You may have noticed your cat stalking a bird or other small creature in the backyard, but what does it mean if your cat starts stalking you? Join us as we reveal the answers behind this interesting—and often hilarious—cat behavior.
Your Cat, the Hunter
Despite the many genetic differences that separate your domestic cat from their larger (and wilder) ancestors, your cat is and always will be a hunter; it’s hard-wired into their bodies and brains because it’s necessary for their survival.
Right from when they were a kitten, your cat learned the proper tricks, tips, and techniques of successful predators through play with their littermates and parents.
In terms of hunting opportunities, most of today’s domestic cats, to coin a phrase, are “all dressed up with no place to go.” They have all of the tools necessary to stalk, apprehend, and consume the prey they need to survive, but they have very few opportunities to do so.
You, the Prey
Cat owners provide the food, eliminating the need to hunt. Instead of stalking and chasing live prey when nature dictates it, you may have found your cat playing with a wayward golf ball, household fly, or bit of string that’s been caught by the wind.
And then, there’s you. A human is far too large to be considered prey, yet, every once in a while, there’s a furry flash at the corner of your eye and, next thing you know, little paws (and maybe teeth) are firmly wrapped around your ankle. By doing this, your cat is communicating many things.
Reasons for Stalking Behavior
The reasons any cat stalks its owner will depend on the cat and the environment it’s in. If your cat is young or a high-activity breed, they will already have a lot of pent-up energy to release. If your home consists of toys, scratching posts, and other ways for your cat to release that energy, this is a great way to redirect their stalking behavior.
However, stalking isn’t really something that should be considered a “nuisance.” Unless your cat is really violent when they attack you or has caused scratch or bite wounds, stalking is a perfectly natural response to prey.
Stalking allows for the release of stress and tension. A lot of things happen in your cat’s body during a stalking and hunting session; they engage their flexibility, laser focus their super sense of smell and incredible sight, ready their tail for balance, and place their whiskers on alert for heightened awareness. Once they’ve captured their prey, the release of energy plus satisfying that stalking urge makes for a cat that’s much more relaxed.
Another reason a cat will stalk a human is the reaction they get. Most of the time, you may not even notice that you are being hunted—and that can make for a great reaction when your cat finally does pounce. You may be startled or let out a high-pitched yelp when you feel those sharp claws dig into you. That’s just the kind of reaction your cat gets from other prey.
Your cat may also be trying to tell you that they want to spend more time with you through stalking. This is a great opportunity for interaction, physical mental stimulation, and a lot of laughter! Stalk them back, get the cat toys out and move them around like prey, and use sound to attract their attention.
Stalking and pouncing is in your cat’s DNA, but if they’re constantly choosing you as potential prey, it could be due to lack of options for stimulation and not because they are targeting you. Cats love to perch in high places so they can observe their territory. They also need plenty of opportunities to scratch, stretch, nap, and play.
If your cat doesn’t have these outlets, they’ll satisfy their needs in other ways, such as scratching the furniture or stalking you.
A Space of Their Own
Giving your cat lots of ways to engage in stalking and other instinctive behavior helps them stay healthy and happy for life. Armarkat cat trees are available in over 180 models; browse our collections online today!