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Feline Behaviors: Why Does My Kitty Do This?
Guest Writers' Forum Article

by Holly D. Webber

Holly D.Webber is the founder/owner of HDW Enterprises and the in-home Bengal cattery Foothill Felines Bengals, located in Sacramento, CA. She has been breeding Bengals for 6 years, and is also a breeder member of The International Cat Association, and The International Bengal Cat Society. In addition, Ms. Webber is the U.S. Foreign Correspondent for "PETWORLD" Magazine, published bi-monthly in Malaysia. Asa and I had the pleasure of meeting Holly and her son, Wesley, a few months ago, and spent a delightfully memorable afternoon playing with and "socializing" Bengal kittens.

The Fascinating Feline
Living with a cat is always an adventure, if one takes the time to observe, to reflect, and to wonder about some of the fascinating behaviors displayed in the course of a single day by a kitten or a cat!! And, when you have more than one feline in your home, of course there are all the other social interactive types of behaviors to watch and wonder about, too!! One thing you can definitely be sure about – cats do EVERYTHING for a reason!! Sometimes, that reason may involve something that we humans cannot see, hear or smell; and sometimes, that reason may simply and miraculously be part of the genetic and instinctive make-up of the wonderful animal we call a "cat". Here are some of the more common behaviors many cat owners have observed in their own felines, and perhaps even wondered about the reasons behind that behavior and/or the best way to respond to a certain behavior.

Dunking a Favorite Toy in His Food or Water Bowl
Has your cat ever dropped his favorite catnip mouse or rubber fetching ball in his water bowl? Or, have you gone to re-fill his food bowl, only to find a special toy of his right in the middle? It just might be that your cat is trying to find a "safe" place for his favorite things. It often happens that the toy that ends up in the water or food bowl is often a toy that has recently been enjoyed by your cat, or even by your cat with you. In the wild, cats often take their prey back to their "nest" area, and hide it from predators. Indoor cats don’t really have a "nest" per se, so they often consider their food and water dishes as the "safest" areas within their "territory".

Kneading You With His Paws
Most people realize that when their cat kneads your stomach with his paws, he is showing his love for you. Usually, the cat will have a very special, loving expression on his face; he may be purring, and he may even be drooling slightly. Your cat is back in touch with his instincts as a kitten when he does this, and feeling the same sense of comfort and warmth that he did as a kitten when he was with his mother. Young kittens knead their mother’s nipples to stimulate the "let down" reflex in her so that her milk flows for the kittens to suckle. If his kneading behavior is uncomfortable for you, be sure to keep your cat’s nails clipped short, and maybe keep an extra towel around to pad the area he is kneading!

Suddenly Starting to Hiss at You When You Are Petting Him
Sometimes, your cat may give you a hiss, or even try to scratch or bite you seemingly without warning right in the middle of what you thought was a pleasant petting or stroking session with him. It doesn’t mean that your cat no longer likes you! This behavior most likely is just the only way he knows to signal to you that he has had enough of the petting and stroking – perhaps it has gone on longer than what he enjoys. Chances are, if you think about it, perhaps you had actually continued the session longer than usual, or started thinking about something else while petting him, not realizing that your cat was getting uncomfortable and that so much time had passed.

Licking or Chewing Photographs or Plastic Bags

This is a difficult behavior to explain, and some cats are more prone to it than others. Most feline behaviorists have come to believe that some cats find a slight odor to the plastic and/or film surfaces simply irresistible, and also that the coolness and texture of the plastic and/or film must feel and taste good on the cat’s tongue. It may also be another form of trying to "nurse" – sort of a feline "oral compulsive" behavior.

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