Cat Behaviors: What Your Cat Is Trying to Tell You

A common misconception about cats is that they are on their own agenda and simply tolerate their owner’s existence, provided there’s food and a clean cat litter box. The seemingly erratic behavior that cats exhibit can confuse owners and guests alike and make it difficult to tell what exactly your cat wants. However, there are some common trends that will help take the mystery out of two of the more common behaviors.

One common thing you will inevitably see your cat do is push their head into anything that will support the weight: couch legs, tables, piles of paper and, if you’re lucky, maybe even your outstretched hand. You’ll notice this behavior even more when people who either own other animals are over, or people who are allergic are visiting.

The reason for all this is the same: the cat is trying to “own” the various things by putting their saliva on them. When your cat rubs the side of his mouth against things, he’s putting a little bit of saliva on it, creating a scent that will then be familiar and comforting to them.

This, coupled with the fact that it is also a soothing mechanism, explains why cats often prefer being stroked near the edges of their mouth. It will likely infuriate your allergic visitors to no end, but understand that the cat sees this visitor as an oddity, since they will likely have no scent at all.

Your cat simply wants this visitor to belong to the house and therefore will brush against them several times in an effort to put a scent on them.

Unfortunately, cat saliva is the most common form of pet allergy (contrary to the popular thought of pet dander) and thus a vicious cycle of cleaning off the saliva only to have the cat put the saliva back on later ensues.

Most people will just find it funny that the cat is targeting the allergic person, but to the cat, they are just trying to make the guest a member of the house. If your guest can stand it, let the cat rub on their pant leg a couple of times and likely that will be all it takes to have the cat leave them alone.

If your cat is an indoor cat, expect them to spend some time lounging near windows, especially during their playtime. You’ll probably hear strange meows that seem to stutter and come from the back of their throat. You may also see their tail flick violently, knocking down whatever is on or near the window ledge. Fear not, your cat is not sick or possessed, it’s simply acting out it’s hunting instinct on whatever creatures, leaves, or falling objects it sees outside.

Your best bet is to concede a window ledge or two in your home and to leave the shades pulled up enough so your cat can freely flick away, perhaps even pouncing into the window from time to time, without causing any damage.

Trying to fight this instinct will ultimately leave you with broken blinds, picture frames and whatever else you may have near the windows. If you want to see their behavior play out in full, drag an object on the ground with a piece of string and watch them go crazy to try and pounce it.

You’ll see very similar behaviors to what they show at the window ledge. Don’t worry, this behavior of pouncing is not only normal, it’s healthy. Play with your cats in this way to give them exercise and to let them pounce around.

These are just two of the many common behaviors you’ll see out of your cat in the years of owning one. By understanding why your cat behaves this way, you’ll be able to keep your cat happier and healthier. And you won’t have to spend your days wondering just what is possessing your cat today!

About the Author

Julia Laign is a veterinarian and columnist for She started her career in 2001 as a volunteer at Anima Care Center. Then she graduated from Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine and started her professional career.