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Beacon Senior News

Your cat's strange behavior explained

Aug 01, 2022 01:32PM ● By Jenna Kretschman

If you share your life with a feline, you’ve probably wondered about strange behaviors. The answer to many of these behaviors lies in the unique history of the Felis catus—also known as the house cat! 

Our history with cats dates back 12,000 years. As humans began growing and storing grain, mice appeared, and naturally, cats followed. Back then, humans welcomed this method of rodent control, and today, 25 percent of U.S. families share their home with at least one feline. 

Unlike dogs, which were selectively bred for specific behaviors and physical characteristics, feline DNA hasn’t changed much. The cat that stomps on your face at 5 a.m. requesting breakfast is not much different than the wild cat that expertly stalked mice thousands of years ago. 

Perched high and low

At times, you might find your cat at the highest vantage point in the house on keen lookout for movement. Other times, you might find them curled tightly in a secluded corner under the bed. 

This behavior is best explained by cats’ unique position on the food chain as both predator and prey. They catch and eat small rodents, bugs and birds, but they’re also prey to animals like cougars, coyotes and raptors.  

Make your cat comfortable by adding a tall cat tree or cat shelves for high spots, and cozy hideaways like an enclosed, cave-shaped bed.


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Running wild

Cats are crepuscular, which means they’re most active at dusk and dawn. This explains why, after spending most of the day sleeping, your cat has “the zoomies” to release pent-up energy. For a more peaceful evening, try adding at least 15 minutes of interactive playtime before your cat’s dinner by mimicking the movement of prey using a toy on a string.  


Scratching

A common frustration for cat owners is furniture scratching. Scratching is an impulse that all cats have. It’s a necessity for surviving in the wild and is your cat’s way of marking their territory. 

There are several ways to keep cats from destroying furniture, including furniture covers, double-sided sticky tape and deterring scents. But scratching is an essential behavior, so be sure to provide appropriate scratching outlets for your cat, like a scratching post or cardboard scratcher. 

Surgical declawing is not a humane alternative to scratching and can cause your cat lifelong pain and additional behavior challenges, like biting and litterbox issues.