Monday 21 April 2008

Understanding Cats

two cats
Understanding cats - This is another fine photograph by probably one of the best cat photographers anywhere (the best, I think, is Helmi Flick). The photograph is copyright (Flickr Name) foturasfelinas. Her real name is Giane Portal. She says in the caption below this picture that in order to understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint and even his own morality. I read this as saying that cats have their own feelings, which many times are based on the same or similar principles and causes and effect as ours. When you look at this picture do you see an angry cat? If you do you might be frightened of cats. We must never allow cats to falsely reflect our own anxieties.

Understanding cats is something that you would have thought all cat breeders would be good at. This is not the case, I feel. The vast majority will though be well versed in a cat's ways. But do they get into a cat's head?

I wonder if the very nature of cat breeding is an obstacle to understanding cats. In order for a cat breeder of purebred cats to produce cats that are desirable she has to ensure that her cats are as much of the correct "type" (appearance) as possible with reference to the breed standard.

She can only do this if she breeds closely, meaning line breeding or inbreeding. If you breed from a good looking cat you want all the good characteristics from that cat in your cats. This means breeding from a narrow number of fine looking original cats. That kind of breeding is liable to bring out the good and bad of the particular cats concerned. You increase the chances of a recessive gene that carries a negative characteristic making its presence felt when you line breed. Yet all cat breeders must breed this closely.

What happens to the cats that are inevitably produced that are well below standard? Strictly speaking they need to be "culled" to ensure that the poor quality is weeded out thereby gradually eliminating the carriers of the poor genes and strengthening the narrow gene pool in which breeders work. This way you gradually improve the breeding stock.

The problem as you can see is that the breeder has to be ruthless enough to remove cats. Culling in this instance does not necessarily mean killing. I expect, cat breeders find homes for cats that are not desirable but this can't be the case all the time. Some cats get killed I am sure.

When you kill cats it seems that you are beginning to treat animals in your charge in a way that distances you from their feelings. They become objects, a product. It is this which is one of the root problems with cat breeding, which by the way I support, provided breeders see the wider issues.

Cats are driven by the same feelings as humans (remember we are animals in the true sense too - no we were not created by God in the garden of Eden, sorry. Apparently 80% of North Americans believe that God created mankind). When a cat is bad tempered you may think that she is just plain bad tempered. But the common sense reason is that there is some underlying cause. Cats are reactive and natural. Perhaps she doesn't like something in the home she lives in. This may be making her upset, nervous. When we as humans are anxious and nervous we can become aggressive and depressed. This makes us behave less well than we otherwise would. The same applies to cats.

If we want to understand cats we need to understand ourselves and remind ourselves that cats are very similar to humans physiologically and in may areas psychologically. That is why they are used in animal testing experiments but that is another story.

From Understanding Cats to Animal Testing


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. This post reflects my thought. It is original and not from a book and abut one aspect of understanding cats.

    If people disagree please be polite. And please argue your case properly. I will delete rude and unhelpful comments.


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