How to stroke a cat, according to science

phys.org | 6/19/2019 | Staff
TwiztedGurl (Posted by) Level 3
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From top left: Levi, Noa, Charlie, Simon and Chris, Rocket and Luna, Smokey Joe, Barry and Pod.

Many of us will have experienced that super friendly cat who seems to love being stoked one minute, only to bite or swipe at us the next. It might be easy at this point to blame it on the cat, but what's likely happening here is that we're just not stroking them right.

Bit - Kitty - Ancestry - Cat - Ancestors

To understand why this might be, we first need to know a bit more about kitty's ancestry. It's likely that the domestic cat's ancestors (the African wildcat) were regarded as mere pest control, but modern day cats are often treated as our valued companions or even "fur babies."

This social shift in the human-cat relationship is thought to have occurred around 4,000 years ago—a little later than "man's best friend" –- the domestic dog. Although this might seem like a sufficient amount of time for a species to fully adjust to increased social demands, this is unlikely to be the case for your feline friend. Domestic cats also display relatively modest genetic divergence from their ancestors, meaning their brains are probably still wired to think like a wildcat's.

Wildcats - Lives - Time - Effort - Messages—just

Wildcats live solitary lives and invest considerable time and effort communicating indirectly—via visual and chemical messages—just to avoid having to see each other. So it's unlikely that domestic cats inherited many complex social skills from their relatives.

Humans on the other hand, are an inherently social species—favouring proximity and touch during displays of affection. We are also drawn to infantile looking features—large eyes and forehead, a small nose and round face—this is why most of us find the faces of cats so cute. It's not surprising, then, that our initial reaction when we see a cat or kitten is to want to stroke, cuddle and smush all...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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