Why Are Cats So Nosey?

Why Are Cats So Nosey?

You’re bringing in the groceries after a particularly long stocking up session at the store, and your cat is right there looking at and inspecting everything coming into the house. Is your cat looking for treats, or is it making sure nothing is there to threaten its territory? What makes cats so nosey?

Cats are nosey because they are biologically wired to be curious and inspect everything. They want to keep threatening things out of their territory and protect you and them. A cat’s curiosity can sometimes land them in trouble, so you need to enforce strict boundaries to keep your cat safe.

If cats weren’t so nosey, they would never survive in the wild. For more on a normal cat’s behavior, keep reading.

Cats Are Nosey Because It’s Instinctual

Cats are not as domesticated as dogs and have an instinct to follow any sound or scent they detect. To survive in the wild, cats need to have that instinct to either catch food or avoid becoming food. Curiosity is beneficial for cats, as this quality allows them to survive in a world against them.

But for indoor cats, this natural curiosity might prove frustrating to pet parents, especially when their cat knocks over a trash can or pushes something breakable on the floor and it breaks. Cats are not trying to destroy things or knock things off of counters. They are just curious about the different things you have and what happens when they tip things over.

The behavior doesn’t stop when you’re carrying in grocery bags, as you might have noticed. Cats are looking for either food or threats within your bags and will sniff them or poke around to make sure everything is okay. It’s their instinct, and it’s a survival mechanism dating back to their days of living on their own and fending for themselves.

Cats Are Territorial In Nature

Anything that comes into a cat’s territory is fair game to sniff and paw at. If it is threatening, they will either destroy it or hide from it. Cats are territorial and want to control everything that comes into their domain. While you may pay the bills and buy them food, your house is their domain.

Cats are nosey because they are protecting themselves and you. In their mind, they must investigate new items. Have you ever seen your cat get into everything that you bring into the house? That’s their way of telling you that they are protecting you and their domain.

What if you brought another cat into your home? Your cat will most likely sniff it from a distance, then run and hide. One cat did just that. The cat was the only cat in her home for three years before a new kitten came to live there. While the kitten was very curious and wanted to be friends, the older cat hid for three weeks straight with short periods of coming out to eat, drink, and use the litter box.

The older cat was upset that a new kitten took over her territory. While she was curious about the kitten, she felt threatened.

Cats Are Interested in What You’re Doing

You mean the world to your kitty and are very interesting to your pet. So it stands to reason that your daily activities are interesting to your cat, such as going to the bathroom, washing dishes, making a meal, and starting a craft project.

Try this experiment: get some art supplies and either some paper or fabric and sit on the floor. Start working on your project while keeping track of how long it takes for your cat to come and lay on top of your project. Chances are, your cat will come over to investigate what you’re doing within a few minutes. (Well, if they’re not sleeping, that is.)Why Are Cats So Nosey?

Because you’re their buddy, your cat wants to be involved in your life. Cats do this with each other. When one cat gets up to do something, the other cat will see what the first cat is doing. It’s a natural part of being bonded with your cat, so if your cat is in everything that you do, you might want to take it as a compliment. They trust and love you and want to be with you.

To encourage bonding between you and your cat, get a stick, and tie some feathers to it. Your cat will watch everything you do and try to help by putting its paw on different items. Once the toy is complete, play with your cat for a while. That’s why your cat comes to you when you’re doing something–to see if what you’re doing is meant for your cat.

Kitties Need to Eat, and Small Movements Might Mean Supper

Even though your cat might live indoors with you, it still has the same hunter instincts of its predecessors. Cats who live outdoors, like feral cats, depend on their hunting skills to survive. When they detect light movements, it might be a mouse or squirrel. Their curiosity will lead them to investigate and catch their supper.

Small movements create an irresistible opportunity for your cat to investigate. After all, it could be food.

There is a game that cats cannot resist. Try putting your hand under a blanket and wiggle your fingers. Your cat will instantly be aroused and ready for play! As you continue the game, your cat will pounce on your hand with claws and teeth. For your cat, this might be a small animal that means a meal.

So when your cat detects even the slightest movement, the curious nature propels it to investigate, even if that movement is your hand underneath a blanket.

A Cat’s Curiosity Is Based On Biology

Cats have not lost their hunting abilities, even though they have been domesticated for several millennia. They are hardwired to be nosey and investigate everything, including boxes. Boxes represent places to hide if there are predators in the area, so of course, your cat needs to investigate every nook, cranny, box, and bag.

Smaller animals have a biological instinct to be on high alert that evolved due to the harsh conditions their ancestors endured. While indoor cats don’t need to evade predators very often, they still retain the natural, biological need to explore and investigate.

How to Enforce Boundaries For Your Cat

While your cat needs to be allowed to explore, there are some areas that you most likely do not want your cat to explore, such as on the kitchen counters. Cats want to please you, but they will explore any smell that pleases them and avoid those that don’t.

If you want to keep your cat from exploring a forbidden area, try placing citrus peels in that area. Or perhaps spraying it with vinegar, as cats do not like vinegar.

You can try other products if you want to keep your cat out of an area, such as static mats or aluminum foil. Once you decide on the boundaries, don’t ever change them.


Being naturally curious creatures, cats tend to get into things they shouldn’t and can sometimes get hurt. Or, they may be an annoyance by getting on your desk or the kitchen counter, exploring your things.

Rather than try to work against your cat’s natural curiosity, try getting some cat toys that will satisfy this natural urge. Laser pointers work especially well in this regard, as you can keep your cat interested for as long as it has the energy to chase the red dot. But, to avoid harming your cat’s eyes, keep the pointer towards the floor, wall, or ceiling–never towards your cat’s eyes.