Why are cats so lazy?

When you consider the definition of the word “lazy” it is difficult to come to the conclusion that cats are lazy. I refute it. I’ll refer to both wild a domestic cats. “Lazy” means: unwilling to work or use energy. The key is in the phrase “unwilling to work”. This implies that there is work to be done. It implies that cats shun their duty or obligation to work. But in the wild some wild cat species are efficient enough hunters who do all their work in a fraction of the day and can relax the rest of the time. The wild cats are far from lazy.

cat sleeps in a bush by So-yeon Kim
Cat sleeps in a bush by So-yeon Kim
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Take one example: the sand cat. They start hunting just before sunset and continue throughout the night and sometimes extend their activities into the morning. That’s a full night shift. Lazy? No. The big cats are relatively efficient killers and have time to snooze. Lions snooze, rest or play the most but they have done their work. They would not be snoozing if they were starving. So the wild cat species are not lazy. It’s a misconception. And if they are “unwilling to use energy” the reasons are good: it’s the middle of the day and it is damned hot and they are conserving energy for some nocturnal hunting.

Domestic cats live under artificial circumstances. They are fed. They don’t have to find their own food and kill it. They are often full-time indoor cats. Their owners are out a lot. They may be a single cat. What can they do other than snooze and look lazy? It is not laziness per se but the force of circumstance which makes a domestic cat look lazy.

Domestic cats normally don’t play of their own volition. Something has to happen and that means a person provoking play with a tease. Without that input they don’t do it or they might do it for a short time if something is lying around. They might indulge in the “cat crazies”, a mad outburst of activity. Once again it’ll be brief. They are driven to this by boredom.

Bored cat
Bored cat, black thoughts. He looks incredibly bored. Photo in public domain.

Laziness is a refusal to work when required to do so. Domestic cats have a zero obligation to work because they are kept animals. We agree that. It’s part of the modern contract between cat and human. Cats aren’t lazy. We have forced them to have the appearance of being lazy. It is a misuse of the word which is designed to be used on humans.

Cats, wild or domestic, can never be lazy because if they are feral or wild and have to hunt for food they do so. They are programmed to do it to survive. Cats don’t lay down and die out of starvation unless they are dying of old age or very sick or injured. There are no circumstances under which they could be described as lazy.

The bottom line is that cats do what they have to do to survive. When they’ve done it they rest. They can’t watch 3 episodes of Greys Anatomy or Bosh on Amazon Prime. Or binge on some other box set. They can’t do the stuff humans do to entertain and kill time. They snooze. It looks like they are lazy but they are not. Even when they are snoozing their brains are working and their radar ears are swivelling all over the place picking up sounds. How many times have I said cats aren’t lazy!

If they have got to rest, we hope that it is on our lap:

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