For the majority of cat guardians the time at which they have the most consistent interaction with their cat is when they feed him/her. The chart below indicates the typical pattern of behavior at this time although the exact behavior is dependent upon individual cat preferences dictated by the usual nature/nurture principles i.e. genetic inheritance and developmental influences.
The behavior is based upon a study in 1996 in the UK of 36 cats. The researchers studied eight sequences of cat feeding for each individual cat. There were 288 observed feedings.
My Charlie follows the typical pattern. He may go out immediately after feeding or jump up onto the bed or his other elevated resting position and groom himself which usually starts with licking his lips and then following a preset sequence typical of almost all domestic cats.
I have added in the “demand phase” i.e. meowing or asking for food. I think most cats will ask for food if the demand is not prevented from happening because the owner puts the food down before the cat is hungry, although even when that happens cats tend to follow in my experience the same routine and meow for food even though it is there already.
The walking with tail up seems to be a friendly signal in response to the friendly act of the owner in putting down the food.
Rubbing against the owner’s legs and other objects is (a) an exchange of scent and (b) the depositing of scent both of which are driven by friendship with the human caretaker, which is shown to the person at the time of feeding because feeding a cat is an act of friendship and of giving. I suppose it is being returned by the cat.
The desire by one-third of cats to go outside after feeding is interesting. My cat does this sometimes; these days more often than in the past now that he is familiar with the outside and feels comfortable being there.
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