English Composition 1
7 April 2018
Feline Behavior and its Effect on Society
There are many cynics out there who believe that all cats are evil. Unfortunately, this has been the case for centuries. However, how is a cat’s behavior influenced by its history? There have been various amounts of research that have covered this topic, but there are still some blanks as to why cats act the way they do. Studies have found that DNA evidence recognizes the pet cat’s descendant as the Arabian Wildcat, and that it originated and lived somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago in the Middle East (Bradshaw 1). It is also worth noting that the first people to domesticate the common feline were identified as the Natufians, who lived in the Levant from 13,000 to 10,000 years ago. This group of people was also known as the inventors of agriculture. What did the Natufians notice when taming the Felis Silvestris Lybica? According to the article “More than a Feline,” by John Bradshaw: “These were not the pet cats as we know them. They would have been more like today’s urban foxes, able to adapt to a human environment while retaining their essential wildness” (Bradshaw 1). However, the social behavior most likely started to progress as soon as cats began to come together around granaries. Any cat that conserved its hostility towards other felines would have put itself at a drawback when abusing this resource. It is important to recognize the history of cats because it can further help scientists understand why cat behavior is the way it is.
Influence of Cat Behavior and People
According to John Bradshaw, “Cats seem to be incapable of sustaining a large number of friendly relationships, or of forming alliances between family groups in the way that primates do; negotiation skills this sophisticated lie beyond their capabilities” (2). However, Denise Perry, author of the article, “In the Society of Cats,” says that cats are actually more loving than society may think: “While conflicts give rise to brash posturing and occasional bloodshed, signs of social amiability are less obvious. According to animal behavior John Write, walking with the tail held high indicated goodwill and confidence. However, if their tail is not in the air, the cat will not seem to be as open to receiving a greeting” (Perry 2). In contrary to belief, cats thrive on an emotional connection to their owners and other members of their clan. Rubbing and grooming other cats that they live with, including human owners, connects a cat’s social group. Fox says, “Cats who smell the same stay together” (Perry 2). Cats also show their own way of fear. When a cat makes itself look as small as possible by crouching and then slinking away it is scared (Colleran 4).
In the article, “More than a Feline”, John Bradshaw, an anthropologist shows how science is now contributing an understanding of cats true nature. In comparison to the periodical, “In the Society of Cats” Bradshaw, explains cat behavior through an evolutionary stance which provides more significance and credibility to that article. This explains why cats behave the way they do. Bradshaw says, “Social behavior probably started to evolve as soon as cats began to congregate around granaries. Any cat that maintained its antagonism towards other cats are all living in close proximity to one another” (2). Further, cats tend to have a difficult time maintaining positive relationships: “Cats seem to be incapable of sustaining a large number of friendly relationships, or of forming alliances between family groups in the way that primates do; negotiation skills this sophisticated lie beyond their capabilities. In comparison to this article, Elizabeth Colleran, a DVM (Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine) wrote the article, “Flip your Script to Fix Relationships with Cats”. In this article, she discusses the importance of a relationship between a person and their cat. When bringing a cat home for the first time, it is important that you leave them alone for awhile because they can be very anxious, “Fear is a response that enables avoidance of perceived danger. Anxiety results from the anticipation of an adverse event based on a previously negative, fearful or painful experience. Previous experiences in the veterinary setting can predispose patients to react fearfully from a remembered event or react fearfully to a change in circumstances. This article basically explains what different cat behaviors there are, and how a person can thrive with their cat.
Another study about cat behavior was written by Carla Litchfield. “The ‘Feline Five’: An Exploration of Personality in Pet Cats (Felis Catus)” discussed the ambiguity between cats and their behavior: “As an exploratory study, this study aimed to analyze personality in a large sample of pet cats utilizing a personality inventory completed by cat owners about their cats. The study followed on from previous research on field personality, which has typically found between three and five factors, with the personality dimension Sociable, Dominant and curious emerging with high validity across felid species. The research question that this study sought to answer was: how many reliable and interpretable factors depict personality in pet cats and what traits do they represent?” (4). During the study, Litchfield found that in order to choose suitable labels for each of the five personality factors, comparison of labels used in other animal and particularly field studies were undertaken. Thus, factor 1 represents Neuroticism, factor 2 represents Extraversion, factor 3 represents Dominance, factor 4 represents Impulsiveness, and factor 4 represents Agreeableness. The initial eigenvalues showed that the facts explained a variance 18.24%, 12.03%, 6.97%, 6.51 and 3.67% respectively, which levels out on rotation (9). What I realized when reading this article is that it was a scholar level so it was a little
difficult to read. However, the abstract says, “The idea of animals processing personalities we once dismissed by the scientific community, but has since gained traction with evidence for potential application to improve captive animal management and welfare. Although domestic cats are popular companion animals, research has tended to overlook the value of personality in a large sample of pet cats with a view to understanding practical implications for pet cats in the home. Personality of 2,802 pet cats, from South Australia and New Zealand, was rated by their owners utilising a survey measuring 52 personality traits/ Five reliable personality factors and agreeableness” (2). Litchfield explains how to approach a cat who possesses different personalities.
“In the Society of Cats. (Cover Story).” a periodical by Denise Perry, explains how cats have long rumored to be consummate loners and how they display a rich set of social behaviors (1). Perry describes how cats have evolved over the years and how their behaviors now influence them today: “Despite their reputation for being independent , cats’ social interactions are as complex as those of dogs, if not more so… Michael W. Fox says that the difference lies largely in presentation. Cats are much more subtle. It’s a myth that they’re antisocial. They’re actually highly social; it’s their solitary hunting behavior that gives them this bad rap” (1). According to Perry, cats are extremely territorial and will do whatever they can do to keep their dominance. Perry says, “Cats, like dogs, use scent markers to define the borders of their territory. But although intact cats spray urine like dogs, neutered cats rarely do… Sharpening the claws on nearby objects not only deposits scent from toe glands but also proved visual testimony on dominion” (2). Marder notes that “among domestic species, the cat is uniquely flexible in adapting to a multitude of social situations. Other domestic animals rely on established social systems or other variations of these. Cats tend to make up the rules as they go along” (2). Cats are also dependent on affection and social interactions. In conclusion this periodical suggests that cats, like other species of domestic animals, are extremely social creatures and depend on that love and connection with another living thing.
In conclusion, according to all sources cats are extremely social creatures. Instead of thinking that all cats are evil, people should think about how cats have evolved. Cats have been domesticated for not as long as dogs have so that’s important to take into consideration. Cats now are domesticated house pets that been around for years. Even though they do not seek to please like our fellow canine friends, they’re still good companions and seek mutual companionship.
Bradshaw, John. “More Than a Feline.” New Scientist, no. 2934, 2013, p. 44. EBSCOhost,
Colleran, Elizabeth. “Flip Your Script to Fix Relationships with Cats.” Veterinary Medicine, no.
11, 2015, p. 300. EBSCOhost, cmclibraries.coloradomtn.edu/login?url=http://
Litchfield, Carla A., et al. “The ‘Feline Five’: An Exploration of Personality in Pet Cats (Felis
Catus).” Plos ONE, vol. 12, no. 8, 23 Aug. 2017, pp. 1-17. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/
Perry, Denise. “In the Society of Cats. (Cover Story).” Animals, vol. 128, no. 3, May/Jun95, p.
12. EBSCOhost, cmclibraries.coloradomtn.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/