How to Decode Your Cat’s Behavior

Solve your cat problems with this guide to understanding what your cat is "saying" and what to do in response.

View as Slideshow

1. Why Do Cats Cry In the Middle of the Night?

1. Why Do Cats Cry In the Middle of the Night?
Crying in the middle of the night or the early morning can usually be traced to two things: the season, and well, you. Cats' circadian rhythms adjust just as ours do. When summer approaches and the birds are up earlier, so is your cat, wanting to do exactly what predatory creatures innately want to do: hunt.

But not all pet owners will be okay with releasing their cat into the great outdoors, so if your indoor cat is inappropriately waking you up for food, you need to take action. Feeding your cat when he cries reinforces the bad behavior, while not responding to the crying with food teaches your cat there will be no reward for early-morning wake-ups. Figure out when breakfast will be and stick to the schedule.

2. Why Do Cats Roll on the Floor?

2. Why Do Cats Roll on the Floor?
Are you puzzled by the strange drop-and-roll move your cat performs? Look at the time and location of the rolling for clues, as it's often a look-at-me maneuver designed to catch your eye. Does it happen when you’re doing computer work? Lacing up sneakers before leaving the house? No matter where or when it happens, if you respond to your rolling kitty with affectionate cooing or a tap on the head, you're providing exactly what he wants: attention. If you can spare it at that moment, that might help reinforce your bond. But note that while dogs may roll for a belly rub, your cat's reasons for rolling are, well, cat-like—meaning on her terms. So your loving caress could leave you with a scratch or two.

3. Why Do Many Cats Meow Incessantly?

3. Why Do Many Cats Meow Incessantly?
Nonstop crying can be related to lots of factors. For one, some cat breeds are simply more vocal than others. If you have a Siamese or Oriental breed, this is not news. If your cat is older, consider whether his hearing may be impaired.

Crying could also be a sign of illness, so if that's your instinct then give your veterinarian a call to see if a checkup is in order. On a less serious level, your cat could be hungry or know that crying will lead to his getting your attention or a snack.

4. Why Do Cats Misuse Their Litter Boxes?

4. Why Do Cats Misuse Their Litter Boxes?
Is your cat healthy? A cat with a urinary tract infection can have trouble making it to the box in time. If a UTI isn’t the problem, perhaps the box is. Cats like their litter to be clean and deep. Your cat wants to be able to dig and cover his mess when he’s done. To learn more about training issues head to ASPCA, or your vet.

Content continues below ad

5. Why Do Cats Act Up?

5. Why Do Cats Act Up?
Your relationship with your cat reflects your ability to be a good pet owner. Providing what she needs to be healthy and happy is one thing, but just like kids, pets act up. Preventing and correcting problem behavior will help make your shared life less stressful for you and your pet.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.