For years, humans have been captivated by animal behavior, trying to explore how and why animals do the things they do.
Particularly, in domesticated animals, we’re interested in why cats seem to enjoy solitude so much. It seems as though no matter how much love and affection we shower our cats with, they tend to not reciprocate the emotions back quite like dogs do. But, does that mean they don’t care? Not necessarily, according to Swiss-American biologist Dennis Turner.
Turner mentions that cats who grow up with people as kittens, do develop genuine feelings for their humans— in their own way. “They miss their owner…even if they may only give them the cold shoulder on their return,” the biologist says.
If they become attached to their owners, it’s more than likely a voluntary decision. In a way, this means that they are making the decision to love us! How sweet is that!?
The “domestication” of cats is also a funny story. Claudio Ottoni of the University of Leuven says cats essentially chose to hang around us and we just ran with it. In true cat fashion, cats decided when they wanted to be domesticated.
People setup civilizations thousands of years ago, rodents followed the crops, cats followed the rodents…and the rest is history. This sets them apart from dogs who, historically, were domesticated and meticulously bred to perform particular tasks for humans.
Turner also stresses that cats’ solemn nature stems from their ancestors, such as the African Wildcat, who are generally loners and do not travel in packs. The exception to this would be lions, who live together in groups.
As a result, cats lack the group communication skills that pack animals possess. For example, if your feline friend is stressed or not feeling well, they may urinate inside. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t always mean they’re upset at you, sometimes, they just don’t feel happy and don’t know how else to show it.
These habitual animals prefer to be alone and don’t need social order—it’s in their DNA. While many domestic cats now rely on their humans for food, they can thank their predecessors for their self-sufficiency in other areas. For example, when we see cats play with the live “presents” they bring us, we think of it as harsh. Rather, this trait evolved from necessity.
Turner says that “cats are opportunistic hunters and must be ready to stalk and catch any prey they discover by chance — even if they’re not hungry.” By playing with their prey, cats are settling whether or not they need the food. We see a cruel act, they see convenience.
Cats can sometimes be a giant mystery, and that’s why we love them with all of our hearts. Even though they sometimes turn their tails up at us, we know that deep down it’s just cats being cats.
“The cat could very well be man’s best friend but would never stoop to admitting it.” -Doug Larson
Blog Post Written By: Jasmine Kemper
JustFoodForDogs Nutrition Consultant