Cats have some uniquely weird behaviors that may leave you scratching your head and wondering if you should be worried about them. If your feline friend is prone to staring, scratching or even making a "stinky face" then don't worry — these are all totally normal cat behaviors, even if they might seem a little weird.
We've dug into 32 weird cat behaviors that you might be worried about, why your cat might be doing them and if there is anything you need to do to keep your cat safe and healthy.
32 weird cat behaviors that you’re worried about
1. Midnight "zoomies"
Cats are notorious for getting the "zoomies" late at night and terrifying other members of the household with their freaky behavior. Thankfully, a cat getting a late night burst of energy and sprinting around is actually totally normal and known as Frenetic Random Activity Periods or "Frapping". If you are concerned that your cat is under-stimulated or stressed and expressing this through their "zoomies", take them to the vet.
Chirping is another behavior you might find a little weird. It's actually just an example of cat communication: your furry friend is chatting with you or trying to connect. Give them some attention or a treat and see if that satisfies them.
- Related: Signs of a happy cat
3. Grooming their person
If you've ever wondered why do cats lick you, you'll be pleased to know most possible causes for this weird behavior are positive. Your cat is probably grooming you, expressing love or offering comfort. Alternatively, you might have been touching something smelly and they want a taste!
4. Sitting in boxes
The legend "if I fits, I sits" applies to most if not all cats. A box, a vase, even a square drawn on the floor is likely to be appealing to your cat, as it is an enclosed space that keeps them hidden. As an ambush predator, a comfortable spot where they can hide and watch for prey is your cat's idea of heaven.
- Related: Best cat sofa
If you find yourself asking "why does my cat bite me?" you'll be pleased to know this weird behavior is fairly normal, although often undesirable. They may be angry with you, not enjoying pets or be experiencing fear. Alternatively, they might not be expressing a negative emotion and are simply overzealous groomers, honing their hunting skills (you moved your hand in front of the tiny tiger, what did you expect?), or expressing their love in a slightly inappropriate way.
6. Coughing up hairballs
Your cat yacking up a hairball is unpleasant and concerning, but how normal is this weird behavior? If hairballs are appearing more than once a week, you should visit your vet, but an occasional hairball isn't something to worry about. You can get over the counter hairball treatment and ensure that you are grooming your cat properly and regularly to lower their chances of getting one.
7. Slow blinking
Slow blinking is another cute quirk of cat communication. It's a sign of trust and may be your kitty's way of saying "I love you".
Similar to slow blinking, your cat staring at you is an attempt to communicate. They may be hungry, scared, angry or happy — it all depends on the context around the behavior. If there is nothing else going on, it might be simple curiosity or your cat showing an interest in you as their favorite human.
9. Chewing plastic
LOTS of cats eat or chew plastic. While it's an undesirable and potentially dangerous behavior, particularly if your cat is swallowing little bits of plastic, you can rest easy that it is a common vice. Why does your cat eat plastic? It might be curiosity, boredom or that they just like the smell of it. If you suspect your cat has swallowed plastic, you need to take them to the vet to get checked out.
10. Poop face
Your cat might pull a weird face while pooping that makes you wonder if there is something wrong with them. Generally, it's just an expression your cat will pull while evacuating their bowels as a natural reaction to the process or because they are straining. If your cat is constipated you might want to speak to your vet about dietary changes.
Cats are fantastic for body doubling: they just want to be doing whatever you are doing because they see it as a social activity. While this can be annoying if your cat keeps sprawling across your computer keyboard while you're trying to work, it is normal behavior and not something to be worried about. Getting your cat "their own" version of whatever you are using (like a miniature toy laptop) might provide them with suitable distraction.
12. Knocking things over
One of the most annoying weird habits your cat may have is knocking things over, causing breakages, damage and slip hazards. But why do cats like to knock things over? They may be trying to get your attention or just feeling playful. Knocking things from height is an example of a domestic cat displaying its hunting behavior — that glass of water just looked particularly like prey.
13. Drinking from taps
Cats are attracted to running water, which may be why your cat prefers to drink from a dripping faucet, shower or even a pond. They want cool, fresh water, so you can see why water straight from the tap might be more appealing to your feline companion than still water in their bowl.
- Related: Best pet water fountains
What is cat head butting? This weird head bumping is often called "bunting" and is your cat trying to communicate something with you. Generally it is an expression of love and trust, but also might be your cat's attempt to mark you with their scent or get your attention.
15. Making biscuits
If your cat loves kneading or "making biscuits" on you or soft surfaces it can mean a variety of things. They might be expressing affection, stretching or simply trying to make a spot comfier ready for a nap. It might also be a kitten habit they never quite kicked, as kittens knead their mothers to express milk.
16. Making a stinky face
Cats sometimes curl their lip when sniffing, which is called the Flehmen response. They're essentially just having a really good sniff and trapping pheromones in their mouth and nose to properly analyze.
17. Eating plants
It's very annoying when you buy a beautiful new houseplant only to find it with kitty teeth marks moments after bringing it home, but can you stop a cat from eating plants? Your cat is probably just playing with dangling leaves or investigating the new thing with their mouth, but be wary of bringing potentially toxic plants into your home in case your cat ingests some. It is wise to keep plants out of reach of your cat if possible.
18. Hiding or covering food
You may find your cat covering or hiding their food, which can seem odd. This weird behavior is called caching and cats can do it in several different ways. They may cover their bowl with something, or drag their bowl to a different location in order to save the meal for later. If you think your cat is off their food, it might be time to take them to the vet to ensure nothing is wrong.
19. Covering their poop
Cats might bury their poop because it can give away their location to predators. It is perfectly natural for your cat to kick some litter over their droppings once they are done, and this may help also to contain the smell.
- Related: Best self-cleaning litterboxes
20. NOT covering poop
If your cat doesn't cover their poop, this may be a territorial display. In the wild big cats like lions and tigers leave their excrement out for everyone to see that they have claimed an area. Smaller or less dominant cats are more likely to bury so as not to offend the top cat in the area.
21. Pooping somewhere uncharacteristic
There are very few things as annoying as finding your cat has left you a smelly package somewhere other than their litter box, but how do you stop your cat pooping outside the litter box? And why do they do it? They might be protesting the condition of their litter box (make sure you are cleaning it regularly) or displaying dominant behavior in a multi-cat household. They may not like the location if their litter box, so try it in a few different locations to see if the behavior changes. Your cat may also be expressing that they are in pain, so if you suspect this might be the case take them to the vet.
22. Presenting belly
Cats generally don't expose their belly unless they are feeling relaxed and comfortable. They may be inviting you to pet their tummy, but be careful as some cats do not like this area being touched and will attack you. Start with gentle pets and monitor your cat's behavior to see if they are comfortable with the contact.
- Related: Are cats ticklish?
23. Arching back
This is another cat behavior that depends on context: a cat arching their back when you pet it is expressing something very different to cat arching their back and hissing. If a cat is enjoying pets, they will often arch into the contact, indicating they are enjoying the experience. A cat that feels threatened will try to make themselves seem bigger, which is why they also do this while hissing and spitting. It can also be a playful gesture and an invitation to interact, especially if done while rubbing against your legs.
24. Bringing "presents"
Cats are predators and have the instinct to hunt and to share their kills with loved ones. They may bring you toys, leaves or actual dead animals that they have killed themselves. These are all displays of the same instinct, and while sometimes disgusting, are generally demonstrations that your cat loves you and wants you to survive.
25. Chewing claws
This is a grooming behavior that you might find concerning, but it is natural, to a point. It might indicate that you need to take up cat nail clipping or may be an expression of anxiety if your cat is doing it a lot, but most cats do bite their nails as part of general self-maintenance.
26. Scratching furniture
Similar to nail biting, your cat is doing this to keep their claws sharp and sometimes to express their emotions. They may also be scent marking, expressing boredom or trying to deal with overgrown nails. If you are worried about your cat scratching the wall or furniture, you might be able to redirect this behavior by providing them with a scratching post, or checking that their nails are in good condition.
27. Licking their privates
One of the less cute cat behaviors, they do seem to be able to choose the worst possible times to stick a leg in the air and start licking their privates. This is a normal part of grooming and your cat is probably just keeping themselves clean, but excessive interest in that area may indicate a problem with parasites or skin irritation, so make sure to monitor this behavior if it becomes frequent or out of character.
Hissing is a fairly easy type of kitty commination to understand. Your cat is telling you they are annoyed, scared or feel threatened. They may also be in pain and require help, so be aware of the context around this behavior.
29. Sniffing their person's face
One of the weird behaviors cats engage in is sniffing human faces. You might wonder why your cat does this; are they trying to tell you to take a bath or that you're getting sick? Cats experience a lot of the world through their sense of smell, so generally when your cat sniffs your face they are just familiarizing themselves with your scent. If you're using new cosmetic products or have been out somewhere different, your cat will want to pick up this information by sniffing you.
A lonely or bored cat is likely to be a loud cat. This loud meow is often jarring and annoying, but your kitty is trying to tell you something important. They probably want your attention for good reason. If they are "yelling" from another room there may be something in there they want you to see.
31. Sleeping on your face or chest
There are a number of reasons your cat may choose to sleep on your chest, face or otherwise on you. They may feel secure sleeping on you because you are warm, breathing and they trust you. They may be acting territorially, telling other pets that you are their human, or it might be simply that they love you and want to be close to you.
Stalking is a natural expression of a cat's hunting instinct, although sometimes they might be stalking something that you can't imagine registers as "prey" to them. However, their prey drive is often triggered by moving objects, so you may find them stalking something like your feet. Look out, if they're suddenly crouching and lazer focused, your kitty might attack!
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Lou is an experienced writer and keen dog lover who works at PetRadar's sister site, LiveScience. When Lou isn't covering health and fitness, she's busy spending time with her family dogs or growing all kinds of veggies and flowers on her allotment.