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Cats – A 21st Century Anachronism

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.

Starving Cat is Starving

Is u stewpid yuman? I is starving here?

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.

Hungry Cat

Wot u mean u don’ un’erstand “Meow” yuman?

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…?




  1. Longrider says:

    Who cares? It works. I enjoy their company and that’s good enough for me.

  2. Mark says:

    People go on about how dogs have co-evolved with people to become almost empathic. Cats seem to have completely avoided this, which is endearing in its typically cat-like obstinate cussedness.

  3. John Galt says:

    I think the domestication of dogs is just different. If a dog is trained correctly then it will accept the owner as being the Alpha of the pack (and the kids as puppies).

    You get into all sorts of trouble when the dog thinks he/she is the Alpha, then it just becomes a continual fight for dominance which is both stressful and dangerous. I spent one night with my brothers re-homed dog, which was an Alsatian / German Shepherd dog and there was no doubt that it thought it was the Alpha. It had a go at my leg and shredded my jeans, very frightening for a 10-year old kid, the dog had to be returned to the kennel.

    Your cat is a different beast entirely and pretty wild when outside the four walls of home as any cohabiting human will attest who has spied their little kitty hunting in the fields close to home, then they truly are “miniature tigers”.

    One time we woke up to a disturbance in the early hours of the morning to find blood everywhere and one of the cats (the female) had dragged a baby rabbit in through the cat flap, poor thing was bouncing around in terror with its ears half chewed off and blood everywhere being chased by the cat with claws at the ready and fire in her eyes. Had to catch the poor bloody rabbit and put it out of it’s misery, the cats look of disgust was priceless, but it was the human cohabitants that had to clean up the blood.

    Cats are often very fair animals, it will eat half its prey and then give the other half the chance to run away…

    Equally, there is nothing that wakes you up in the morning than treading (while barefoot) in either mouse entrails or cat vomit, both of which are an alluring smell, but not quite as toothsome as when one of the cats has dragged some poor animal behind the fridge or a under the dresser and only discover it a week later as the stench of decaying mouse overpowers the house.

    Does the purring and lap-sitting make up for all the horror? Even as a cat person I’m sometimes not so sure.

  4. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Felis silvestris catus

    Wow, that was a real forehead-slapping moment. I can’t believe I never realised before why Tweety-Bird’s nemesis was called “Sylvester”.

    Well, as my dad used to say, “a day is never wasted if you’ve learned something new.’ I just wish it hadn’t been something so obvious. ;-)

  5. Lynne says:

    Cats are okay. Dogs are better.

  6. I imagine it is now the gloam of Christmas morn o’er there in the antipodean lands.
    Merry Christmas!

    I do not understand why my comments are not being recorded. Have I been somehow untoward?

  7. Julie near Chicago says:

    PST: Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger! *rueful grin*

  8. Roue le Jour says:

    Douglas Adams said in the Hitchhikers books that it was the babel fish that proved the existence of God, because something so useful couldn’t possible arise by chance. Personally I think it’s cats. No animal so perfectly adapted to human co-habitation could arise by chance.

    I imagine their ancestors sitting in the woods with the rain dripping down their necks asking themselves when the bleedin’ monkeys are going to get off their arses and invent heated houses and soft furnishings. Dogs not so much.

    On the whole dogs vs. cats thing, my dogs and cats grew up together and show no sign of ancestral animosity. The boldest tom frequently flops on the dogs or tries to nick their food while they are eating it. The dogs growl and snarl but the cat takes no notice unless the dogs actually try to nip it.

  9. John Galt says:

    Yes, Roue le Jour, I know what you mean.

    In households where dogs and cats are raised together the dog often ends up being submissive to the cats, especially when they are raised from kittens. Not sure why, mothering instinct perhaps.

    Actually, the way cats stand up to dogs is often surprising given the difference in size, mind you those claws can bloody hurt!

  10. CountingCats says:

    Cat got minced kangaroo for its Christmas eve chow down. He wolfed down three serves. This will last one day, and the nose will turn up again.

  11. John Galt says:

    Kangaroo cat chow – classic!

    It’s meant to be really healthy as well, because it’s very lean. Don’t see many roo’s outside of zoo’s here in Malaysia. Lots of monkey’s hanging on the telephone poles, but I’m not sure what they would taste like minced. Maybe I should catch one and send one over Cats.


  12. RAB says:

    We used to have cats when we first moved to Bristol, but we lived on a very busy road and two got run over. The third buggered off to live with a little old lady down the road. No loyalty, Cats ;-)

    You can’t take them for walks or play frisbee with them either, like you can dogs. We did have one cat though that would play fetch with a little silver ball it was fond of.

    But on the whole I prefer dogs.

  13. Remember a cat is about the same size as a human baby, and makes noises that are similar to the noises a baby makes (accept nicer).

    This may help to explain the reaction of humans to cats.

    That and the parasite they put in our brains of course.

    A parasite that is supposed to make men both clumsy – and more rash.

    More inclined to take risks (say jump between one cliff and another), and also more likely to slip and fall.

    And women……

    Supposedly it makes women more interested in carnal activity – and giving women a similar sexual drive to men, may have had a rather profound effect on human history.

    The parasite is found in the brains of mice (and so on) it makes them less afraid of cats – so they get eaten, and pass on the parasite to cats, the way the humans get it?

    You do not want to know.

  14. It the experiment the lady in black was doing things to attract the cat’s attention (using the hunting instinct). that was not done with the young child or the dog.

    However, it was plain that the cat loved the idea of a new human to play with. Going straight up to see the new human – and so on.

  15. Julie near Chicago says:

    Yes, Paul, and I thought that was quite interesting. Besides being enjoyable to watch. Besides, I am a Cat Person, even though I’m even more of a Dog Person. :>))

    After all, Katz haff zere vays!!

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