Why Do Cats Get into Trouble?

Cats are often seen as mysterious and hard to understand.

They do things that just don’t make sense to humans. In fact, when cats do these things they are usually referred to as ‘bad’, even though what the cat might be doing is perfectly natural to her. Let’s take a look at some of our feline companions more puzzling behaviors.

Why Do They Bring Us Dead Creatures?

This is a frequently asked question; usually immediately following the discovery of a dead mouse or bird in the house. Adult cats teach kittens how to hunt by bringing them dead small creatures; often mice, so the kitten can play with it. The mouse’s tail looks like a good toy so the kitten is usually playing with the mouse quickly. Later the adult cats will bring the kittens stunned but alive prey so the kittens can perfect their hunting abilities.

Without being able to ask the cats why they bring their people dead creatures, experts believe two different scenarios come into play. First, your cat may be trying to teach you how to hunt as she would a kitten. After all, if you have a mouse in the house or garage or rats in the backyard, she may feel your hunting skills are not up to par.

The other theory is that she wants to show off her prowess. “Here, see what an awesome hunter I am!” I’m not sure I believe the idea that cats try to earn their keep by showing off their kills, but it certainly looks like it sometimes—especially when multiple mice are lined up in the kitchen.

Whichever reason you think makes the most sense, remember: your cat is a cat. Cats are hunters by nature, that hunting instinct hard-coded into their DNA. While you don’t want that dead mouse on your carpet, remember that your cat is just doing what it’s made to do.

Cat on Keyboard

©istock.com/Valery Kudryavtsev

Why Do Cats Sit on the Keyboard?

Although cats have been bringing up dead mice for hundreds of years, cats plopping themselves on the keyboard is a more recent activity. So why do they do this?

This one’s simple: cats lie down on your keyboard because they want your attention. You are sitting, being relatively still, and so as far as your cat is concerned, that’s a good time for you to pet her. They have no idea that your fingers tapping away mean anything. Your cat doesn’t know that you might be working. To her, this is simply a good time for you to pay attention to her.

If you’re the subject of constant keyboard plopping, you might need to get creative to keep your cat happy while you work. For example, I placed a small cat bed on my desk to the side and slightly behind my keyboard. My cat can be on the desk, comfortable, and I can pet her every once in a while.

She Wants In. Now Out. Now In.

Cats hate closed doors. They just hate them. And unless your cat learns how to work doorknobs (don’t laugh; many have) then she’s going to want you to open all doors and leave them open. Obviously, leaving the outside doors open 24/7 is almost impossible; you’re not paying to air condition or heat the outside, not to mention the dangers that could present itself to you or your cat.

Cats dislike closed doors because they want to know what’s going on. There might be a game, food, or a comfortable blanket on the other side of that closed door. Or another cat, or a dog, or who knows; maybe a monster. The phrase, ‘Curiosity killed the cat,” applies to closed doors.

If a door must be closed and your cat is focused on it, try to distract her. A food dispensing toy, a ball, or some petting from you might distract her. If nothing seems to work, take a paper towel soaked with white vinegar and rub that lower portion of that door so that the vinegar smell lingers. Cats and vinegar don’t get along.

Howling cat

©istock.com/vitaliybilyak

She’s Yowling!

Felines are vocal creatures and have a wide vocabulary of sounds. Most we can get along with: tiny mews, medium meows, chatters, and of course, purrs. But when your cat yowls (that loud sound halfway between a meow and a scream), the hair on the back of your neck stands up. Why on earth do cats make this terrible sound?

Cats usually yowl when they’re not happy. He may be hurt, sick, confused, frightened, or lost. A female cat in season yowls. This loud, grating sound is the cat’s way of saying he needs help.

But cats are smart. Sometimes they learn that a yowl will also get your attention. Your cat might then yowl when he’s hungry. He may yowl when it’s playtime and you aren’t doing anything about it. He may yowl because he’s bored and wants something to happen. The key is to respond to the yowl only when something is truly wrong. Otherwise, ignore the yowl and let it become nonfunctional for your cat.

Watch and Learn

Even though feline behavior can be confusing sometimes, their behavior (like ours) occurs for a reason. The easiest way to figure it out is to watch your cat and see what she’s trying to communicate to you. What is she doing? When does she do it? Can you figure out what she wants from you?

With more understanding, the two of you will have more fun together. So watch her and learn!

Meet the Author: Liz Palika

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and the co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in Vista, CA. Liz is also an award-winning author and writer specializing in pets. She writes about cats, cat behavior and health, dogs, dog behavior and health, living with pets, and pet nutrition. Liz’s works have been recognized with many awards, but her most recent book, “Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training” (Penguin Books, 2014) recently won the Best Nonfiction book category in the San Diego Book Writing competition. Liz shares her home with two dogs; Bashir, an Australian Shepherd, and Bones, an English Shepherd. Three cats, Spock, Scottie, and Kirk, provide motivation for her articles about cats. And yes, she is a Star Trek fan. For more information go to www.kindredspiritsk9.com.

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