Categories: Cat Behavior

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

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, 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:

Clingy cat must sit on fake lap as owners need to work at home

Is this a good idea or a bad one? It is probably a bit of both but it seems a ...
Read More

Why are some cats lap cats and others not?

There are two reasons why cats sit on a person's lap: warmth and contact with the person. The latter is ...
Read More

How can I interact with my cat?

There are two points to make about interacting with your cat, (1) who should initiate it and (2) what types ...
Read More

Why isn’t my cat a lap cat?

Why isn't my cat a lap cat? Three topics come to mind in response to the question in the title ...
Read More

How can a cat (approx. 5Kg) jump on my lap so gently that I don’t notice her arrival?

The answer is simple. Domestic cats are supremely skilled at judging the distance to jump. They exercise precisely the amount ...
Read More

Cat returned to shelter because he’s a lap cat

This is a bit strange. A person adopted a beautiful ginger tabby-and-white cat from Michigan Cat Rescue but they returned ...
Read More

How can I make my cat a lap cat?

Is it possible to make your cat a lap cat? It is the word ‘make’ that I don’t like as ...
Read More

Is the Russian Blue a lap cat?

I don't think you'll get a cat expert stating outright that the Russian Blue is a lap cat. This is ...
Read More
Michael Broad

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

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

Don’t blame cats for destroying wildlife – shaky logic is leading to moral panic

Are cats really to blame for the worldwide loss of biodiversity? Dzurag/iStock via Getty Images…

1 hour ago

Young ginger tabby cat fished from the ocean!

A young ginger tabby cat was seen swimming in the ocean, in the Gulf of…

5 hours ago

Can a cheetah breed with a leopard?

There is some interest as to whether the cheetah can breed with any one of…

10 hours ago

Don’t ignore homeopathy as a possible treatment for your cat

Homeopathy is a controversial treatment for ailments in people. It can also be used as…

14 hours ago

The reason why cats feel pain when they eat ice cream

There was a craze on the Internet recently about cats eating ice cream and filming…

15 hours ago

Dog never barks and likes to be on elevated surfaces (he thinks he is a cat)

Mako acts like a cat and his human leader thinks it is because he was…

1 day ago