Nearly 100 million cats are kept as pets in the US. Here are some explanations, backed by cat researchers, for why our feline friends behave the way they do.

7 Quirky Cat Behaviors and What They Mean

1. WHY DO CATS SOMETIMES SUDDENLY BITE OR SCRATCH THE PERSON WHO IS PETTING THEM?

It seems you missed the warning signs that your cat has had enough affection if you are suddenly nursing a scratch or bite on your hand. According to cat expert Arden Moore's book "The Cat Behavior Answer Book," your cat is trying to say, "kindly stop petting me or I will bite harder."

"While some cats can tolerate being petted, others feel overstimulated by the sensation and automatically react by lashing out," Moore wrote. According to "Cat Sense" author Dr. John Bradshaw, who specializes in anthrozoology (the study of interaction between humans and other animals), your cue to stop petting a cat may include, tail lashing, flattened ears, dilated pupils, and tense muscles.

Bradshaw also notes, that most cats like to be stroked on their heads and fewer than one in 10 cats like to be stroked on their belly or around their tail.

7 Quirky Cat Behaviors and What They Mean

2. WHY DO CATS INTENTIONALLY KNOCK OBJECTS OFF TABLES?

While some cats are clumsy, most cats intentionally knock items off of surfaces as a ploy to get their owner's attention.

"Sometimes they seem to do it for their own entertainment or because they have learned that this is a game that their owner seems to enjoy," Bradshaw explained to Scientific American magazine.

7 Quirky Cat Behaviors and What They Mean

3. WHY DO CATS LOOK YOU STRAIGHT IN THE EYE AND THEN SLOW BLINK?

Even though cats are considered masters at concealing their thoughts and emotions, they do try to show affection to their owners by slow blinking at them. Researchers call these slow blinks, "kitty kisses."

The slow blinks are a cats' way of saying, "I like you and I trust you." Next time you notice that a cat is giving you this feline eye wink, try and slow blink back, more often than not, a cat will continue to slow blink with you.

"As for staring contests, cats save that intense look for when they are on alert or are feeling animosity toward someone or some situation, so it's best to avoid looking your cat directly in the eyes if you want to keep those happy feelings," Moore wrote in "The Cat Behavior Answer Book."

7 Quirky Cat Behaviors and What They Mean

4. WHY DO CATS LOVE COMPUTERS SO MUCH?

Walking across your computer keyboard and attacking your screen may be the simplest way for your feline friend to get your attention. Then again, if your cat isn't seeking your attention, researchers note these following reasons:

  • Cats love the warmth of a computer
  • Keyboards feel super interesting underneath a cat's paws
  • Could there be anything more intriguing to a cat than watching a computer screen

7 Quirky Cat Behaviors and What They Mean

5. WHY DO CATS SUDDENLY FREAK OUT FOR NO APPARENT REASON?

Cats become frustrated with their inactivity and usually resort to running around in order to counter act their boredom, Bradshaw explained in Scientific American.

"The slightest movement, perhaps just a speck of dust caught in a shaft of light, can set them off," Bradshaw noted.

7 Quirky Cat Behaviors and What They Mean

6. WHY DO CATS LICK PLASTIC BAGS AS WELL AS OTHER NON-FOOD ITEMS?

Cats that lick plastic bags may either be bored or trying to alleviate stress, Bradshaw told Scientific American.

According to cat expert Arden Moore, licking wool is common among certain cat breeds.

"Experts report that Siamese cats represent among 50 percent of the wool-sucking feline population, though the reasons for this remain unclear. Most cats stop this behavior by the time they are two years old," Moore wrote in "The Cat Behavior Answer Book."

Another theory Moore cites is that some cats were removed from their mothers' milk before they were completely weaned.

"They seek out wool blankets and other clothing as a way to compensate for their shortened nursing time," Moore added.

7 Quirky Cat Behaviors and What They Mean

7. WHY DO CATS LOVE BOXES?

According to a study conducted by the University of Utrecht's School of Veterinary Medicine, some cats hide in boxes as a way to reduce short term stress.

Cats crave protection, and a box is an ideal spot for a a cat to observe its surroundings.

"Why some seem to prefer too small boxes over just right ones is a mystery though," Bradshaw explained to Scientific American magazine.