Cats was recently commenting on his difficulties with getting his cat Dennis to eat consistently and it occurred to me that even though I like cats (Felis silvestris catus as well as the Brisbane based blogging human variety), they are something of an anachronism in the 21st century.
The domestication of cats (if such a thing can ever be said to have occurred) took place at least 5,300 years ago based upon the most recent evidence from China and in reality possibly much earlier than that, possibly as soon as humans began storing sufficient grain for it to attract mice and rats, at which point the cats congregated to eat the mice, or at least so the theory goes and gradually became domesticated and relatively tame around humans.
The relationship throughout the millennia since then has been roughly symbiotic, cats kill the rats that eat, shit and piss all over the grain and in return gets a warm fire to snooze by when they want and a ready source of food in the form of vermin.
Growing prosperity, industrialisation and reduction in the prevalence of household vermin appears to have changed the relationship from a symbiotic one into something which is substantially different. The cat no longer hunts mice for food as this is provided for by a human for often complex and questionable reasons, the hunting instinct being innate, but no longer serving a need as these needs are met by a tamed human.
Unlike dogs, which are mostly gifted, purchased or re-homed, a lot of humans acquire cats because they simply turn up on the doorstep and “meow” and brush up against a human to see if they are receptive, if they get fed then they will be back, in fact I know of at least 2 cats that were claimed by separate households, both being unaware of the other until they came across their cat in the others house.
This shows the subtle inscrutability of the cat and the way they have used their various talents (purring, meowing, cute expressions, soulful cries, etc.) to turn normally intelligent and independent people into their virtual slaves. I say this as someone who likes cats and has shared a house with lots of them over the years – I’m as guilty of my own enslavement as others.
The extent to which cats have us running around at their beck-and-call, ignoring their vices and attempting to understand and fulfil their every need shows both the intelligence of cats and the oddity of humans.
A cat is never owned, in the same way that I don’t own the wind, it simply occupies a shared space with humans. I would also argue that cats are not domesticated in the same way that dogs, cows and horses are – they simply tolerate our presence sometimes. I’ve had enough scratches from cats to prove that one.
How attached cats are to their owners?
Bird bullies cat – epic fail!
NOTE: – With respect to the second video, although it shows the natural instincts and agility of the cat, I suspect the bird was just attempting to protect its nest in the bushes, although who really knows…?