Cat Imitating Human Behavior

by George
(Cumberland, MD USA)

Charlie Charlie

I want to tell you about how one of my cats imitates my human behavior. I have two cats, both female, Cassie and Charlie. I am a male human and live alone with my cats. Our morning routine includes coffee for me and a bowl of wet cat food for each of my cats.

Charlie is always with me waiting for her breakfast as I get my coffee. But Cassie lingers upstairs and is always late for breakfast. When I'm ready to give them their bowls, if Cassie hasn't come down, I go to the bottom of the stairs, look up and call her using a high falsetto voice (the auditory range of cat vocalizations).

Charlie has observed me do this many times. Sometimes, if Charlie becomes impatient waiting for Cassie, knowing she will not get her food until Cassie comes down, she will also go to the bottom of the stairs and loudly call to Cassie. That's right. Charlie will loudly meow (short, loud calls) while looking up the stairs for Cassie.

When Cassie finally comes down, Charlie will greet her with a short happy grunt and a lick on the top of Cassie's head. All is well and they settle down to enjoying breakfast together.

Cat Learning From Humans

One of my two cats, Charlie, observes me closely and adapts her behavior to mine. For example, she has observed that when I first roll out of bed in the morning, the first thing I do is slip my feet into my slippers.

If Charlie can't wake me by gently walking on the bed and on top of me, sometimes she will go to my slippers, pick one up in her mouth and drop it loudly on the floor. She will do this over and over until I look over the edge of the bed to see what she is doing. Once she sees me sitting up, she knows she has accomplished her objective. Pretty smart, eh?

Cat Patience Or Laying In Wait

Cats have abundant patience, which is a fundamental basis for their ability to be human pets. Where does this patient nature come from? It doesn't come from domestication or their being "civilized." Cats are not domesticated in the same sense as dogs. Those who know cats well will admit that they choose to be with their owners and retain an independence of spirit and attitude even though they are "pets".

Even though it may seem counter-intuitive, I believe the patience cats exhibit comes from their predatory nature. Cats in the wild have evolved the predatory technique of "laying in wait" for their prey. Even big cats will position themselves in a place where they know their prey will come. Some big cats will climb trees and wait for hours to pounce on smaller animals.

Although its origin may be in predation, the cat's patience is a generalized behavior. It allows them to overcome their most extreme fears. When a cat is first introduced to a new human owner, it will react with obvious fear and it will take a long time before the cat can overcome that fear. The same occurs when two strange cats are forced to live together. They will show fear and hiss and strike out at the other cat. But they both will eventually adjust through patient distance and observation of each other. They will likely even come to treat the other with genuine affection, as they do with their human caretakers.

Patience, or more correctly "laying in wait", is key to a cat's success as a pet.

Cat Plays Fetch With A Ball

Charcoal, or "Charlie' for short, is sleek and sensual but not exceptionally beautiful. But she has gorgeous fur. She is totally black including her toes and lips, even her gums are black. Her warm undercoat is slightly brownish in sunlight, giving her a charcoal cast, hence her name. Strangely, her fur grows backwards on her breast and flows upward on her sides reaching a kind of ridge along her spine and tail.

Charlie will seem a rather serious person. But she loves to play with you by sharing her toys with you. She will bring them to you and sit and wait for you to think of a way to play with them and her.

Charlie is creative and very intelligent. She taught me to play "fetch" with a ball. Not that I didn't know how but I never knew a cat would want to play fetch with a ball.

One day she brought me a small ball and dropped it at my feet, sat back and looked up at me. I picked it up and tossed it to see what she would do. She ran after it and immediately carried it back and dropped it again at my feet. And thus began a game she and I enjoy everyday.

See also: A Totally Black Cat.

George

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Cat Imitating Human Behavior

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Dec 05, 2010 Cat patience
by: Finn Frode, Denmark

Hi George. I like that story of you calling in for Cassie in your "cat voice" and Charlie joins you and helps calling. Cats are pretty smart...
Our 16½ year old Norwegian Milly is very bonded to my wife, but realising that humans will never learn cat language, she has decided to learn human instead. This means when she really wants something, Milly does not meow, but says something like "Yap-yap-yap" - not at all different from a female voice... 😉

I think you are spot on about cat patience - a hunting cat can't succeed without that.

Finn Frode avatar


Dec 03, 2010 Thanks, Ruth
by: George

Thank you, Ruth (Monty's Mom), for the kind words about Charlie. I don't think Cassie will be offended. I guess I tend to think of Cassie as the better looking of the two because Cassie is the same age but half as big as Charlie. Cassie will always be a petit, delicate, feminine kitty. Whereas, Charlie is big and strong, and has the dominant personality. I love them both for the individual persons they are.


Dec 02, 2010 Charlie is beautiful!
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

At the risk of offending your other cat, who I'm sure is a very nice cat, I have to say that Charlie is just strikingly beautiful. Maybe I'm a little biased because my little guy, Monty, is also a black cat. But he has some single white hairs here and there and in the sun you can see faint stripes on him and rings on his tail. He also has the brown undercoating you describe on Charlie in your other post.
I think cats LOVE routine and they learn ours and then actually enforce them, for lack of a better word. If my husband and I lounge around in bed watching t.v. on a Saturday Monty gets quite perturbed and keeps coming in and out of the room meowing at us, as if to say, "What is wrong with you guys? It's time to get up already."
I had the weirdest experience last night. Can cats communicate telepathically? I awoke at about quarter to four with the strongest feeling that I needed to feed the cat. It was an urgent thought that just would not leave me. Then Monty jumped up on the bed and back down, his signal for, "Get up and feed me." But I had the feeling I needed to feed him before he jumped up by me. Maybe he jumped up before and I didn't notice him, or did he somehow enter my dreams? I did get up and feed him then.
He used to get locked in his own room at nights, but lately, so long as he isn't keeping us up when we want to go to bed, he's allowed to do what he wants. Which, oddly enough, is usually just to go to bed in his room at the usual time. It's all about the routines with that cat.


Dec 02, 2010 Interesting
by: Michael

I like this and can understand it as similar things happen to me. Mind you I haven't experienced such obvious cases of cat imitating and copying human.

It seems to be an extension or modification of the process that I call cat training human. Perhaps you are copying your cats! Or you are training each other.

Thanks for visiting and sharing.

Michael Avatar



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