• Yolanda M. Blake

Cat Quirks, Too

Last week, we delved into some of the most common questions surrounding cats, and today we hope to unravel the rest of your biggest questions about your favorite furry friend.

Most Frequently Asked Questions


Why do cats eat grass?


Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence to show that eating grass is bad for cats.

Often, eating grass may serve as a purging mechanism or is used as a means to relieve gut symptoms from parasites or infection. Some cats, however, simply enjoy the taste of young, herbaceous sprouts.


All in all, it’s a curious, but harmless, behavior.


Why do cats knead?


The term ‘kneading’ came into being because the cat’s motion is much like that of kneading bread. It’s also called making biscuits, making bread, or marching.


When young, kittens knead the mammary glands of their mother to stimulate milk production during nursing. Kneading is also used to mark territory by allowing the release of pheromones from scent glands located in the paw. Lastly, kneading helps cats to break down bedding, creating a cozy sleeping environment.


When a cat kneads, it’s usually a sign of affection, happiness, and comfort. So, consider this the highest compliment.


Why are cats afraid of cucumbers?


Unfortunately, there are a few theories, but no definitive answer to this weird behavior. Most experts agree that cats aren’t necessarily afraid of the cucumber itself.


One of the most popular theories is that cucumbers remind cats of snakes, which sets off a flight or fight response. Of course, Another theory is that the sudden appearance of the cucumber is what scares the cat, creating a “jump scare” affect. While such behavior might be good for a chuckle, most vets do not recommend intentionally scaring your pet. Such antics, however funny, could lead to prolonged stress when done repeatedly and could cause your cat to become distrustful of his surroundings.


Why do cats hate water?


Certain breeds of cats, like the Maine Coon, Turkish Van, and Bengals actually enjoy being in and around water. The main reason that most breeds dislike water relates to their coat becoming too heavy and uncomfortable when wet. Cats groom themselves voraciously, which stops skin oils from building up on their fur. As a result, a cat's coat is not very waterproof, so they easily get cold and their fur feels heavy when wet.


Do cats need baths?


Cats spend between 30 to 50 percent of their day grooming themselves. Intensive grooming helps cats mask their scent to avoid predators. It also helps them regulate body temperature, promotes blood flow, and distributes natural oils evenly around their coat. As such, your cat generally won’t need a bath often, as they’re very good at keeping themselves clean.


But there is the odd occasion when it makes sense to give a cat a bath. The National Cat Groomers of America recommends cats get a bath every 6-8 weeks to keep their coats from getting matted or pelted. Alternatively, many cat owners choose to use pet-wipes, which are cleaning wipes that are specially formulated to keep your cat clean and fresh.


Why do cats love catnip?


Did you know that a cat's nose has special catnip receptors? Catnip is perennial herb and member of the mint family; its active ingredient, nepetalactone, is found mostly in its leaves and stems. Nepetalactone doesn't just affect domestic cats. It also has documented effects on lions, tigers, and leopards, as well as a handful of other animals. Notably, it can be used as a mosquito and fly repellent, and in humans it can act as a mild sedative and anti-spasmodic agent.


Surprisingly, more than half of the world’s felines do not respond to catnip at all. For the other half catnip is not considered harmful, and the responses vary from sedation to hyperactivity.


Why do cats have whiskers?


A cat’s whiskers, also known as tactile hairs or vibrissae, are a lot like a human’s touch receptors. Whiskers help inform cats of surrounding objects and air movements and are a highly sensitive organ. Their length helps a cat to gauge its ability to navigate tight spaces, and they can be raised or lowered as a means of communication or during stressful events. Because cats depend on these touch receptors for so much, you should never trim or pluck your cat’s whiskers.


A few interesting facts—whiskers are two to three times thicker than regular cat fur and are found not only along either side of a cat’s nose and above their eyes, but also on their front legs.


Why does my cat suddenly act crazy for no reason?


This is often called the ‘zoomies’ by cat owners and is not unusual. Cats sleep up to sixteen hours a day. They stereotypically get the zoomies late at night, and it’s a means of releasing pent-up energy that hasn't been spent hunting or playing throughout the day. Cats are predators at heart that rely on the act of hunting (or play hunting) to stimulate their mental instincts and desires, and this sudden burst of energy is just an expression of those natural instincts.


Why do cats groom each other and then fight?


Cats frequently groom fight when they have gone from one bonding activity (grooming) to another—playing. Such play fighting can sometimes turn aggressive and include biting. This behavior does not usually cause concern and is a normal part of social interactions among felines.


Why are pregnant women told to avoid cats?


Pregnant women do not, contrary to popular belief, need to avoid cats altogether through the length of their pregnancy.


Cats, especially cats that spend time outdoors, can pick up microscopic parasites called toxoplasma gondii from the soil, from catching an infected rodent, or from eating plants growing in infested soil. The disease, toxoplasmosis, can be extremely dangerous for babies of pregnant women, causing serious problems that can potentially include vision loss, mental disabilities, and seizures.


Indoor cats are less likely to pick up this parasite. However, it’s usually a good idea for pregnant women to avoid cleaning the cat’s litter box, just in case.


Why do cats spray?


It is normal for intact cats to spray to mark their territory and let other cats know the boundaries of their domain. This is one of the many reasons we strongly encourage pet owners to spay or neuter their cat before they get into the habit of spraying. Neutering or spaying a cat before they start spraying significantly decreases the chances of spraying later in life, as it removes the hormones that can trigger spraying.


Of course, spraying can also be a behavioral issue. You should schedule a vet appointment if your cat is neutered and still spraying, as most behavioral problems can be corrected if addressed early.


Well, that’s it. Those are the most asked questions about cats made to Google. How about you? Are there any questions you have that weren’t covered here? Maybe a question specific to your own cat experience? Please reach out and let us know on social media.


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