It is not uncommon for people to see cats as independent animals. In spite of domestication cats have retained their wild nature. It is a common belief that cats’ existence is centred on food, on grooming and playing. Interaction with humans and with other animals is on the bottom of a cat’s list of priorities. This solitary personality is one of the reasons why would-be pet parents that do not have much time to spend on interacting with the pet would opt to get a cat for a pet. Cats can stay ALONE at home all day. Cats can easily find their own amusement. Dogs develop separation anxiety when separated from the human family or when left alone at home all day. Do cats miss their owners too? Do cat miss the company of other cats? Studies on feline behaviours have proven that cats do get lonely.
Despite the solitary personality and the independent demeanour, cat experts believe that these animals are social creatures by nature. Cats are solitary hunters. However, in the wild, feral cats live in colonies. These cats interact with each other. These cats eat and play together. Cats would groom each other as well. Domestication may have altered the personality of these animals. In a one cat household, the pet has become accustomed to being on its own. Cats are less friendly to the human family as compared to dogs. Cats may not be too demonstrative with their affection but these animals do form a strong bond with their owners. Cats would also form a close bond with the other pets of the family. When separated from the owners or from the other pets, the cat would get lonely. Being separated from the littermates would be though for a kitten. Cats are not expected to understand the death of the owner or the loss of the other pet. However, it would certainly show signs of loneliness even if the owner seldom interacts with the pet and even if the cat is constantly fighting with the other pet.
Cats have varied ways of showing their loneliness. Some cats would excessively vocalize. Cats are noted to be good at grooming but loneliness can cause the cat to groom excessively until it coughs up more hairballs and the attractive appearance of the coat is marred by bald spots. On the other hand, lonely cats may have no desire to groom at all. A lonely cat would have no inclination to do its usual activities as it would tend to sleep a lot. Just like lonely humans, lonely cats may turn away from food. The opposite is also possible. Loneliness and depression can stimulate the cat’s appetite so that it would be seen overeating. The loneliness associated with the death of the owner can make the cat hide and ignore the attention of other family members. It is also possible for the cat to be underfoot. Missing its owner, the cat would follow other members of the family everywhere they go. Loneliness can make the cat developed unwanted behaviours like aggression, indiscriminate defecating and urinating and destructive scratching and chewing.
The cat’s loneliness can be caused by many things. The owner’s first course of action is to make sure that the pet is not sick. A vet visit is imperative. If nothing is wrong with the cat’s health, the owners have to deal with the cat’s loneliness. Another pet would provide the lonely cat with a playmate and companion while the humans are not at home. New toys will stimulate the cat’s mind. A lonely cat needs the attention of the human family. Spending more time to interact and to play with the pet would certainly make the lonely cat happy.
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Many people have this notion that cats are opportunistic animals…that these pets would only follow people that provide them with a regular supply of food. Non-cat lovers believe that cats would not care what happened to their caretakers precisely because these animals do not know their owners. These theories can’t be farther from the truth. Cats surely know their owners. Cats may not show it but these pets love their owners deeply.
The independent personality cats have is oftentimes the reason why association with humans is believed to be the cats’ strategy to survive. People that have never owned cats have this mistaken notion that cats don’t even know their owners. Cats only stay with humans as the caretaker is viewed as a meal ticket especially when hunting is nil. People may have a reason for believing so. Let’s face it. Cats indeed, are not big on showing affection to their owners. There are even instances when the cat would not only ignore the calling of the owner…cats would even feign indifference. Cats would not grovel for attention and affection. Unlike dogs, cats would not follow the owner around with the tongue hanging to wait patiently for a pat on the head. When it comes to bonding with humans, cats are simply different from dogs. Cats are not frivolous creatures…they do not give their love lightly. But when they do the recipient of the love would know that they are loved deeply.
Cat owners would assert that their pets know them. This fact was proven in many occasions. Cats do not really have very many distinct marks. A cat that was lost for quite a while and was reunited with the owners may not be recognized by the owners at once. However, cats would readily show signs of recognition especially if the animal has closely bonded with the owners. At the sight of the owner, the cat would purr and immediately jump into the owner’s lap or rub its body against the owner’s legs. Cats have shown signs of missing their owners. We have heard many stories about pet cats that would persistently wait or look for the owner that has died. Cats don’t usually vocalize but pets that are missing their owners would incessantly cry and go from room to room trying to find its favourite person. These situations would not be possible if the pet does not know their humans friends.
So how do cats know their owners? Cats are very perceptive animals with keen senses. Cats use these senses to identify the objects, the animals and the humans around their environment. Cats have superior sense of smell. Aside from the ultrasensitive nose, cats have an additional organ at the roof of their mouths – the Jacobson’s organ. These scenting organs are used to identify their human friends. Ever noticed a cat rubbing its head or body against the owner’s arms or legs? The cat is actually marking the human using their distinct smell that is secreted by the glands on the cat’s cheeks and paws. This scent will be used to identify the owner even in the dark. Moreover, cats can see well in low lights. The silhouette of the owner can be easily identified. Of course cats have very sharp hearing abilities. A cat would get familiar with the voice of the owner that it hears every day. Even if parted from the owner for quite a while, cats would easily know the owner simply by hearing its voice.
Cats may behave differently from other pets but this behavior is a part of the cat’s allure. Being solitary animals, cats have the tendency to show indifference but owners are certain of one fact…that the pet knows them and that their affection for the pet is fully reciprocated.(Courtesy Carey’sCats.com}
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