Why do cats act so weird? – Tony Buffington


Why do cats do that? They’re cute, they’re lovable, and judging by the 26 billions views
of over 2 million YouTube videos of them pouncing, bouncing, climbing, cramming, stalking, clawing, chattering, and purring, one thing is certain: cats are very entertaining. These somewhat strange feline behaviors, both amusing and baffling, leave many of us asking,
“Why do cats do that?” Throughout time, cats were simultaneously
solitary predators of smaller animals and prey for larger carnivores. As both predator and prey, survival of their species depended
on crucial instinctual behaviors which we still observe in wild
and domestic cats today. While the feline actions of your house cat
Grizmo might seem perplexing, in the wild, these same behaviors, naturally bred into cats
for millions of years, would make Grizmo a super cat. Enabled by their unique muscular structure
and keen balancing abilities, cats climbed to high vantage points
to survey their territory and spot prey in the wild. Grizmo doesn’t need these particular
skills to find and hunt down dinner in her food bowl today, but instinctually, viewing the living room
from the top of the bookcase is exactly what she has evolved to do. As wild predators, cats are opportunistic
and hunt whenever prey is available. Since most cat prey are small, cats in the wild needed to eat
many times each day, and use a stalk, pounce, kill, eat
strategy to stay fed. This is why Grizmo prefers to chase
and pounce on little toys and eat small meals over the course
of the day and night. Also, small prey tend to hide in tiny
spaces in their natural environments, so one explanation for Grizmo’s propensity
to reach into containers and openings is that she is compelled by
the same curiosity that helped ensure the continuation of
her species for millions of years before. In the wild, cats needed sharp claws
for climbing, hunting, and self-defense. Sharpening their claws on nearby surfaces
kept them conditioned and ready, helped stretch their back and leg muscles, and relieve some stress, too. So, it’s not that Grizmo hates your couch, chair, ottoman, pillows, curtains, and everything else
you put in her environment. She’s ripping these things to shreds
and keeping her claws in tip-top shape because this is exactly what her ancestors
did in order to survive. As animals that were preyed upon, cats evolved to not get caught, and in the wild, the cats that were
the best at avoiding predators thrived. So at your house today, Grizmo is an expert
at squeezing into small spaces and seeking out and hiding
in unconventional spots. It also explains why she prefers
a clean and odor-free litter box. That’s less likely to give away
her location to any predators that may be sniffing around nearby. Considering everything
we do know about cats, it seems that one of their most
predominate behaviors is still one of the most mysterious. Cats may purr for any number of reasons, such as happiness, stress, and hunger. But curiously,
the frequency of their purrs, between 25 and 150 hertz, is within a range that can promote
tissue regeneration. So while her purring makes Grizmo
an excellent nap companion, it is also possible that her purr
is healing her muscles and bones, and maybe even yours, too. They developed through time as both solitary predators
that hunted and killed to eat, and stealthy prey that hid
and escaped to survive. So cats today retain many
of the same instincts that allowed them to thrive in the wild
for millions of years. This explains some of their seemingly
strange behaviors. To them, our homes are their jungles. But if this is the case,
in our own cat’s eyes, who are we? Big, dumb, hairless cats competing with
them for resources? Terribly stupid predators they’re able
to outsmart every day? Or maybe they think we’re the prey.

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