Cats use their sense of smell to help them understand and assess their environment so much, so that it makes sense for them to seek the same information from humans with a butt or crotch sniff, even if we hate it.
If you have the sniffing cat, you can encourage the behavior you want to see and discourage the things you don’t want your cat to do. The common perception is that it’s impossible to train a cat, but with humane but firm commands, your cat can learn that this kind of interaction is not OK in the cat-human relationship. Cats can generally detect most human smells from 3 to 4 feet away but every cat is different and some cats want the up-close and personal “news.”
What else can you do? Stay consistent and clear with your communication. Let your cat know the correct behavior when meeting someone by rewarding the behavior you want to see. In the case of an aggressive crouch sniffer, the best option may be keeping them in a different room of the house when guests are over.
Consider this family scene: It’s your birthday and you sit on the couch, your cat perched at your feet, surrounded by family and friends. Every person is bearing a colorfully-wrapped birthday gift for you. You open each one in turn, show it around, and the assembled throng emits the anticipate ooh’s and ah’s. You thank everyone for their kind offerings. Suddenly your kitty leaves the room and heads for the patio, only to return moments later with a dead lizard that he proudly deposits on your lap.
A fun-filled activity for a birthday party? Probably not. A damper on your appetite for cake and ice cream? That’s more like it. But before you fault your kitty, before you scream, or jump on a chair, or punish your cat, keep in mind that this is normal behavior; your cat has brought you a gift of his own.
Hunting is an entirely natural behavior for cats, even when they are well fed at home. Most cat owners can live with that — even when our ankles become the prey. But what do you do when your sweet, gentle, purring ball of fur deposits a dead carcass at your feet?
Try to keep in mind that it’s a trophy he is giving to you — whether it takes place in a birthday party setting or in the middle of the night. He’s proud of his hunting prowess and wants to share his victories with you. He considers your home a safe and secure den, worthy of being his lair.
Your cat evolved from wild cats, a long line of hunters and predators, and is designed for stalking, hunting and killing. So far, no amount of evolution or domestication has taken the fun out of hunting. Cats enjoy the whole process, stalking patiently and carefully, until they are close enough to pounce.
Laying on Everything
If you own a cat, this must have happened to you: You are sitting at the kitchen table, sipping your coffee and reading the newspaper. Very soon the printed page has turned into a furry, purring kitty — and you are not able to read any more.
Or you are sitting at your desk working on your computer. And before long you can’t find the mouse — or the keyboard — or whatever it is you are using. Instead your sleepy feline is curled up and all tucked in right on the subject of your interest, and you’re not able to continue your project.
Or, you are getting ready for work and you pull out your black suit to wear that day and lay it on the bed. You go back into the closet for a matching shirt, and when you come out your crafty cat is kneading the clothing into shape for a nice nap — and you are not able to wear that piece anymore.
Put a piece of paper in the middle of a football stadium and soon a cat will come and lie on it. Cats like to lie on things — pieces of paper, folded towels, clothing, whatever.