Discover All About Cat Behaviour (What Your Cat Is Trying To Tell You)

Explaining all about cat behaviour in one post is challenging, but I’ll attempt to give you the basics of why your cat behaves the way it does, so keep reading..

As a cat owner you’ll want to understand all about cat behaviour so you know what your pet is trying to tell you. Cats are usually very subtle when it comes to body language and it can take a while to get used to.

In this post I’m going to explain some common cat behaviour you’ll probably find your cat displays. You may not notice of all of them, but if a cat wants to get your attention it will!!

Just like people, all cats have different personalities. Some are more sociable than others, but all will use the following behaviours towards humans or other pets in your household.

Cat tail flicking behaviour- what it means

Cat tail flicking behaviour-what it means

Cats use their tails a lot to show how they’re feeling. Your cat has a wide vocabulary with her tail, and will certainly get her point across!

An upright tail is a good sign. It shows your cat is feeling contented. You may notice how your cat greets you on your return home. A quivering upright tail shows she’s happy to see you, and is a friendly, welcoming sight.

If your cat’s tail is upright but curved at the tip it’s a sure sign she’s feeling playful. Feather wands are great for interactive play sessions with your cat.

Be mindful of overstimulating your kitty as cat’s claws are sharp, and so are their teeth! I’ve frequently had playful nips on my hand and they can be sore!

Seeing a cat’s tail swish dramatically from side to side and thumping it on the ground is a sign of aggression. Your cat may be preparing to fight, but we wary of trying to stop a cat fight.

If your cat comes running in with her tail resembling a bristle brush she’s scared. Another cat may have chased her, so gently calm her down.

If your cat’s tail is lowered and tucked under her body she’s demonstrating submission. She may have been sizing up another cat and felt intimidated by it.

Why does my cat head butt me?

Headbutting is also called bunting and is a true sign of affection. If your cat headbutts you she’s marking you with her scent.

Though humans can’t detect it, other animals can. It’s a way of saying you belong to her and is a huge compliment! In the wild, all felines headbutt members of their pride.

Headbutting is never done to outsiders, only those considered family. If you have a multi cat household you’ll probably have noticed how they interact and headbutt one another.

Watch the video below as animal behaviourist Francine Miller explains all about this curious behaviour

Why do cats pat your face-is this a wake up call?!!

Face patting is another way your cat shows affection by marking you with her scent. Of course, it may also be a way of getting your attention!

I’ve often been woken up in the morning by a gentle pat on the face by my cat! I consider it the ultimate wake up call! Of course, he wants breakfast, but it’s so much better than a noisy alarm!.

Why do cats rub against your legs?

In exactly the same way as face rubbing, if your cat rubs up against your legs she’s showing affection. This is also attention seeking, usually for food of course. However, always see this as a sign your cat is happy to stay with you!

Have you always noticed how your cat weaves in and out of your legs as you prepare her food? She’s marking her scent with the sides of her body and tail. This is true attention seeking, and she’s making sure you’re not ignoring her!.

Why is my cat staring at me- is she trying to hypnotise me??!!

Ever had the feeling you’re being stared at by a pair of watchful feline eyes??

You suddenly look up from the laptop to find your cat staring intently at you! It’s like she’s trying to hypnotise you into obeying her wishes!

Cats can maintain a steady stare without blinking unlike us. This can make it all the more unsettling when kitty focuses a gaze on you.

Cats are curious creatures and take a strong interest in our activities. They are also masters of learned behaviour, and note certain activities that signal food. For example, you go in the kitchen to make a cup of tea and your cat follows you within seconds!

Staring intently at you while you boil the kettle, she’s trying to get your attention! You may have fed her earlier, but her staring eyes are making out she’s starving!

As a dedicated cat parent it’s hard to resist, and your cat knows the kitchen is where her food is! Likewise, if you’re relaxing, watching tv and find your cat staring at you, she probably just wants a cuddle.

You’re a big part of her world, especially if you spend a lot of time at home. Sometimes your cat will stare in your direction for reassurance. They’re good at reading body language and know if you’re calm or anxious.

Cats also stare at each other. This is a sign of aggression, and is done until one of them backs down in submission. It can ultimately lead to a cat fight, or in the very least, swatting and growling.

cat tail language

Why does my cat trill? What’s going on?

If you’re a new pet parent you may wonder what’s going on when your cat starts making odd little chirping noises. It’s very normal and all part of a cat’s language vocabulary.

These funny little sounds made in short bursts are known as trilling. They’re typically used in greeting, and is your cat’s way of saying “hi, nice to see you”

Cat’s use it to greet one another, and show affection in the family. As you’re a member of kitty’s family she’ll use it to greet you on your return home.

You may have seen your cat sitting on the window sill, excitedly chattering at birds outside in the garden. This may be frustration at not being able to catch her prey, as well as excitement at seeing it.

Why your cat kneads you- the purfect kitty massage!

why does my cat knead me

Anyone who’s been in the company of cats is familiar with the soft, kneading motion of their front paws. Combined with gentle purring it’s the most relaxing massage you can experience!

You may be wondering why your cat delights in kneading, and why she does it. Keep reading as I explain..This behaviour is instinctive in all kittens. They knead the mother’s breast to stimulate milk flow.

As adults, cats knead when they’re contented and happy. If your cat cuddles up to you and starts kneading, she’s a happy kitty! Pulled jumpers or tears on tights and jeans can be a downside.

If your cat decides to jump on your lap for a cuddle and kneading session, cover yourself with an old cloth or blanket to save your clothes. A purring and kneading cat on your lap is the purfect way to lower blood pressure:)

Help!! My cat is biting me!!

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of your cat’s sharp teeth you’ll understand what I’m talking about. So why do cats bite people?

You’ll be pleased to know it’s rarely aggressive. It’s common for cats to bit each other during play, and it’s a way of showing affection to us cat parents.

A gentle bite on the hand while you’re playing with your cat is a sign of love. However, pull away quickly and you may startle her!

Your cat’s natural instinct for self protection kicks in, and she’ll bite harder!! It’s rarely serious, but you may get a few little teeth marks on your hand or arm!

Biting can happen if your cat gets over stimulated. Encourage play with cat toys that don’t involve fingers! Reward her with good behaviour by praising.

Why do cats purr then bite?

You’re rubbing kitty’s tummy one minute and enjoying her soft purrs. Suddenly she grabs your fingers sinking her teeth into them? This is so very common, and is in no way meant to harm you.

It’s usually due to overstimulation and your cat is trying to say she’s had enough. A cat can’t talk and tell you to “stop now please”!

Be mindful of your cat’s body language when you’re interacting with her. Every cat is different and you’ll soon get to know her cute, funny ways!

Understand your cats behaviour and make the bond stronger

Many people still think of cats as being solitary, aloof creatures. This is so far from the truth as most cats simply want love. Understanding why your cat behaves the way it does helps develop a closer bond.

Common cat behaviours I’ve outlined here today should give you an idea of what to expect if you’re a new cat parent. Even experienced cat crazy people can be constantly surprised by a cat’s quirkiness.

All cat behaviour explained can take a long time as there’s so much to learn. Look out for future posts here as I’ll be diving deeper into some of them.

Wishing you a purrfect day 🙂

18 thoughts on “Discover All About Cat Behaviour (What Your Cat Is Trying To Tell You)”

  1. Never knew a lot of these car behaviours before but they’re really interesting I can keep a look out for them now, great article!

  2. Hi Kathy, this is truly an article that i have been looking for! Thank you for sharing it.
    I am just a new owner of a cat, and getting to know this pet takes time. But with this information you wrote gave me insightful ideas to learn to know more about my cat through their behavior.
    I also see that you got so much informations in this website that i need so i am bookmarking it.
    Thanks again.

    • Thank you Hannah, yes, it takes time to get to know your pet, just like any other relationship. Cat’s are such amazing creatures and each with it’s own unique personality. Good luck with your new cat and may you enjoy many happy years of feline friendship! 🙂

  3. I loved this article Kathy as I have always been a cat person, I have a himalayan cat that is just a year old now. I am used to cats that show similar behaviors that dogs show, the last two cats I had came when I called them and were very affectionate. This new cat Oscar Meyer only wants attention when he wants it and is disgusted if we try to force it lol. He also tears up and down through the house when he wants to play its quite funny to watch, but will also rub up against us and he does the head butt thing as well. He licks us sometimes too I didn’t see anything in your article about that, is that also a sign of affection or he lacking salt or?

    • Thank you Amanda:) Yes, licking is definitely a sign of affection! My cat Alfie does it as well. I think it’s a grooming thing, as cats always spend time grooming each other. We are after all, part of their family:) Interesting to hear that your last two cats came when you called them. Some breeds of cat show behaviours similar to dogs. My cat has selective hearing, and only comes when called if food is involved lol!!.:)

  4. I’ve never been a cat person Kathy, but my wife did have one once and i can relate to the body language you so perfectly explained,,,,,,,,, love your post, so clear and precise.
    Keep up the great work.

  5. My son has a cute little kitty. I myself, have always been a dog owner. So I knew nothing about cats. So this information was great. His new cat likes to hiss a lot and frankly it scares me LOL. Why do cats do that and how can you change their behavior. I am assuming that this is not a playful happy gesture. Maybe he sees that I am scared?

    • Thank you for your comment! I’m the reverse, but have owned a German Shepard a few years back. Cats tend to hiss if they feel threatened, so maybe your son has other pets that kitty doesn’t feel comfortable around.:) I’ve never heard of a cat hissing at a person though lol!

  6. Have not had cats for many years, now I have a rescue cat that is older. The rubbing of the legs and walking between the legs when I am trying to feed her is a bother in the night when I get up. If I do not turn on a big light, I think I might fall over her.
    Your points on behavior is right on. My cat is an indoor cat, no front claws, so when she does her tap dance it does not hurt, but when she gets startled and has to take off, she can leave a big gash with her back claws.
    What does it mean when the cat lays on the floor in front of you and rolls over repeatedly in front of me. She looks happy doing this.

    • Thank you John, I’m always stepping back on my cat as he walks up behind me when I’m in the kitchen. I’ve accidentally stepped on his tail many times lol! If a cat lays in front of you and rolls over it’s a real sign of affection. My cat does Alfie does this all the time. If I’m in the garden and he’s around, he’ll come up beside me and roll over on his back!

  7. What a nice post you wrote! I really enjoyed reading it and I could not be silent about your post so I decided to leave my comment here and say Thank You! For sharing this quality post with others.
    Actually this is exactly the information that I was looking for information about cat behavior and when I landed to your website and read this post, it answered all my questions in details.
    So I’m happy that you decided to write about this topic and share it with people. It’s very useful and can definitely be used as a great source for everyone.
    I will come back to your website again for sure and I’m looking forward to reading your new posts.)


    • Hi Ali, thank you for your kind comment and glad you found the article useful. Cats are such fun and each has it’s own unique ideosynchrasies.

  8. I’ve grown up with cats. Mostly Siamese cats whether they’re full Siamese or not and most people say they don’t like them cause they behave differently than other cats . I don’t see the difference. I have always treated / raised my cat babies the same way.
    I also find it so interesting to know that I read cats very well which surprised me, after reading this . I also learned a few interesting things that I haven’t experienced before too. It goes to show we can all learn something new about our furry friends/companions too.
    Thank you

    • Hi Teresa, glad you enjoyed this post about cat behavior and learnt something from it. I agree, we should treat all cats equally, no matter what breed. It’s similar in a way to discrimination among people! Yes, we can always learn something new about our furry felines! Thanks for stopping by:)

  9. Oh yes they will my husbands raised a baby kitty with a bottle before here eyes were opened and she lets you know you are not her parent she’s not aggressive she’s also hissed at the vetDrbut never tried to bite or scratch and that a good thing

    • Hi Kathy, thank you for your comment:) How wonderful your husband bottle fed a baby kitten. Yes, cats are very knowing and just like kids will put you in your place lol! My cats have always fine with the vet but your kitty probably hissed because she was scared. Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed this post:)


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