The Three Essentials of Understanding Your Cat's Behavior
When it comes to owning a cat, it can take some time to get to grips with their unusual and often, mischievous antics. While staying out all night and then returning first thing in the morning may not be the best lifestyle choice for most people – for cats, it's the norm.
If your cat spends all of its time indoors in an apartment-style setting, for example, then perhaps the number of nightly disturbances are more than you prefer – especially if your cat is notorious for roaming about your living space on the full moon!
In cat ownership, you may find that knowing the basics about feline behavior can be a major help. In my opinion, a cat naturally expresses itself in three core ways – in its Attitude, Issues and Abilities (or A.I.A. for short).
There’s no two ways about it – cats stand apart in their attitude. While a few traits may appear to be similar to dogs, such as scent marking and ease of adaption to domestic life, felines really are the defiant and independent characters they make out to be.
Running on instinct, cats like to live according to their own rules. They are less loyal and co-operative than dogs and very seldom obey commands. Cats, as a whole, prefer solitude rather than a pack environment, and are strictly carnivores.
Feline ancestral hunting instincts and preference for nocturnal activity are very much alive in the household cat. Their behavior is strongly centered around in-born hunting skills passed down from their wild relatives.
Acting out predatory behavior is a natural part of a cat's attitude and is absolutely vital for those that are forced to survive on their own. "A kitten in the wild has just a few weeks to turn from being completely dependent on its mother into a competent hunter, or it will not survive." (Bradshaw, p. 78)
When it comes to behavioral problems in cats, these can range from scratching and aggression to over-grooming and urinating indoors. These events can be caused by stressful changes in its territory, such as when you are moving to a new house or a new cat is being introduced into the home.
Fearful behaviors, such as anxiety, timidness, biting and hissing can also be a problem and often stem from rough treatment and neglect as a kitten. "Characteristics such as boldness and nervousness are strongly influenced by early experiences and may persist throughout the life of the cat." (Bradshaw, p. 209-10)
If your cat is displaying behavioral issues of their own, then it is wise to discuss these with your local veterinarian or natural animal health therapist. Often-times, any deep-seated problems related to stress or anxiety can be relieved with the use of healing remedies, such as Bach flower essences or homeopathy.
Cats are known for their sense of balance and calculated movements. It is possible to observe their natural poise and agility when they are stalking birds in a garden or chasing a piece of string around a room.
“All cats possess extraordinary sensory abilities, including verbal and non-verbal communication skills, a sophisticated sense of balance and agility, formidable hunting skills, and complex territorial and sexual behaviors." (Yarnall & Hofve, p. 14)
Cats have excellent vision that functions optimally at night but do not see very well during day-time hours. Although blind to the color red, their eyes are attuned to registering any sudden movements in their field of sight and they have other heightened sensory faculties, such as smell, taste and hearing that enhance their day-to-day behaviors.
The Value of Understanding
All cats essentially value full freedom in their movement and living environment. They have an independent nature that is both curious and kind (unless provoked, which may mean you find yourself with a scratch or two!).
By understanding the A.I.A. of your own cat's behavior, you can start creating a long and lasting furry friendship with your pet for years to come. Enjoy!
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