Understanding Cat Behavior

The difference between a dog and cat is that cats hold no instinct to survive in a pack and be submissive to a leader …

Aloof, uncaring, and independent. Are these three terms you would associate with cat behavior? Ask any dog lover, and they’ll surely tell you that these traits of cat behavior are the very reasons they prefer Rover to Fluffy. The difference between a dog and cat is that while Rover aims to please the Alpha of the pack (you), cats don’t feel the same desire at all. Cats hold no instinct to survive in a pack and are submissive to a leader. Their only motivation is survival, nothing else.

Don’t let this blasé attitude fool you, though. Cats are highly intelligent creatures and they are capable of learning. You may not be able to teach your cat how to roll over or to fetch (although there are some felines that play this game on their own), but you can train them to stop using your speakers as a scratching post or refrain from jumping on the kitchen table the moment your back is turned. Where a dog might give in to a firm voice and accept you as the boss, a cat is extremely stubborn and trying to dominate the feline won’t work. In order to train a cat, you have to learn to communicate and think like a cat.

Cats are solitary creatures. Unlike their canine counterparts, cats can go for long periods of time without ever seeing another of its kind. Their language doesn’t have to be as complex as that of dogs. Most of the time, cat behavior and language is very straightforward. For example, there is no mistaking the message behind the classic “Halloween Cat” pose. You know right away when a cat is frightened or angry. Cats also give off certain scents depending on their mood. Of course, with a human’s limited capacity for picking up scents, we can’t smell most of these subtle chemical changes.

Along with body language and scent, cats also communicate vocally. Many cat owners will tell you that their cats “talk” to them. The classic “meow” can be interpreted so many ways. If you listen carefully enough, you can often hear the question in the inflection of the sound. There’s a meow for, “I know you’re opening a can of tuna!” There are Meows and soft, rumbling purrs that mean, “Are you getting out of bed yet?”

When cats get excited, you might hear them chirp. They might greet you with a trilling sound when you come home. There is the wailing of a female cat in heat and the growling of the one-night-stand going on under your bedroom window in the middle of the night. Last but not least, there’s purring when your cat is utterly content.

You may need to observe cat behavior and work at listening to the vocal communications of your pet for some time. Having an eye on what your cat does will help you narrow down what your cat is thinking. You may soon even be able to react to what your cat might try to do before he does it. Learning about cat behavior can go far in helping you to train your cat.