Have you ever marvelled at how similar the behaviors of your cat are to the behaviors of their wild cousins like lions, leopards and cheetah. Clearly some behaviors are learned from ancestral cats and genetically woven into the fiber of these amazing animals both wild and domestic. Here are 5 ways big cats are just like yours:
1. Big or small, cats like to rest
What’s the reason for all this sleeping? According to Ohio State University, “Cats don’t have the sleep/wake cycle that we and many other animals have. This is because cats in the wild need to hunt as many as 20 small prey each day; they must be able to rest between each hunt so they are ready to pounce quickly when prey approaches.” Clearly, our domestic cats have held on to these unique traits.
Because all cats sleep so much, they often wake up and move to a new spot just a few feet away perhaps for a better view but more likely to exercise their muscles and stretch before resuming their horizontal position.
2. Big or small, cats like to groom
One of cats' primary activities is grooming. That amazing tongue was in part designed as a combined washcloth, comb and hairbrush. Grooming serves to keep wild cats clean and free of food or blood that would attract flies. Cheetah cubs clean themselves to remove blood from a recent kill. By keeping themselves clean they also reduced their scent, which might alert a range animal of danger. Additionally grooming one another (allogrooming) serves as a sign of respect and affection and may help maintain peace in the group. I frequently see our domestic cats grooming one another for these reasons.
3. Big or small, cats love heights or at least the perception of heights
Domestic cats love to sit up high where they can observe their surroundings as well as be let alone. Big cats often climb a tree for a vantage point, to protect their kill from thieving predators and of course to get away from danger. Some cats are excellent climbers while some are weak climbers. The important thing to remember is that domestic cats have these same instincts and we need to provide them with climbing choices.
4. Big or small, cats are principally carnivores
Though they consume grasses from a variety of sources, wild cats naturally prefer meat. Domestic cats too are carnivores and the principal ingredients in their food should be meat based. There are no vegan cats and so in spite of our potential personal desire to pursue a meat-free diet, please don’t force your cat to live without meat. Click here to learn more about the dangers of a feline vegetarian diet.
5. Big or small, cats will hunt
Just as a mother cheetah will teach her cubs to hunt, lions can’t resist practicing the hunt even when they’re full. Hunting and predatory behavior skills are learned skills that may begin with chasing a blowing leaf or a butterfly only to graduate to a small prey animal and ultimately to hunting larger animals.
Our domestic cats are not often forced to hunt for their lunch, but they enjoy few things more than chasing a ball, feather or laser light across the floor. My own cats are fascinated by insects and the occasional gecko that finds its way into the house. These hunting expeditions keep them alert and stimulated. They also provide an occasional mid-day snack.
Next time you are enjoying the activities of your own cats think about their ancestors and the behaviors they have in common. And remember that your great cat comes from a noble lineage.