Showing posts with label sociable cat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sociable cat. Show all posts

Monday 22 April 2024

Cats that have been rescued don't show any gratitude. True or false?

There is a story on the Fox 13 Tampa Bay website which tells of a grumpy cat showing no gratitude after being rescued from between two walls. The cat had to be chiselled out of their predicament. It happened in Preston, Lancashire, UK. You can see the rescuer and the cat below.

Note about the picture: It is noticeable that the cat is a calico - a tortoiseshell-and-white. Torties have 'catitude' - meaning attitude. This may partially explain why she is described as not being grateful! 💕😉

So the question is why don't cats that have been rescued, sometimes after great effort, so any gratitude to the rescuers who often save their lives. 

Cats that have been rescued don't show any gratitude. Why?
Grumpy female cat does not show gratitude for being rescued from being stuck between walls.

Initial point

The initial point to make is that sometimes domestic cats will show their version of gratitude under certain circumstances. They may show subtle signs of it. I can remember a firefighter rescuing a cat from a destroyed building and the cat climbing onto the firefighter. She had a fearful look on her face. But her general demeanour and her behaviour indicated gratitude to me. Therefore, I don't think that we can generalise about domestic cats by saying that under all circumstances domestic cats don't show gratitude. They do sometimes but perhaps a different way to the way humans show it.

Concept of gratitude

I will try and answer that question. The first point to bring up is the concept of "gratitude". As humans know, gratitude means being thankful to others for the help that they have received. Or a gift that they have received. Or they might show gratitude for something good that has happened to them. Or, if a person has been rescued by somebody else. They will thank that person in an act of gratitude.

Human social norms

Why do we do it? Because it's part of good social etiquette. It is part of social norms. These of course are human norms within our human society.

Cats are solitary

To the first point is that cats don't have a society like humans in which they network and interact and help each other.

Cats - by which I mean domestic cats - are essentially solitary creatures because they have inherited their wild cat ancestor's character which is that of a solitary creature.

Multi-cat homes

Of course, domestic cats sometimes live multi-cat homes where they have to be somewhat sociable and get along with other cat. This is an adaptation to living in the human environment in a multi-cat home but cats under these circumstances can be stressed. They are more likely to be stressed than a solitary cat living with their caregiver is unnatural but they adapt as mentioned.

No society

So the point here is that domestic cats don't have a society and they don't have a hierarchy. And therefore they don't have societal norms. And therefore there is no need to be grateful for being rescued.

Cats that have been rescued don't show any gratitude. Why?
Domestic cat looking supremely content and grateful for all their caregiver brings them in their lives.


There are other issues. An act of gratitude stems from an emotion of thankfulness. And relief. It is doubtful that cats feel these emotions. Domestic cats feel certain emotions such as contentment and fear, anger and friendliness. But it is doubtful that they sense the higher emotions although this is work in progress.

So the emotional background is another point worth mentioning which might be a barrier to being grateful.

Rescuers are often strangers

A third point comes to mind. When a cat such as the one you see in the picture has been rescued from a very difficult and terrifying circumstance they may suddenly meet a complete stranger under very stressful circumstances. Domestic cats are often fearful of strangers. The emotion of fear will certainly block any requirement to feel grateful or to express gratitude.

Not in their armoury of behaviours

The bottom line probably is that domestic gas don't have the social behaviour of expressing gratitude in their armoury of behaviours. It simply does not exist and the reasons above, I hope, help to provide some understanding of this characteristic.


There is some caveats. It undermines what I've just said in the last paragraph. If a cat is left alone in your home most of the day and perhaps feels the emotion of separation anxiety, they will be grateful to see you when you come back from work. They will rub against your leg and perhaps purr. They might express their gratitude toward you for returning to them.

And if a cat has a favourite treat and you provide them with this treat, before you provide it they might express their gratitude in anticipation of receiving it by rubbing up against you and going up on their hind legs to head-butt you.

I think therefore that sometimes domestic cat can demonstrate their version of gratitude but it is a bit different to our version.

Wild cats

I have seen conservationists in videos releasing small wild cat species from cages after they have been rescued and rehabilitated. And we the cat running away as fast as possible into the undergrowth. No gratitude whatsoever. This reinforces the argument that cats don't show gratitude. But then, once again, we have to understand the circumstances under which they have been placed which would have been highly stressful for the reasons mentioned above. And they are suddenly surrounded by people. Wild animals are fearful of people in general. People are the world's top predator.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 19 July 2021

Domestic cats are not adapted to living in close proximity to each other

The title presents an interesting thought and it directly impinges upon what goes on in multi-cat households. Although domestic cats are social creatures and they can live in groups those groups need to be stable and the cats should be socialised to each other. In other words, the cats should be selected to get on with each other and ideally no new cats should be brought into the group which might destabilise it.

Domestic cats are not adapted to living in close proximity to each other
Domestic cats are not adapted to living in close proximity to each other. Montage: MikeB from images in the public domain.

Domestic cats don't have classic hierarchies when living in groups and they don't have signals which help to defuse conflict. Further, they don't have mechanisms such as reconciliation as discussed in studies by van den Bos & de Cock Buning 199b and van den Bos 1998.

In the wild, if there was conflict between cats, they would disperse to avoid each other and often this is impossible and in multi-cat homes and it certainly is impossible if they are living full-time inside a home. This is exactly what is happening with my neighbour about 4 yards from me right now. She has 10 cats and she hasn't got a clue as to what she's doing in terms of how the cats feel when they live in such close proximity to each other as far as I can tell.

One of the major reasons for the creation of behavioural problems in domestic cats such as timidity, fear and avoidance behaviours come about because of what is called environmental stressor i.e. things that happen in the environment in which they live which stress the cats. A high proportion of the stressors are concerned with the relationships between the cats and the relationship between the cats and people living in the home. This was found in a study by Casey and Bradshaw in 2000.

Sibling pairs of domestic cats more often have amicable relationship compared to unrelated cats when living together. Although, I think it is fair to say that not all siblings get along when they become adults because at that time they become independent. It's just that there is a greater likelihood of the siblings getting along in multi-cat homes.

A point comes to mind. Jackson Galaxy says that when you adopt a cat from a shelter you might adopt a pair if the shelter knows that they are known to get along. I guess that makes sense but not infrequently cats are rescued as a pair and then they are rehomed as a pair for obvious reasons. When two cats get along well, both their lives are enhanced and they should stick together. It is not only better for the cats it is also better for the cats' caretaker because they can entertain themselves and enrich the lives of each other.

When cats are introduced to each other as adults they may not regard each other as part of the group but they are sometimes regrettably forced to live together in close proximity which may lead to agonistic behaviour. 

Aggressive encounters may occur not infrequently between cats living in a high density in the neighbourhood. I'm referring to indoor/outdoor cats. This is a typical situation in the UK for instance. Under these circumstances some cats may become frightened of going outdoors. The other, more dominant cats will be attacking the timider cat when in a public area.

It is wise for cat owners particularly in condominiums and blocks of flats to be aware of this interaction between cats in the common parts within these complexes.

Ref: Cat Sense by Dr Bradshaw.

Saturday 27 February 2021

Are cats narcissists?

I think that it is ridiculous that anybody can find the time to ask if cats are narcissists. It's an absurd question but I'm going to try and answer it other than simply decry it as ridiculous. In order to answer the question as  to whether domestic cats are narcissists you have to first define the word "narcissist". It means, "a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves".

Incidentally, I realise that I am being unnecessarily serious because the question is meant to be a bit of a joke but there may be a slightly serious element to this which is why I'm discussing it a bit more than simply knocking it on the head.

You can see the obvious, which is that the definition starts off with "a person". This immediately cuts out of the equation all cats at a stroke! The concept of narcissism is exclusively dedicated to humankind. It is a condition created by people for people and defined by more people. It has nothing to do with animals and everything to do with the human-animal.

Narcissistic domestic cat? No. Flashy? Yes!
Narcissistic domestic cat? No. Flashy? Yes! Photo
in the public domain.

I suppose the question as to whether cats are narcissists might come from the fact that they are inherently solitary creatures and somewhat independent-minded (but becoming more sociable over years of domestication). Some people see them as aloof and difficult. They see them as demanding attention and pushing their human owner around. So if a domestic cat is demanding attention all the time or their human owner believes that they are demanding attention they might also believe that they are narcissistic.

Some cats like Siamese cats have a very positive and some would say demanding meow. It's quite a hard sounding meow. The Siamese is also a loyal cat and they like to be next to you. If you combine those two traits you might say that they are narcissistic, if you think being demanding is narcissistic. I am waffling really badly because in truth there is nothing more to say other than domestic cats are not narcissists.

People do tend to forget that domestic cats are cats and not little people. We do tend to anthropomorphise our feline friends. We project our emotions onto them and they are reflected back. So if we feel a bit down we will argue that our cat also feels a bit down because he looks a bit sad. The thing is they are not sad. We're just looking at their face and changing its appearance to suit our emotions and thoughts at that time.

An awful lot has been said about the mental state of domestic cats including their mental health and their emotions. We don't know much, and I'm referring to the best experts in the world, about cat emotions and cat mental health. We know a bit in that they have emotions, at least the basic emotions, and we know that they can be content and discontent. We know they feel pain and can suffer from stress and feel the opposite: relaxed. But the finer details of their emotions, we don't know much in truth. If we do it is guesswork.

And the profound mental health disorders such as narcissism and psychopathic states of mind are not for felines but humans.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Cat Food Wars - Dominance and Subservience

This is not exactly a war over cat food but you can see how stresses can be built up in multi-cat households in areas where there are food bowls and where there is the cat litter. Cats will or might compete for either. These are areas where a hierarchy between cats is shown up and where a dominant cat will push out a more subservient cat.

I think this is quite an interesting animated GIF, which are a series of still images strung together to make a video that repeats itself. Each image is in the GIF format.

Clearly in this instance the ginger tabby is dominant over the bicolour ginger and white who is overweight so perhaps being pushed out of the food bowl is a good thing. I wonder if the slight overweight problem that the bicolour cat has is linked in any way to his or her subservience to the ginger cat? Perhaps he's pushed out and therefore he is keen to get at the food when there is a chance and hence he eats too much as a precaution against not being able to get to a food bowl when they are put down.

The experts would say that it is important to make sure that a subservient cat has a place to hide and then each cat gets its own food bowl and as best as possible is allowed to get to it. Cat litter trays should also be considered carefully in multi-cat households because you can get competition around a cat litter tray. All this means is that the subservient cat is liable to become stressed and it is a cat owner's duty to make sure that all her cats are content!

This does, though, seemed to be a setup situation. Although, it does not detract from what can go on in multi-cat households.

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