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Ask the Vet: My Cat Does Strange Things by Kristel Weaver, DVM, MPVM
August 27, 2012

Who needs television when you have a cat? They are as unique as we are and endlessly entertaining. Some of the strange behaviors we see in our domestic cats are related to wild felid behaviors. 

My cat plays fetch with pompom balls.  Isn't this behavior typical of dogs, not cats?

Cats love to pretend to hunt small furry items and young cats are especially playful.  In the wild, a mother cat brings food home to her kittens, so retrieving is also instinctual. Not all cats play fetch, but if your cat has figured out this game of hunting and retrieving it’s a great way for her to play and exercise.

Why does my cat suddenly start racing from room to room at night?

Cats are hunters and have bursts of energy to catch their food. Indoor cats have an abundance of energy after napping all day and expend it by zipping around, hunting imaginary things or chasing shadows. Cats in the wild are nocturnal so this behavior is most often seen at night. Some cats also do it after using their litter box.

 Why does my cat suckle on my wool blanket?

Kittens knead and suckle on their mother when nursing to stimulate lactation. You can imagine this is a very pleasant experience. Many cats retain these behaviors and continue to knead or suckle when they are content. Some cats also knead or suckle to self-soothe.

What is my cat doing when he rubs his face on me?

When a cat rubs his face on you he or she is marking you as part of his territory. As they rub their face on you they leave trace amounts of (harmless) chemicals called pheromones. Pheromones are produced by scent glands located on their face, tail and feet. Other methods of marking are scratching, spraying urine or deliberately placing their feces. If you own a cat, you know that it is actually the cat that owns you.

Why does my cat eat weird things?

I’ve had several clients tell me that their cat chews adhesive materials, plastic, or ribbon among other things. Perhaps they find the texture or smell appealing.  Perhaps it feels like chewing on parts of their prey. Or perhaps there is something missing in their diet. Ingesting large chunks of material can lead to an intestinal blockage. Ribbon is extremely concerning because it's life threatening if it gets caught in the stomach and cuts through the intestinal walls. Keep your cats safe and put away whatever they might fancy eating.

Hopefully this sheds some light on the wacky kitty behaviors going on in your household.  Cats definitely have some very mysterious behavior, but let’s face it – that’s part of why we love them so much!

Dr. Kristel Weaver is a graduate of the Veterinary School at the University of California, Davis where she received both a DVM and a Master’s of Preventative Veterinary Medicine (MPVM).  She has been at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center & Urgent Care in San Ramon since 2007.  She currently lives in Oakland with her husband and their two children.


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