Mystery Decoded: 9 Odd Cat Behaviors Explained

Written by: Kelli Brinegar
For more than five years, Kelli Brinegar has been using her ability to write and her passion for research to tell the tale of what cats are thinking and why. She has provided care to more than 30 cats in her lifetime.Read more
| Published on April 26, 2020

Oh, the strangeness of cats!

Just when cat parents think they’ve figured their out their kitty, then arises an odd cat behavior that leaves you scratching your head. And when it comes to cats, there’s a lot of strange in the things they do. Believe it or not, all these weird antics serve a purpose.

Check out these 9 odd cat behaviors to help decode the ancient riddles of catdom…

1. Odd Cat, Zoomie Cat

One odd cat behavior observed by every feline enthusiast is the sudden sprint. A cat goes from just chilling to gone in a flash, leaving their humans wondering what just happened. These ‘zoomies’ come from out of the blue and often happen for no reason we can see. But, these mad dashes do have reason behind them.

Cat blastoffs are a way to blow off pent-up energy. Though kitties require a lot of sleep, they require a good deal of activity when awake. So, if kitty hasn’t been active for a little bit, she might develop a flash need to release some energy. And the best way is zooming about the house, bounding off furniture and running the halls at speeds of up to 30 mph.

One of the most common odd cat behaviors is the ‘zoomies’. 

If your cat often takes off in sprints, those thundering paws might be telling you kitty needs more stimulation. A 10-minute play session, twice a day, with interactive toys like a wand can help burn off cat energy. Encouraging your cat to exercise can keep her in good sprinting form for years to come!

2. Getting Comfy on Your Stuff

Cats have some unwritten rule that requires them to lay all over your stuff. Whether it’s your keyboard, current book, or the shirt you were going to wear, a cat will settle himself right in, with no apologies for getting comfy. This odd cat behavior is one cat parents often work around because, let’s be honest, cats rule our worlds. Just know your sweet kitty love isn’t plopping down on your belongings to be a hindrance. Nope, he wants to be on your stuff because it smells like you!

Plus, your cat wants to leave his smell on your belongings as a reminder of him. As territorial creatures, cats also like to leave their scent for other felines to smell. Its a way of saying, “this is mine”. By draping himself on your trappings, your cat is laying claim on you and all the other stuff within his kitty kingdom. And he’s got no problem telling everybody how it is.

So remember, next time your cat plops down in your goods, he’s just saying how much he loves you!

3. Snoozing on Your Head

Strange little creatures they are, cats choose to sleep in odd places too. And one of those odd places happens to be your head. But their choice of cranial comfort spot isn’t random. This odd cat behavior is born out of trust as cats seek safe places to sleep, the time when they’re most vulnerable to the world. By sleeping on your head, a cat is telling you how safe they feel at your side.

Marilyn Krieger, certified cat behaviorist and owner of The Cat Coach, suggests warmth is also one reason cats like to sleep on your head. Krieger also theorizes cats sleep on or by our heads rather than curling up by our feet as many folks “toss and turn or have restless legs. There’s always some movement, but some people are more agitated than others.”

So, by sleeping on or near our heads, kitty dear won’t get bumped or kicked by a human’s nocturnal restlessness. Krieger says, “The cat wouldn’t have to move as much or be as accommodating.” And as cat lovers know, accommodation isn’t a cat’s strong suit.

Though sharing your pillow with your cat might not always be the most comfortable thing physically, just know she loves to be near you and by snoozing on your head, or anywhere on you for that matter, tightens the bond of cat and cat parent.

4. Nighttime Wild Cats

Most believe cats to be nocturnal creatures, out slinking beneath the moon as they hunt the night on stealthy paws. In truth, cats are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active in the hours right before sunrise and those just after sunset. Small rodents are active at these same times, which makes for prime hunting.

But just because cats sleep more at night than we realize doesn’t mean they don’t wake up from their midnight snoozing to pad through the house while we are fast asleep. And in these nighttime wanderings, odd cat behavior begins…

Some cats get wild at night.

From yowling in the dark to destruction by the feline kind, cats can wreak havoc on a household in the overnight hours. With indoor cats, nighttime hours aren’t spent outside hunting prey or exploring wild territory as their ancient DNA encourages them to do. Instead, they’re inside with their sleeping humans, doing their best to involve us in the shenanigans when up from their night time naps.

In these cool hours of the night, when we crave sleep the most, our kitties just want us to be awake with them because our fur darlings love us as much as we love them.

5. Butting Heads for Love

Why do cats head bump humans?

Its not because they want to argue with us. Nope, just the opposite! This odd cat behavior, known as bunting, comes from a place of happiness. According to cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, “The bunting and rubbing are reserved for bonding, social, comforting and friendly purposes.”

Cats have scent glands throughout their bodies, as well as on their head. These glands emit pheromones that leave a scent on what they’ve rubbed. By butting or rubbing their head against something, kitties are declaring they’ve been there. But scent communication goes far beyond marking territory. The layers of scent left by these pheromones communicate an array of signals to other animals.

Bumping heads is an odd cat behavior feline enthusiasts quite enjoy. 

When your cat bumps you on the head, whether it’s a gentle nudge or like a battering ram, be happy. She’s telling you she’s safe and content, which means love in cat language. Of those delightful head bumps, Bennett says, “It’s the next best thing to a kiss on the cheek.”

6. Gross Gifts of Love

If your cat spends any time outdoors, chances are you’ve received a gift from her. One that makes you stop and wrinkle your nose in disgust. But you don’t want to hurt your sweet girl’s feelings. After all, she brought you that mangled mouse or chomped lizard because she loves you and, as a prime huntress, she doesn’t want you to starve. Plus, she likes to say thanks for her place in the family.


Next time you find a dead gift from your cat, politely thank your hunter and promise to make a good stew before disposing of the gift while she can’t see. She’ll be so happy you’re pleased.

7. Chatter Cat

Cats make a whole symphony of sounds, but one of the strangest is the chatter.

This chattering happens when a cat has locked onto some form of prey. Dr. Erica Loftin told the Dodo, “It’s more of an excited sound and less of a sound used to hunt. It seems to be universal to cats of all ages and breeds. Even wild cats can make this sound.”

Chattering cats are focused cats.

Judging by the intensity of her gaze when kitty dear is focused on prey, she’s more than excited. She’s probably also frustrated as the stuttered vocalizations generally occur when cats can’t get to the object of their fascinations.

Distract your cat with toys when she’s eager to hunt. It may not curb her craving for fresh bird, but maybe she’ll feel less frustrated if she can destroy a toy bird instead.

8. Licking and Chewing Blankets

Ever watch your cat get ultra-comfy and suddenly, he starts licking or chewing his blanket? There are a few reasons for this odd cat behavior. PetMD lists the reasons as early weaning, genetics, stress, natural instinct, and comfort.

While the blanket fuzz seems like it would be unappealing to a cat’s sandpaper tongue, cats generally lick and chew blankets when happy and secure. The act goes back to kittenhood, when a kitten is safe with his mom. That your kitty does this when comfy with you indicates a high level of security.

But PetMD does suggest, if the behavior “begins fairly spontaneously, it could be a sign of pain (like dental pain) or other stress, and the cat could be suckling as a coping strategy.” In this case, make an appointment with the vet to check things out.

9. Squeezing All That Cat into A Tiny Box

Give a cat two boxes, one large and one small, and guess which box he’s going for?

That’s right. Always the smaller box.

Always the small box. 

Cats love to squish their furry bodies into impossibly small spaces as a means of security. As wild things at heart, cats seek safe places to rest. Their inner tiger has them always on the lookout for danger, and by sleeping or taking a break in a confined space, cats can take it easy knowing they’re covered at all sides.

While our cats seem like total mysteries, they are creatures of pure instinct. Pretty much everything they do has a purpose. And the more time you spend watching your cat, the better you’ll understand all those odd cat behaviors.

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