What are my silly cats doing now?
May 16, 2012 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Why do my cats act all funny? (Obligatory adorable cat pictures inside.)

So Malcolm, my little boy (the black kitty) likes to shake his tail at me. I might be sitting in the bathroom, or at the dining room table, or on the sofa and he'll back up to me and shake his tail. What's up with that? Is he trying to spray me (and having no luck because he's neutered?)

Also, what's the deal with the Furrminator? It works great, but whenever I try to brush Malcolm, he acts like I'm skinning him. He hates it! We refer to it as "The Cat Biter" because he can't stand it. We've tried giving him treats during the brushing, but he's having none of it.

Eartha, his sister (the snowshoe kitty) doesn't love the Furrminator, but she'll put up with being brushed.

Eartha has a love for rubber bands and will go to incredible lengths to get at them. We've rounded them all up and put them in cat-proof places, but she can smell them or something. Yesterday, Husbunny found that she had dug through a huge pile of his papers to find the one item with a rubber band, and tried to abscond with it. How do we keep her from finding, eating and either excreating or upchucking rubber bands?

They have a ton of toys, get plenty of noms and lots of positive attention.

Here are the pictures:

Sweet Kitties

Boo-boo Ki-kies.
posted by Ruthless Bunny to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Why do my cats act all funny?

Because they're cats. That's....pretty much it.

But seriously: my own cat did that tail-shake thing sometimes, and I never knew why, I just chalked it up to "he's a cat, cats are weird." And he also went bizarro-insane-obsessive for used Emery boards and rubber bands, and he also hated being brushed for a long time.

He did those things because he was a cat. Because cats are weird.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:59 PM on May 16, 2012 [10 favorites]

Cannot agree with EmpressCallipygos any more. She hit the nail on the head.

Cats are weird and do weird things.

If Malcolm was trying to spray you, he would be. Being neutered doesn't mean he can't pee on you.

As for rubber bands.. rubber has a smell. Ever open a new back of rubber bands? They smell like rubber. I imagine cats, who have much better noses then us, can still smell it even if we can't.

I know my cats love the rings from milk jugs something fierce. Milk jug rings: Best cat toys ever. They're just small enough for cats to bat around, toss up into the air, and carry around. Perhaps it's the same thing with the rubber bands.

One of my cats picks up any small bit of trash that didn't make it in the trash can (due to bad aim) and carries it off to who knows where. Her name should be magpie. I expect to find a nest of discarded straw papers one of these days.
posted by royalsong at 2:14 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've had a few cats do the tail-shake thing and it's a sign of extreme happiness where a treat is anticipated. Lucy does it when I go to bed which, for her, is treat time, or when I get home from work.

She also has lots of toys but favours little bits of foil, particularly sweet wrappers.

So, yes, cats are weird.
posted by essexjan at 2:22 PM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: You mean waggle? Female cats do this as well, it's just an expression of happiness, they are glad you are there/did something cool. Look at this happy kitty! [SYTL]
As to the furminator: it can hurt. It's designed to go fairly deep to get to the undercoat so it can 'scratch' on the skin. If the cat has sensitive skin this can be very unpleasant. I would just stick to some other brush/comb.
The rubber band: cats love those, eat those, they look and move a bit like worms. It's on you to keep them away from the cat(s).
posted by travelwithcats at 2:23 PM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

The only answer to "why does my cat do x?" is, as others have said, "because cats are weird".

My cat does the tail shaking thing to me too, but only when he is downstairs and I am peering over the loft of my office to say hi to him. I don't really know why, but I guess it's because he's excited or happy? He also does it when he sees birds out the window or when we come home from being gone all day, so I'm assuming happy/excited.

The only cure to the rubber band thing is to stop leaving them out. Some cats just love to play with or gnaw on odd things. I had a cat once that liked to lick plastic bags. Cats are just plain weird.
posted by bedhead at 2:24 PM on May 16, 2012

My girl cat does the tail-shake thing, usuallly when she's happy and excited to see me.

My boy cat loves to chew the shit out of my Crocs and the rubber on my husband's sneakers.

So if your cats are weird, mine are the same kind of weird.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:30 PM on May 16, 2012

A furminator can be scratchy. To be honest, I don't think it's worth forcing it on a cat who hates it - the cat is, if not actually in pain, at least uncomfortable and scared.

Also, there are other hairbrushes that do a good job - maybe even a better one than the furminator, depending on your cat. I know that when I pick up a sweater covered in cat hairs, they're not mostly the soft undercoat hairs, but hairs from the top coat. A brush like this is really good at taking care of that.

You don't get the same huge, fluffy, air-filled piles that make you feel like you've basically created a brand new cat just out of your old cat's hair, so it's less viscerally satisfying, but ... IMO it's just as effective, or more so. (at least with my cats).
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 2:41 PM on May 16, 2012

My cat:

-"buffs" people's shoes with his (claws retracted) paws. Every single person who comes through the door.

-LOVES used Q-tips with a fiery passion.

-howls in the foyer for no reason some nights.

-makes inappropriate messes only on my husband's side of the bed. (dumb? I think not.)

-tries to herd me, like a border collie, towards his food bowl.

-also shakes his tail at me sans urination.

I'll say it again: cats are weird.
posted by Punctual at 2:42 PM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: One of my cats shakes her tail at me, too. She does it while looking at me adoringly, so I take it as, "Oh Mommy, I'm so happy to see you! I love you so much!"
posted by Maisie at 5:29 PM on May 16, 2012

A shedding blade might be more comfortable for him than the Furminator is. They're very effective — I usually end a session looking at the heap of loose fur that's come off and chiding the cats that there's enough there for me to knit a kitten out of it.

In fact, my husband once combed a thin spot into one cat's fur (she really, really liked getting bladed).
posted by Lexica at 5:34 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The tail shaking behaviour is marking behaviour whether something comes out or not. So yes, your cat is letting you know that you belong to him/her (even if butt is aimed at something else, as long as s/he is looking at you). I have one cat, out of four, who does this.

Some animals go insane for certain scents and your kitty likes rubber bands.

Three of my four cats love being brushed.

Note: cats are weird.
posted by deborah at 6:29 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One of my kitties LOVES ponytail holders--the fabric-covered ones. I actually let her have them (I have been known to buy a pack specially for her--I don't wear ponytails) because I don't think she can actually eat them, so they don't present the same danger as rubber bands. They're much stiffer and stay in a round shape rather than a more easily-swallowed squished shape. Maybe your kitty will accept them as substitutes?
posted by primate moon at 7:18 PM on May 16, 2012

Best answer: I know a very affectionate cat who likes to come running to me, tail pointed straight in the air, quivering. It seems to indicate excitement and affection, something which is borne out by this website, which has quite a good overview of cat body language. Scroll down for an overview of different tail positions and what they mean.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:07 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

One of my cats loves the Furminator, the other hates it. With the second cat, I am having more success with a bristle brush.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:08 PM on May 20, 2012

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