What types of things confuse cats?

What types of things confuse cats? I am referring to domestic cats. I am sure that you can think of quite a few things that confuse your cat but the following things come to my mind fairly quickly.

Open the bloody door
Open the bloody door. Photo in public domain. Words added.
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Domestic cats are confused by doors. If a house does not have a cat flap (cat door) then your cat will ask you quite frequently to be let out and to be let in after she has patrolled her home range. Of course I’m talking about indoor/outdoor cats. Cats need to carry out a brief survey of their territory at fairly frequent intervals. The check has to be carried out at frequent intervals because the scent marks that he or she leaves fade in potency and therefore lose their power. The decline in the strength of the smell allows a cat to determine how long it’s been since the scent was deposited. The visits allow the cat to top up failing scent signals.

Another thing that confuses cats is fancy, brightly coloured, loud cat toys. At least, this is my experience. I don’t think that the manufacturers of pet toys really quite understand domestic cat behaviour. They create toys which look good to humans but which may flummox the domestic cat and even intimidate them.

Another thing which will confuse a cat is probably trying to speak to her in human language in the expectation that she understands. She might look at you blankly and listen to the sound you make and if they are warm and pleasant and part of a loving routine then she will get the message but if you try speak to her as another little human she’ll be confused.

Confused pets
Confused pets. Photo in public domain.

Punishment will always confuse and confound a domestic cat. It’s a human process and cats just don’t get it. It’s about a failure to connect their natural behaviour to the pain of the punishment. They won’t understand why natural behaviour results in pain and discomfort delivered by their human companion. Punishment is not on the domestic cat’s radar and does not register in the evolutionary story of the cat family.

I believe that locking your cat out of the bedroom at night is something that will confuse them. After all, all day long you might be with your cat on an off and are totally accessible. She can walk into any room and interact with you there. Then suddenly, at night, when she is quite possibly at her most active, the bedroom is out of bounds which is where you are. It’s a highly confusing situation for a domestic cat. She will scratch at the door quite possibly to try and get in and be bemused and befuddled as to what’s going on. She probably won’t make a connection between the door being locked and the owner having locked it. She’ll just think it’s a barrier which gets in her way and won’t understand why it is there.

I suspect, that domestic cats will be confused about being bathed. There are occasions, rarely, when it is necessary to bathe your cat but she won’t understand why you’re doing it and putting her through such an unpleasant experience even if it is in her best interests.

Given your cat a pill such as a deworming pill or antibiotics will be confusing to your cat. You have to put her through some discomfort either by using the classic jaw opening technique or placing a pill gun into her mouth and then discharge the pill into the back of her throat. She has no idea what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. And even when she does feel better I don’t think that she will make the connection between what you did and her feeling better.

In the same vein, taking your cat to the veterinarian is also probably confusing to your cat. Cats don’t make a connection between being ill and the necessity of seeing an animal doctor to make them feel well again. And the handling of a domestic cat on a consulting table inside a veterinary clinic’s premises is often upsetting to a cat and she won’t know why she’s been subjected to it.

Any activity which is exclusively human in nature will probably confuse the family cat. So getting out the hoover and making lots of noise to suck up dirt from the carpet will confuse her. From her perspective you have suddenly introduced an intimidating beast into the room which makes a lot of noise without any purpose.

I’m sure there are countless other little things which confuse your cat and they may be personal to your cat but I’ll leave it there for the time being.

P.S. I have just remembered another thing; a pet hate of mine. Declawing your cat will utterly confuse her. She won’t understand why she has lost the claws of her forepaws and is feeling chronic pain. She’ll feel vulnerable and bite in compensation. The whole ghastly experience will be a mysterious nightmare for her.

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