Animal agenda with RSPCA WA: Explaining the curious and quirky behaviour of cats

RSPCA WAMidwest Times
Cats love hiding in small and unusual places.
Camera IconCats love hiding in small and unusual places. Credit: RSPCA WA

Cats can be strange and quirky creatures.

Amidst everyday behaviours such as cuddling and playing, our feline friends sometimes do things that we just don’t understand.

Some of these habits link back to cats’ heritage, while others are simply signs of love and happiness.

Decoding your pet’s body language is a great way to better understand and bond with them, so we’ve rounded up four strange cat behaviours to explain what they may actually mean.

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Hiding in small places

Ever wonder why your cat prefers to curl up in the most curious places? Popular picks include cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, cupboards and sinks. This behaviour is evolutionary, as cats in the wild were prey to larger species. All cats need resting and hiding places where they feel safe and secure, so let them find their own spots and provide them with soft bedding. If your cat is suddenly hiding more than usual, take notice, as this could be the first sign of illness or infection.


This is the closest you’ll get to an “I love you” from your feline friend and usually means your cat is happy and relaxed. Headbutting (correctly referred to as “head bunting”) is a way to share scent with others so the whole “family” smells the same. This behaviour should not be confused with head pressing, where cats press their heads against a hard surface, as this could indicate pain requiring further investigation.

Making biscuits

Cats knead by working their paws on a soft surface, like a mat or even your legs, as if they’re making dough. This behaviour harks back to kittenhood, when your cat would massage their mother’s teats to encourage milk flow. It’s another sign your cat is happy and content.


Feline vocalisations are fascinating and one of the cutest sounds is cat ‘chirping’. Your cat may greet you with a high-pitched ‘hello’ or chirp at birds they see through the window. This behaviour harks back to when mother cats would chirp to tell their kittens to follow them. If you have more than one cat, they may chirp to communicate with each other.

As humans, we rely on verbal communication, but cats communicate mostly through body postures and scent. Being able to read your pet’s body language to understand when they are scared, anxious or bored will help improve your bond. Signs of stress in dogs are well-known, but cats can be a little harder to figure out. Their moods can seem to come out of nowhere (I have experienced this first-hand with my own cats). Learning early signs of stress, such as a swishing tail, dilated pupils, tense body and ears back, can help you figure out your cat’s likes and dislikes and avoid any potential triggers for aggression. Knowing what’s “normal” for your cat can also help you spot any medical problems. If in doubt, a vet should be your first point of call.


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