I always hear all sorts of people say: "my cat is crazy!" or "my cat is unbearable, he spites me on purpose!” and so I listen carefully to the description of the misdeeds of the cat in question expecting to hear something really problematic. Yet, most of the time, it's nothing like that: at the end of the conversation I know the cat has no problems, while his human really needs help to understand what it means to be a cat.

Every animal species living on this beautiful planet has its characteristics, and cats are no exception. We can identify the behaviors and basic needs that every cat will have and that every human must learn and respect.

What are these characteristics? Here's a short list of, perhaps, the most common ones:

  • cats sharpen their claws: it is an innate need that cannot in any way be ignored. They have a real need to scratch both vertical and horizontal surfaces to eliminate the outer layer of the tips of their claws. They also need to leave visual marks, and to do some muscle stretching. (for information on how to live happily with this feline requirement see the article Scratching the sofa)
  • cats meow: yes, it is obvious, but in reality many people are annoyed by their cat's constant meowing. In the wild, wild cats use few, precise calls that are used to obtain results in specific situations (mating, territorial defense, etc.), but when they learn to live with human beings they also learn that the vocal element is our main way of communication, so they do nothing but adapt and give us their personal repertoire of "chatter"! Some cats meow more, others less, but it's still their way of telling us something, and the better we understand the meaning of their meows the more they will feel satisfied and understood, and perhaps feel less the need to "call us" all the time.
  • cats poop: like every living creature in this world, cats must have a suitable place to take care of their needs. They will do it every day several times a day, so if the idea of having a litter box at home disgusts you and you were thinking of hiding it in the most well hidden crevice of the house maybe you should ask yourself if a cat is the most suitable animal for you. The litter box must be easily accessible, in a quiet place, with the right quantity and quality of sand, with the necessary precautions if there are more cats at home. (for more explanation see the article The litter, this mysterious object)
  • cats hunt: it is their natural instinct that can not be suppressed, cats need (and have the impulse) to hunt several times throughout the day. If you find yourselve victim of unpleasant ambushes to your ankles while walking in your home or if you are tired of seeing your cat suddenly going Tarzan between the chandelier and the shelves, you should think whether your cat's hunting need is being adequately satisfied. There is no need to fill the house with rats to let the cat vent, but simply there are many types of games you can do with your cat that will help him to play his predatory sequences and to use some of that hunting energy.

These are just some of cats' species-specific characteristics alongside which it is of great importance to remember that, before considering a cat's behavior pathological, it is essential for us understand what it means to be a cat and what it entails, to learn to live happily without stress and misunderstandings.


FISAP CAB Roberta Roscini
ICAN Feline Behaviourist (Consultant)

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