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Cats are ‘misunderstood’ not aloof

According to behaviourists, the results of a new study suggest that feline body language is mainly misunderstood by pet owners, earning them a reputation for being “aloof”.

As part of the UK’s first CatWatch Day, 600 people observed their cats’ behaviour on May 6 and completed a survey.  Having examined the results, animal behaviour consultant Jon Bowen, who works at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), says “Cats try to interact with their owners as they would a fellow feline.  This communication is much more indirect than we are used to and is often missed by owners” he explains.

For example, owners often expect greetings to involve physical contact, yet a common cat greeting is to blink and then sit close-by, but not touching.  Furthermore, the findings suggest that cats change their behaviour to accommodate their owners’ lifestyle. However, Jon says: “Owners did not rate their cats as more active at any time of day so there is a discrepancy between what owners think of as ‘activity’, and what cats actually do.

The results from ‘CatWatch Day’ show that even devoted cat owners may miss the signs that their pet is under stress and so are not taking measures to prevent it, if owners are tuned into their cat’s routine it will be a lot easier to spot a change in frequency of feeding, greetings, play and amount of time spent outside.”