Cat Behaviour 101: All You Need to Know

Cats are fascinating creatures to live with but if you’ve ever had one, you know their behaviours can often be intriguing leaving you scratching your head in confusion. Well, there’s no need to be perplexed anymore! Through this article we decode some key cat behaviours to help understand what they are really thinking and feeling.


Head Butting & Rubbing

Unlike some animals, when a cat knocks their noggin against you it is a sign of fondness – their way of declaring I like you! Experts say cats will physically use their heads to show affection by headbutting or rubbing against you, leaving their scent as a form of communication and identification with you.

However, cats also tend to rub up against a lot of other things too, not to show fondness, but instead to mark their territory. It’s their way of telling everyone that this is their stuff – yes that includes you too.

Lying on Their Back

A cat lying on her back can mean very different things, so it’s important not to take a behaviour out of context. You should always look at the cat’s body as a whole before deciding what they are trying to tell you. If your favourite feline is napping with their belly exposed, it probably indicates they are feeling secure and relaxed. If they are awake, simultaneously purring and kneading their paws in the air, they are content and stress-free. However, if you see your cat on their back, ears flattened or pupils dilated; they feel threatened.

Dry Heaving / Gagging

Although this behaviour is easier to understand, it’s still worth a mention. More often than not, if you come across your cat gagging or on the verge of throwing up it’s usually due to a hairball. Hairballs can occur when your cat increases their grooming due to skin problems or as a behavioural pattern related to anxiety. Furthermore, another reason your cat could be facing hairballs is that they are having a problem moving the hair through their gastrointestinal tract. 

If you’re looking for a great cat hairball home remedy we suggest laxatives to help lubricate and move the hairball through the intestine, hairball control foods and treats; or brushing their coat with a brush designed to remove as much lose hair as possible – subsequently reducing the volume of hair ingested.

Urinating on Personal Belongings

As mentioned earlier, cats like their environment to have their scent, as it’s a way of marking their territory - so when foreign-smelling objects invade their space they will often choose to mingle their familiar scent with the new one. Unfortunately for us, one of the most effective ways of transferring scent is to urinate or spray on objects.

While it may seem disgusting to you that your cat has urinated in your suitcase this behaviour may actually be relieving some of the anxiety your feline friend is feeling.


Cats kneed prior to relaxing. This involves pacing, on top of a soft object - usually a bed, blanket or even our lap. Some cats will purr or even drool at the same time. Kneading is often a pleasant behaviour – I mean until the claws come out.

Kneading first begins when kittens are suckling milk from their mother, the massaging behaviour would help release the milk. Cats carry on with this behaviour, perhaps to recreate pleasant feelings, to create a comfortable spot or to place their scent on the underlying object. If you’re cat is kneading, it means they are really happy.

The Flehmen Response

Have you noticed times when your cat—perhaps while sniffing your shoe—lifts their head, opens their mouth slightly, curls back their lips and squints their eyes? They're not making a statement about how smelly your shoes are; they're gathering more information.

Your cat's sense of smell is so essential to them that they actually have an extra olfactory organ that very few other creatures have: the Jacobson's organ. It's located on the roof of their mouth behind their front teeth and is connected to the nasal cavity. This organ helps them gather more information on particular smells that intrigues them. What they do with that information, we are still yet to understand.

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