Did you know cats played a large role in ancient Egyptian society? They even became deities — Mafdet (goddess of justice) and Bastet (goddess of war) were both felines. And while these creatures aren’t held in such high esteem today, there is still an aura of mystery and a particular presence a cat has. Even their behavior is quite dissimilar to that other favorite domestic pet: the dog. With a little understanding of the feline “way,” you’ll discover their behavior isn’t so strange after all.
See also: 10 Tips for New Cat Owners
Cats Like Their Autonomy
Feral (wild) cats have their own territories and are responsible for their own food, water and safety. This autonomy and feeling of self-preservation is also seen in domesticated cats to a certain degree. Some people may even call cats aloof or unfriendly because of this.
However, for all the times you find your cat alone doing “cat things” (perhaps plotting to kill that evil dust bunny lurking in the corner), there are plenty of occasions your cat is quite social.
… But Still Like to Socialize
Cats know when their owner is coming home and are often found waiting patiently by the front door when the owner arrives. Most cats also love to jump on laps and be cuddled and stroked, while others are content to sit nearby their human companion. And some cats are even high-tech, loving to help with any computer work — though this usually consists on sitting on the keyboard or walking across it.
Cats Are Territorial
Yes, we all know how cats will spray an area in order to “mark” it. (This is obviously a no-no anywhere in your home, and we’re not condoning this). But did you know cats rub their heads against objects and humans alike? Similar to lifting a leg and spraying, rubbing their scent on things is another way of marking property.
Now, if you happen to have someone over who’s not into cats — I know it’s crazy, but there are those kinds of people around — then you might suggest allowing themselves to be rubbed by the cat. Brushing the cat away will only annoy it, and make your guest a kitty foe.
Cats Aren’t Exactly Lazy
Cats are often labeled “lazy” because they like to sleep for about sixteen hours a day. But they are almost never completely asleep during that time. Make a sudden noise or movement, and you’ll find your cat alert and with its eyes open, watching you. Big cats in the wild sleep the same way. The cat is a natural hunter that needs to conserve energy for quick, intense movements in order to catch prey.
Cat “Attacks” Aren’t What They Seem
If you’ve ever found yourself walking around your home and — wham — your kitty attacks your ankle! Don’t worry, your cat is not angry or even maladjusted, it is merely playing with you. Cats are playful creatures that love to hone their hunting skills, and well you have just become a target. Lucky you. Thankfully, you can avoid any future assaults by distracting kitty with some string or another toy. Play with your cat for a little while. The cat will absolutely love you for it. More importantly, you’ll have less “loving” scratch marks.
So, we’ve busted the myths. Strange cat behavior isn’t that strange after all. It is merely natural instinct coming through. Now by all means, put that cat up on that pedestal. Just make sure it’s got something to play with up there… or watch out!
Cat Behavior 101 originally appeared on petMD.com