Categories: cat personality

Cats have one interest, activity and pastime: hunting, which is a weakness in the human environment

It is going to sound a bit weird to state this but it does affect the quality of life of the domestic cats. Let’s think about it. We, humans, have a range of interests and therefore a range of things that we can do. This is useful to us.

Cat with nothing to do

If, for example, the weather is appalling and we are stuck at home we can watch television, read the newspapers, read a book, go online, talk to our partner, play with the kids, dust the place (at last), clean the dishes, fix that damn shelf that is loose, bake a cake, stop that dripping tap, hoover the carpet (at last), telephone our best friend, text our girlfriend/boyfriend, write a letter, take a photograph, make a video, work at home and so one. I could list many more items that we can do if we are confined to the home.

But a domestic cat has one interest, one desire and one activity: to hunt. He/she is programmed to do it. It is their raison d’être (their reason to exist), it is all they know and it is of course entirely instinctive.

Now, a cat can only genuinely hunt if she is outside in the woods, on the grass, among the bushes were she’ll be looking and waiting patiently for a mouse or an insect and, yes, even a bird but she’ll be far more likely to successfully stalk a mouse.

The nearest she’ll get to hunting prey when confined to the home is to look out the window at a bird and chatter her teeth as she eagerly practices her killer bite. Or, her loving human companion plays with her for 15 minutes or five minutes or not at all.

Cat chattering (vacuum activity). Photo in public domain. These cats are doing the one thing they can do from inside the home when they can’t get out for whatever reason: they chatter at prey. It is all they know and love.

In bad weather, a domestic cats is therefore more likely to be without something to do even if she is an outdoor cat because she’ll be confined to the home. She’ll snooze. You’ll think that she’s asleep but she isn’t. She’s doing what she has to do under these circumstances: kill time because she has nothing else to do.

Cat caretakers/guardians should be sensitive to this imposed feline limitation in character. It is a character trait which profoundly affects their entire life quality. It places a huge amount of responsibility on the cat’s owner because only the owner can add colour to the life of a full-time indoor cat.

I am not in any way criticising the concept of full-time indoor cats. It is wise in certain places to do this in the interests of cat safety and welfare. However, it does open up a weakness in the whole concept of cat domestication. When a cat is domesticated they lose that need to hunt to survive and in doing that the cat’s reason d’être is lost too.

Think about it: you are passionate about reading novels, having a coffee morning with your best friends, going for a Christmas break, watching your favourite television series on Netflix. All of them are taken from you. What do you do?

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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