Cats take on their humans’ habits

Allegra close up

We all consider our cats members of the family, and according to a new study from the University of Messina’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, this blending into our lives extends to our cats taking on human habits – both good and bad ones.

The researchers studied two groups of cats. Discovery News reports on the study:

Each group received excellent care, in terms of food, medical attention and grooming. The owners of all the cats worked during the day and returned home in the evenings.

The first group of cats, however, lived in smaller homes and stayed closer to their owners. The second group lived more of an indoor/outdoor lifestyle on larger property. These cats were also kept outside at night.

Over time, the cats in the first group mirrored the lives of their owners. Their eating, activity and sleeping patterns were very similar. The cats left out at night became more nocturnal, matching the behaviors of semi-dependent farm cats with more feral ways.

“Cats are intelligent animals with a long memory,” Jane Brunt, DVM, and the executive director of the CATalyst Council, told Discovery News. “They watch and learn from us, (noting) the patterns of our actions, as evidenced by knowing where their food is kept and what time to expect to be fed, how to open the cupboard door that’s been improperly closed and where their feeding and toileting areas are.”

In another study conducted at the University of Edinburgh, researchers looked at personality in cats and came to the conclusion that many of the primary traits — arrogant, social, shy, trusting, aggressive, calm, timid, excitable, dominant and curious — apply to humans as well. The researchers believe that the environment in which a feline lives “is one possible explanation for the variance in results in the domestic cat, as personality may not be completely comprised of genetic makeup.”

Humans can also serve as role models for cats. I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Brunt, who is quoted on Discovery News as saying “while it’s commonly thought that cats are solitary and aloof and can take care of themselves, studies have shown that cats are social animals and when people are their main social group, it’s important for owners to understand that they are the role model and we have to encourage their activities with proper play/prey techniques.”

And of course, our cats can, and should, also serve as role models for us. I’m all about learning from our cats, something I celebrate every week in our Conscious Cat Sunday feature, and in my new book, Purrs of Wisdom: Conscious Living, Feline Style.

Read the full article about both studies on Discovery News.

What do you think? Have your cats taken on some of your habits?

12 Comments on Cats take on their humans’ habits

  1. Stacy
    August 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm (4 years ago)

    I live alone with my 8 Scottish Fold cats. Yea I know “8”! They have all been born and raised here and I am the only owner they’ve known. I truly believe cats can pickup human habbits since mine do everything from drinking from a straw, sleeping with their head on a pillow with the blanket tucked under there front legs, turning off the morning alarm clock to using the toilet. All of these things I have never trained them to do. I can only assume they learned from watching me.

    Reply
    • Cynthia
      March 11, 2016 at 10:42 pm (2 years ago)

      That’s funny.

      Reply
  2. Faith
    February 25, 2013 at 7:42 pm (5 years ago)

    This explains why my furbaby hates going outside, she’s basically adopted my agoraphobia 🙁

    Reply
  3. Viki Worden
    January 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm (5 years ago)

    I believe this. My cats are indoors and they have picked up my bedtime habits. It is quite funny. If I stay up later my one cat that sleeps with me will stare at me, as if to say, are you going to bed? They have my schedule down pat.

    Reply
  4. DWolvin
    January 29, 2013 at 11:49 am (5 years ago)

    Somehow not so surprising… Cats are smart empathic and always striving toward satisfaction, so of course they are going to work with their people if they are in the same house… But I guess it’s only sure if proven. 😉

    Side note, are there any simple breakdowns on proper play/prey techniques? Anything to make my fierce hunter happy! Except another grasshopper getting in, Woodrow was not at all sure about that…

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm (5 years ago)

      I like using interactive toys like the DaBird or CatDancer to mimic prey.

      Reply
      • duffey wolvin
        January 29, 2013 at 7:47 pm (5 years ago)

        Ah, cool! I have Cat Dancer (seriously, how is this the best toy ever?), and round it out with a couple of thrown treats to make sure they get some ‘Kill and Eat’ in…

        Reply
  5. caren gittleman
    January 29, 2013 at 8:39 am (5 years ago)

    Uh-oh…then Cody’s obsession with eating can be tied to ME? This is becoming “curiouser and curiouser” lol

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm (5 years ago)

      LOL Caren!

      Reply
  6. Texas, a cat in New York
    January 29, 2013 at 7:37 am (5 years ago)

    Oh! Some humans see through us 😉
    That’s a very interesting study! Thanks for sharing.
    Purrs

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 29, 2013 at 1:54 pm (5 years ago)

      Some of us do have a pretty good understanding of cats, Texas. 🙂

      Reply

Leave a comment

First time visitors: please read our Comment Guidelines.