As we cat lovers know, the feline species have their owner take on life and their own habits and unique traits. Today's article addresses a few of these.

Why does my cat roll around on its back?

Cats often get unfairly labeled as lazy and aloof when, in fact, they can be quite expressive and frisky. Take the twisting gyrations some cats perform on their backs. Catnip could be one culprit, but there are also other reasons your kitty might do this shimmy.

Other explanations include employing a little back-scratch fever for an out-of-the-way itch, and if the kitty in question is an unsprayed female, this is common heat behavior. Plus, some cats simply like rolling on their backs.

Two other explanations for this behavior seem quite opposite. It can be a way of showing submission, and it can also be a way of inviting play. We just need to "get it" and realize it's time to start throwing the stuffed mouse for them. They're basically saying, "Hey, play with me."

Why does my cat like to bring me mice?

Exactly when felines first became domesticated remains undermined, but the why seems pretty clear: Pest control was a priority for early civilizations that needed to protect surplus crops from rodents, and cats proved to be natural-born mice killers.

It's not surprising that modern house cats have retained the skills to hunt small critters, but why do today's kitties often lay the prey at the feet of their human housemates? All cats can exhibit this behavior, but some are more likely to gift their owners with dead mice than others.

In some cases, owners unwittingly encourage the behavior — a cat who gets extra attention when she delivers a furry corpse will likely do it again.

Why does my cat head-butt me?

If a person were to head-butt you, you'd probably have a pretty good idea of what they were trying to tell you. But when a kitty bonks you with her forehead, the meaning may be less clear. This behavior is something domestic cats share with their wild counterparts and is known as bunting. Cats do this to deposit facial pheromones on people or objects in their environment. It's a sign of affection or acceptance in to the feline's domain to mark something as safe, sort of like leaving a sign that they are "trusting" that person or environment.

Why does my cat purr?

Contentment, comfort, security. For many pet owners, the purr of a squinting cat is the unmistakable signal their feline is happy and healthy. In many ways, this is true. Behaviorists believe the original function of purring was to enable a kitten to tell his mother that "all is well." This often occurs during nursing. A kitten can't meow and nurse at the same time, but it can purr and nurse without any problem. The mother often purrs back, reassuring the kitten using this tactile, resonant communication.

But this isn't the only message purring may signal. Older cats purr when they play or approach other cats, signaling they are friendly and want to come closer. Cats also purr when they are distressed or afraid. Sick and injured cats, and those in veterinary offices often purr. It is thought that this is the cat's way of reassuring and calming herself.

Purring is one of several methods of non-verbal communication felines use to convey their moods and needs. Others include squinting or slow blinking, stretching, scratching, facial rubbing and spraying. So the next time your cat is purring deeply while curled in your lap, try purring back. She'll know what you're saying.

Dr. Darren Woodson has practiced veterinary medicine in the Farmington area for more than 28 years and has a passion for educating pet owners. If you have a question you would like him to address, email dwoodson@valleyvetpet.com. Please understand Dr. Woodson will choose the questions that are most relevant to our readers.