Wednesday 28 April 2021

Does your cat circle the food bowl as if scavenging from a dead animal?

Perhaps my cat is unusual but I don't think he is. There is one aspect of him which is a little unusual in that he was raised for the first six or so weeks of his life as a feral cat by his mother in the urban environment of West London. Therefore perhaps he has a little bit more of the wild in him than is typical of domestic cats. 

Does your cat circle the food bowl as if scavenging from a dead animal?
Picture: MikeB. He behaves like a North African wildcat.

Nonetheless, he sometimes likes to circle a food bowl when I put the food down as if he is gingerly and cautiously approaching the carcass of an animal that he has found in the wild and which he wants to scavenge from. He is unsure about food in the bowl even though he has been fed it countless times before. He sniffs the food carefully before consuming it. This is also part of an instinctively cautious approach to feeding which must be a throwback to his wild cat ancestor, the North African wild cat.

It is another reminder that domestic cats are a whisker away from their wild ancestor. Doctor John Bradshaw says that one of the big differences between domestic cats and domestic dogs is that dogs are more fully domesticated. And they've been domesticated for far longer than cats.

It is estimated that dogs have been domesticated for around 20,000 years although the experts are unsure. In contrast, it is believed that cats have been domesticated for half that time at around 10,000 years.

Can we speculate and argue that in a further 10,000 years domestic cats will be behaving more like dogs!? It is highly plausible. Domestic cats are on a road of domestication. It is an ongoing process. The journey is not over and I would expect the character and behaviour of the domestic cat to evolve through future domestication to one which is quite different to today.

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