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It’s Cute, however This Cat In all probability Wasn’t Feeding Its Toy Kittens


Feline behaviorists provided explanations for a viral tweet that captured a cat’s tendency to deliver stuffed toys to its meals bowl.

JoAnna Klein

In the US, there are greater than 74 million pet cats. We love these spastic weirdos. So when Maureen Johnson, an creator of best-selling younger grownup novels, tweeted about her guardian’s cat’s unusual habits throughout a go to dwelling early this week — it went viral.

It appeared like he was feeding them. However he additionally commonly eats their faces.

Was he actually making an attempt to feed his toy infants? Was he stowing away treasure? Did Sherlock assume he was the chief of some sort of secret cat society? It’s straightforward to mission our human ideas and emotions onto a cat and its habits, however one thing else is perhaps happening.

“Cats have their own agendas. We’re just not privy to it all the time,” mentioned Ms. Johnson in an interview. “We kind of marveled at it. What has Sherlock been doing all night?”

Sherlock is a seven-year-old purebred Siamese cat who lives with no different pets. He has completed this amassing factor since he was a kitten, when he first acquired and have become obsessive about these stuffed, orange toy cats.

A whole lot of cat homeowners and followers shared their very own pet tales. Some tried to clarify this habits, suggesting Sherlock was merely taking his treasures to a secure place.

Cat behaviorists agree Sherlock’s shenanigans are frequent cat behaviors, however they disagree concerning the motivation.

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Mieshelle Nagelschneider, “The Cat Whisperer” and founding father of The Cat Habits Clinic in Portland, thinks that as a result of Sherlock is chewing on the faces, close to the neck the place cats assault prey, and doing it within the night when cats hunt essentially the most, that is merely the product of a very robust prey drive.

The cat hunts the toy prey round the home and brings it again to the nest or feeding space, like an intuition. Within the wild, this may stop competitors from discovering the prey first. That the toys are first scattered all through the home may additionally set off the cat’s looking for circuits within the mind and associated “feel good chemicals,” she mentioned.

Many cats do that — with socks or toy mice, no matter they like — and a few will even dunk the toys in water, as if to drown or immobilize them.

“It’s all about survival,” she mentioned. “The last thing a cat would do is bring in another cat to eat their food.”

However she hedges a bit. As a result of home cats are in an odd surroundings, pure instincts can manifest in odd methods. And she or he added that to check the habits, Ms. Johnson’s household might strive placing the toys exterior or in a single basket, mixing up the forms of toys or satisfying the cat’s prey drive earlier than bedtime with meals or a wand toy.

However Dennis Turner, who research home cat-human interactions on the College of Zurich and co-editor of a e book known as “The Home Cat,” thinks Sherlock’s antics are a discovered habits sample.

Cats like consideration — reward or scolding. After the primary time Sherlock gathered toys and ate their faces, he possible acquired consideration, which he discovered rewarding. This led him to repeat the habits so as to get that reward. And similar to people get addicted to fit machines that randomly dish out cash, if the cat was rewarded with consideration solely among the time, the habits in all probability solely strengthened.

If it ever turned problematic, Ms. Johnson’s mother and father might strive ignoring Sherlock. However they’d need to be constant.

Ms. Nagelschneider doesn’t fully agree: This cat was predator, she mentioned, because it was a kitten and didn’t want homeowners or different cats to coach it to hunt, as a result of the drive advanced over tens of millions of years. In a peaceful surroundings with the correct prey, “it’s almost like this switch flips, and there’s something in their eyes,” she mentioned. “They can’t help it.”

Then once more, prey drive can’t clarify all unusual behaviors, and Siamese are “the aliens of the cat world,” she mentioned, fairly demonstrative and strange in distinction to different felines. “I wouldn’t put it previous them, there may very well be some odd factor going by means of their head.

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Updated: August 31, 2018 — 11:03 am

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