Why Do Cats Play Dead – The Surprising Truth


Every now and then, our cats can be really good at pretending and we catch them playing dead. When this happens, you might hurry over to wake them up, just to be sure they’re just playing. Or maybe you’re already familiar with this game and you join in to play with them for a while. Playing dead is something we usually associate with other animals, so what’s the reason behind cats playing dead?

When cats play dead, it usually means they are showing submission. This behavior can indicate that they are feeling stressed, trust you, or are trying to get you to play with them.

In order to understand what your cat is trying to communicate, it is important to be familiar with the signs of stress and discomfort. If you can determine that they are not feeling stressed, then you can be sure that they are indicating their trust in you and their desire to play.

Is It Normal For Cats To Play Dead

Although it is not a usual occurrence for cats to pretend to be dead, it is not considered strange behavior. This type of behavior is more commonly observed in younger cats and households with multiple cats. Younger cats may pretend to be dead more often in order to seek attention from their owners. If you consistently respond to their act of playing dead by approaching them, they will quickly learn that they can get your attention by doing so. If you have multiple cats, they may frequently pretend to be dead in order to gain your attention.

Honestly, the only time it’s not normal is if your cat has never done it before. But even then, it could just be a rare, random thing. If they start playing dead more often, then maybe check their routine and surroundings to make sure they’re okay. Maybe something is bothering them, and they’re playing dead to get your attention.

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The act of playing dead can be considered normal for each individual cat. If you are familiar with your cat’s behavior and observe them doing it frequently, it will always appear normal to you.

Why Does My Cat Pretend To Be Dead

Cats play dead for three main reasons: fear, trust, or just for fun.

When cats get scared, they might pretend to be dead as a way to protect themselves. Other animals, like opossums, also play dead to scare away predators. Even though your cat may not be in danger from a predator, there could be something that is making them uncomfortable. Cats like to have a routine and be familiar with their surroundings, so if you disrupt their routine or change their environment, they might feel stressed and start showing signs of fear.

Cats may pretend to be dead to demonstrate their submission in a particular situation, making it less likely for the threat to target them. Alternatively, they may play dead to bring attention to their unhappiness, using this behavior as a means to seek assistance and have you observe the situation.

If your cat usually doesn’t pretend to be dead but starts doing so suddenly, think about any recent changes that may have occurred and try to determine if anything has happened that could be causing them distress. It’s possible that you’ve introduced a new person or pet into the household, which could be affecting your cat’s behavior. Take note of these changes and make an effort to prioritize your cat’s comfort.

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When your cat plays dead, it could be a sign that they trust you. By making themselves vulnerable and submissive, they are showing you that they believe you won’t harm them. If you’ve recently adopted a cat and they start playing dead more often, it could be their way of showing how comfortable they are in their new home and how much they care about you. You can also tell if they trust you by observing other behaviors like sleeping near you, head-butting you, or rubbing their cheeks.

Your cat might also be feigning death as a way to start playing. If you consistently respond to their act of playing dead, they will learn to do it whenever they want attention. We can’t resist their cuteness when they play dead! Alternatively, if you have other cats or pets, your cat may play dead to engage them in play. Your other pets will become curious and approach to see what your cat is up to, only to be surprised and then the playtime commences.

How Do You Teach Your Cat To Play Dead

If you find it adorable when cats pretend to be dead, you can actually teach your cat to do it! The best time to start training them is when they are young because it’s easier and they are more likely to remember it as they get older. Don’t forget to have some treats handy to reward them and help them learn.

Offering small rewards during training is an effective method to motivate cats to keep up with the desired behavior. Next, you need to decide on the specific command you want them to learn. A popular choice among owners is the word “bang” accompanied by a hand gesture resembling a finger gun, which prompts the cat to imitate being shot and play dead.

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To assist them in falling over, you can softly nudge them and assist them in lying down, so they grasp the movement they are meant to learn. Be patient with them; teaching cats is much harder than teaching dogs. They are naturally disobedient and seldom enjoy being instructed.

Things To Consider:

If your cat pretends to be dead, it’s usually not a problem unless they’re trying to communicate that they’re stressed and scared. To be able to assist them, it’s important to recognize other indications of stress. Observe your cat’s daily habits. Are they eating and drinking as usual? Are they using the litter box normally?

Are you observing your cat engaging in playful and calm activities, or are they exhibiting behaviors such as hiding and constantly moving from one room to another? Recognizing these unusual behaviors is crucial in ensuring that your cat is leading a comfortable life. If you are uncertain about how to assist your cat, seeking guidance from your veterinarian can provide valuable advice on alleviating any stress your cat may be experiencing.

You can also check this YouTube video about this topic:

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[Wikipedia] [Encyclopedia Britannica] [National Geographic] [cdc.gov] [Purina]

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