Friday 20 August 2021

Domestic cats don't exist. Discuss.

Jackson Galaxy doesn't believe that domestic cats truly exist and he's right. He says that the word "domestic" when applied to cats "has always struck me as fundamentally well, just wrong". Of course, there are domestic cats and they are described as domestic cats. 

Comparing African wildcat and domestic tabby cat appearance
Comparing African wildcat and domestic tabby cat appearance. They are similar. The domestic cat tends to be fatter! Their coat is higher contrast but their character is very similar. Image: MikeB

However, in Jackson Galaxy's words the "raw cat" is so near the surface that it is very difficult to describe our cat companions as domesticated. They are just about there to the point where they have the ability to adapt to the human environment but they slip into that raw cat mentality very quickly and it emerges all the time in every aspect of their lives. In truth, it is a characteristic which can come into conflict with human expectations.

Sometimes people look at their cat companion as a member of the family, and as a child or little human which is nice and cute, but what they're looking at is a top-line predator in the taxonomical group of mammals called Carnivora. It is always useful to remind ourselves that the domestic cat is a wildcat within.

When a cat behaviourist such as Jackson Galaxy tries to work out what is behind "bad cat behaviour" as described by a cat owner who seeks his assistance, he will look at two things (1) what the humans are doing and how they interact with their cat and the environment they create for their cat plus (2) cross-check that information with the demands of the wildcat within the domestic cat.

Associated page: Are tigers related to domestic cats?

Cat behaviour is really about human behaviour because humans dictate the environment in which the "raw cat" lives. In Jackson Galaxy's words "everything about our cats, from their territorial identification and nutritional requirements to the ways they play and behave, are linked back to their raw twin". 

The "raw twin" that he is referring to is the North African wildcat a.k.a. the Near Eastern wildcat which was to a certain extent domesticated about 10,000 years ago and which still lives in the same areas that it did when domesticated. They are still there and I guess some of them are still being domesticated as they are attracted to human settlements.

So, when you want to try and figure out something about your cat remember their raw roots and tune into their rawness "because that is where their mojo lives". Those quoted words are also by Jackson Galaxy. What he means by that is if you want to make your cat content you have to tap in to the raw cat within and find out how to push those buttons and then provide an environment and interactions which achieves that. When you do this, you will make him happy because he will be able to express his natural desires.

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