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Cats often surprise us with their unpredictability and, at times, they may even seem downright ditsy. It begs the question: Why do cats behave in such puzzling ways in the first place?
“Cats and people are different species with different genetic evolutions”, says Animal Behaviour Consultant Arden Moore, who is the author of pet books such as The Cat Behavior Answer Book: Practical Insights & Proven Solutions for Your Feline Questions (Storey, 2007). As an example of a basic difference between cat and human behaviour, Moore points to the fact that cats “rank as one of the top snoozers of all creatures, averaging around 16 to 17 hours of sleep each day. Most people are lucky to get seven hours of sleep a night”.
Cats as Comedians
Karen Santos, companion animals manager at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) contends that cats have a “better sense of humour” than humans. She attributes this to the fact that cats live more in the moment adding that “they don't hold grudges and when they do, they are short-lived and specific to a particular event”.
Here, we breakdown the different types of cat behaviour your cat may fall under.
This is a cat that, despite all scientific claims to the contrary, enjoys swimming and being near water. “Some cats love to swim, especially certain breeds like the Turkish Van”, says Moore. In their pursuit of water, these cats may even hop into the shower to join their owners.
The Bowl Prober
Bowl probers sometimes paw their water bowls before they drink. The reason: it’s following the pattern of “wild cat ancestors who need to test the water to make sure it is safe”, says Moore. Cats’ paw pads constitute one of their most sensitive areas, so pawing the water helps some indoor cats check for any possible ‘dangers’ lurking in the water bowl.
Mr or Ms Confidence
If you have a dominant and confident cat, you may be in luck. Moore says this type makes the perfect candidate for toilet training. “This training can be thwarted if you—or others in your home—forget and put the lid down or shut the bathroom door”, she cautions.
The Ear Licker
Some cats seem to have a human earlobe fetish. They’ll lick the ears of their owners, or even those of startled guests, with apparent enjoyment. “A young kitten separated from its mother before being weaned may be determined to lick your earlobes with its rough tongue”, says Moore. “It may mimic the suckling it enjoyed while nursing”.
Santos notes that some cats scratch around their food dishes, almost as if they’re trying to “bury” their food under the kitchen floor or other surface. This behaviour may reveal their lineage. The wild ancestors of cats would bury their food to save it for later, so they could return to it.
The Gift Giver
Has your cat ever suddenly dropped a toy mouse in your lap? Santos explains that it is your cat’s way “of showing affection”.
Predator to the Invisible
Cats playing games with a speck of dust are not losing their kitty minds. That speck of dust or ray of sunlight that they are chasing serves as entertainment, according to Santos.
The Crazy Running Back
Almost all cat owners have observed what some call the “kitty crazies”. Their cat abruptly runs around, occasionally leaping into the air like a ballerina on too much caffeine and then just stops as if nothing had happened. Santos theorises that this behaviour can be attributed to a cat’s inherited need to stay in shape for hunting.
Joanne Eglash is a journalist with over 15 years experience whose work has appeared in numerous publications. She currently lives with two cats, Miss Manners and Ashley.
A cat will do which of the following to calm its nerves: