Cat Behaviour Explained
We all see our cats every day doing the things they do, we often interpret them as ‘loving us’ (which of course they do!) but there are reasons behind their behaviour.
A cats mood can be told from his or her facial expression; ear position, pupil dilation, lip licking and tail position. However, they communicate mainly by scent and have few facial expressions compared to dogs. When a cat rubs against your legs they are rescenting you to smell right. If you’ve just come in from outside, your legs no longer smell ‘correctly’ so he or she has to rub scent onto you. Of course to us this is a ‘loving’ gesture.
Scratching posts also help cats scent, some cats like to stand on their hindlegs so posts should always be as tall as your (extended) cat. We can help cats with scenting in the surgery if we give them two beds and wash one at a time, it means your feline friend always has something that smells ‘right’ in their hospital cage.
In the wild (and domestic cats look very like their wild cat ancestors, unlike dogs which we have changed a lot in many cases) cats are solitary animals, they don’t have a pack or a hiearchy like dogs. So when they meet other cats they often don’t know how to react, which is why they fluff up their tales and stand looking at each other deciding what the best course of action is. Even cats that live together may not accept each other, if they fully accept one another they will groom each other and curl up together. Infact any touching of another cat is an acceptance, otherwise they are just tolerating each other. In the same house, two cats will often sleep and inhabit different areas to keep their ‘solitary status’.
Food and Water
Wild cats, when eating like to be able to see what is going on around them, so they prefer not to eat from a bowl whilst facing a wall. They will hunt more or less all the time as they don’t want to be hungry and never know when the next meal is going to arrive. When hunting and eating, they get a feline ‘high’ so giving cats hunting games with toys, searching through cardboard boxes, toilet rolls or egg boxes (for food) keeps them very happy. Cats have poor long distance vision so like these ‘toys’ to be close and a cat that is bored or frustrated is more likely to be aggressive.
Drinking is usually done from running water, again in an open area so they can keep watch. They also prefer the water bowl to be away from the food bowl area.
Sleeping (cats do this a lot)
Wild cats sleep up high and rotate from one place to another, this helps to stop parasite build up and is repliacted in our homes. Cats also like to hide (they are prey as well as predator in the wild) so a den is appreciated but in places where they have more than one exit so they can escape if necessary.
Toileting is done at the edge of their territory, naturally this would be in sand so this is a good material to use on the home too, but it must be the child safe sand, builders sand can be very sharp. They do like to be in a secure place for this. Some cats are not comfy having a roof on their litter tray, or don’t like a steep step in, the wrong type or litter of the tray in the wrong place. Multi cat households should have one tray per cat and one extra.