed off to them, they might feel there’s something in there they’re missing out on.
“When there is competition for a resource, its value increases,” according to Meowingtons. “That is what you do every time you close the bathroom door. You elevate the value of the space by choosing it for yourself and denying your cat access.”
5. Your cat drinks from your cups
Cats love fresh water, especially when it’s off the ground, said Cummings. So when you pour yourself a glass of water, it’s exactly what your cat wants.
“Fresh water is important for cats so it’s important to change the water in the bowl daily,” he said.
If they’re drinking from your glass, it may be because they have seen you doing it so they feel safe to.
Cummings suggested putting their water bowl about a foot in front of the wall rather than right against it.
“If cats have to drink when it is against the wall, then their backs are exposed to the ‘scary’ rest of the house,” he said. “Putting the bowl a little in front of the wall means the cat can position themselves between the wall and the bowl with their back to the wall and being able to look out on the scary expanse of the room whilst drinking.”
6. They cleans themself in front of you
Hamilton said one of the ways that cats communicate is through body language.
“Female cats like to ‘flash’ their private parts and wiggle their bums at their owners,” she said. “This is just one way that cats show that they care for their owners and is a strong sign of affection.”
It’s also common for them to lick themselves in public, which is just a natural part of their grooming behaviour.
7. They headbutt you or rub themselves on your legs
A few other subtle signs your cat likes you are headbutting, blinking slowly while maintaining eye contact, rubbing around your legs, and approaching you with their tail shaped like a question mark.
If your cat’s behaviour is still a mystery, Cats Protection has put together a few videos about feline behaviour, and what you can do about it, which you can watch below.
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