Cat Behavior

F1 Savannah cat wanting to hunt caged bird
F1 Savannah cat wanting to hunt caged bird. Photo: Michael.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Intro Sept 30, 2021: This page was written before 2012. I forget the date but it is at least 10 years old. Since then, many pages have been written on cat behavior. Please use the search facilities (top right on desktop) to find them. The Google one is the best. You’re bound to find what you are looking for. Thanks. That said this is a complete page on cat behavior. It is huge :).

Note: the page is in many parts for tech reasons. Links take you to the next page. The links to references no longer work. The last page contains the list of references.


If you’d like a quick overview of cat behavior, I’ll provide it because below is a lot of detail and an index which will take a lot of time to read and digest (about 9,000 words!). This is meant to be a comprehensive page on domestic cat behavior. The information is provided in bullet fashion to compress the page.

When discussing cat behaviour, you cannot escape discussing human behaviour. Domestic cat behavior is all about the innate behavioral traits of the wild cat ancestor as domesticated and as altered and affected by how the cat’s owner and others interact with the cat. When a cat behaviourist is asked to sort out ‘bad cat behavior’ she’ll spend most of her time asking the owners what they do. Her focus is on humans. It is rare for a cat to have mental health issues. Therefore, their behavior is a natural and normal reaction to the environment they live in combined with their inherited character. It is not bad behaviour in an objective or absolute sense.

Owners must interact with their cat as a cat. Your cat is a domesticated wildcat and just below the surface there is a wildcat character. Respect it. Learn a bit about it on this site – it’s all here [click]. Try and see the world from the cat’s perspective. They are living in a human world created very much in the human’s image of how the world should be. The cat has to adapt. They have to literally look up to us as we are much larger than them and we can intimidate by our size. Handle cats respectfully and gently and as cats not as babies. Taylor Swift regards her cats as babies.

Allow the domestic cat to behave as naturally as possible by making the home ‘cat friendly’. This means some high vantage points, no strange people, quiet and calm, and routines plus some hiding places. Play with your cat a lot.

Your cat will feel more secure if you follow a routine which he sees and fits into. If he feels secure, he’ll act more naturally and open up. You want that because you’ll see a happy cat behaving as a cat should.

Make him feel secure by interacting with him respectfully. Stroke gently and in the places he likes. Don’t punish him, ever. He is acting instinctively and therefore doing nothing wrong. He won’t understand the punishment.

As you can see, cat behaviour depends to a large extent on human behaviour as your cat is shoehorned into a human environment. If your cat is full-time indoors it is important to make the home interesting from a cat’s perspective.

Cats are not independent as people say. They want to interact with you from time to time on their terms. And they want you around as much as possible provided your behaviour is cat friendly. They are not aloof and cold. They’re just a different species of animal. Respect it please.

Cat acting as mom to this toddler as she has learned the behavior by observation
Cat acting as mom or dad to this toddler as she has learned the behavior by observation. Screenshot.

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