I would like to write about my favorite animals — about cats! I learned a lot from online courses, so the post information is based on the course of «The Truth About Cats and Dogs» of Edinburgh University.
The cat is a lone predator by nature, even living in a wild colony, each cat hunts on its own. These animals lack a complex system of visual signals, which herd animals possess, so their body language is somewhat limited. For example, while meeting two cats are not able to show each other that they do not carry any threat, and this often leads to the fact that such two cats stay for a long time at a distance from each other, not even trying to retreat due to fear of persecution. However, despite the absence of "irenic" signals, cats are able to communicate certain emotions to each other.
There is a high probability of this (it is still being explored) that unlike humans, cats (as well as dogs) effectively use other types of perception of the outside world in addition to sight, hearing, smell, taste and tactile sensations. Their sensor system can respond to electrical and magnetic vibrations, some strong chemicals and even changes in water pressure.
Do you know that wild cats are much quieter than domestic cats and that meowing is more a way of cat’s communication with its master than with each other?
That is, the use of the voice is very individual, because every cat "seeks" the best way to express its needs and feelings to the master.
For example, Burmese and Siamese cats are known for their greater talkativeness than ordinary mongrel cats.
Only the family of felines is characterized by purr. Between the skull base and the tongue base thinly connected sublingual bones are located, which is the mechanism of purring. Domestic cats purr at a frequency from 21.98 Hz. up to 23.24 Hz. Usually purring is a sign of cat's satisfaction, but sometimes it can be a sign of pain or anxiety. Why the cat purrs while feeling pain is not exactly known, but there is an assumption that in this way it calms itself down.
BODY LANGUAGE AND ITS INTERPRETATION
The visual signals of cats range from barely noticeable (movement of the whiskers or a slight sweep of the tail) to very distinct ones (low posture, when the cat literally sticks to the ground and is ready to escape at any moment).
An angry cat usually gets on its hind legs and freezes, while hair is ruffled and the ears can be turned back, and wiskers are spread wide. When the cat is relaxed, it stretches in the position lying on its side. Turning on its back and showing its stomach, the cat demonstrates confidence and wants to play, but a person often begins to stroke his stomach (and I'm no exception).
Have you ever wondered why a cat often comes to that person in a room who does not really like these animals, rather than to someone who desperately tries to get the cat's attention? It is because direct eye contact can be perceived by the cat as a threat, so its goes to someone who only occasionally glances at it.
As for the tail: its usual position is horizontal with an elevated end in case of the host's greeting. A fearful animal folds its tail under itself. Light waving may mean that the cat is not quite happy with something. More sweeping movements testify anger.
Studies show that cats, regardless of their early experience at the age of kittens, have an instinct for hunting in any case. For example, when kittens who have never seen what a hunt is, were showed a rodent, they at the age of 11 weeks tried to grab it. Wild cats hunt about 30 times a day, and as a rule, a third of attempts are crowned with success.
The calorie content of the mouse is about 30 kcal, per a day the cat eats 10 to 15 pieces.
The diet regime of the cat — small portions, but frequent.
Why do domestic cats sometimes hunt?
Most likely, this behavior suggests that the cat wants to diversify its diet. If cat’s nutrition is balanced, then it 50% less likely to hunt, moreover, often such a cat does not eat prey in the end, instead it can play with it.
It is the hunting instinct that reveals the GAME REFLEX in the cat. The pet is able to play with any object, but if you take an object that resembles a "victim" in size and texture, then the cat will play with it longer. But still it quickly loses interest in the toy. Why is that? Because in real hunting, after a game with prey, the cat usually kills it, i.e. the external signs of the victim change, and in the case of toys, changes do not occur.
COMMUNICATION WITH PEOPLE
The nature of cats in relation to a person can be different — one cat is constantly looking for contact with a person, and another one avoids it. It is important to know that the cat needs our attention and wants communication in its language. Sometimes human intrusive interaction introduces the pet into a stressful state. In general, cats are very good at delivering what they need. It is obvious for a cat to make sounds that makes the owner understand what his pet needs.
TRAINING OF CATS
Famous Edward Lee Thorndike taught the cats this way: he put one cat in a box and it had to get out of it, the cat had to press the lever. After many repetitions, the cats began to understand what it should do. This experiment was called "exit from a problem box." However, the psychologist found out that it was impossible to teach cats some definite actions, if the task went beyond usual cat’s behavior. The point was that the tasks involving use of paws (to which the cat is accustomed in everyday life) were solved fairly quickly, but if one tries to train a cat to keep something with its tail, nothing will come of it. It was also found out that cats are less sensitive to the owner’s praise.
5 MYTHS ABOUT CATS
MYTH 1. The cat needs the company of other cats.
It is not always so.
Observations showed that in 2015, 44% of cats in the United Kingdom lived in houses with two or more cats. Many of them were forced to share household objects with other cats; about 50% used the same tray as a toilet, 58% of them ate from one bowl. As a result, 16% of the owners reported problems in relations between cats, and many comments were received that cats looked more satisfied if there were no other cats at home. To avoid this, every cat should be provided with household items and its own territory. Another good advice is to take kitten-siblings who know each other since birth.
MYTH 2. Among cats there is hierarchy of subordination.
Cats do not belong to herd animals (as already noted), they can rather adapt to life in a group in certain situations. If the cat attacks other cats, this does not mean that it wants to subjugate them, the reason may be that it is discontent with environment, absence of possibility to hunt or health issues.
MYTH 3. Cats are irritable and unpredictable.
Many owners complain that the cat can sit on their hands for several minutes, and then scratch them for no reason. The truth is that when stroking, on the one hand, the cat feels relaxed, and on the other hand, it is sensitive to the slightest danger, and this inner conflict-sensation can be very strong. When, for example, the cat feels that it has received enough affection, it ceases to purr and begins to wag its tail, and if the owner continues to stroke it, the cat will most likely become angry. Attention to the external signs of the cat makes it possible to determine its mood.
MYTH 4. Only male cats mark territory.
The territory is marked both by she and he-cats. It's just that he-cats (especially uncastrated ones) have more hormones and, thus, they more often protect their habitat.
MYTH 5. Cats do not require significant care.
Misconception is that many people believe that cats adapt easily and simply to our lifestyle, that they can be left unproblematically alone in the apartment for the whole day, as they are relatively independent. In fact, these animals need physical movement (the opportunity to be outdoors) and mental work to avoid frustration, stress and obesity.
I found an interesting animated video from TED Ed (Tony Buffington tells) about the behavior of cats:
And finally, a couple more interpretations of cat's behavior:
- If the cat rubs against you, it means that it "marks" you as its territory and property.
- If the cat pokes at you with a nose, it feels comfortable and safe next to you.
- Kneading from the foot to the foot indicates that the cat is happy or ready to play.
- When the cat licks the owner’s hand, it is a sign that he trusts him and considers its family.
- When a cat does something with the owner’s hair (licking, rubbing its paws), it just wants to help to clean it, so this is a strong sign of love.
- Pushing the ears to the head testifies to cat’s fear or vice versa readiness to play.
Cats sometimes behave funny and inexplicably cute. Those who live at home with a cat, for sure, at once can share a few funny or incredible stories. I myself had a cat — very smart mongrel — and she used to play a game with me. She was hiding around the corner in the corridor, and when I passed by, she jumped on me and clasped my legs with her paws. The pads of her paws were always soft during the game. In such an ambush, she could sit for 10-20 minutes (!) waiting until I walked down the corridor. That always made me laugh! :)
All photos are licensed by CC0.