Silence is golden for cats. Felines are born hunters, as well as being prey to other species. So, a cat likes to move quietly. They can sneak up on prey, while remaining undetected by predators.
When looking to remain undetected, cats have a particular gait. The cat moves both legs on one side of her body at the same time. This halves any potential footfall volume, while distributing weight over four limbs. Cats also walk on tiptoes, with claws contracted, to maximize stealthy movement.
Walking this quietly is a significant effort for a cat. This is why cats frequently nap throughout the day. Every time they hunt, they need to regain energy afterwards. As a result, cats are not always silent. In fact, cats are loud pets more often than not.
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Why Are Cats So Silent?
Cats are natural predators. They are also prey to other, larger animals. This leaves acutely aware of their place in the food chain. While they appear confident, cats are often nervous animals. Stealth is their greatest form of attack and defense.
- A cat that stalks in silence can creep on prey undetected.
- A cat that moves quietly will not reveal her position to predators.
Within the home, you need to assess why your cat is choosing to tiptoe.
My Cat is Hunting
Most cats move silently to embrace their hunting instincts. A successful hunt for a feline follows a set pattern of events:
- The cat detects prey by sight, sound, or smell
- The cat stalks the prey, creeping up behind it
- When close enough, the cat pounces and captures the prey
To get from the first hunting phase to the third, a cat must be stealthy. Mice and birds are aware of the risks that felines pose. A cat needs to creep along as silently as possible.
An indoor cat will not be afforded the opportunity to hunt live prey. You must play games to satisfy this instinct. Failing to do so will leave your cat frustrated. This can lead to behavioral issues.
Often, a cat will hunt her owner to satisfy these urges. Your cat will stalk you around the home. This sounds harmless, until she pounces. Acting on instinct, your cat will bite your ankles or toes. If you reprimand her for this, your cat will be saddened and confused.
This is all avoidable by playing with your cat. You only need twenty minutes each day for hunting games. Hunting is physically and mentally exhausting for cats.
Schedule these games for the same time every day. Play with a laser pointer or fishing rod. This will satisfy your cat’s hunting instincts. This will lead to a more harmonious living arrangement.
My Cat is Avoiding Detection
If a cat is not hunting, she should be comfortable being seen and heard. Happy cats with a secure attachment to their owners go about their business without a care. If your cat avoids being noticed, she is feeling more anxious than normal.
Cats may look cool, calm and collected, but they are easily stressed animals. There are a range of triggers that could be upsetting your cat. These include:
- Changes in routine
- New or unfamiliar humans in the home
- New pets or bullying from other animals
- Unsanitary living conditions
- Lack of stimulation
- Loud noises
- Lack of privacy or territory
- Sickness and pain
Some cats are nervous by nature. A cat that moves silently can be problematic. The constant effort will eventually take a toll on a cat’s health. You may also prefer to know where your cat is. A silent cat can be hard to track. This makes it tough to know if your pet has escaped or is underfoot.
A popular solution to this is a belled collar. In theory, this bell will tinkle whenever your cat moves. Some felines can outsmart the bells, though. They move in such a way that they remain silent. If your cat is unable to remain undetected, she may become frustrated or increasingly anxious.
How Do Cats Walk So Silently?
The average domestic housecat only weighs around eight pounds. Spread over four limbs, this creates light footfall. Despite this, walking in silence requires a unique effort. When a cat wants to walk in silence, she adopts a particular posture. This involves:
- Hunching low to the ground
- Matting down fur
- Sheathing claws
- Walking on tiptoes
- Moving two legs simultaneously
Cats walk on tiptoes because they sweat through their paws. While fur usually prevents any sweat from making a noise, cats take no chances. Naturally, a cat must also sheath its claws. Failure to do so creates a telltale clicking noise.
While walking, a cat will also hunch low to the ground. This is so she looks as small as possible. When hunting, a cat’s priority is remaining undetected. A cat will only raise her fur and make noise if it feels threatened.
It’s the movement of legs that is most important, as Brain Research explains. The cat moves the front and rear legs on the left-hand side of her body simultaneously. This is known as direct registering. No other domesticated animal walks this way.
Direct registering halves the risk of noisy footfall. In addition, a cat will place one foot in the exact spot vacated by another. She knows that that this position will not create noise. Predators will also be confused by the limited paw marks.
Unfortunately for cats, this movement style is exhausting. As Public Library of Science explains, it burns away most of a feline’s energy reserves. It also requires intense concentration.
This is why cats hunt and move in short, controlled bursts. Your pet needs to nap and regain energy in between these movements. Without sufficient rest, a cat is incapable of moving silently.
I Can Hear My Cat Walking
If a cat is not attempting to be silent, she’ll be noisy. There is no middle ground. New cat owners are often surprised at how loud felines can be. This is because silent walking is so exhausting. A cat simply cannot use up this much energy with every movement.
Loud movement from a cat may also be deliberate. The cat is announcing her presence. This may be because the cat wants attention from you. Alternatively, she may be frightening other animals away. Cats rarely enjoy sharing resources, such as food or water.
If you live with a cat, you’ll quickly grow used to the noise. Be mindful of neighbors, though. Cats can sound deafeningly loud to non-animal lovers. This could become a problem in an apartment block. If boundaries are thin, consider the following techniques to mask the noise:
- Carpet floors and staircases
- Insulate walls and ceilings
- Trim the cat’s nails
- Scatter toys to encourage hunting
- Separate pets into unique zones
- Cage your cat at night
You may need to manage your cat’s weight. Even the smallest, thinnest cat can be noisy, though. Factor this into your play style and living arrangements. Never assume that a cat will be a silent pet.