Understanding a cat largely depends on understanding a cat’s behavior. There is so much about a cat’s behavior that is unique to their own species. These differences are possibly the reason why most people shun cats. Since I have started this series of posts titled ‘Cat-ologue’ to educate people about cats, it is only fair that one post should be devoted to understanding a cat’s behavior.
Let’s take a look at a few cat traits that are fairly well understood and some that aren’t. Feel free to add your opinions and suggestions at any point of time and I will add points as relevant.
A CAT’S BEHAVIOR: The Purr
One of the most common trademarks of a cat’s affection is the a cat’s purr. A cat can purr for various. Affection and happiness are the reasons that most people attribute purring too.
A reference to Wikipedia would define a ‘purr’ as a ‘tonal fluttering sound’. How cats purr is under a lot of speculation. There have been a number of studies that have been done. Some electromyographical studies suggest that the sound is produced by the vocal cords.
We however are more concerned with the domestic variety of cats. An interesting fact about domestic cat purrs is the fact that the purrs have a frequency that lies in the range of 20-30 vibrations per second!
WHY DO CATS PURR?
I always find that WebMD a rich source of information when it comes to cats. A glance through it brought me to the conclusion that there are many reasons why cats purr. Let’s take a look the top few reasons on the list.
- Happiness: Like I have mentioned before, purring is one segment of a cat’s behavior that is fairly well understood to denote happiness and contentment.
- Meal time purring: This can denote hunger if the cat is roaming around its bowl while waiting for its meal to be served. Some cats purr while eating. This would again revert to the previous reason. After all even for people like us food always equals to happiness!
- The kitten connection: This connection is usually related to the bond that a kitten and its mother share. Experts aren’t really sure why kittens do this but most postulate that it helps form a bond between the mother.
- Healing: Purring is said to calm a cat down. This is possibly why they purr when they are hurt or they are frightened.
A CAT’S BEHAVIOR: Interaction With Others
Interaction with humans is one factor that you need to consider when getting a cat but a cat’s behavior with other animals is also important. Unlike dogs, cats are not very vocal animals. The communication between two cats usually revolves around body language and a few sounds. In general terms mewing is usually just for man’s benefit.
A CAT’S BEHAVIOR: Scratching
Another aspect of a cat’s behavior that spooks a lot of new cat owners is the cat’s nee to scratch furniture. The reason behind this behavior can vary from the need to sharpen their claws to the need to deposit scent and mark their territory. Getting around this behavior can be a nightmare for some but it is a task that is easily accomplished if you know what you are doing.
I’ve written a detailed article titled ‘The Scratching Post: A Cat Owner’s Best Friend!’. It will give you a more in depth understanding of how to tackle this problem.
A CAT’S BEHAVIOR: Why do cats try to escape?
Cat’s tend to run away very often and it is quite easily one of the biggest complains that cat owners give. The most common reason for this behavior is related to the fact that the cat is not neutered/spayed. A non neutered cat will search for a mate. In this search the cat will look for any avenue to escape.
In order to prevent this from happening one must ensure that the cat is spayed as soon as he/she reaches the right age. It is also important to cat proof your house. This is a very big concern if you stay in an apartment which is on a high floor.
Cat’s do not realize just how high they are. They leap and try to escape. That very same leap can be a plunge to their death. Spaying your cat does not mean that such accidents won’t happen. In fact a cat may leap off the balcony because it saw a bird fly by!
A CAT’S BEHAVIOR: Interaction with other cats
If you have lived with a cat you know that a cat’s behavior with other cats is both similar and different to its behavior with humans. Let’s start with introductions. If you have a cat at home and want to introduce them to your new found kitten/cat, the introductions can get pretty tricky. Many cats find it hard to accept the newcomer. This is a problem that is largely related to the way you introduce the cats. I found this lovely video by Cole and Marmalade that explains the right way to go about it. Remember don’t try to force both the cats to like each other. With cats interaction takes time and patience.
While getting a cat may seem like the best thing to do, understanding your pet is very important too. It is only when you understand a cat’s behavior that you realize exactly what they are trying to tell you. Cat’s are brilliant creatures. They are affectionate and loving. All you need to do is decode the message!