When it comes to solving any problem with your cat, it all starts with asking one question. One simple thing that will immediately improve you and your cat’s lives. And it’s the thing most people forget to ask:
What Would Kitty Do?
Because everything cats do is because…they’re cats! And they think in cat ways, and do cat things. Humans tend to look at cats through human eyes, and consider how they’d behave in the same situation. Which is almost always not the way a cat would think and behave.
Cat Social Systems Versus Human Social Systems
Humans have complex social systems based on both a cultural and personal moral code. They make decisions often based on emotions and non rational judgement calls. They think in terms of money, value, and personal gratification.
Cats have a simple social system based on a survival instinct that is far more ingrained than culture or morals. Their decisions also come from that survival instinct. Money, self-worth, and things like nice furniture or saving up for vacations mean nothing to them.
Cat Pain Versus Human Pain
People often seek out affection and connection, especially when they are in emotional pain.
Cats seek out solitude when they are in physical pain. They rarely have emotional pain (usually they are fearful instead, which is more instinctual), and even then, displays of physical affection may not help. In fact, these may not even be welcome. Conversely, many cats do know that it’s what humans do need when they are suffering. But they can only offer affection if they feel safe.
Cat Boredom Versus Human Boredom
When people are bored, they do things like watch movies, play video games, or find fun activities to do with their friends.
When cats are bored, they don’t have any of these options, so they make their own fun. Which might include things humans consider destructive or problematic, like knocking things over, walking all over kitchen counters, or climbing curtains.
Cat Aggression Versus Human Aggression
People act out because someone behaved in a way they disliked, or did something that inconvenienced them.
Cats act out because they feel a threat to their survival or wellbeing.
People act out by yelling, banging things, or secretly plotting revenge. More mature people deal with problems by rational thinking and working on solutions.
Cats don’t think rationally. They also don’t needlessly scream or destroy things, and they don’t have the thought system to plot revenge. In fact, they are more interested in self-protection. They act out by marking their territory (peeing, scratching on things), hiding from perceived threats, and attacking when cornered.
If you have a cat that is doing the above things, they fear their very survival is at risk. It’s not something they can “just get over” and it’s not something that will just go away on its own. They don’t feel safe on a very basic level, and to make them feel safe again, you must start from there.
Why Humans Need to Be the Ones to Solve Cat’s Problems
People have the creative ability to find positive solutions to their own problems.
A cat’s solution to their problems is based on instinct, and usually is not appropriate for a pet living in a house. But there are creative solutions that humans have the ability to think of. Things like making vertical space in small spaces, finding toys and playthings that are mentally and physically stimulating, discouraging threatening animals from being on your property, and encouraging interesting critters to entertain your cat through the window glass. It may involve adding litter boxes, rethinking living spaces, or just learning not to invade a cat’s space.
But it all starts with you asking What Would Kitty Do? Because the cause of your cat’s behavior, good or bad, is a cat-specific response to their environment. Once you make the connection between what is going on, and your cat’s instinctual reaction to it, you are one step closer to figuring out a solution. One that will be designed from a feline perspective.
Here are more ways to better understand your cat:
- Signs of Stress in a Cat (and What to Do About It)
- Cat Trust Must Be Earned – How to Do It
- Is Your Cat’s Bad Behavior Really Boredom?