Why do cats show affection when they want something?

If you have a multi-cat household like me, then you know that every cat is different when it comes to affection. Some are aloof, some are friendly, some are very friendly, etc. But you’ve probably noticed that your cats get all kinds of affectionate when they want something. Ours rub our legs, purr, jump in our laps, and give us kitty kisses and head butts when they’re hungry. They also do this when they want to play, when they think we have treats – whenever they want something. Why do cats show affection when they want something from us?

It turns out cats show affection this way because it works

Our cats have learned exactly what they need to do to get certain responses from us. According to Dr. Kathryn Primm, our cats “know they have basic survival needs, like hunger and thirst. They know that we are the source of their resources, so they have become very adept at managing to get people to react in the ways they want.”

So in this way, cats show affection as a means of communication. They’re saying, “Hey, I need something from you.” Just as we learn how to ask people for things in ways that raise our chances of getting it, so too have cats learned this with affection.

Cats show affection to get affection

They don’t just do this when they want food or water, though. Cats show affection to us when they want affection back. Has your cat ever rubbed on you, then led you to his food bowl only for you to see that the bowl is full? Or to his favorite toy, but he doesn’t really seem interested in playing? We have a squillion memes for that kind of thing, but he could be telling you he just wants you to pet him.

So while it may seem like he’s totally selfish in some of his displays of affection, keep in mind that such displays may not be what they seem. Your cats show affection because they need things only you can give, including love.

Cats drink water using their amazing feel for physics

There is actual, interesting physics behind how cats drink water. At a glance, it might appear that all they do is use their tongues as cups to get water into their mouths. According to an article on Cat Channel, though, that’s not what they do at all. Instead, they use the tips of their tongues to create a column of water to pull into their mouths.

The way that cats drink water depends on the actual physics of water

Cats’ ability to drink water from a horizontal surface, such as a bowl, a puddle, a pond, or whatever else they may find in the wild, hinges on their tongues, and on water surface tension and liquid adhesion. Joanne McGonagle, the writer of the article on Cat Channel, says that Dr. Roman Stocker of MIT decided to investigate the physics behind how cats drink water after watching his own cat drink several years ago.

What Dr. Stocker found is that cats curl the tips of their tongues very sharply downward when they drink, instead of making a cup and scooping the water into their mouths. They very lightly touch the surface of the water, without piercing it, with the smooth tongue tip. The water sticks to the tongue, forming the column from which they then drink.

There’s an apparent understanding of physics that’s evident when cats drink water, and other times, too

According to a 2010 article in MIT News, cats instinctively know exactly when gravity will overcome the surface tension of the water and bring the column back down into the bowl, and they close their mouths around the water column to get their drinks. This is also how they keep their chins dry (or mostly dry) while drinking.

The physics behind how cats drink water results in about four laps per second for our furry feline friends at home. Bigger cats, which have correspondingly bigger tongues, lap more slowly, because more water sticks to the bigger surface area of their tongues.

The way cats drink water is different from how dogs drink water. Dogs actually do make little ladles out of their tongues to scoop water out of a bowl, according to the Washington Post. The researchers who began the study at MIT actually did so out of curiosity more than anything. The physics behind how cats drink water boils down to this: They have learned to balance gravity against inertia.

Here’s a slow-motion video of how cats drink water:

Promising New Research May Show Way To Help Declawed Cats

Declawed cats. The very idea is offensive and revolting to many pet owners, veterinarians, and animal rights activists, and rightly so. Declawing is an unnecessary amputation of the last bone of each toe, which causes ongoing problems for these cats. Those problems include arthritis, club-foot, chronic pain, and more. Those of us with declawed cats (whether we adopted them that way or had it done), who wish we could do something to help them, may be interested in this new research.

Personally, I know I’m interested. All four of our cats are declawed because we didn’t know what it actually was when we had it done. Once we learned the truth, it was too late. If there may soon be a standardized way to help them with pain and the problems the unnatural gaits that the missing bone causes, then I’m all ears.

Despite studies showing the opposite, people still report a higher rate of litter box problems with declawed cats

Many people whose cats are declawed report problems with litter box behavior. One (very strong) possible reason for the litter box problems declawed cats experience is the pain in their paws. Eventually, it’s just too painful to step and dig into cat litter – even the finest of fine-grained litters.

Dr. Ron Gaskin, a vet in Shakopee, Minnesota, may have a way to help that. He gave 18 declawed cats who were having litter box problems a two-week course of buprenorphine, which is a painkiller. Of those cats, more than 80 percent started using their boxes normally again.

There may also be a surgery that can help declawed cats

But that’s not all. What Dr. Gaskin has noticed is that declawed cats develop hyperflexion in their declawed paws, causing club-footedness and additional pain and problems. The chronic pain that declawed cats suffer gets worse over time, and raises cortisol levels, which in turn raises the risk of diabetes. So, besides the chronic pain, there are other health issues that may be linked to declawing, even if it’s not obvious at first.

There’s a surgery that Dr. Gaskin performed on 14 cats that he calls a “declaw salvage surgery.” It’s essentially a flexor tendonectomy that helps to correct the club-footedness declawing causes.

Obviously, neither of these options creates a free pass to have your cats declawed. There’s nothing out there right now that can replace the missing bones in their toes so they can walk completely normally again. In my personal opinion, though, anything that can help declawed cats live more normal, less pain-filled lives, it’s worth noticing.

Kittens and male cats: Can they be good daddies?

Most female cats will make good mothers. They’ll feed, wash, and care for their kittens. But what about male cats? Do they make good parents, too, even when they didn’t father the litter? Many of us have at least heard that male lions kill all the cubs they didn’t father when they take over a pride. I’ve sometimes wondered if that extends to other feline species. Can kittens and male cats be good together?

One woman’s experience with kittens and male cats changed her whole outlook

Dianne Meriwether answered that question, which originally appeared in the question form Quora, in a blog post that appeared in The Huffington Post. In it, she said she would have thought that male cats did not make good daddies. Her experience involves a male feral cat that approached their house after her female cat had kittens in the house. She had always heard that male cats eat kittens, so this frightened her. She thought he was after a meal.

What happened, though, surprised her. At first, she held one two-week old kitten up to the screen door, and the male cat responded by rubbing his cheeks on the screen. She finally let him in when the kittens were about four weeks old. He spent time washing each of the kittens, while their mother spent time trying to stay out of their reach. He also taught them to hunt, and fend for themselves. They followed him everywhere.

Male cats can sometimes take over mama’s role in her absence, but it’s wise to be careful with kittens and male cats

The Nest has an article with its own take on whether male cats can make good daddy cats. Author Elle Di Jensen of Demand Media advises people to keep an eye on mothers and their kittens if male cats are around, because they may still pose some danger. She also discusses some anecdotal evidence that male cats have actually shown up at people’s doors with litters of kittens in tow. Kittens wouldn’t follow a cat that threatened them; they’d run and hide.

Other answers to the original question on Quora insist that male cats can’t be good fathers. The bottom line appears to be that there’s no one way to answer this question. So, if you have a new litter of kittens in your household and male cats around, protect them, and perhaps introduce the male cats very slowly when the kittens are older. If the males show any aggression towards the kittens at all, keep them separate.

Cats Bullying Each Other: How Do You Stop It?

Bullying. It’s common in multi-cat households. We have it here – Chase and Kali will sometimes gang up on Gizmo, and Kali harasses Aria. I started looking for ways to stop this because there are days that our cats bullying each other gets really bad.

What can you do to stop your cats bullying each other?

First and foremost, if your cats aren’t spayed or neutered, get that done right away. This can prevent bullying, along with unwanted litters, yowling, and other behavior issues that arise with intact cats.

If your cats are sterilized, though, and you’re still having problems, consider how your cats might view the resources in your house. Those resources include food and water, the litter boxes, and territory. Do each of your cats have adequate territory, horizontal and vertical? You can create extra vertical territory with multiple cat trees, or even carpeted shelves on the walls. Vertical territory is very important for cats. Make sure each of your cats can get up high and away from the others. Ensure they have multiple escape routes, too. That way, nobody can trap anybody else.

Territory generally isn’t a problem in our house, even though it’s a little small for four cats. Neither is resources – we have five litter boxes around the house, and they all get fed in separate rooms on a schedule. They do have a communal water bowl but nobody chases anybody away from it.

One more thing you can do: Be sure your cats aren’t sick or injured. Cats are good at hiding pain and illness, but will swipe at someone who makes them feel worse.

So now what do we do to stop our cats bullying each other?

Well, to be honest, I haven’t been the best cat mom when it comes to interactive playtime. One of the things that playtime does is stimulate your feline friend’s instincts. Another is that it helps you bond with her. It can also tire them out so they don’t have the energy to bully each other.

Cat Behavior Associates also recommends giving each of your cats individual attention with playtime so nobody’s competing, especially if there’s only one of you to play with multiple cats. The same goes for affection: Don’t play favorites.

The best thing you can do, though, is to stop conflict between your cats as early as possible. Cats bullying each other happens when there’s conflict, and only gets worse over time. If you see one of your cats trying to stare down another, or intimidate each other—whether it’s over food and water, litter boxes, territory, or anything else—gently separate them and find a way to make it so things don’t escalate. Above all, do not yell at them or swat them. You’ll only make things worse.