Chris Kouwenhoven

Your cat's social life

Friendly, relaxed, confident cats are not necessarily born that way, to a large degree they can be made. Genetics may have some influence on a cat's unique individuality, but we also know that nurturing can often overcome some of nature's flaws. Everyone wants a cat that can be petted by friends, that can be a part of the family life, that likes to play, but not every cat owner knows that there is much that can be done to encourage the development of an out-going, confident personality.

Cats that are talked to, cuddled, and played with, are going to be affectionate, lap-sitting companions. Cats that are ignored and seldom handled become aloof and independent.

The notion that cats are loners has persisted throughout the centuries. Perhaps this is due to the fact that cats are solitary predators, unlike dogs who are pack hunters. In the wild the dog's survival depends on his ability and willingness to work as a member of a team to run down prey. The cat, on the other hand, doesn't have to associate with others to obtain a meal. In fact, the cat's method of hunting which involves stalk, hide-and-wait, and pounce can not be successfully practiced in a group.

However, when cats are provided with ample food and shelter and there is no need to compete with other cats for the basic necessities of life, they have proven to be highly social animals. Humans often overlook their sociability because the cat's greetings and displays of affection are so subtle. A nose touch, a slow eye blink, a tilt of the tail, is not nearly as obvious as the well understood face-lick of the dog, but it is just as sincere and deliberate.

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