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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Those stressed out cats

For those of us who live with cats, this article in the Telegraph strikes a particular chord.  They quote an animal behaviourist who suggests that cats suffer from stress because owners expect them to behave like dogs.

Dr. John Bradshaw says that people expect cats to be thoroughly domesticated, to enjoy being petted and to be relaxed about sharing their living space. But they fail to understand that lavishing a cat with affection will not necessarily make it feel more content:

“Unlike dogs, the cat is still halfway between a domestic and a wild animal, and it’s not enjoying 21st century living,” said Dr Bradshaw, director of the Anthrozoology Institute at Bristol University.

“People assume cats are going to be like a less demanding dog. They are equally interesting, in my opinion, and equally companionable, but they have their own way of doing things.

“Dogs were sociable before they were domesticated, and we domesticated them so that they would understand what we wanted from them. With cats, all we wanted was for them to keep our houses and farms and food stores free of rats and mice, and they got on with that.

“It’s only in the last few decades that we have wanted them to be something else.”
Chief cause of stress is the proximity to other cats, Dr Bradshaw said.

“There are two aspects: people get more than one cat and expect them to get on with each other, and they are letting cats outdoors in a neighbourhood with lots of other cats.

“But cats are not very good at getting on with other cats. You might get on with your next door neighbour but cats are not like humans. When people move house they have lots to think about, and perhaps they don’t make quite enough allowance for the cat.

“And people want to have two or three cats rather than one, but just because two cats are owned by the same person doesn’t mean they are going to get on.”

He adds: “Cats have other things on their mind. They are busy thinking about the neighbour’s cat, or looking out of the window to see what birds are out there. People get disappointed and think, ‘Oh, the cat doesn’t love me’, but the truth is that cats in general do love their owners but they have their own lives.”

I see this behaviour every day from my own cat. The article though has confirmed my decision that I cannot get a second animal. For now Rufus will reign supreme in my household.
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