Why Cats Chew Fingers, And What You Can Do About It

Some cats seem to have an odd habit. When you’re cuddling them and petting them, they go after your fingers. To you, it seems different from love bites and petting-induced aggression, and maybe you’ve noticed that your cat doesn’t bite so much as chew, gnaw or suck your fingers. Our matriarch, Gizmo, has done this with us her whole life and it is…perplexing behavior, to say the least. Why do cats chew fingers, anyway?

There is a variety of reasons why cats chew fingers

First off, if your cat is actually a little kitten around 9 weeks of age, she may be teething. Kittens who are teething often bite anything and everything. That includes your fingers and toes, because it relieves the discomfort of teeth growing in.

This is actually the perfect time to teach your kitten not to chew on things. The first thing you can do is give her chew toys she can chew on when you’re not playing with her. You can also teach her appropriate biting through interactive playtime.

There’s also “Ow! and Down,” which is a great way to teach her not to bite you. When she does, you say, “Ow!” in a high-pitched, but not loud, voice, and put her down or walk away from her. This teaches her that biting you is unacceptable without teaching her to fear you.

Adult cats chew fingers, too, though.

There are a few reasons why adult cats chew fingers. For many, it’s like wool-sucking – it’s something comforting from their kittenhood. It can also be your cat’s way of playing. We think that both these reasons are why Gizmo chews our fingers. To her, it’s both a throwback to her kittenhood, and it’s also fun and playful for her. We didn’t do much to stop her from doing it when she was a kitten, so she’s kept doing it through her entire adult life.

If your adult cat is chewing on your fingers, you can train her out of it with more playtime, and also with the “Ow! and Down” technique. Be aware, though, that it will take considerably longer if she’s already grown. It’s always easier to train kittens than cats, but don’t let that stop you if you’d rather she didn’t use you as a chew toy.

The butt wiggle: Why do cats do this before they pounce?

We’ve all seen our cats do it: They crouch down very low, zero in on their prey, whatever it is, then wiggle their butts right before launching themselves into the air and pouncing. It’s so cute, and so hilarious, that nobody can really get enough of it. What is that, though? Why do cats do the butt wiggle right before they pounce?

The butt wiggle has to do with hunting behavior

There’s an actual reason for this that has to do with how cats hunt. Yes, they’re stealthy hunters, but one would think that wiggling their butts like that would belie their position and scare away their prey. However, you have definitely seen how they launch themselves – they must be properly grounded and balanced in order to launch successfully.

Enter the butt wiggle. This helps your kitty get her back feet in the exact position she needs for that launch. It’s rather like the way an athlete will position his or her feet right before jumping, taking off in a sprint, diving, etc.

Watch below (and don’t drink anything beforehand):

Big cats do the butt wiggle, too

In the wild, the big cousins of our furry feline friends—lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, etc.—actually dig their feet into the ground a bit for leverage before launching after their prey. The wiggle of a big cat is likely much slower than that of your little cat, but it’s still there, and it’s done for the same reason.

In our house, all four cats do the butt wiggle before launching themselves after their own “prey,” which is usually a toy attached to a string, which is attached to a stick. They do it to varying degrees; Chase will actually stop and start his wiggling, as will Kali. Gizmo‘s is very brief, and Aria‘s seems to last forever.

We love watching all of them do it.

If you’d like to see more of the butt wiggle, click here. Buzzfeed has a great compilation of feline butt wiggle .gifs.

When Cats Sleep With You, You WILL Wind Up In Strange Positions

Do your cats sleep with you? I know some of mine do, and it’s usually Chase. Sometimes, I have Chase and Kali, and sometimes I have just Kali. Both of them usually like to sleep near my feet, but every so often, they’ll insist on sleeping in other places, like against my side, or up by my elbows, or on my back. Sometimes, they figure out how to take up an entire king sized bed.

When cats sleep with you, they can force you into all sorts of interesting positions

When cats sleep with you, you’re really, actually, sharing their bed. Not the other way around. There are some positions you have to get used to unless you think you’re going to keep your cats out at night. Now, for some people, that’s possible. For many of us, it means sleepless nights with the cats either banging on the door or meowing loudly and piteously nonstop.

With that said, The Huffington Post has an illustrated article depicting 10 sleeping positions that many of us cat parents know (all too well). I won’t list all of them here, but I will talk about the ones I deal with on a nearly nightly basis.

The Creep

One of the more common positions, when cats sleep with you, is called “The Creep,” and it’s so named for a reason. “The Creep” is when your cat climbs up on your chest, and stares at you while you’re trying to sleep. It’s creepy, in that adorable way that felines are so capable of.

This is a position I’m very familiar with when it comes to Chase sleeping with me. He’s a wool-sucker – meaning he suckles on fabric, and he likes suckling on blankets when those blankets are on me. He doesn’t keep his face buried in the blanket the whole time. He’ll often let go, and stare at me through slitted eyes while I doze off. I’ve gotten used to this, because he won’t allow anything else.

The Minefield

If you have cats that like to bring you presents, you might end up in this position if your cats sleep with you. Basically, your cat brings absolutely everything he can onto the bed before he goes to sleep between your knees. Shifting position at night is like walking a minefield because of all the objects on your bed, but you can’t move them away because he’ll just bring them back.

Neither Chase nor Kali does this, really, but sleeping with the both of them can constitute a minefield for me. Usually, Chase will stay between my feet, and Kali will sleep against my leg, essentially pinning one of my legs in place. Trying to move without kicking or shoving either of them does feel navigating a minefield.

The Marriage Counselor

I am a ridiculously light sleeper, so my husband and I don’t share a bed anymore. When we did, though, and Gizmo slept with us, she often played “marriage counselor.” When your cats sleep with you, and insist on being nowhere but between the two of you, this is the “marriage counselor” position.

These are the three that are most common for my cats and me. Which ones are the most common for you? Check out all 10 of HuffPo’s positions here.

Study Suggests Cats’ Coloring Determines Aggression

Since cats are still partly wild, they often seem capricious and prone to mood swings. You might wonder why one of your cats is aggressive in certain situations, while another is just as mellow as can be in those same situations. Chalk it partly up to individual personality and disposition, but it’s also possible that cats’ coloring determines aggression, too.

If cats’ coloring determines aggression, which cats are most aggressive?

According to a story in the Independent, female calicoes are more likely to be aggressive than cats of other colors. There isn’t data on how male calicoes behave, due to how rare those cats are (you will occasionally find male calicoes, but they’re very rare due to the fact that genes for both orange fur, and black fur, are carried on the X chromosome).

Black-and-white cats tend to be aggressive when handled, and gray-and-white cats get most aggressive while visiting the vet. Veterinary scientists at the University of California, Davis, surveyed 1,274 cat parents about what color cats they had, and when those cats most often displayed aggressive behavior. It seems that this survey may have, indeed, discovered that cats’ coloring determines aggression, at least to some degree.

What are the ideal colors for low levels of aggression?

The ideal colors, then, are solid black, gray or white, or tabby. That is, at least according to this study of whether cats’ coloring determines aggression. Gizmo, our solid black cat, does not like to be handled at all. She will claw and hiss, and sometimes even bite, unless we’re handling her on her express terms.

Kali’s a gray tabby, and she can be very affectionate, but she, too, only enjoys it on her terms. Her terms, however, come far more frequently than Gizmo’s. Chase is a black-and-brown tabby, and he’s a lot like Gizmo, except he doesn’t get aggressive when he doesn’t want to be handled. He just tries to get away.

Of all our cats, Aria is our most mellow, and will put up with an awful lot of petting, holding, hugging, and carrying, than our other three cats. She’s a dilute tortoiseshell, which isn’t mentioned in this article.

If it’s true that cats’ coloring determines aggression, then perhaps this could help people with deciding on a cat to adopt. It’s best to adopt a cat with a temperament that’s suited to your own lifestyle and home situation. For instance, if you have small children, you’ll want a cat that’s easygoing, mellow and tolerant. If calicoes truly don’t tolerate handling as well as, say, a solid white cat, then you can avoid calicoes that could snap at your children, just for being children.

Where Cats Like Being Pet the Most

You love to pet your cat, and your cat loves to be pet. Despite all her reactions, all her body language, you might have wondered where cats like being pet. Now, science has actually figured out where cats like being pet, at least, in two small-scale studies. Are any of these true of your cat?

Where cats like being pet the most

The primary study mentioned in a recent article in the Washington Post found that cats really like being pet on the head. This is especially true of their faces; where cats like being pet the most is their cheeks, chins, and even their mouths; all these are their favorite places for things like tiny, soft strokes and small scratches.

We can definitely see that in our own cats; when they want attention, it’s their faces they rub on us. Kali, Chase and Aria will all rub their cheeks and foreheads on us, and they love chin scratching. Gizmo is kind of an outlier, because her favorite place to be pet is right on top of her head. She headbutts, but she doesn’t really rub her chin and cheeks on us.

One possible reason that this is where cats like being pet the most is because this is where a lot of their scent glands are. They could be wired to enjoy having those areas touched and pressed to encourage them to frequently spread their scent. Cats have scent glands elsewhere, too, like in their paw pads, which is one reason why they scratch posts, furniture, trees, and more. Anything to mark their territory as thoroughly as possible.

Everywhere else

The Washington Post article says that cats consider their backs as “meh” petting territory. They also consider their paws and flanks as “meh” territory. I don’t know about your cats, but Chase, Kali and Aria love having their backs pet and scratched. Gizmo, again, is the outlier here. In fact, I’m pretty sure Kali walks away from her bowl in the middle of a meal for the sole purpose of making me scratch her back. She is one cat that definitely doesn’t consider her back to be “meh” petting territory.

Stroking all four of our cats along their backs makes them sleepy, when they’re in the mood for attention. It’s relaxing to them. One thing that the researchers put forth is that cats think of petting as a type of grooming activity, which is calming and reassuring for cats.

Places where cats like being pet do not include their tails, or more specifically, the bases of their tails. The researchers who conducted the study found that the base of cats’ tails is very sensitive, possibly because it’s an erogenous zone. Petting or scratching the base of the tail might overstimulate the area, so they don’t like it. Aria certainly doesn’t like it; she starts mewing in protest whenever we touch the base of her tail.

Despite all this scientific research, where cats like being pet the most may come down do how they were socialized, what kind of grooming they received as kittens, and what kind of attention they get at home. For each of our individual cats, the best way to determine where they like to be pet is to study their behavior, and their reactions, when you pet different parts of their bodies.

One Irritating, But Important Way Cats Communicate

One fun and enjoyable behavior in which your cat might engage is sticking her butt in your face. For us humans, that’s just gross at best, and a sign of extreme disrespect at worst. Our cats love us, though, and are, at the very least, Oscar-caliber actors and actresses when it comes to respect. Why on earth do they do that? Is this one way cats communicate?

It’s funny, but here at home, we actually don’t deal with this very much. Gizmo is most likely to stick her butt in our faces, but it’s usually because she’s turning circles on us, and trying to get comfortable. When I was a kid, though, my grandmother told me a story about her cat, Lynx. Lynx would always jump on the bed at night, climb onto my grandmother’s stomach, and promptly present her butt. That drove my grandmother nuts.

Cats have scent glands all over, including on their rear ends. Scent is one way cats communicate.

According to Dr. Karen Becker, one way cats communicate is through scent, and exchanging scent. When cats rub on each other, they’re depositing their own scents, and accepting each other’s scents. The same happens when our cats rub on us, and we scratch their ears: We exchange scents. Cats see this as social, as a form of communication.

Dr. Becker also quoted a passage from Vetstreet, which says that this might be your cat’s way of asking for affection. Cats communicate very, very differently than we do, and what we might interpret as contempt, they understand as asking a question, or telling you they want something.

She might also want to reaffirm your social bond

Vetstreet says that there are other possible reasons she’s sticking her butt in your face. She might be trying to reaffirm your social bond, as two cats would when they rub along each other. When two cats do that, they usually end up facing away from each other, with their butts toward each other. Cats communicate with us the same way they communicate with each other, but since we use our hands to rub them instead of our bodies, it might just seem like she’s intentionally sticking her butt in your face.

In short, this is a compliment. You can gently pick her up and turn her around, so that she’s facing you or has her side to you, if this behavior bothers you. Since cats communicate in ways that humans don’t, you might hurt her feelings by pushing her away.

Why do Cats like Licking us? The Answer’s Simple

Have you ever felt your cat’s rough, sandpaper tongue, and not just because you were giving him a pill, or have something tasty on your fingers? Maybe he lies down next to you and starts washing your arm, or if he’s like Aria, he settles himself on the back of your sofa or chair and starts washing your hair. What gives? Why do cats like licking us?

Licking and grooming is comforting

Mother cats groom their kittens from the time they’re born. Dr. Karen Becker says that the very first feeling a kitten experiences is the warm, raspy tongue of his mama. He can’t see, so he relies on his mama for everything, and being groomed is a very comforting feeling.

Siblings that are raised together often groom each other throughout their lives, and even cats that aren’t related, but who bond, will groom each other. This is how they show that they care for each other. In other words, our cats like licking us because it’s one way they show heir love for us. They’re “mothering” us, trying to give us warmth and comfort.

If you’re like me, though, your cat’s tongue hurts. Gizmo will try and wash my face whenever she gets the chance, and she usually goes for the tip of my nose. Worse, she sometimes goes for the really sensitive skin on my cheek, below my eye. It hurts! I can only stand a few licks from her on my face, and she doesn’t really wash me anywhere else. Of course, she doesn’t understand it hurts, and pulling away seems to hurt her feelings.

What to do when we don’t like it that our cats like licking us

When cats like licking us, we might feel that we have to put up with it, but we don’t. What do I do, when Gizmo starts licking my face, or Aria starts making my arm raw? I distract them, usually by scratching their ears or back. Catster agrees that distraction is a good way to stop this behavior. They suggest using a toy, or some catnip, to distract her attention.

Sometimes, we think our cats like licking us, but it’s really compulsive behavior because they’re stressed out. Licking is self-soothing, but cats suffering from this compulsion don’t always lick themselves. Try some good, interactive playtime to de-stress your cat, if you think he’s licking you because he’s stressed out. Daily play sessions can help cats who feel stressed.

Regardless of why our cats like licking us, trying to get them to stop altogether takes a lot of love and patience. Don’t yell at your cat, or get rough with him, especially if you suspect he’s licking you because he’s stressed. If his licking doesn’t bother you, though, then let him go to town. Just be careful to keep him from licking open cuts, scrapes and wounds.

Cats Don’t Like Hugs, but Why?

Yesterday was Hug Your Cat Day, which prompted articles full of photos of kitties hugging kitties, and people trying to hug kitties. It also prompted articles full of pictures of cats that absolutely hate being hugged. Most of us hug our cats whether they like it or not, and many of us have found that our cats don’t like hugs. Period.

Of our four cats, not one of them actually likes being hugged. If my cats represent all cats, I’d say they’re proof positive that cats don’t like hugs at all. Sure, they like it when I cuddle them, so long as I cuddle them when they want cuddles, and at no other time. However, even if they’re feeling affectionate, they all seem to draw the line at a hug.

Aria will sort of put up with it, but we can feel her tense up. Chase and Kali both start breathing funny; it speeds up and gets a little louder. They, likewise, tense up, and they both try and duck away if they think they can. They’ll also get very squirmy when they can’t. Gizmo flat-out refuses hugs, and will scamper away, duck away, or even push away if possible.

The reason cats don’t like hugs

We love to show our affection for each other with hugs, and since cats seem to like physical contact, it’s easy to think that they’d like hugs too, but they don’t. Why is it that cats don’t like hugs? What’s so terrible about them?

Way of Cats says that the feeling of a hug is confining to cats; we’re so much bigger than they are that we practically envelop them. Cats also feel threatened if we’re standing over them, and more so if we’re making eye contact with them. To cats, eye contact signals dominance, and even aggression. If you’re towering over your cat and making eye contact right before you envelop her in a hug, it doesn’t convey love to her. It’s frightening.

Don’t lose hope; you can still hug your cat

Fortunately, the fact that some cats don’t like hugs doesn’t mean all cats don’t like hugs. It also doesn’t mean you can’t hug your cat. You just have to learn to do it correctly. First things first: Don’t sneak up on your cat. They absolutely do not like being surprised, and you’ll spoil your chance for a good hug and some affection if you startle them.

Pet her softly, on her terms, in her favorite spot, where she’s most calm. If she seems receptive, then you can gently put your arms around her. Don’t grab her, hug her tightly, or otherwise be rough with her; see if you can let her know that she can get away if she doesn’t feel safe.

You might also need to just do it on her terms. Sometimes, it seems like cats don’t like hugs, but what’s really happening is that they don’t like it when it’s not on their terms. Sit down or lie down near her, and she if she’ll come to you. If she wants attention, she will, and you can see if you can hug her in this situation.

Our cats are more tolerant of hugs when the hug is entirely on their terms. It’s important to remember that some cats don’t like hugs no matter what, though, so if you’ve got one of these cats, and you’ve tried everything, don’t force the issue. She’ll show you affection in ways that she’s comfortable with, and that’s ultimately what’s most important.