Dear Tabby

Experts answer your kitten's questions in terms that humans can understand.

By Marty Becker, DVM, and Janice Willard, DVM

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KittenIn a word, cats are captivating. They amaze us with their athleticism, puzzle us with their independence and intrigue us with their quirks.

If adult cats can be described as mysterious by nature, then kittens combine that with wide-eyed innocence, comic playfulness, toxic cuteness and an embrace of all that is interesting in the world.

Behind the dancing, liquid eyes of a kitten lies a brain abuzz with new thoughts, marinating in old patterns of behavior from millennia past. Like code talkers, we decided to ask these endearing little furballs if they have any questions about why they do what they do. We can't really say that we sat down with them to have a conversation. When not sleeping, kittens don't stay in any one place for very long. But they did zip by with a question from time to time.

I don't even like watching football on TV, but occasionally I feel like butting my head right into humans. Am I hardheaded or is this normal?

Head butting is a friendly greeting for members of your extended family. It's the feline equivalent of shaking hands or giving Hollywood pecks on the cheek. Not only does it signal recognition, but you leave behind your scent from scent glands on your head and cheeks. That is actually a badge of honor because you are marking humans as though they were members of your family, and I can think of few greater compliments than to be recognized as an honorary cat.

Counters, shelves and windowsills: What's with my love of high altitudes?

Cats are predators, but can also be prey. This is particularly true for small kittens. So having escape routes, in dens or trees, is a well-engrained cat survival plan. "Many of your wild ancestors spent much of their leisure time in high places, perhaps tree branches or high rocks or precipices," said cat breeder Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM. "A high vantage point allows the predator (you and your ancestors) to locate prey, while at the same time high, inaccessible spots allow cats, big and small, to remove themselves from the sight and reach of enemies. Even though you don't have to catch your own food or stay away from predators in a human home, you still love to be above your world, silently taking it all in as though you were a big, ferocious wildcat."

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Dear Tabby

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Reader Comments

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

8/19/2013 11:56:08 PM


CatChannelEditor    Irvine, CA

5/31/2012 10:14:42 AM

Emily -- See if these articles help:

Emily    San Diego, CA

5/30/2012 7:26:03 PM

My kitten is supper cute and will sleep with me... until 5 a.m. Then he decides he wants to purr loudly and paw and me. I can't figure out why. I'll hold him, the he jumps out of my arms and starts the whole prossses overwith my feet. I know it's not that he's hunrgy because he has food and knows where it is. I don't think that it is that he wants to play because he usually just runs anound my room. I kick him out and then he goes and sleeps in my parrents room just fine. Can you please tell me why he does this and how to get him to stop. Thanks a lot!

CatChannelEditor    Irvine, CA

5/29/2012 10:24:39 AM

Cindy -- This, too, is a good question for our cat behaviorist, Marilyn Krieger. Follow this link to find a way to email her your question directly: LINK Good luck!

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