“Oh look! He’s kneading on your lap! He only does that to people he likes!”
We have all heard something along those lines, and while it’s nice to think we have special insight into the inner machinations of our cats’ minds, recent research states that we might not know our kitties as well as we think.
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A new book, Cat Sense, by animal behaviorist Dr. John Bradshaw, outlines the likely roots of our cats’ behavior, some of which might surprise you. According to the book, even though we like to view ourselves as their mama or papa, our cats perceive us as a large, non-threatening cat roommate who knows where the food is. But why is that?
Unlike dogs, who gradually adapted to life with people and ended up being selectively bred for a number of different purposes, cats first entered our villages to eat the rodents that would gather around our stores of produce. They didn’t directly rely on us for food like dogs did, and as such, are less domesticated, according to Bradshaw.
Here’s a breakdown of the strange behaviors we see from our cats:
When they knead our belly or lap, it is not a sign of affection or their way of getting comfy, but rather a holdover from kitten-hood. Kneading is an instinctual way of getting their mom to produce more milk. Kind of casts those “cat massages” in a different light, doesn’t it?
2. Rubbing on you
While we tend to think this is a plea for attention, when your cat rubs on you, it is actually their way of claiming you as their own. Cats have scent glands in their cheeks and are known to mark territory with their scent. So if you go to your friend’s house and their cat rubs your ankles, don’t be surprised later if your cat gives you the cold shoulder.
3. Bringing Home Presents
There have been a ton of theories on why cats would leave us their kills. Originally, researchers thought they were proud of their actions and wanted to show off for us. Then, that they were under the impression we were malnourished and incapable hunters, and our cats wanted to provide a much needed meal for us. Now, the most accepted theory is that cats hunt instinctively and bring their kill home to eat in private. However, when they get home, they are suddenly reminded that the food we give them tastes much better and they abandon their kill on the kitchen floor.
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What do you think?
Does your cat do any of these things? What do you think they mean? Tell us in the comments below!