Back up a moment. If domestic cats are the great-great-great-great – oh, you get it – grandchildren solitary animals with little or no social skills, how did they come to be cuddly balls of fluff? Well, this is because OUR ancestors influenced change in feline behavior by forcing them into social groups, such as mousing groups in barns to rid their farms of mice.
Dr. John Bradshaw, Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol, says, “To do this, we think that they ‘borrowed’ behavior that they used to perform towards their mothers when they were kittens (which is more efficient in evolutionary terms than inventing new behavior from scratch), and started using it in adult-to-adult interactions: specifically the friendly tail-up, mutual rubbing, and mutual grooming.” As they started to become friendly towards us, they started to use the same behavior to communicate with us – raising their tails upright before coming to us, rubbing around our legs, licking our hands.”
He explains his belief that cats see us as somewhat superior to them based on what he has observed: “That they rub on us without necessarily expecting a rub in return, and the apparent exchange of grooming when they lick us and we stroke them, suggests that while they do not regard us as their mothers, they do acknowledge us as being in some way superior to them,” he said. “Perhaps this is simply because we are physically larger than they are, so we trigger in them behavior that they would, (under different circumstances), direct towards a bigger, or more senior member of their feline family.”
So there you go! Our cats might just respect us after all! … Or not. LOL.
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