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Getting To Know Your Cat

By Edited Jun 20, 2015 5 14

Black cat waiting in the grass

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).

1) Attitude

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)

Black cat sitting on a white window sill, looking out into a garden

2) Issues

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.

Black cat sitting on a concrete path, beside green wisteria vine

3) Abilities

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.

Black cat resting on a sofa

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!

Next article: What Food Is Your Cat Eating?




Aug 21, 2012 6:33am
Love the photos - and the article. I might do a similar article on my two pet sheep. They, too, have attitude, issues and abilities! If you interact with any animal enough, you discover all sorts of things about their character.
Aug 22, 2012 3:21am
Thanks for commenting on my article. I am glad you enjoyed it. The photos are ones I took awhile ago of my cat, Merlot. He was the funniest cat I ever owned, and had a very unique sense of humor.
Sep 12, 2012 1:03pm
Talk about attitude, my cat 19s name was Kanga and we changed it to Diva because she is so demanding! She certainly communicates to us. Every morning and evening if she doesn 19t get her Natural Balance food in her little pink dish, she follows me around meowing and screaming until her bowl is full! She 19s the most 1Ctalky 1D cat I 19ve ever had and I love her for it!
Sep 16, 2012 10:13pm
Hi MoseyToes, your cat, Diva sounds like she has lots of attitude. Thanks for the great comment.
Sep 17, 2012 12:10pm
Great article--great photoes and....great insight- I have 5 cats! Enough said two BIG thumbs up from me
Sep 18, 2012 2:30am
Wow, five cats!!! Feeding time must be mayhem. :) Thanks for the thumbs up.
Sep 29, 2012 11:21am
Great article! I own two cats (formerly strays) and am in the process of rehabilitating a stray; they all have their own quirks about them. My tuxedo is like a dog though- she is completely loyal and rolls around and responds to commands (if only all cats were this easy!) My tabby is just crazy-there is no other way to put it. He climbs up curtains and loves destroying things. And my stray tabby has an outgoing, chill attitude to him. Anyway, great article!
Feb 23, 2013 6:39pm
Thanks for commenting on my article about cats. Yes, they are some of the coolest and, at the same time, craziest animals to call pets. I once had a cat who would chase pine cones, and like a well-trained dog, pick them up in its mouth and bring them back to me. Now, I own a dog that thinks he's a cat and just likes to sleep for hours and hours. :)
Sep 29, 2012 6:09pm
Great article!
My two cats are in - and outdoor cats roaming in the neighborhood Lucie is always gone for days while Momo prefers to stay home until it's dark.

Thumbs Up!
Oct 2, 2012 9:09am
great article..love cats!
Oct 2, 2012 3:29pm
Lovely article. Some cats are more independent than others. I know I once had a Red Persian that followed me everywhere inside the house as she was a house cat and waited for me at the door. My DSH now at night sleeps with me and always wants attention, but not to be held. I love cats and enjoyed this article.
Dec 7, 2012 2:38am
Cats are great animals. Glad to see everyone is enjoying this article and leaving such nice comments. Thanks a lot!
Jul 9, 2013 7:55am
I always associate a cat with mice. In our rural homes,a cat plays an important role to keep off the mice from entering the house in search of food.I also love a cat for its passion for cleanliness and being a good nocturnal hunter.A big thumb.
Jul 9, 2013 7:55am
I always associate a cat with mice. In our rural homes,a cat plays an important role to keep off the mice from entering the house in search of food.I also love a cat for its passion for cleanliness and being a good nocturnal hunter.A big thumb.
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  1. Bradshaw, Dr J. The True Nature of the Cat. London: Boxtree Limited, 1993.
  2. Yarnall, C. & Hofve, J. The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care. Massachusetts: Quarry Books, 2009.
  3. Anderson, K. Cats Have No Masters, Just Friends – an investigation into the feline mind. Wisconsin: Willow Creek Press, 1998.

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