As sure as death and taxes, your feline will have their own set of quirky behaviours. Pussa appears to be unable to eat biscuits straight from the bowl, preferring to flick them onto the floor prior to consumption. Rather fortunately for me, she’s not afflicted with the same tendency with her wet food. Soph has her own version of an eating disorder. She often tries to eat my hair, especially when I’ve just washed it. Frankly she can get a bit too enthusiastic at times, and doesn’t even have the good sense to try and pull the grey ones out.
I can only assume Soph’s hair obsession is part of wanting to mark territory and to leave her scent on her environment, aka me. Pussa probably doesn’t like the feeling of her whiskers touching the sides of her bowl when she eats, but I think she understands that I’m not a fan of cleaning up residual tuna with whitemeat from the kitchen tiles every morning. Most of what we consider to be strange habits are explainable in context of cat behaviour in the wild. There is one cat characteristic however, that has developed because of domestication and human contact. Meowing.
Kittens meow to get their mothers attention when they’re young to communicate that it’s time for dinner, time for attention or time for bed. Adult cats however don’t communicate with each other by meowing, but rather through scent, body language and other vocalisations such as hissing or growling. Not that these communication skills are exclusively used amongst their own species since they use them with us too. Clever university types reckon that meowing in adult cats has developed as a cat-to-human communication tool because it manipulates us. No kidding?! They concluded that once a kitten was weaned from its mother, and it started to form relationships with humans, our astute kittys figured out that the whole meowing thing worked just as well on their human as it did with Mum. Those young cats saw that meowing often resulted in food being given (the best outcome), a lap to sit on (quite a good but second best to food) or at the very least a scratch on the head (OK I suppose if there’s nothing else on offer).
I read recently that the next frontier in studying cat behaviour is to determine if cats have accents. Nope, I don’t know why the world needs to know this either. Whether Pussa and Soph have Aussie accents seems to not impact my ability to understand the basic message behind their meows. The louder and more frequent, the more urgently food is required. Just when this hits fever-pitch we can bring out Soph’s Slate Plate and Pussa’s Feed Board and calm is restored. All quiet on the meowing front….at least until the next meal time.