A young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kitten
BARKS AND MUSINGS

A Trupanion blog

Much Ado About Cats—Cat Questions Answered

By: Alyssa Little
Cats are mysterious and inexplicable creatures. Have you ever wondered why they do the things they do or tried to communicate with your feline friend? If you are a new cat owner, you may still be learning about your best friend and even if you are an experienced cat owner, you may have always wondered about cat behaviors, traits, and development. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarians, Dr. Caroline Wilde and Dr. Sarah Nold, to get answers to cat owners’ most commonly asked questions.

When do cats stop growing?

Three brown kittens stand on a fuzzy white blanket

Kittens change and develop rapidly. Generally speaking, by two years old, a cat’s growth is complete. Every cat is different and some may grow and develop quicker than others. Wilde weighs in on a standard timeline for feline development:

  • Kitten stage: zero – six months
  • Teen stage: six months –1 year
  • Adult stage: Two years

When you first bring home your new best friend, consider researching their breed to learn more about them. Whether you have a Bengal or Main Coon, your cat grows and develops differently.

Why do cats lick you?

Black cat with yellow eyes sticks his tongue out

It may be no surprise to see your cat licking themselves. But how often does your cat lick you? Licking may be your pet’s way of trying to communicate with you. Consider the following:

  • Is this your feline friend’s normal grooming behavior?
  • Is your cat exhibiting attention-seeking behavior?
  • Is your cat trying to get you to behave in a certain way?
  • Are they showing indications of an underlying medical illness or behavioral condition?

If your cat is excessively licking you or themselves, they may be trying to tell you they’re not feeling well. Excessive licking can be associated with gastrointestinal disease, as it can be a sign of abnormal discomfort or nausea. “Licking may also mean that your cat is in pain,” says Wilde. If your cat’s licking becomes aggressive in nature, you should seek the medical care of your veterinarian.

Why do cats sleep so much?

Tan cat sleeping underneath some blankets

While all cats enjoy sleeping, some may choose to rest more than others. “Cats are evolutionarily nocturnal,” states Nold. “When you have them in your home, you ask them to live according to your daytime schedules and so they become more active during the day.” If your cat insists on being more active at night, especially if it’s a change from normal behavior, talk to your veterinarian.

Do cats snore?

Every cat is different and their size and breed can play a role in any noises they make. “Cats can snore and this may even be considered ‘normal’ in brachycephalic breeds,” says Nold. “Also, snoring is more common in obese cats. Snoring should be investigated by your veterinarian to determine if treatment is necessary, especially if your cat is a non-brachycephalic breed or there are other upper respiratory issues like sneezing, nasal discharge or mouth breathing.”

Why do cats yowl?

Grey and white cat with her mouth open

Your cat may communicate in a variety of ways, including yowling. Nold identified the following factors as reasons why your cat may yowl:

  • Stress
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Dementia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Attention Seeking

If your cat is showing signs of pain or a change in behavior, seek the medical care of your veterinarian.

Why is my cat shedding so much?

Cats shed. And while you may not think twice about your cat self-grooming, you may start to notice more cat fur in your home at different times of the year due to seasonal shedding. Nold recommends owners keep an eye on itching, scratching and chewing. If you notice your cat exhibiting any of these signs, seek the medical care of your veterinarian, as they can determine if medical tests are needed.

Why do cats knead?

Calico mom and kitten snuggle together

In most cases, kneading is a form of expression—or communication—for your cat. “Kneading is usually a calming behavior that cats do when they are relaxed. Scratching and kneading are necessary for claw and pad maintenance. Also, kneading is a form of marking and one of the ways that a cat may communicate,” says Nold. “But in some cases, it can progress to aggression. If the behavior seems excessive contact your veterinarian to determine if a behavior consult or medical tests are needed.”

Why is my cat’s nose dry?

A number of factors determine the healthiness of your cat’s nose, and sometimes your cat’s nose is just dry. Chronic signs of a dry nose include cracking, bleeding and decreased tear production. Consider talking to your veterinarian for recommendations on topical moisturizers—like Aquaphor or Kerasolv—tips for keeping your cat’s nose clean, and breed-specific factors.

Why do cats spray?

Siamese cat stands in front of a litter box

Although spraying is common, the meaning behind it could indicate an illness, a stressor, or instinctual mating habits. “Cat spraying can be a normal behavior but is typically considered unacceptable when household possessions are targeted. Intact cats spray to signal availability for mating. However, neutered cats can also spray and other factors, including illness, can trigger spraying. For example, urine spraying can sometimes be seen in cats with hyperthyroidism,” says Nold.

Consider keeping a journal, noting spraying incidents, as you may find the reason behind the marking.

Why do cats scratch?

Orange and white kitten with his paw in the air

There are many reasons why a cat may want to scratch. “Scratching is a very normal thing for a cat to do,” says Wilde. “This can stem from a cat wanting to sharpen their claws, mark their territory—both visually and with their scent (there are scent glands on the paws)—or simply to help them stretch their bodies and their paws.” Additionally, cats can scratch due to fear, anxiety, or aggression—the latter of which is usually a sign of fear or anxiety.

If at any point your cat’s scratching is causing harm to you, your family, or property, you should seek medical care. Further, a veterinarian can guide you and determine a proper treatment plan.

Why is my cat sneezing?

Seasonal and environmental allergies can affect a cat of any age. If your cat is sneezing, scratching, or itching you should talk to your veterinarian to determine if your cat has allergies. Notice if your cat exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • Pawing at face or nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Nasal discharge
  • Decreased appetite

“If your pet is sneezing multiple times a day and is showing other signs, you should seek medical care,” says Nold.

Why do cat's purr?

Grey-stripped kitten nuzzles hand of owner

There are many reasons why your cat may purr. “When your cat purrs, it is often communicating contentment, or that they are relaxed. In contrast, they may self-soothe when they’re in pain or stressed. Your cat may purr excessively if they are stressed, anxious, or in pain. Also, purring is thought to have some healing effects, so if there is a change in your cat’s purr, it may indicate a change in your cat’s neck or throat,” says Wilde.

Do cats know their names?

While some cats may come when they’re called, others may only come running for mealtime, playtime, or some extra cuddles. Whether you choose to signal your cat by name, with noise or using physicality, your cat may let you know what they prefer with a simple head nod or tail-flick.

Understanding cat behavior

A white fluffy cat wears round silver and blue sunglasses

Whether you have a kitten or an adult cat, it is important to understand the behaviors of our feline friends—they may be trying to communicate with us, after all! By watching your cat’s behavior, noting any changes, and seeking the care of your veterinarian when appropriate, your cat may communicate more in the future!

A dog and cat snuggle

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A WORD FROM TRUPANION

Welcome to the Trupanion blog. A place to celebrate pets, pet health and medical insurance for cats and dogs.

This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Trupanion. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.

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