11 typical cat behaviors and what they mean

Imagine walking into your bedroom and seeing your cat lying on your bed, staring fearlessly at you without blinking. Wow, that's a high level of effrontery, right?

You may think your cat has gone crazy and feel a little embarrassed, especially if you have a visitor. Well, cats may be naughty and do one or two crazy things sometimes.

However, knowing why your cat behaves in a particular way, what that behavior means, and how you should respond to such behavior will make you enjoy the best friendship with your feline companion.


If you fancy learning about the typical behaviors of cats and what they mean, you're in the right place. In this article, you will get more enlightenment about the behavior of your feline pet.

Here is a list of 11 typical behaviors of cats and what they mean:


When your cat sees you catching some fun with your kids or your siblings, they tend to come to you rolling on the ground.

Cats do not just roll on their backs, this is because rolling on their backs makes them vulnerable. However, seeing your cat rolling happily on their back right in front of you means they want some playtime or just your attention.

Your feline friend rolls because they want to be part of the whole fun. Despite being vulnerable when they roll, they have an assurance of safety with you.

The best way to respond to this behavior is to grant your cat some attention, pat them gently on the head, and scratch the back of their ears or some other spots they like best. This response will make your cat feel loved.


Cats are good at using their eyes to express what their mouth cannot say. If your cat stares at you, they are trying to pass relevant information to you depending on the situation.

You can figure out what your cat is trying to communicate by observing the dilation of their eyes and the position of their eyelids.

If your cat stares with slit eyes and shows up their teeth, it is an expression of aggression, dominance, and control. Perhaps the cat sees another cat or a strange creature and they're trying to warn them off.

You should respond to this behavior by carefully looking around to figure out if a strange animal is in the environment. Do not lock eyes with your cat when they stare, as they may become more aggressive and prompt an attack.


Don't be worried if you hear your cat chattering. Your feline friend chatters when they see prey such as a mouse or bird. It is believed that chattering is a cat's instinctive behavior that prepares their muscles to pounce on their prey.

Your cat may also chatter at you if you're playing with a toy that looks like their prey. The best thing to do is to keep such toys away from your cat because they tend to pounce on the toys and accidentally injure you with their claws.

Nail biting

If you notice your kitty lying gently and biting their nails, it may be a sign that your feline friend is bored or nervous. Sometimes, it may just be that your cat is giving themselves a manicure or perhaps the nail is itchy due to a parasite infestation.

You should respond to this behavior by initiating a play with your cat. If they become excited, then they are bored. However, if your cat ignores you and keeps biting their nail, try to inspect the nail to see if anything is wrong.

Rubbing head on you

Just as we release the feel-good hormones – dopamine - when we see someone we love, your cat releases pheromones from their head when they rub their head on you. This is done to mark you with their scent that you belong to them.

Rubbing their head on you is just a way of showing pride and claiming you as their owner. Respond lovingly to your cat by scratching around their ears and patting their head.

Curling in tiny spaces

Have you ever seen your cat fitting themselves to a tiny basket or a small box? You could have thought that your cat had gone crazy to have left the plenty of comfy spaces you provided for them, squeezing themselves into a tight space.

Well, your feline feels safe and secure when they curl up in a tiny space. Cats believe they are less vulnerable to predators when they hide in tiny spaces.

Doing this for a long time may make your cat less comfortable, so the best thing to do is to lure your cat out of their hiding space with toys, food, or catnip to give them comfort.

Food covering

You may feel awkward if you see your cat covering up their food bowl despite the time and energy you've spent preparing the delicacy. Your cats can cover their food bowl with shredded paper, broken plastic, or other objects. However, this behavior is not harmful.

Your cat does this to keep the food safe, especially from pests such as cockroaches and rats in the house. If you feel displeased with such behavior, you may simply place the food bowl on a surface that is far away from things your cat may use to cover the food.

Presenting their tail

Perhaps you're walking in the neighborhood and you see your cat stopping and presenting their tail to you, don't feel embarrassed. Your cat does this when they see other cats, especially bigger ones that may want to bully them.

By presenting their tail to you, they’re signaling to the other cats that they feel secure with you. To your cat, they are urging you to snuff their butt. This is similar to giving kisses or hugs to a friend.

You should respond to this behavior by scratching your cat somewhere they like to assure your feline friend that they're secure with you.


When you notice that your cat yowls or meows repeatedly without any disturbances around, it is a reproductive behavior. If you keep female cats and notice that they yowl continuously for a few days, it is a sign that your cats are on-heat and they're trying to find a potential male to mate with.

Similar behavior can occur in your male cat if they smell or hear a female cat that needs a mate. Cats repeat this behavior every 18 to 24 days of their breeding season. You may willingly allow your cats to mate by keeping the male and female cats together for a few days.


Perhaps you're on a phone call and boom, your cat comes and presses their paws on you. Well, they're not crazy, they are just trying to show excitement and their love to you.

Kneading is an instinctive behavior of cats. When they were kittens they knead their mother's mammary glands for milk. If your cat kneads at you, do not punish them, instead, take it as a compliment and pat them on the head. Doing this makes them feel loved.

Bringing odd gifts

You may feel irritated seeing your feline friend bring odd stuff like a dead mouse, bird, or insect to you, and then rolling happily in front of you. By doing this, your cat is trying to show you gratitude for taking care of them, thus trying to share their hunted prey with you.

If you want to stop your cats from doing this, you may keep them indoors or attach a bell on their necks to restrain them from hunting.


Like many other pets, cats have some typical behaviors that need to be understood to keep them as companions. Whereas, some of these behaviors such as kneading and yowling are instinctive, others such as food covering and nail-biting are learned behaviors.

You should always try to understand what your feline friend is trying to communicate with a particular behavior to respond positively to them.



Improve your cat's quality of life with these simple tricks which you can implement immediately.