Monday 30 January 2023

Realism! Infographic on 5 barriers to a successful relationship with your domestic cat

This is a brief cross post to a similar article that I have just written on the main website. The reason? I think it's an important topic. Although I don't want to talk down the relationship between domestic cats and humans. This is a wonderful success story which is why there are about 90 million domestic cats in America and about 11 million in the UK and so on. There are perhaps around 250 million domestic cats in the world but as a sign of failure there are a similar number of unowned cats as well. Not great. A pessimist might argue that the domestication of the cat is a failure as a whole.

Realism! Infographic on 5 barriers to a successful relationship with your domestic cat
Realism! Infographic on 5 barriers to a successful relationship with your domestic cat. By MikeB

There are some barriers if we are to be realistic to the relationship. And I am a great realist. I believe in realism because in this way we can overcome those barriers. If we recognise them, we can then develop strategies to deal with them. Normally, we do this automatically. 


We learn to avoid being scratched by our cat. Well, at least most of us do. Sadly, some don't. The terrified weaklings and nervous types who declaw their cats are cruel quite frankly. It is a barbaric operation. And the word "barbaric" is not one of my making. The world's top veterinarian and author Dr. Bruce Fogle DVM has used it in his book Complete Cat Care.

Declawing is a cop-out. It is a cheap fix for the owner and a dire mutilation for the cat.

I won't go on about declawing but it is a horror story and it should never happen. It does happen because, as mentioned, the domestic cat's claws are a barrier to the success of a good relationship between human cat and vets can't pass up on the opportunity to make a few bucks. And there are four others.


How many people have been bitten by their cat because of redirected aggression or because they played too hard with their cat? How many times have domestic cats been abandoned to rescue centres because a child was bitten by the family cat because of manhandling?

If a domestic cat did not have those gorgeous canine teeth but little incisor teeth throughout their mouth, there would be no penetrating cat bites injecting bacteria under the skin of the human. And there would be much fewer abandonment of cats to shelters for this reason.

"Bad cat behaviour" is a reason why people abandon their cats. One form of bad cat behaviour is to be bitten and scratched by a cat. Of course, the reason is invariably due to human behaviour because they lacked the foresight and wherewithal to avoid those injuries. It is natural behaviour that humans naturally dislike.

It is down to the human to use their intelligence to learn how cats behave and when they are susceptible to biting and scratching and to avoid those moments.

Circadian rhythms

The disparity in circadian rhythms between domestic cats and people is highly noticeable but I think people don't sometimes recognise it. In stark terms, domestic cats like to be active at night, particularly dawn and dusk, while humans have the deeply entrenched habit of going to sleep at night when it's dark, waking up in the morning and being active throughout daytime.

Domestic cats don't understand this. They see their human companion as a surrogate mother and therefore a feline. Why is their mother sleeping all night? They desperately want to wake them up. That is why they come onto the bed at four in the morning and start poking and prodding their owner's face or nose to wake them up. Or they do something else. Domestic cats are very creative in waking up their human caregiver's in the early hours of the morning. This then is a barrier to a successful relationship with your domestic cat.

There are perhaps millions of words spoken about keeping cats out of the bedroom at night or preventing them from waking up their caregiver at four in the morning. This is down to a disparity in circadian rhythms.

It is also down to the fact that the human bedroom smells very much of the human and domestic cats love it. They want to be there, at the center of their home range. To prevent them coming into the bedroom at night I think is unfair even cruel. Jackson Galaxy, the American behaviourist would agree with me.


This leads me nicely to the environment. There is a gradual, year-on-year increase in the number of full-time indoor cats in the West, particularly the UK and the USA. This is to protect wildlife and domestic cats. It gives the owner peace of mind. It is doing the right thing on conservation and in providing security to their cat companion.

These are all great reasons but the counterpart is a great failing in not providing a substitute environment within the home which goes some way to making up for the loss of the outdoor environment where a domestic cat can hunt to their hearts content. Hunting is the raison d'ĂȘtre of a domestic cat. It is the way their mind is stimulated and the way they find happiness.

To simply shut all the doors and windows and keep them captive inside the home without anything else is also in my opinion at least slightly cruel. Dopamine is released into the cat's brain when he hunts thus creating a feeling of eager anticipation which makes it less likely for him to feel bored, anxious, or depressed.

It is beholden upon cat caregiver to at least provide a catio environment where they can sniff the air and feel some earth beneath their feet. 

Where they can hear the birds and the animals. They might become frustrated but at least they can see and hear. Also, in a good catio they can climb to the ceiling to exercise their desire to move vertically. Catio cats are content cats and their personalities improve.

In the very best homes where the owner has converted it to suit their cat, the interiors are awesome. Very, very few people do this but when they do it is done beautifully.


The domestic cat, as you know, as a top-quality predator. Within their weight class they are the top predator on land I would argue. They have inherited all the weapons they need to be successful. I've mentioned them. But this is a barrier to a successful domestic cat to human relationship. A lot of people don't want their cat to kill animals. And they don't like it when they bring half dead animals into the home where they kill them and then eat them on the kitchen floor. Millions of cat owners have spent millions of hours trying to save mice from their cat to release them to the exterior. This is a barrier to a successful relationship.

My cat is a wonderful hunter. He often brings mice into the home during the warmer months, kills them and then eats them under my bed. I wake up to the sound of a once living sending creature being eaten. I also can hear the mouse crying in defence before the killing bite. Not something I like at all. I put up with it but it is a detriment to our relationship.

Let's accept the barriers and find ways around them. That's what most but not all cat owners do, which is why I have written this article and created this infographic.

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