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Something to Remember About Feline Behavior

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Whenever someone asks me about a behavior problem, I always ask them to do a simple takes only a second or two and can make a big difference in how we look at behavioral issues. *grin* Ok, here goes:

1) Make a fist.

2) Closely examine the size of your fist.

3) Realize that your fist is about the same size as a normal cat's head would be.

4) Adjust the size somewhat, allowing for the facial structure of a normal-sized cat.

5) Now think about how much space would be allowed for a brain.

6) Realize that a brain that small doesn't have room for reasoning abilities.


Most of the time, behavioral problems can be linked to one or both of the following reasons: Health issues, or environmental issues.

When kitty isn't feeling well, he can't very well just walk up to you and whine, "Mom! I don't FEEEEEL good!". So, he shows you by changing his behavior in some way...all of us know about going off normal feeding routines, or lethargy...but even inappropriate litter box habits or unexplained aggression can mean a health problem.

As for environment, cats do not "think to themselves" how fun it would be to do something inappropriate to get back at us for leaving them alone all day - even if it does sometimes appear that way. *smile* The fact is that cats, especially young, healthy cats, left alone all day get bored and need activities, so they find some. Often, we disagree with their choices.

Nor do they appreciate their environments being small a thing as it may seem to you or I, even something like moving the furniture around or bringing in a new piece can be intimadating to our fur-faces who are very much creatures of a hard and fast routine, and dislike changes made by someone other than themselves.

Cats don't wear watches nor are they able to tell time even if it does appear they do/can. Instead, they develop a normal routine. When this routine is changed abruptly, problems can and do occur.

So, when trying to determine what a certain behavior actually means - remember the fist exercise and think, "Is this health-related? Have there been any changes to the environment or routines?". And try not to put a human spin on it. Most all of the time, there isn't an "ulterior motive", no matter how often we think we witness the little free-loaders laughing at us behind our backs. *grin*

My continued best to all with behavioral issues,

post #2 of 23
I don't know. Yesterday I was at Rene's house. I watched the whole thing. Her Leon jumped on the kitchen table and Rene put him down. No sooner did she put him on the floor than he turned to the wall and sprayed. In this case, I really do beleive that he was upset that she put him down and was telling her and everyone else in the house.
post #3 of 23
While I do believe that in a lot of instances cats are just acting like cats because they are cats, I do feel that sometimes some of my cats do things on purpose, as evidenced by Leon's behavior yesterday. But also the other day I was talking to Sandy on the phone and Star wanted attention - she first bit me (I ignored her), then she jumped on my nightstand and took my computer discs into her mouth one by one and dropped them on the floor. I picked her up and pet her while a I talked and then put her down again - she jumped back onto my nightstand and started pulling the kleenex out of my box! Star wanted attention and was angry I was on the phone - now she cannot hear, so she sensed my attention was not on her and she reacted to being ignored. I do believe that sometimes cats do things on purpose - they are very smart animals.
post #4 of 23
i agree, their actions show that they are quite intelligent,
along with highly manipulative

i never underestimate my cats, they are always surprising me.
not too mention their long-term memory has proven to be a lot
better then mine


i am learning things from them all the time
post #5 of 23
I think you're all right, it's just a question of how you look at it.

Cats are never being "bad" and in that sense they are not manipulative. They're not stupid either and they learn very quickly what sort of activities trigger us into giving them what they want, be it food or attention.

You could say that Leon did what he did to show he was upset, but it could very well be his way of releasing pent-up stress (created by not getting what he wants).

I tend to agree with Gaye in that too often people attribute alterior "human" motives to feline behavior when there are other reasons that are health or stress related.
post #6 of 23
= little brain
people have evolved a large brain complete with these really really big, huge, gigantic, enormous frontal lobes that have specific task centers such as launguage, long-term memory, event-conectivity. I know it's tempting to buypass using these humoungous, really big chunks of our brains and go directly to our emotive centers during the course of our everyday lives let alone when we are dealing with the unutterable cuteness of our 's, but this should not deter us from trying!!!!

post #7 of 23
Cats aren't ignorant. I have 7. Maya Linn "talks" to me when she wants to eat or play fetch. This morning my cat Marina Mar wanted to eat. She kept walking on me and making this weird noise. She then kept putting her wet nose on my face. Everytime I rolled over to ignore her she was right there walking on me. When I asked her if she wanted to eat, she made this strange noise again, jumped down off the bed and went to the door to wait for me to get up. They are no dummies. I believe they know how to communicate in their own funny way.

Casey loves to snuggle. When MooShoo is under the covers next to me and Casey is on my pillow, if I pay attention to MooShoo, Casey puts his paw on my cheek as if to say "Hey!! I'm over here!!"
post #8 of 23
No one has yet developed an IQ test for felix domesticus. I'm sure that if such a test were developed five of my six cats would pass. The sharp pointy words in my text are directed at cat keepers who think that feline behavior can be modified if delivered at a sufficient volume with frequent repeating, especially when accompanied by aggressive acts and gestures. I'm sure people like that don't post at this site......I'm not sure that this type is even literate.
I simply feel this odd compulsion to "preach to the choir..." by posting here.

'no hablo engles.'

Cats have their own forms of communicating though posture and through vocalizations, but cats don't use a verbally communicated or written language and (time to p'o' the newagers) don't read minds. Those who would keep cats need to remember to give cats the right to be just cats - all the time.

You have obviously accomplished this task since your reply includes information that your feline companions are unafraid of you and treat you as a playmate (or plaything - take your pic).

There are good ways to modify feline behavior - when necessary. Before cat keepers do this it is best to take a long objective look at our own behavior first!!! (mea culpa - really) Someday I may find a way to communicate what you know to the masses.

post #9 of 23

I don't know whether I've been insulted, reprimanded or just spoken to. And after 12 hours on the job, I'm too darn tired to figure it out. All I know is I do let my cats be cats and would not want it any other way. I think what they do is cute and love 'em with all my heart and soul!!

Have a good night!!

post #10 of 23
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
*grin* Donna, I do agree with you that cats can communicate with us in their own special little ways - really, I promise I do! In fact, there is an amusing story of my old Siamese girl who called my stepson's name repeatedly "Maaaaaaaaaatt" during his first month-long summer vacation with his mother away from our home. You simply cannot tell me she wasn't looking for him the way she traveled between his bedroom and to where I was, all the while calling out what sounded exactly like his actual name! I swear this is a true story, my husband witnessed it, and will back me up. But the point I think I was trying to make was that these communications are not driven by a logical thought process, rather they are instinctual - in other words, my Kitty knew that her environment had changed - the routines she enjoyed with Matt when he was home were interrupted for an extended period of time and it caused her anxiety being the creature of habit and routine she was. There was not a day that went by during the time he was away that she didn't look for him, and upon his return, she rudely gave him the cold shoulder and would have not the first thing to do with him. Can I honestly say it did not appear she was po'ed at him for abandoning her? Ironically, no, I cannot. But logically, I know it was instinctual behavior because her environment had changed.

Our cats feel the hunger instinct and since they are totally dependent upon us for their food, they bat you around to make you feed them. Or, Kitty feels the fear instinct and cannot say, "Momma! There is a big blue rain slicker monster hanging off the kitchen chair that has scary unfamiliar smells on it!" (insert you own cat's imagined monster of choice here) so instead, Kitty attacks the offending rain slicker in order to vanquish it and once again be the ruler of her territory. Or, Kitty is ill and is feeling the unsafe instinct, so she hides in the closet in order not to bring attention from other cats who might take advantage of her weakened condition.

Whenever we see changes in normal behavior patterns (and we do have to take enough time to observe our cats to know what the normals are) the first line of defense is always a thorough vet's exam. Once medical reasons have been ruled out, then, the answer to the question, "What's different in this cat's world?" needs to be found.

I really wasn't implying that anyone was ignorant or stupid to think their cats were spending time happily plotting behaviors to get back at you for leaving them alone all day with nary a bit of tuna in the house. *grin* In fact, I write stories that give my own cat's quite a bit of ability they don't actually possess, so I am guilty of it too! It was more my hope that people didn't confuse behavior issues for something they are not. When you have a cat that isn't behaving normally, 9 times out of 10, it isn't because they are pissed off at you for some infraction of their secret code. It is because they are reacting to instinct. That's all I meant. I didn't mean for you or anyone else to think I was insulting them.


post #12 of 23
Even if their behavior is instinctual, it's more fun to imagine I'm being plotted against. :paranoid2
My life is pretty dull, and I need all the excitement and intrigue I can get.
post #13 of 23

My post was for T2S. I've read her post at least 3 times and still don't understand it. I just wanted her to know that my kitties, like all or most kitties, do strange things to let us know they're hungry, etc. I took her 'night' as either curt or rude. Maybe I was just being a little to sensitive from exhaustion. I don't sweat the small stuff anymore. And most of it IS small stuff.

Have no fear Gaye, it wasn't mean towards you, believe me.

post #14 of 23
LOL, Donna I dont think the post was to insult you. I had to read it a few times, but T2 paid you a compliment.
Gaye..I hope you don't stop posting all this wondeful info. I really dont think you have been insulting in the least in any of your posts. I think the problems are coming from not being able to hear the words. When they are typed, it is open for interpritation.
On the subject now...Cats are Cats and they should always be allowed to be cats. I think if there really was a way to get into thier minds, they wouldnt be so facinating. I started enjoying cats when I realized they are very independant and think for themselves. Wheather it be nature telling them what to do or because they have the ability to make a thought out decision. I can say that I have learned alot about them and understand them pretty well. Aren't cats just the most interesing creatures!!
post #15 of 23
To Sandie and T2S,

Oh, okay. As the church lady would say, "Never Mind". Didn't mean to get anyone's fur in a tizzy. I'm sorry.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by alexnell
Even if their behavior is instinctual, it's more fun to imagine I'm being plotted against. :paranoid2
My life is pretty dull, and I need all the excitement and intrigue I can get.

Yeah...I know what you mean. As I mentioned in my post to Donna, I write short stories using my cats as the main characters. They each have purrsonalities, and they of them is Whitney, (in "real" life, Whit adored to be in my *ahem* underwear drawer. She would dig to China and claw and burrow down for what seemed like hours to make a nest, then curl up and sleep *grin*) and she is a slow, genteel, old Southern Belle that has no teeth so she is impossible to "read" when I write for her..."Ah declare, Ah nose Ah lef mah lycra unnerwears right heah in mah lycra unnerwears draw-er! Ah simply cannot, oh perish tha thought, be seen in public wifout mah lycra unners!" (It helps greatly to read it outloud, and say it just as it was meant to be a children's book after all *smile*)

Her "beau" (or as Whitney calls him, her "gennilmin furr-end") is a cat named Mr. Ching. He takes on a rakish, Rhett Butler sort of purrsonality, and has hissy fits (literally) when Miss Whitnay goes off on one of her tangents and finds herself in need of his aid. *grin* Whitney and Mr. Ching solve very simple mysteries together, but mostly by accident when Whitney and her empty Southern head find themselves in a quandry and she needs Ching to rescue her ala Dudley Dooright of the Royal Canadian Mounties. *LOL* In one story, I even had her trapped in the shed where a big rat was threatening her - she screamed out for Ching and fainted dead away *kerplunk* on the floor! heh heh

So you see...I agree with you! It IS more fun to think they plot and plan to get us at every turn, but the fact is that I am afraid a lot of people believe they really do and not just in fun. And when this happens, they sometimes neglect to see symptoms of serious problems in their cats and instead they place human reasons for their cat's behavior as an excuse for it. It really was just a gentle reminder to all of us (myself included!!*smile*) not to fall victim to this way of thinking because it could, ultimately, not be in the best interest of our cats.

Yours, as ever,

post #17 of 23
To Donna:angel2::

I'm certainly not singling you Donna:angel2: out for insults or curt remarks etc...dear Donna:angel2: you just got caught in the crossfire of an ongoing debate no one in these forums would be aware of since they involve some of the people I live and work with. Honest to good gosh Donna:angel2: your a decent person who loves her cats, has great taste in home decor, helps little old ladies at crosswalks, pays her taxes - on time - and well none of this or that is aimed specifically at you - ok ? Well, I did major in Sarcasm, with a minor in Catty Remarks - no pun intended, but this is my glaringly, ugly, hideous, horrible, wretched fault and it has nothing whatsoever to do with you own angelic:angel2: self. Promise...would T2S lie to you?????? Really????? See I'll be on my very best behavior and post the following with a strong Donna:angel2: advisory
Duck, Donna, duck.....

To the world at large:

I will gladly rectify my previously obtuse remarks by offering the following translation to my prior post.[size=1/2]<-----example: sarcasm[/size]

Some people - not all, especially not dear Donna:angel2: - confuse their subjectivce realities surrounding their cats with the objective realities imposed by a harsh and uncaring universe around their cats.

subjective reality = what you think is real
objective reallity = what actually happens

(((The "you" here is not Donna:angel2: or anyone in particular))) - pause, deep breath, really Donna:angel2: not one word of this is aimed at you I promise, cross-my-heart, hope-to-die, yada yada yada......

This is also not an indictment against fun and funny fantasies involving ones own cats or the cats of others. I encourage self expression of the type espoused by gayef wholeheartedly and enjoy reading and sharing such tales.

What my post(s) is/are, is an entreaty to cat keepers everywhere not just the seasoned veterans of the, but any human who keeps the civil company of cats. Please, ocassionally, not all the time, just every-now-and-then, turn a weathered, wondering and vigilant eye to the cold cruel world in order to learn how better to keep the company of our cats. There are dark and malevolent forces in the world such as:

Kitty mills who recklessly breed kittens to fill the demand of pet stores;

Factories that manufacture coats from cat and dog fur (see online archives for the TV show Dateline);

Pet food manufacturers who market a food product that will drastically shorten the life of the animals who eat it behind a glossy box with a cute kitten on the front (I quit the company that makes several store brands such as Smiths, Albertsons, Mega and bargain food brands such as Atta-Cat, Alley Cat and Meow-Mix over this very issue);

Some are beasts in human form who don't think twice about running down a pet or who actively enjoy hurting a beloved animal (see Max in the SOS forum);

There are orginizations who tout animal rights by insisting that ALL cats and dogs - feral to purebred - should be neutered to bring about the extinction!!! of domestic cats and dogs.

Keeping fast and focused to objective reallity is an effective tool anyone can use to illuminate the encroaching darkness. Some in small ways other in large.


OK: Please somebody tell Donna:angel2: that it's safe now...she's gone, it's over for now.... whew...that really was a close call.........

Heh, heh heh heh....evil laughter.....
post #18 of 23
I don't ever want to insult anyone, so please don't take my reply as if it was ment for meaness, but here goes: Please read this!
Cats ARE intelligent. All animals (we're animals, too) have and use instincts. But some animals show signs of intelligence - ability to learn, ability to decieve, showing of emotions, complex language system ability to plan, and ability to apply memory to new expeiriences. Humans, dolphins, gorillas, chimps, orangatans, pigs, octapusses, some birds, some fish, dogs, and yes, cats have these qualities. Personally I find it arrogant to consider ourselves so high and supirior when we can't even figure out why our cats do the things they do. Here's another thing to think about - ever notice how your cats can pick up on cetain words, even just in casual conversation, like "outside", "vet", "food", "cats", and "leave"? (no, not when you're talking in a baby-voice to them, but when you're talking to another person, and the cats are in the room) Well, my cats can. Try to think of one thing you understand when you're cats are talking to each other (no, not body gestures, or things aimed at you like rolling on the back, or meowing by the pantry, but when the communicate with each other, either audibly or inaudibly) thought so... NADA! Obviously, they learn language better than we do.
Ever try to trick your cat into going into the cat carrier by luring them in with a plate of food - never works huh?? Well, my cats can trick me: Blacky always scratches the new sofa even when I tell him not to. I always give him treats when he uses the kitty scratcher. Well, for a while, he would scratch the post, and I would say good boy and go to get him his treats. Little did I know, as soon as I left, he would go scratch the sofa, stop before I came back, then get his treats! So I continued to think he was thick-headed for continuing to scratch the sofa, until one time I cought him. The whole time he was the one that had fooled me - and he had an excuse if he could speak english "...but you always gave me treats when I did it!" Well, sorry about the long-winded story but just know that it takes intelligence to decieve, because one has to be able to anticipate what another will do - prediction.
It is also proven that predators are in general more intelligent than prey because they have to predict and outwit thier food. The food just has to have good reflexes, instincts, and be able to run like a rocket. Cats are the most compleatly carnivourous animals on the planet, makeing intelligence essential for them. I could go on and on, but if anyone has any questions as to my reasnoning, please post - I would love to know that there is someone else out there that feels the way I do about human arrogance - well, c ya l8r, Jean, Blacky, and Samantha
post #19 of 23

Everything is copasthetic!! Sandie set me straight. I've been around just not posting much. I've been working alot of overtime.

Friends??? Cheers buddy!!


post #20 of 23
"Man is not separate from nature. He is a part of it"
the skepticat returns

Humans rule.

This is not a brag, it is a statement of fact. No other species alive or extinct has ever had the impact on this planet that homo sapiens has had. Acknowledging this is not arrogance it's awareness.

Many animals are intelligent and, I'll grant, even sapient. Human intelligence however is the most unique manifestation of cognitive behavior. Of course most animals - certainly chordates - have some form of intraspecies communication. Evolution mandates it by eliminating species that fail to communicate amongst themselves or who do so less well than a competitive species. Natural selection is the driving factor behind the diversity and unique quality of human communication. These traits put humankind at the top of food-chain pyramid.

It's no act of arrogance to acknowledge responsibility for our actions - individually and collectively. We call our collective selves a society and brand as antisocial those who hurt animals.

Cats have a way of fascinating and delighting us. Our domestic cats found a way to exploit humans eons ago and carved a unique ecological niche for themselves. Frankly, I couldn't be happier. If I live my life by the environmentalist motto of:

Think Global, Act Local

I can't think of a more 'local' place to start taking responsibility then with my beloved cats and the feral cat colony I spay, vaccinate, and protect.

Feline intelligence is undeniable. If cats as a genera lacked intelligence they would have been eaten alive by another more competitive species long ago. Cats have evolved to become one of the world best predators and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Of course cats are deceptive at times they have had to be - lions to ocelots to house cats all cats use camouflage ((aka "nature's first lie")) to tell prey animals "I'm not here, and I am especially not here to eat you."

Cats may pick up on certain words, but I find it much more likely that like Clever Hans the Counting Horse, - a proven hoax - cats pick up on non-verbal communication. Lie-detectors work by sensing almost microscopic muscle movements. I have long held the theory that my cats can do the same thing with more reliable results.

It's true I've never tricked a cat into a cat carrier, I've never really had to (knock on wood.) I have tricked a feralcat into a humane trap using a plate of food.

If I have one point on which I would declare myself to posses a degree of arrogance it is this: I can bath my cats. I can douse them with water until they are soaked and clean them and rinse them without a drop of my own blood being shed. This is immediately offset buy the humbling fact that I cannot blow dry my cats.


post #21 of 23

sorry about the OT
post #22 of 23
LOL the blow dryer LOL

I have found that even deaf cats don't like the blow dryer.
post #23 of 23
I grew up with a mezzer you could vacuum.....Does anyone have a cat you can blowdry.....

Hi Sandie
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