Cats are some of the strangest creatures. Since they came to our world roughly 9,500 years ago, humans have fallen in love with these felines. Today, more than 80 million domesticated cats live in the United States alone. There is an average of cats in each household, and for the year 2018, it placed second as the most popular pet in the world, next to freshwater fish! Yet there are still a lot of things we don’t know about our pets.
We often consider these feline friends as self-reliant, aloof and mysterious. Even though they have been housed as pets for almost a thousand years, they are still enigmatic and vague when it comes to the humans around them.
Perhaps you’re someone who wonders why your cat gazes outside the window and what they think when they do so. Or why they like sitting on the paper, we’re trying to read. If so, then you’re not alone. Cats will do what they do, and pet owners would want to know the reasons behind these actions. However, cats can be challenging to figure out.
It is not unusual for cat-owners to talk to their cats. They often do this in the same way adults frequently talk to babies or little children. We usually take our cat’s non-verbal gestures to interpret how they read us, and how they respond.
But how confident are we that our feline friends are understanding us? Is there a way for us to know their thought process? We know for a fact that cats are adorable and smart. But what exactly is processing in there?
What Is a Thinking Cat?
When cats focus their gaze at something with no apparent reason, it leaves us wondering what’s going on inside those feline minds. Well according to studies, cats’ brains are very active, and they have a wide array of cognitive skills. Perhaps more than what they usually get credit for.
Generally, cat intelligence is nothing but the capacity of a cat to adapt to its environment and solve problems. It also includes the ability to learn new behaviors and apply their existing knowledge to certain situations.
A Cat’s Brain
A cat’s brain usually averages 5 centimeters in length and weighs approximately 25-30 grams. According to research studies, the physical structure of cats and humans brains is very similar.
They both have cerebral cortices and similar lobes. Both are gyrencephalic, which means there is a presence of a surface folding. Analysis of a cat’s brain shows that it is divided into many areas that have specific functions and share sensory information.
What Is a Cat’s Level of Intelligence?
During a series of controlled experiments, cats were shown to have a fully developed concept of object permanence. An example of this is when we put something in a cabinet and close it, we know that it’s still there even when we can’t see it anymore. Humans can understand that at a young age.
On the other hand, while dogs never entirely understood this concept, it’s a different story when it comes to cats. Cat’s can also experience elaborate dreams while sleeping. While they do, cats will usually have rapid involuntary movements of the face, paw, whiskers, and abdomen.
Level of Memory
In general, cats have excellent memories. Experiments show that this memory can have information retention covering an average of 10 years. When it comes to human interaction though, differences in particular age and intelligence can affect a cat’s memory.
What Do Cats Think of Humans?
According to some studies, cats don’t acknowledge us as a separate species. It’s either cats think we’re also cats, or they think they’re even humans.
When they start showing certain behaviors such as putting their tails up or rubbing their bodies around our legs or sitting beside and sometimes attempting to groom us, they are trying to do what cats correctly do to each other. They understand that we’re larger than them, but are yet to adopt appropriate social behaviors.
This way of thinking probably explains why cats are sometimes proud and self-reliant. Because they sometimes think they’re better than us. Cats may sometimes assume the master of the house position, and they usually succeed.
This thinking does not necessarily mean that they see us as a lower and dumber breed. Fact is, cats will treat us much like how they will treat other cats. In some ways, that is still a sign of respect.
How Do Cats Think?
While in the wild, cats take on both the roles of being predator and prey. Since different situations affect the cat’s thinking and behavior, a cat sometimes assumes contradicting ways of thinking to survive. They often need to feel like a ruthless hunter when trying to catch prey.
On the other hand, they can also assume the scared and confused mentality of a victim. The main driving force to a cat’s thinking is the concept of eating or be eaten. An understanding of this allows us to make sense of some cat behaviors.
Cats also think about food, and how to get it. Scientists do a lot of experiments to test a cat’s ability to figure out ways that will eventually lead them to where food is at. During the test, food was attached to strings, and the cats were able to get to the food by pulling strings. It proves that cats can understand that things in their environment interact with one another.
Cats and Humans
You may have noticed a lot of times how some cats would stare at humans. It proves that cats also think about us. They may stare for long periods thinking and observing our emotions and body language. In this way, they try to gauge our feelings to know how they should respond.
Besides this, they also watch and even listen for cues as to when you will be serving their meals. Cats are extremely attached to their caregivers. In fact, experiments show that they are more attached to their owners than other people.
In a world where billions of different organisms reside, it is essential to know that we should treat our cats as ordinary house pets. They’re certainly more than that. They have feelings, moods, behaviors, and yes, they all have varied levels of intellect.
These make bonding with them more pleasant because they can recognize us not just as owners but caregivers who they can choose to bond with. It is also crucial to know that our cat’s psychological state can significantly affect their health and wellbeing.
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