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How Does Your Cat See You?

 by danielle on 29 Apr 2014 |
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Anthrozoologist Dr. John Bradshaw has spent years studying the domestic house cat to discover more about their habits and psychology. According to the University of Bristol cat behaviour expert, our furry feline friends view us as versions of themselves – we are just large, clumsy cats that walk on our back paws. 
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Dr. Bradshaw recently penned the book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science can Make you a Better Friend to Your Pet, sharing his insights into the cat mind. One of his more interesting conclusions is that cats just don’t ‘get us’ like dogs do. 


Extensive research over the years has revealed man’s best friend views us as very different animals to themselves. Their behaviour noticeably shifts when a human enters the room. The way two dogs play together is very different to how they play with one of us. 

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This distinction just isn’t evident when it comes to cats. No sign has been observed which indicates cats see us as anything other than cats much larger than themselves. They socialise with people in exactly the same manner they engage with others of their own kind. The attention they show us, such as rubbing against our legs and sitting beside us is indistinguishable from cat-on-cat affection.  

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The belief cats are haughty creatures that see themselves as better than their human servants is very likely false according to Dr. Bradshaw’s studies. Cats don’t desire to rub up against cats that they believe are of inferior status. If your cat nuzzles against your leg, chances are it views you as an equal, or even as a superior.  

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Dr. Bradshaw used a variety of methods to produce his results. He spent a lot of time watching groups of cats interact in all sorts of environments, including in feral colonies and shelters. He also examined how cats play with toys and designed tests administered at different times of day to see if there were varying results. He further extensively interviewed owners to discover how they perceived their cats and the relationship they shared with them. 


Surprisingly little research has been done into cats and Dr. Bradshaw insists a lot more is required. He believes it is important we take the time to consider how our cat’s minds work, rather than projecting human emotions onto them. Unravelling the mysteries of cat world, in his opinion, will only lead to happier pets. 


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You can read more about Bradshaw’s work and his new book here. 



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