Tuesday 3 November 2020

Don't do anything bad which your cat will remember

In my experience, domestic cats have a very good memory for bad experiences. Something you may have done which frightened him or her will stick in their minds for a very long time. In fact they may never forget it. You might, for example, accidentally walk on your cat's paw because he's right behind you. Or you might lose your temper one day and shout at your cat. It is likely that your cat will remember these events. It may alter his behaviour. It may create a bit of doubt in his mind. It certainly won't help the relationship. 

Zen cat. Photo: nosenekoshiro (Instagram).

The worst thing you can do is to aggressively slap your cat or shout at him because he's annoyed you. I can understand the desire to do this if you're stressed for whatever reason, and at the moment there are good reasons to be stressed with the coronavirus crisis. It's a particular moment when cats might be the victim of domestic violence. It only takes a moment when tempers are lost and the domestic cat is shouted at or abused even in a very minor way for that cat to remember it. 

It's not a deliberate or conscious memory. Your cat isn't saying I'm gonna remember that and make him pay for it. It's just a mental scar which sits there in the back of the cat's brain and alters his behaviour at least potentially. 

Of course the impact depends upon the individual cat. Each cat reacts differently but it is my belief that there is a level of anxiety in domestic cats which is higher than people believe. Or let's put it this way: millions of cats are very relaxed and content but it doesn't take much to introduce anxiety into their lives. 

This is because they live in a human environment to which they adapt but it is often not the best of environments for a domestic cat who is wild at heart by which I mean in terms of character and behaviour they are a short step from their wild cat ancestors. Always seek to create a calm and friendly environment for your cat. It is an ongoing mission of the concerned cat caretaker/guardian.

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