Social Behavior

Cats are not gregarious with their own kind. But domestic cats, perhaps out of a sense of necessity, or for other more subtle reasons, are usually social with their human keepers and with other household pets, some more than others.

Those who don't admire felines often remark, "Oh sure, your cat rubs against you and acts affectionate because she wants to be fed." Perhaps this is so, under certain conditions. But how do you explain the purring cat that has just had dinner and lies by your side in bed or on the couch, nudging to be petted? Or the cat that greets her returning owner with happy chirps, even though she's been fed and cared for during the owner's absence? What about the pet cat that rubs affectionately against "her" dog when he's sleeping? Surely she doesn't expect the dog to feed her.

To be sure, cats do not need human companionship the way dogs do. They do not usually display separation anxiety or indulge in inappropriate behavior, even when left alone for long periods of time (although there are always exceptions). They seem to be quite content to be alone in familiar surroundings, especially if there is another pet in the household, ample food, water and a clean litter tray.

However, they do seem to enjoy human companionship, and some highly domesticated individuals and breeds (notably Siamese and other Orientals) often demand it.

Next: Vocal Behavior

Reprinted from Cat Speak by Bash Dibra © 2001. Permission granted by New American Library.

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