Why Does My Cat…?

Cats communicate with each other and with us in many different ways. Have you ever wondered what your cat is trying to tell you? Or why your cat twitches in its sleep? Do cats see in colour and are they actually smarter than us?

Here are the answers to some of those puzzling pussycat phenomena!

  1. Your cat is giving you a cat kiss when she sits with her eyes half shut, then slowly blinks them at you. By slowly blinking back you return the compliment. 
  2. Dribbling on your lap is a sign of affection! Some cats get so relaxed, their parasympathetic nervous system (the OPPOSITE of the flight / fright response system) kicks in to produce saliva as though the cat is eating (or maybe having a pleasant cat dream). Kneading your lap is also a sign of contentment. 
  3. Yes, cats do dream! 70 percent of their sleep time is light sleep or cat napping. The other 30 percent is spent in REM or deep sleep, even thought their brain is just as active as when they are awake. There is a special part of a cat’s brain that inhibits full muscular action which is why you can see your cat ‘virtually’ hunting and playing while deeply asleep! Those little paw and whisker twitchings are the miniaturised muscle movements from their dream sequences. 
  4. Most cats are southpaws. 38 percent of cats are lefthanded, 20 percent are right handed and the rest are ambidextrous! 
  5. Cat claws grow continuously which is why they have to scratch! However your cat is not just filing her nails when she shreds your furniture, she is also leaving her mark for cohabitants. It is much easier to encourage your cat to use a post or something she IS allowed to scratch from the start, than it is to train her off her armchair artwork… 
  6. Cat’s eyes are designed for dim light – they can see quite well in a sixth of the light that we can. They can also perceive reds, and some shades of green, yellow and blue. 
  7. Cats are smart enough to need antidepressants. And smart enough to learn to train their humans! We all perform tricks our cats have taught us (like opening the fridge door on the command of meeeoow). In behaviour terms, the cats reward us with perfect timing and positive reinforcement! Smart? They’re so clever at fooling us!

About the Author

Dr. Kim Kendall BVSc MACVSc (Cat Medicine and Animal Behaviour) is one of Australia’s and the worlds best known Cat Vets. 

Since 1994 her dedicated cat-only veterinary, boarding and grooming centre, The Chatswood Cat Palace has been based on Sydney’s North Shore.  

Kim loves cats, and wants the best for them, using science to back up intuition and passion for feline health. She is also a pioneering expert in the field of Feline Friendly Care at home and at the vet clinic and has written extensively on the subject. Read more

By Dr Kim Kendall – Last updated 3 November 2014
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