HomeHuman to cat relationshipcommunicationDomestic Cats Only Seem Aloof and Asocial If You Are Not Paying Attention and Being Unobservant

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Domestic Cats Only Seem Aloof and Asocial If You Are Not Paying Attention and Being Unobservant — 5 Comments

  1. Thank yo Michael, this is such an important topic in my opinion. I have tried to impart this message for years, having become qualified, again in my opinion but using repeatable experiments that over such a long period of time they put typical studies to shame. In fact, there are very few published studies that support any hypothesis about the cat. Alger and Alger (husband and wife team) behaviorists, did a three year study back in 1999 and wrote the book “Cat Culture”. I read the papers they wrote that they distilled into the book, and those are far more informative of course. You Michael are right on the mark again. Not only do cats each have the inherent ability to interact and communicate with humans (should the human care to cooperate) but they have the ability to develop a complex, fluid, dynamic, pragmatic and peaceful culture that, when you consider they have no language as we rely on, is remarkable. Little of it actually surprised me, having studied them in large, ever changing grouping myself in my own home. And that is a key mistake researchers make, they’ve confined cats to lab-type experiments rather than study them in their native habitat, the human abode. It reminds me of the early experiments with captive wolves that led to mistaken assumptions about dog behavior. L. David Mech (Meech) a wildlife research biologist who did make that mistake some 50-60 years ago actually revised his research and made public his mistake that led to not only a better understanding of wolves, but of dogs and how to better study animals. You’re correct Michael that in general we’ve had it wrong about cats too, and it has to do with at least observing them closely, keeping an open mind and seeing the world through their eyes. They are superbly, if not hyper-vigilant of the world around them that puts our observational skills to shame.

    • My cats live so peacefully in my home. And yet they are always present and somehow have become the lifeblood of our home. They are neither aggressive or passive but rather live along side us. The more you communicate with them the more they reach out. We have a silent as well as verbal communication that goes on all day.
      And nothing is more touching that my Little Mercy curling up next to me and putting her paw on my cheek , a few pats looking right into my eyes and giving her slow blink before curling up for a snuggle. They tell me when strangers are in the driveway without a commotion. They share in my daily activities.
      The deep relationship between a cat and its guardian is a beautiful dance.
      As a long time dressage rider. A subtle movement elicits a beautiful response. I see my relationship with cats and horses in the same light.

      • That’s a good point; actually two good points. I was a dancer as well as a rider and I too correlate and re-purpose the subtle touch skills I learned there to communicate with my cats. I also think of the body language between us and animals as a dance. Specifically, that both animals prefer to be led, not forced to do anything. Something like getting a cat to walk through a gate is best done by letting them follow you through, not pointing or telling them to. Lots of calories can be burned and time wasted trying to get them to understand spoken language when all they desire is to follow your lead, or tap at where you want them to stand or sit. I rode Thorobreds, which require a great deal of reassurance (by way of vocal as well as physical signals) to remain calm and attentive. I’m sure that goes for most horses, but I find it interesting that cats and horses are so similar in sensitivity and needs, though the cat is a predator and the horse is prey by nature.

        • It took me a long time to see the connection. The prey and the predator and yet both animals are never fully domesticated. Both can revert to a wild lifestyle. TBs will carry a sense of betrayal their whole lives if mistreated. Like cats they will if given the chance select their human companions. And like many cats horses lose their voice and stop trying to communicate. It is wonderful to watch either beast reemerge from that shell.

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