If we are to assess whether domestic cats protect humans, we have to look at the nature of the relationship. In terms of the physical ability to protect a human I think the answer is yes but there are limitations as the domestic cat is so much smaller than a human. But this article is about domestic cats’ desire to protect humans.
We know that within interspecies relationships such as dogs raising cats and vice versa, the senior party to the relationship or the parent protects the offspring even though they are of a different species. The point is that a cat can protect a dog if the cat raised the dog as one of their own. The barrier between the species dissolves under intense socialisation, which includes a domestic cat regarding a human as either a surrogate mother or even a kitten depending upon the circumstances.
As the relationship between cat and person is an interspecies relationship similar is some ways to that of a cat and the puppies that she raised (which occurs), I’m going to state that it is possible for cats to protect humans and to want to do it. In other words, it can be a deliberate act on behalf of the cat to protect a human or to try and do so.
Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.
The video, which is a very well-known one by the way, shows the family cat stopping the family’s child from falling down some stairs. It looks very much as if the cat observed what was going on, made an assessment as to the imminent danger of the child falling down the stairs, and took action immediately to stop it happening. It is hard not to see the video as a deliberate and conscious effort by the cat to protect a human child. The cat actually pushes the child away from the stairs. Note: on the internet, there are other examples of domestic cats protecting humans, which I recall seeing over the years.
I would, therefore, assess the video as a domestic cat regarding a human child as their child which immediately brings up all the usual maternal protective desires as seen in the video. To be clear, my assessment is that the toddler is in effect a kitten in the eyes of the cat and she feels that she is their mother. It is more likely to be a mother-offspring relationship but there are occasions, as I recall, when male domestic cats can occasionally be involved in parenting so it is not totally beyond the bounds of possibility that this cat in the video is a male but it looks far more likely to be a female.
I do not think it is reasonable to suggest that the cat regards the child as a human child and is discharging a responsibility to protect the child of another parent/species. The experts remain undecided as to how domestic cats perceive us. As you can see, I believe that they relate to us as either surrogate mothers or kittens depending upon the circumstances. But certainly, in my view they regard us as cats. Although, alternatively, they might not have a particular view on it and they just interact with us without consciously deciding what kind of creature we are. But when they see a toddler like this in danger, I believe that their instincts kick in and, in this case, it is motherly instincts which take over.
P.S. I have presumed that the question is a reference to domestic cats. If a wild cat has the same level of socialisation to an individual person the same rules apply, I think. But it is unlikely because there is the barrier of a lack of domestication.
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