DEAR TABBY (VOL. 1) : BARKING CATS, KNEADY KITTENS, FINICKY FELINES & MORE
In Volume One of our Dear Tabby series, cat expert, Kristin Levine, answers your most pressing questions about cats, from hair chewing, to unexpected bites and barking noises.
Dear Tabby (Vol II): Lofty Tails, Paper Eating, Clothing Crazy & More
Any cat parent knows that cats are weird. But when your cat starts doing new strange things, it’s hard not to get freaked out. Cat parents posed some pretty peculiar questions to our cat experts, so we dug into cat science to figure out the answers!
In this edition of Dear Tabby, we break down everything from strange habits like water slapping and bag licking, to the eternal question of who owns who?
9 CAT QUESTIONS THAT COULD STUMP ANY PET PARENT
1. Do you think we own cats or do cats own us?
Starting with the tough questions right off the bat? Okay. Let’s be honest, we may be the ones who open our homes to our furry friends, but half the time it’s because they wander right on in and we just let them stay. We may scoop their food, but it’s usually them who sounds the alarm. We like to think of the cat-human relationship as symbiotic, but our feline friends are clever and they know how to toy with our emotions to suit their needs. Not that we really mind it, after all we love our cats and we want them to be happy. The answer to this question really depends whether you’re the sort that can resist your cat’s subtle manipulation or whether you consider it cute to let them rule the roost.
2. Why does my cat eat paper sometimes?
Similar to humans, cats can suffer from a condition called Pica which causes them to eat non-food objects. This condition can be due to underlying health conditions, so you should contact your veterinarian to rule them out. However, it’s also possible that your cat is just an oddball who enjoys the taste. In that case, you can try to curb this behavior with training.
3. Why is my cat more calm when I put a dress or shirt on her? She is calm and relaxed when she is wearing clothing. She is a wild child when she is not wearing a dress or shirt.
Though this initially may sound like a strange, abnormal behavior, it’s actually quite common both in pets and humans! Often when animals experience anxiety, clothes can help to provide comfort and a feeling of safety that helps to calm them down. Think about it. We use swaddles for when babies need to sleep, and we use weighted blankets as adults when we have trouble sleeping. For pets, we typically use thunder jackets to comfort from things like fireworks or bad weather. Clothes are just another version of this same tactic, which is helpful for everyday anxiety. If it helps her cope, it definitely doesn’t hurt to let your cat be her best fashionista self, and who knows – she could even become an Instagram fashion icon.
4. Is there any scientific research/reason as to what makes some people “die hard” cat people & others not so much?
For starters, “die hard” cat people are generally awesome people. There may not be any scientific research to back that up, but we know. There’s also no conclusive scientific research on why some people are more predisposed to liking cats, but it may be due to the fact that cats’ brains, and especially their emotional processing centers, are 90% similar to humans (much more similar than dogs’). So humans tend to read cats’ emotions similarly to how they’d read those of a human friend, which leads to the development a very close emotional bond.
5. Why does my cat like to lick plastic bags from the store?
There are actually a number of reasons your furry friend may take to licking those plastic grocery bags. For starters, they can absorb the smells of what they hold, so one that held meat might still smell or even taste delicious to your cat. The bags can also be made of materials that contain cornstarch or be lubricated with ingredients derived from animals that your cat might find tasty. It’s also possible your cat just likes the sound or feel of crinkly plastic bags. In some cases, this can also be caused by Pica, the condition that makes cats consume non-food items.
6. Why does my
cat splash his water all over the floor then look at it forlornly? The other
cats then can’t tell how much water is in the bowl, so now drink by placing a
paw in the water as they drink.
My kitchen is a water park
Cats are high-maintenance. We all know it. And they typically prefer to have fresh, running water. This is a preference developed by their ancestors that lived in the wild, who knew running water was less likely to collect dirt and other debris than stagnant puddles. Your cat may just be trying to “recreate” running water through these antics. One other possible explanation is that they don’t feel well and may be experiencing a health issue like kidney or thyroid problems, which would impact their water consumption. Talk to your vet to rule out the possibility of health issues. It’s also possible that your cat just wants something to play with and water is the most fun. Try getting a water fountain and see if that helps curb your cat’s splashing.
7. My cat LOVES the smell of Clorox. When I bleach my white slippers, he rubs his nose all over them. When I use Clorox Cleanup to clean a spill on my kitchen tile, he rubs his nose all over that area and sometimes even rolls around on it. What is up with that?
Surprisingly, your cat is not alone in this obsession. Our feline friends have been known to react to the smell of bleach or chlorine somewhat similarly to the way they react to catnip – rolling, sniffing, and generally flipping out. The reasoning behind this reaction is unknown, but as cats’ have a sense of smell that is far more developed than humans, it’s possible this scent triggers something similar to that of the reproductive hormones called pheromones. While it’s fine for your cat to hang around and enjoy the scent, be careful that he does not lick or ingest any strong bleach as this can cause serious illness.
8. I had flat cotton rugs in my bathroom. I then switched to the foam, fluffy carpet type of rug in my bathroom, and my cat does not like to walk on these rugs. She won’t even come in the bathroom. Seems very odd. WHY?
This one is a bit of a mystery. The best explanation we have is that cats are picky. It could be anything from the smell of the foam to her feeling unstable walking on them. With cats, anything sensory can set them off and they’re not quick to change their minds. As long as your cat isn’t harmed in any way by not being able to access the bathroom and doesn’t pick up any destructive habits like scratching or inappropriate elimination, we wouldn’t worry too much about her finicky tastes.
9. Just wondering why our adopted Camp Fire Kitty (she adopted us) “always” walks with her tail straight up. It’s a very pretty and fluffy tail, but it just seems so odd. We never had a kitty do this behavior. Thanks!
Good news – most likely this just means she’s happy! A straight-up tail is typically a sign of a content or even confident cat. Many kittens keep their tails straight up during their first few weeks and adult cats sometimes lift their tails to curl them with their friends. The higher it is, the more likely your cat is just feeling comfortable in her home and with her family! One possible other explanation is that your cat is looking to mate and is keeping her tail aloft as a signal to male cats. However, if it’s a constant thing this is likely not the case.
And there you have it—cats have a LOT of strange habits. Sometimes they’re easier to decipher than others. Do you have questions about your fur kid? Submit them to Dear Tabby!