While most cats seem like aloof loners, they’re actually paying more attention to us — and other cats — than most of us realize.
Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan discovered cats can learn human words and even connect the names of human and feline friends with faces.
Household cats “anticipated a specific cat face upon hearing the cat’s name,” the researchers wrote. “These results might suggest that cats might learn names from observing interactions between humans: a third-party perspective.”
‘So much energy’
And, while it’s easy to assume your cool kitty hates you — especially if he swats at you with his paw, that might not actually be true. Sometimes, cats attack simply because they’re bored.
“I see this a lot with young cats, where they have so much energy,” certified feline trainer Jennifer Van de Kieft told The Post. “If they don’t have outlets for that kind of energy, and opportunities to pretend play, they take it out on whoever’s around.”
Carlo Siracusa, an associate professor of clinical behavior medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, said it’s important not to interpret your cat’s behavior as if they were a dog. Dogs developed from pack animals, while cats’ ancestors were solitary hunters.
“Many people want a cat to be a surrogate for a dog, like a low-maintenance dog, and it’s not,” Siracusa said. “Because cats are so fluffy and soft, people like to touch them a lot, but cats don’t necessarily like this.”
“Maybe their tail starts swishing, maybe their ears go back,” she said. “If you’re not paying attention . . . then the cat’s gonna be like, ‘Wait a minute, you’re not listening to me. I’m trying to tell you with my body, this isn’t working for me anymore.’ “
Just like kids, they need playtime
On the other hand, it’s also common for house cats to feel understimulated, in which case they might howl.
“That’s really associated with boredom,” Kieft said. “It’s almost like a toddler whining or something like, ‘I’m so bored!’ ”
Because felines are hunters by nature, despite their somewhat domesticated status, they need playtime to “feel like they’re hunting” for their physical and mental health.
“They’re not really designed to be living indoors, that’s not really what nature intended,” Kieft said.
They can show love
Despite their bad rap for being coldhearted, cats do sometimes show their love.
If a kitty ever rubs their face against you, they’re marking you with the pheromones emitting from their cheeks.
“They’re just putting their scent on you like, ‘Hey, you’re mine,’ ” Kieft said.
One study published in the journal Current Biology even found that felines attach to their owners in the same way babies do.
“Cats show a similar capacity for the formation of secure and insecure attachments towards human caregivers previously demonstrated in children,” the study authors wrote.
But Kieft, who is a mother to five cats, said her fur babies beg for love in different ways. One might rub against her, while another will “meow” at her until she follows him into the bedroom where she can pet him in peace.
“What’s interesting about having five is that you really see how different they are from each other, and I think that all of them express love in slightly varying ways,” she said. “Cats are individuals, they don’t all do the same thing.”