Why Do Cats… The Definitive Guide to Your Cat Questions
Why do cats do what they do? If you’re a new furbaby parent, or if your cat is something really funny or interesting, then this page is for you!
We uncover all the reasons why cats are… cats! So sit back, and prepare to have all your questions answered.
Feel free to also go straight to the question you want answered the most:
Why do Cats like Boxes?
Many of us don’t know that boxes can help them improve their health and well-being.
There are three reasons that explain why cats have a special fondness for boxes:
- Stress therapy
The University of Utrecht research team discovered that unlike humans, cats wouldn’t mind being boxed (literally) all day everyday. Access to boxes and hiding in them, as recorded in their journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science based on findings, makes cats more adaptable to changes (like environmental, for example) that usually bring stress to them. Decrease in stress therefore means less chances of immunodeficiency as stress causes increased cortisol levels resulting to contagious diseases, and this was observed when the researchers rated cats with and without boxes using the Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress Score in as early as the third and fourth day during their 14-day study.
Cardboard boxes are perfect insulators in maintaining your cat’s body heat. A cat’s normal body temperature is higher than us humans, which is between 100.5 to 102.5°F according to TheCatCoach.com owner Marilyn Krieger. Domestic cats are most comfortable with 86 to 97°F a.k.a. 30 to 36°C, the thermoneutral zone, and human homes are normally 72°F or 22°C in temperature based on National Research Council’s 2006 study.
For cats to be more at home with boxes, get them curled up with treats inside plus a towel, or if they have separation anxiety with you, leave any item that has your scent on. Keep a box safe for playtime too by making sure it’s free from tape, handles and staples.
So the next time you think of disposing your boxes, stop and think of leaving it for your cat!
Why do Cats Hate Bath Time?
Cat lovers like us are no strangers to this — a superstition proven as fact but not applicable to all cats. Most of our furry friends would rather lick their fur or run away and hide than bathe with water. If you’re wondering why cats have a bizarre kind of relationship with H2O, there are three explanations that we know so far on cat bath fears:
- History and science from experience. Both have a say when it comes to the love-hate relationship between cats and water.Science indicates human have shielded domestic cats from the rain from many centuries, which can act as the behind why cats now avoid water. Additionally, cats historically have had domestic cat ancestors that have had limited to no contact with water, such as the Desert Cat from Africa and China, and the Wild European Cat.
Cats can also have this trauma with water to avoid heavy rains, forced bath or splashes given to them as a form of discipline. Those who never experienced getting their bodies wet with water would have that first-timer anxiety, and those who are sensitive to odors may also be uncomfortable with tap water due to the scent of chemicals that it contains.
- That wet and heavy feeling. Humans can feel uncomfortably soaked after getting wet during a storm, and cats can feel the same way with their waterlogged fur. While the top layer of their fur is somewhat water-resistant, too much water will cause their lower layers of fur to take in water which will create added uncomfortable weight to their bodies. This can cause them to be cold and wet, and if soaked for too long, cats will start to shiver and become sick. So cats try to avoid being sick by avoiding water to begin with.
However, not all cats have hydrophobia and hate bathing! Here are some examples of cats who position themselves near bodies of water when fishing, and the big jungle cats, such as lions and tigers, who swim to cool off.
How do I get my cat to take a bath?
Some tips to help you in bathing cats:
- use the right shampoo
- put toys in the tub, pet your cat
- don’t rush bath time
- rub gently with a soft towel
- keep your cat warm with a blowdryer but nozzle shouldn’t be too close
- make sure you have a reward ready for being well-behaved during bathing
Why do Cats Love Catnip?
Not sure why cats love catnip so much? If you are new to a cat’s fascination with catnip, then this section is for you.
As a type of herb belonging to the same “family” as oregano and spearmint, catnip is also called “catmint” and it can grow up to one metre in height!
Catnip’s scientific name is Nepeta Cataria. It has a rich history that can be traced from its early years as Agnus Catus, a Roman herb that has been used as medicinal tea until today for digestive and respiratory problems. Much later, catnip was brought to America and grown as crops to be used as tea and herbal medication. For centuries, it has been known as a natural treatment for insomnia, arthritis, cramps and headaches. If you’ve got that green thumb, you can even consider catnip planting as long as you can provide a huge, cat-restricted garden space with good sunlight (because they do grow and spread) or as an alternative, a container placed on a hard surface for support.
Catnip toys for cats are made with either catnip leaves or catnip essential oil. Catnip gives a cat more energy as soon as it’s sniffed, licked and chewed. Catnip contact leads to more head and body movements (e.g. rolling, rubbing, shaking heads, drooling, leaping) and more purrs, ending up very playful due to that natural high lasting about ten minutes on the average. Just imagine what chocolates and coffee can do to chocoholics and coffeeholics, right? It’s not a drug and there’s no such thing as catnip overdose, yet feeding in moderate amounts are still highly encouraged.
Catnip does heal humans but it has this mysterious effect on cats that makes them go “gaga” for a few minutes (then it would take at least a 30-minute break to get that kind of ten-minute high again). Here are three factors to consider as to what catnip can do to our cats:
No longer limited to driving away insects such as mosquitos, Nepetalactone is the oil in catnip that evaporates when a cat’s mouth, body or paws come into contact with and creates pressure or damage on the plant’s stems and leaves (no need to ingest). This creates the smell that when sniffed, enters the cat’s brain areas: the amygdala, responsible for a mammal’s emotional response, and the hypothalamus gland, the creator of signals for sex and hunger.
Physical and psychological benefits
Catnip has a calming effect on cats after the ten-minute high, and this can help them deal with stress. Apart from sharper natural instincts, catnip mice and other catnip toys promote good health with regular interactive playtime and exercise. It also can be a good tool for positive reinforcement, if you don’t want them them wandering around where they shouldn’t go, keep using catnip oil to mark their territory and help them stay put.
There are also some cats who don’t react to catnip, such as kittens younger than eight weeks and senior cats. Catnip is also not advisable for cats with seizures (it increases risks) and cats that are pregnant (it causes contraction that can result in early labor). To make its potency last longer, catnip should be stored in the freezer using a Ziploc bag or an airtight container.
You can get your cat’s catnip fix in nurseries or online shops such as ours, but there are also alternative herbs such as valerian and tartarian honeysuckle shrub that create almost the same effect (almost because they’re less intense).
Why do Cats Sleep so Long?
How long do cats sleep? They’re not as lazy as they may look, with those soft eyes and purrs, but cats were born to sleep most of the time (and that means 12 to 16 hours of cat naps out of 24 in a day!) It’s like saying a cat aged six years spent four years having some shut eye and only two years of his life awake.
Now you wonder why cats are champions of power naps unlike the rest of us. You ask, how long do cats sleep? We can think of five reasons:
- They need a lot of energy to hunt and play. Cats are most active at twilight, hence they’re called crepuscular. Hunting is their exercise, and playing is how they unwind and bond with their humans.
- They just might like what they’re dreaming about during REM sleep. Yes, cats dream during rapid sleep — it can be about playing with toys, chasing rats, or just about anything — and you can tell when it happens by body language, especially the unusual movement of its paws while asleep. If not for William Dement’s discovery of REM sleep in cats back in the late 1950’s, we wouldn’t know they also experience it just like us humans.
- It’s part of growing up. They sleep more when they’re young and less when they’re older. A young cat’s periods of sleep triggers the release of a growth hormone so the longer the sleep per day, the faster they grow and develop.
- They’re bored because either their humans won’t play with them or are not home. Indoor cats not only adjust to where they live, but also to their owners’ sleeping habits and schedule. If a human leaves his cat behind when going to work, the sleepy cat may take advantage of that time to rest or catch some zzzs since they will get bored (unless there are toys easily available at home to play with). The good thing is, a healthy cat would definitely be more interactive when the human comes back due to a more relaxed body and mind.
- It’s “bed weather” time. Whether it’s cloudy or rainy as long as they feel cold, cats sleep longer. They also feel the need to cuddle and be cuddled.
Why do Cats Knead?
Why do cats knead? The kneading habit starts when they’re still kittens, but there are still cat owners who are not aware why their feline friends do it. There are even historical theories that describe such cat behavior as a wild cat’s way of creating a temporary resting place on foliage or grass a.k.a. “nesting”. This act of alternate paw-pushing (using either both front paws or all four) on your belly, lap or any soft surface could be painful and irritating, and your cat has no idea about what you really feel at all. But one things for sure, their reasons for kneading point towards one direction and it’s a positive sign: AFFECTION.
Kneading is actually an affectionate form of body language for cats because:
- They want more milk from mommy, or they want to feel young again that it becomes a habit. It’s what you can call juvenile stimulation behavior on the mammary glands and it releases endorphins — a win-win situation for both mommy cat and baby cat. Cats also tend to knead as they grow up to feel secure and cared for as they relive their “kittenhood”, to have that same level of security and comfort they get from their moms (especially when they feel sleepy).
- They like you back. Kneading with their claws is how they show that they appreciate their humans a lot, all the more while you’re petting them. Make sure to put a cushion or blanket on so you won’t feel that much pain when their claws come in contact with your body.
- They can be very territorial with you and the things they want most. Cats have this strong sense of ownership over people, places and objects that manifests through kneading upon activation of their scent glands on their paw pads.
Cats need affection, hence they knead. They also knead when they get what they need. Let us know by telling us via social media where your kitty likes to knead!
Why do Cats Purr?
The sound of cat purring is often perceived as a normal reaction when happy or hungry. Little do many of us know that this simple sound can be interpreted in many ways, and it can also affect humans positively as history dictates. Read on to know how we answer the familiar question “Why do cats purr?”
Somewhere in Cyprus more than a decade ago, a wild cat believed to be almost 10,000 years of age was found buried with a human. Prior to this, many have thought of the Egyptians to be the first in the world to treat cats as pets and worship them too. A war god in Egypt named Bastet was even pictured with a cat’s head on top of a woman’s body. Others who saw cats as sacred beings are the Norse farmers (they offered to cats for a fruitful harvest), the Chinese farmers (who asked for protection from Li-Shou the cat god for the fields to be free from mice), and the Polish (they have a cat god for protecting domesticated pets from evil spirits, named Ovinnik).
History has it then, that cats have been beneficial to our farmer ancestors. Until now, they are helping us in great ways as pets. Cat purring actually brings perks to both cats and humans who take good care of them.
Here’s what you need to know about cats and purring (as promised). We have more than one answer to “Why do cats purr?” and let us do the breakdown for you:
- Scientifically speaking, there’s teamwork involving a cat’s brain, larynx and diaphragm. Laryngeal muscles are to cats as vocal chords are to humans. Cats get to “communicate” by purring when these muscles vibrate. Vibrations happen when working together with the diaphragmatic muscles upon getting the message from the feline brain’s neural oscillator. This is why purrs are created when cats breathe in and out.
- Self-healing. A cat soothes itself too with its purrs, bearing the same de-stressing effect when humans hear it. Purring is like a coping mechanism for cats a.k.a. inappropriate purring, which leads to calming their nerves when they are nervous or sad, regenerating tissues in their bodies, and strengthening their bones and muscles in the same intensity exercise gives us the same kind of power (hence, being like Spiderman and jumping down from a high place can be effortless yet painless to our furry little friends). And similar to exercise, purring releases the “happy hormone” endorphins (take it from Elle Woods of the film Legally Blonde, where she declared that exercise gives endorphins and endorphins make us happy). Cats are so good at pain management thanks to these endorphins, that we can compare ourselves to them somehow when we feel that sense of fulfillment after a workout despite the body sores.
Other instances where cats do inappropriate purring to self-heal are when they hear disturbing noises, are afraid, anxious or injured, give birth, feel sick or uncomfortable with major changes inside the house, or are close to death.
- Bonding with their parents and human friends. Newborn kittens listen to their mommy’s purring in order to find, reach out and stay close to them since they are born blind. When they’re a few days older, kittens can already purr and use this skill while cuddling with their moms for milk flow stimulation.
A cat’s purring when bonding with humans can be highly beneficial to the latter, because it can lessen heart attack risks, chances of insomnia, as well as promote joint mobility, bone and muscle healing and development, cure wounds and reduce swelling, tendon repair, and prevent or even heal breathing problems.
Quality time with your cat a day can keep the doctor away.
How Long do Cats Live?
We’ve been told that cats have nine lives…yet it remains a century-old superstition. They might be the type that are strong enough to recover from a fall or injury, yet they only live once just like us. Their playfulness reminds us that it’s also a good thing to let go sometimes and pull off a #YOLO.
How long do cats live? It’s 12 to 15 years on the average.
Let them be and let them sleep. About 13 to 14 hours of sleep daily is what they need to keep them healthy, happy and alert. Don’t panic if you see your cats play fighting, because it’s their version of human martial arts that makes them better hunters and be more effortless in practicing self-defense. If you already know what food is best for your cat, don’t feed him or her anything that’s harmful or toxic such as chocolates (heart problems, seizures, tremors, and loss of life), dairy products (diarrhea), raw fish and raw eggs (bacteria leading food poisoning, coat problems), grapes (kidney failure), and too much liver (toxicity to Vitamin A).
Now you know how long a cat’s actual lifespan is, we can help you help your cat live life to the fullest. Just three special tips to bear in mind:
If you own a senior cat (aged 7 years and up), make health a top priority. To prevent bladder issues, make cranberries and celery seeds a part of your cat’s diet. Both ingredients are the secret to a better bladder, with sustained healthy levels of fluid in the body. Make litter boxes more accessible as soon as your cat experiences problems with mobility. Feeding your cat high-fiber diet regularly and keeping him or her busy with interactive toys plus a walk in the park and other activities can prevent obesity. To deal with hairballs/furballs, get a lot of natural fibers and Omega-3 fatty acids for your cat’s coat. Schedule a DIY physical checkup with your cat weekly while grooming to check for problems in teeth, eyesight and hearing, as well as the presence of bumps and lumps, apart from the semi-annual appointments with the vet. Senior cats are also easily stressed that changes in behavior become obvious, therefore let them stick to routine and the living conditions they got used to.
Have you tried food puzzles? You should to keep your cat’s brain and natural instincts as sharp as they should be. Cattime.com has named seven DIY food puzzles (with YouTube videos) that are best for cats: The Paper Towel Roll Ball, The Hole-y Container, The Puzzle Board, The Foraging Cups and Box, The Water Bottle, Bat the Bottle Feeder, and The Egg Carton. Just make sure they won’t chew on their toys to avoid choking and messing up the playroom.
Take some pointers from Japanese cat owners, aside from Americans and the Brits. A 2016 report by Banfield Pet Hospital states that cats in the US have an average lifespan of 12.9 years. On the other hand, British cats have 14 years. Cats in Japan now have an average lifespan of 11.9 years (up from 5.1 years back in 1990), according to the latest study by a partnership between Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and the Japan Small Animal Veterinary Association, thanks to cat-friendly individuals and companies investing in vaccines, premium-quality food and medication and cat aromatherapy (yes, it’s big in Japan), keeping cats indoors most of the time, and coming up with fun activities like pet fashion shows. Longevity among cats is also seen as a trend relative to the longevity of humans in Japan, due to the increasing number of Japanese centenarians this year (65,692 as of this September).