A Cat’s View Of The World- Do They Really Knead Us?9 min read
A CAT’S VIEW OF THE WORLD IS TRANSIENT
Cats are fabulous creatures. They made up just about 50% of my case load in my Ohio medical practice. I have heard it all. That: cats don’t have a personality, cats are aloof and want to be left alone, cats are not as friendly as dogs and so on. Some of those traits are true and are no fault of the individual cat. Plus stereotyping cats is not the way to go about things. Every individual animal is different. Cats are sweet and loving, you just have to get to know them.
A domestic cat’s view of the world can be understood better when looking at the similarites between domestic and wild cats. Cats are the way they are because that is how the genetic pool got mixed up 10,000 years ago when felines started to become domesticated by human beings. Dogs became domesticated much earlier than cats, roughly 50,000 years ago. It can be deduced that the gene pool of the domestic cat is closer to that of its wild cousins compared to the relationship between domestic dogs and a coyote or wolf. This can be interpreted as a perceived aloofness and indifference that cats tend to project to others. It is true. Cats are not as social as dogs. They just don’t want to be. A cat’s view of the world is often just benign neglect. Take it or leave it type of thinking. People crouch down and praise their cat. The cat walks towards them and the person thinks it wants to be pet. Wrong….Cats will often walk by the person totally ignoring him or her.
If a cat were a person they would be Cleopatra or Marie Antoinette. Humans would be their subjects and every cat in the country would be singing: “Let them eat kitten chow”. A cat’s view of the world is that approaching regal status. Thousands of years ago the Egyptians worshiped them. They lived a royal life:
Cats are loyal and kings of the jungle! That trait made them interesting creatures to be domesticated by man. Domestic cats are avid hunters like their wild brethren. This is the primary reason why cats became domesticated. People used them to hunt rodents and keep the animals from eating away their food stores. Once quasi domesticated cats became household members cats intuitively kept their distance. They would be affectionate but on their own terms. With cats there is always an ulterior motive to everything they do. They are cunning and ultra intelligent animals.
CATS DO SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY
A cat’s view of the world is really different from that of humans. They see colors differently than people. The best description is that they see colors as a color blind person does. The back of the eye is called the retina. The retina is rich in photoreceptor cells. There are two types of these cells- rods and cones. Rod cells specialize in stimulating night vision and peripheral vision while cone cells are best suited for day vision and visualization of colors including hues and levels of color saturation. It is not surprising that dogs and cats have far more rod cells than humans. This is genetically based. Cats sleep during the day and are nocturnal hunters at night. To hunt they need good night and peripheral vision. The rods provide all this. Humans have more cone cells making people much better at day vision and able to detect all hues and color saturation levels. Humans can view all three color groups. All colors are made up from: red, green and blue. Cats can employ only green and blue so their world is perceived totally different from a human.
A cat’s view of the world has a lot to do with their physical make up. Do not underestimate the strength of an average 10 pound cat. Ounce for ounce they are stronger than any dog. This is a very good reason to respect the size of a wild cat such as a jaguar or leopard. Add the ability to contort into a 100 different positions and get through spaces as wide as a razor make it a superb hunting machine. These abilities often ruin a cat’s day. There is what is know as the “high rise” syndrome in cats. From about the height of about 4 or 5 apartments a cat has the ability to fall without a scratch from those distances. Twisting and turning it is able to land on its 4 paws! Higher than that they will suffer physical damage.
Cats can also climb anything vertical in a millisecond. That can include the pain of a cat trying to climb your back using its claws. Most cats want to view their world from above; sort of God like in a way. This is why you will find cats sitting on top of doors, refrigerators and other perches. Outside they want to get even higher. This is why they climb trees. The problem is that they have not figured yet how to get down. All of this requires tremendous balancing skills. This is why you should never cut off the whiskers of a cat. (Yes, I have seen people do this.) Whiskers serve as a mechanical, neurological balancing system for cats. Whiskers look cool on any cat but they serve an important function. A cat’s whiskers also serve as tactile extensions of themselves. This can alert them to problems ahead.
A CAT’S INTERACTION WITH PEOPLE
Most cats look at people as other cats. Nothing really that special. A cat’s view of the world is that everybody should be a cat. There will be no exceptions to these rules. Cats will lick you, they will knead your back, they will stand on their hind-limbs and scratch furniture and head butt us to death with their heads. They do this to other cats as well. A cat kneading your back or arm has nothing to do with affection. This is just feline infantile behavior that is hard wired into each and every cat. A cat kneads (pun intended) its mother and gets her attention that way. It is also an ingenious technique used during lactation to improve milk letdown and facilitates the nursing process. This trait never disappears. People erroneously interpret kneading as affection. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
A cat uses its senses to interpret its world. Its vision helps it as a mouser or hunter. Cats deep down feel superior to people. To understand a cat you have to understand how a cat thinks. This superiority comes through when a cat deposits a dead animal at your doorstep. Usually they are headless or in some mutilated state. Humans think that cats just want to give their owners a “gift”. Cats look at this as a superiority event. They are trying to show you that they can go out and hunt at will and put food on the table.
A cat’s view of the world is one that should be stress free. Cats do not handle stress well at all. All cat owners know what happens when they introduce a new dog or cat or new furniture into a home. It becomes a total disaster. Stress in cats is almost always shown by urinating or defecating outside of its litter box, vomiting or aggression (biting). Many cats will stress out and lick themselves continuously, usually on the left and right sides of the abdomen. This is known as psychological alopecia. Yes, it could be allergic based but most of the time it is a symptom that a cat is stressed out.
Most cats are happy to live solitary lives. They do not need other cats for companionship. That is because they really are solitary animals. Most wild cats are solitary. This behavior is totally different from canines. Dogs and their wild counterparts hunt and live in packs. Canines are gregarious animals like people. This is not to mean that cats will not accept another cat in the household but it can be difficult at times.
A typical cat takes the approach that life really should be like a bowl of cherries. Life should be enjoyed to the fullest. A cat’s view of the world makes total sense to me. This joy of living is seen in all aspects of play. Playtime is supposed to be fun time for all cats. This starts when kittens are just weeks of age. All play is based upon learning how to hunt. Playing hide and seek and pouncing on other siblings is play but at the same time they are learning how to hunt prey. Just watch what a kitten will do if you give it a french fry. It will: bat it around with its paws, toss it in the air and then pounce on it. This is pure and simple hunting behavior. It is fun to watch but cats are always thinking.
There is something that most cats hate and never want to happen in their world. That is getting wet. Yes, there are cats that climb into a shower stall and get wet with their owner but most cats despise that. In a cat’s view of the world water serves only one purpose and that is for drinking. Swatting at water running from a kitchen faucet is also a pleasurable past time. Use this knowledge to keep cats from jumping onto food preparation areas in the kitchen. Keep a child’s water squirt gun handy and give a couple of shots to the offender. This little trick will keep most cats from jumping where you do not want them to jump.