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?