Why do domestic cats cover the black dot? I explain.

There is another cat behaviour trend brewing up on TikTok. In a video which has gone viral, a tabby cat caregiver uses a biro to draw a large black dot on a notepad. Her cat watches nearby. Nothing happens for a while and this is because domestic cats do take a little while to process what they are going to do. People expect instant responses but you often don’t get it from domestic cats when it comes to making decisions. Please remember, too, that so called ‘strange cat behavior’ can always be explained as natural and normal when looking at it from the cat’s perspective.

If you draw a black dot on a piece of paper your cat might cover it. Why?
If you draw a black dot on a piece of paper your cat might cover it. Why? Screenshots.
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In his own time this cat decides to pounce on that expanded black dot. And he tries to play with it in the expectation that there will be a response as if it is an insect. Firstly, he places his left-paw over it as if to stop it moving. This is the instinctive response of a cat when dealing with a small prey creature of some sort, normally an insect; pounce and attack.

It is pretty clear to me that this cat believes that the black dot might be an insect. A slight difficulty that domestic cats have in identifying small objects at close range is that they are longsighted. They have difficulty focusing on near objects. They therefore rely on their sense of smell to identify those objects. This is confirmed in the video when you see him at the very end of the video sniffing the black dot. And you will see this when cats eat from a bowl. They can leave a bit sometimes because they can’t see it but they will check it out through smell.

So, this is what is going on in this interesting video, which I think helps explain domestic cat behavior to a lot of people. And it is all backed up by a domestic cat’s natural curiosity.

The world knows that cats are inquisitive and they can get into trouble because of this inquisitiveness. It’s partly why they have nine lives. They need them sometimes when their inquisitiveness jeopardises their survival.

One of the interesting aspects of the video is the one that I’ve mentioned at the beginning: the amount of time the cat takes to decide what to do. Expect this sort of timeframe in other instances of the cat-to-human relationship. For example, if you are calling your cat to come to you, you might not expect him to come immediately.

There was a viral discussion about a study which concluded that domestic cats hear their owner’s call but ignore it. It was reinforcing the perceived aloofness of the domestic cat. I disagreed with this conclusion. It isn’t that cats are aloof and are ignoring their owner; it is much more about a cat taking his time to process the request (cognitive ability) and frankly sometimes they don’t want to do what they’re asked to do. No bad thing.

Domestic cats are incredibly quick instinctive movers but relative slow rational decision makers compared to most humans.

There are some more articles on ‘strange’ (not actually strange) behavior below.

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