Cat behavior is fascinating. Cats use a wide range of body language forms and lots of different vocal sounds to express their feelings and achieve their needs. One of the most captivating phenomena in cat behavior is the way they communicate with their own kind or with their enemies and with people.
Although cat's behavior in overall level is common to all domestic cats, their reactions to their surrounding vary according to the character and personality and living conditions of each cat.
Given that there are about 70 different cat breeds and many other types of cats, i.e. various kinds of non pedigree cats, and each one of them has it's unique personality, makes cat behavior exiting and captivating.
I can watch my cats for hours, they always surprise me with something new in their behavior; it can be a special facial expression or a different look, or a call to play. They amuse me and they fascinate me every day.
Listen, do you want to know a secret?
While the belief that cats are non-social beings is still dominant, in reality, cat owners, observes various social behaviors among cats. It isn’t an unusual occurrence to see two or more home cats playing or sharing a bed or a basket lying or sleeping close to each other or bundled one on the other or simply being friendly with other cats or the dog in the house. Seeing groups of cats living together peacefully in courtyards, playing and sharing the same food bowls isn’t an unusual occurrence either. These kinds of behavior among cats show that seeing them unsociable and solitary by nature is incorrect.
As a matter of fact, researches made by experts in the last decades doesn't leave any doubt about the question, they verified that domestic cats are a social species. (See Cat Sociability note # 113)
Female cat forms the core of cat society and she is the one that will teach the kittens the social behavior. Kittens that lived with their mother during late kittenhood and juvenile period will have more social skills than a cat that was adopted as kitten, and therefore missed important learning and social bonding experiences.
The main factor that influences cat's social behavior is the availability of food source. Where food source can support groups of cats, groups/colony with social structure will be formed.
In case that food source is available, cats will form friendly relationships with certain other cats, and will use a variety of social behaviors like body language as grooming, rubbing and greeting each other (nose-touch, tail up etc.), sleeping curled with each other and playing together. They will use also vast sort of vocal signals as purr, trill, or meows - all are greeting calls, or sounds that related to aggression like growl, yowl, snarl, and hiss.
If food supply is rare, cats will force to live solitary life in order to enable to survive. This because free living cats daily food is small rodents which isn’t enough to sustain a group, thus the kittens will leave their mothers in early age to look for food and this will break apart the family and bring to end their social life until in some circumstances they will find themselves safe again. If they will, it will be hard for them to socialize again.
For more information please read: THE UNSOCIABLE CAT - ARE CATS REALLY UNSOCIABLE? By Sarah Hartwell
Can we spend some time together?
While these two cats in the picture above seem to share some pleasant time together, we can try to learn by their body language what their real feelings are. The two cats are at rest but we can see prolonged eye contact between them which usually indicate an assertive or even threatening signal. But the eyes alone cannot convey a whole message and since these two cats don’t look threatened we have to look for more body language indications as for example the ear position.
The out sideways ears of the cat sitting in the house are flattened, which can be a sign of fear. In the other hand the ears of the cat sitting in the courtyard are pricked forward which can be interpreted as a sign of aggressiveness. So how do they feel?
The answer is that it's hard to say since we can't see one of the most important parts of the cats communicating tool - their tail. The cat tail position is an essential indicator to understand its feelings. The cat tail is highly mobile and they use vast positions to communicate with other cats as with people as well, like sweeping tail erratically from side to side, up and down, arched and puffed up, fully lowered and/or tucked between legs and a lot more positions that cats understand and react accordingly.
Since in this picture we can't see the cat's tail it's really hard to define what their feelings are, so let's assume that they enjoy each other company.
This is it!
British Shorthair Cat hunting on the grass
Photo by iStockphoto © Veronika Trofer
The low head and cautious steps in crouching position suggest that this gorgeous British short hair cat in the picture above is tracking some exciting prey. He probably doesn’t depend on hunting for survival but hunts temptation excited. As this picture demonstrates, cats hunt alone and except by some kind of wild cats, domestic cats will target small mammals, although their diets can include everything from insects and birds to fish and reptiles.
Cat hunting is an instinctive behavior says animal scientists. Whether they are kept as nurtured family pets or functional farm cats, most are excellent hunters. The best evidence is to look at kittens that never been outdoors, and never have been taught to hunt prey, showing hunting skills while playing with toys, play with each other and playing with their owners. Our cat, a ten year old Regdoll, which we raised from kittenhood, won't let alive any fly, butterfly or an ant she notices in the house.
If you happened to see your cat sprinting toward the closed window you probably discovered that in the window sill sits a bird or other prey animal and your cat is watching it excitedly, twitching the end of her tail and sometimes making a babble sound with her mouth – even if she's never see a bird before!
There are differences on hunting strategies and hunting techniques between cats that are fed by humans and those who have to hunt for a living. Their skills and attitude to prey differ as well.
The most skilled hunters are domestic cats that force to hunt for a living. A skilled feline hunter will capture the victim by its rear neck and break the central spine of the prey with one bite to cause a fatal damage.
Cats who find their food at home or in the trash cans is not experienced enough killing prey with one bite probably due to a lack of practice. Yet even domestic cats, which have never had to fight for their food and are regularly fed by caring owners, sometimes manage to finish off a mouse or a bird that happens to cross their path.
So don't be shocked when your cats bring you "gifts" of birds, mice or other wild creatures. Some experts believe that this is a natural part of their hunting behavior, and they do it to teach their human to hunt as they have been taught by their mother before, but since male cats do it too, its conflict with the fact that males having no involvement with raising kittens. Therefore I prefer the theory that this behavior happens when cats sees humans as members of their social group, and share their food with others in the group in which humans are placed at or near the top.
What a boring day
At rest in protected position
What's going on?
Curiosity Must Kill the Cat?
It seems to me that no scientific proof is needed about the cat's curious nature. Cats are well known for their acute sense of smell, excellent eye vision and excellent hearing. They have strong and flexible bodies, quick reflexes, sharp retractable claws, and teeth. They are brilliant hunters and well-known for their love of play.
Possessing these qualities, it isn't surprising that cats are curious and inquisitive. House cats are protected and usually don’t have to fight for food, so they have to find other challenges to express their natural abilities.
Exploration is an essential part of a cat’s nature, so to keep your little adventurer safe, you may need to make some minor adjustments in your home. To assure that curiosity won't kill the cat, you need to provide them with a safe living environment. This often means locking doors to cabinets containing precious items or dangerous chemicals.
If your kitty loves to climb and you live on the 5th floor of a building, you may need to provide some indoor climbing options. You can purchase a climbing ‘tree’ for your cat, or even buy the directions and build one yourself. Your cat may not always know what part of your home and outside are dangerous, so it’s imperative you provide an environment that’s cat-friendly and cat-safe.
Do not get me wrong I am in control!
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