At first sight the title of this article seems a reasonable question for any cat owner. As with most individual members of the human race, we tend to orient our personal world into our own system of logic, predictability and orderliness. We establish our routines and habits to fit a life style that gives us a comfort level free from the fears that always seems to surround us. We are continually reminded of those fears whether it’s broadcast yellow journalism espoused by the news media, or from neighborhood gossip by people who seem to need such excitement because they are either just bored, or think that you’re in need of some kind of realistic jolt into seeing things the way they do. As narrow as that may seem, there’s no doubt that each person organizes their home into some kind of system, that is a life style, that encompasses the concepts of order and predictability with logical results that ensures peace, comfort and tranquility.
It’s about that time many will decide they would like a pet to complete the picture. Some may want the company of a pet because they live alone; others might want surrogate children, either because they don’t have any yet, or maybe their children have grown and flown the nest. Of course, there are those who just appreciate the easy love and fidelity pets seem so easily sphynx cat for sale near me capable of. Many will opt to get a cat. It’s here that the peace and tranquility you have established and come to know and expect is sure to be interrupted, if not challenged.
The introduction of any new pet, and cats in particular, will require a new way of thinking. With this new way of thinking, to be a successful cat owner will depend on how well one can incorporate balance and perspective, as an evaluation of oneself, into their new relationship. In other words, one needs to balance their own personal needs and the needs of their cat with a perspective that allows them to see the relationship in the long term as well as on a daily basis.
There’s a lot hidden in that last paragraph.
- Balance and perspective as an evaluation of oneself requires complete honesty when analyzing ones emotions and reactions to a given situation. Any biased rationalization of an event or circumstance just won’t do when one is seeking the ‘truth’ of a situation.
- A person’s needs can be either emotional (a harmonious, peaceful and happy home environment), spiritual or physical (food, warmth & shelter). The same goes for your cat. She has emotional and physical needs not dissimilar to your own. As for the spiritual needs of either people or cats, we’ll leave that for other discussions.
- Perspective is necessary to perceive a relationship with your cat as a long term affair, what you might call the forest, in light of the activities of day to day living, or the trees that make up a forest. Moreover, reactions to a given situation can change from one day to the next, some of which can have an altering effect on the long term view. You can see that moving from the long view to the short view and back again requires a good measure of mental agility.
So, what’s all that got to do with cat behavior?
The instincts of cats have been ingrained over eons of evolution. The qualities that distinguish a cat from all other animals (people included) can be listed as follows:
- Cats are nocturnal: Cats learned a long time ago that they could find prey and avoid predators by doing their hunting at night. Physiologically, they evolved senses that allowed them to be quite successful at night time activities. Senses such as eyes that could detect motion in very little light. Hearing that allows them to accurately pinpoint a prey’s movements in the dark. Their hearing range far exceeds that of humans so that they can not only hear noises people can’t, but they can communicate in those ranges, too. They’ve the ability to lay a scent trail that doesn’t require light to follow which is useful when escape from predators can be the difference between life and death in total darkness.
- Cats are territorial: A cat will mark off an area with her scents and claim it for herself. Usually her territory would be just large enough to support her, and any of her kittens, with a food source in the form of prey. Her scent marking also warns other cats that this is her land and it would be best if they just move on.
- Cats are solitary: Except when mating, cats are used to living alone. This is closely related to the territorial aspect of the cat’s personality. In order to keep from spending all their time marking a territory, the claimed land is usually small enough for only one cat. Besides, to many scents can be confusing especially if she is trying to escape a predator in the dark of night.
- Cats are predatory: They have learned to be quite proficient at hunting, especially for small nocturnal prey. The cat’s hunting technique can be divided into four phases:
Cats are maternal: Because a cat is solitary and her territory will only provide prey for her and her brood, it’s necessary for the kittens to learn a lot before mom kicks them out of the house. Otherwise, there would be too many mouths competing for a limited supply of food. Not to mention all the different scents cluttering up the territory. The maternal instinct has to be strong to teach so much in a short period of time. Unlike pack animals that will share in child rearing, a cat has only herself to rely upon to successfully raise her brood and perpetuate the cat species.