Cats have a reputation of being fussy, picky, and sometimes downright mystical. Cat behaviors that lead people to such opinions are often due to their instincts. Your cat could pee in the potted plant and ignore her litter box when it is less than 10 feet away! He could take a nap on top of the refrigerator and leave an excellent cave bed on the floor. What’s up with that?
Regardless of what you feel about the cat’s behavior, it is crucial to understand – it is instinct. According to this study, attempting to control such instincts is not only futile but could compromise the cat’s welfare. On the other hand, helping to satisfy the cat’s instincts boosts their wellness. Here’s more about the instinct
Cats will scratch on furniture, hang out in high places, ignore a dirty litter box, chase after small toys (and sometimes, your feet), stay out of sight for hours, and spend lots of time grooming. It’s not a weird cat behavior. The cat instinctively marks her territory, hunts, or stays hidden from larger predators.
Many years before cats moved into our homes, they lived in the wild. They hunted and survived just like their cousins, the lions, tigers, leopards, and panthers. Felines are excellent survivors in the wild. That’s why they have titles such as king of the jungle.
Your cat’s weird behaviors are hard-wired survival instincts. When the cat does these things, it is happy. Controlling the behavior, for example, by clipping the claws to stop scratching, could compromise the cat’s wellbeing. Read on and learn how you can satisfy your cat’s instincts while at home.
Satisfying the instinct to hunt
The hunting instinct is perhaps the most obvious of cats’ instinctive behaviors. Sometimes the cat could stalk you and pounce on your feet, especially when you are without shoes and wiggling your toes.
To the cat, your toes are like small juicy prey.
Some owners take the instinct to hunt positively. It helps to control pests like rodents. On the other hand, some owners perceive the behavior with lots of concern, especially when the cat threatens the lives of a neighbor’s pets.
The key is to channel this energy in the right way. Find time to play with the cat lots of interactive games. Tie a fluffy toy or a roll of yarn and dangle it near the cat. Let the cat play with it and satisfy that urge to hunt.
Satisfying the instinct to self-groom
Your cat probably spends plenty of time grooming. In the wild, felines do this to minimize shedding in unwanted areas. It lowers the chances of leaving behind traces of fur. Thus larger predators cannot find the cat. Potential prey would not have a clue where the cat is.
If you see your cat self-grooming, she is protecting herself. Plan to groom her regularly and help her to maintain her status.
Satisfying the urge to climb and hang out at high places
Cats love to get high. Cats love to hang out on the high ground or climb up towers.
Why do they behave this way?
Like her cousin the leopard, your cat wants to have a vantage viewpoint to survey her territory. And she will do this best when she is hidden.
Don’t let it bother you. Instead, encourage it. Consider buying a cat tower and secure a cat cave at the top. This way, the cat can climb up to view her territory and hide in the cave.
Transform instinct to good behavior
What happens after the cat views her territory? She patrols and marks the borders.
Many owners view a cat’s urge to scratch as bad behavior. But cats do this to mark territory and to sharpen their claws. She does this instinctively, and her physiology has adapted to it. A cat’s paws contain sweat glands. When the cat scratches, she leaves scent marks and visible marks to identify her territory.
To satisfy the scratching instinct, place scratching poles at ideal places like at the entrance points. Also, discourage scratching on furniture by covering it with double-sided tape.
Other instinctive behaviors that don’t go well with owners include ignoring dirty litter boxes and staying out of sight for hours. The cat will ignore a dirty little box because she does not want to mingle with the smell in the litter box. It could hang on to her and make it easy for large predators to sniff her out. Encourage your cat to use her litter box by keeping it pristine. Clean it at least once a day.
Also, cats will sometimes want to stay alone and away from people for hours. Their solitary cousins like tigers and leopards do the same. Encourage her by purchasing a comfortable cat cave bed. The cat will love privacy, and you will know where she is hanging out.
A final word in satisfying your cat’s instincts
Every cat has a unique personality. But these instincts are common in all cats. In some cats, instinctive behavior is more pronounced than in others. Don’t let it bother you. Unless the cat is a danger to other animals in the neighborhood or herself, do not control the behavior. The ideas above will help you to satisfy the cat’s curiosity without killing it.