In detail

Do cats think humans are hairless giant cats?


Fur noses, room tigers, velvet paw - we find enough descriptive and appreciative words for our beloved cats. But what about the other way around? What would our cats call us? Hairless giant cats? Tin opener? Or maybe we are most likely a kind of cat mother? We provide insight into how cats perceive their daily carers and caregivers. Fluffy baby: do cats think of us as a kind of hairless substitute mother? - Shutterstock / Konstantin Aksenov

Unfortunately cats cannot speak to us. Their repertoire of vocalizations is relatively limited, so we cannot ask them how they see us. Nevertheless, there are some interesting clues that shed light on our role in the cat world. To do this, we have to understand to what extent cats behave differently towards us than towards other animals.

Our role as people in the social environment of cats

First of all, it is striking that adult cats communicate with one another almost exclusively via non-verbal signals such as the movement of the tail or the position of the ears. As far as possible, no statements are made. However, humans do not understand these subtle statements. So it seems as though cats perceive us as bigger and somehow higher, but at the same time think that we are a little hard to understand. The fact that we finally react to their utterances ensures that the cat learns and uses it to make us aware of something. So it is quite clear to her that she is not dealing with another cat.

How cats divide their environment

Even as little kittens, cats learn how to see their environment. In relation to other living things, this essentially divides into the distinction between prey and possible predators. However, if the cat comes into contact with people up to the 12th month of life and they behave benevolently towards it, it will divide us into a third category. It contains those living beings that it classifies as neutral and possibly even useful. Incidentally, this is also the crucial age at which cats can be easily imprinted on the peaceful handling of dogs.

If this time is missed, it becomes more difficult for cats to make friends with humans or dogs with increasing age. It is interesting to note that cats often behave towards us as they do or have done to their mother. This includes, for example, the aforementioned vocalizations (meowing). The reason for this is our behavior: After all, we feed the cat and give it pats - the cat already knows this from her mother.

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Do cats really care about their people?

The fact that our house tigers sometimes bring home half-dismantled mice and other small animals as a "gift" is often seen as an appreciation for us. However, it is believed that this behavior of the cat has only marginally to do with humans. She assumes, at least indirectly, that he is obviously not capable of hunting. Otherwise, it is quite typical of the behavior of cats not to eat their prey where they have killed them. Otherwise you could quickly become the victim of a robber yourself or have to share the food. In the apartment, however, the ready-made food offered is too tempting to be satisfied with the captured mice. The cat's hunting behavior is still innate and will remain with it throughout life.

Cats recognize differences and similarities to people

The question of how cats see us cannot be answered clearly and unambiguously. After all, people also have different attitudes towards cats, and socialization and the first contact with them also play a decisive role here. In any case, the cat itself is not only aware of the visual differences to us and she quickly learns how to deal with us. Some of them have even developed a kind of their own sound communication with their owners, with which even a (very simple) conversation is possible. Usually, adult cats actually only meow to communicate with humans. So the better you can put yourself in the world of the cat, the more it will perceive you as a positive part of its environment.

People as a sparse hairy, clumsy substitute mother?

To sum up, it can be assumed that cats actually perceive us as really big, hairless and perhaps a little bit confusing and awkward in everyday life. In addition, to partially satisfy their needs in the area of ​​food intake and care as well as hygiene, they are clearly appreciated. In any case, however, our fluffy roommates know that we are generally friendly to them. So you can assume that your cat's bond with you will be at least as strong as the other way around.