Even more popular than dogs, cats are the world’s most popular of pets. Its hardly surprising, they are happy in almost any environment, hot, cold, indoor, outdoor… they are affectionate without being needy and are relatively cheap to keep. They are fun to play with, without requiring their owner to take them outside for walkies. Going out for drinks after work? Your cat will be fine till you get home, whereas Fido might need to be let out, or pine, whine annoy the neighbors.
Cats come in a wide range of varieties, both in size, appearance and personality. Just like dogs are descendants of the wolf, domestic cats are descendants of wild cats, many of them still found in the wild today. Their wild cousins, tend to be larger and more aggressive, but the domestic cat, unlike the domestic dog, retains its ability to survive in the wild.
Whilst it is difficult to stereotype cats as the many different breeds, and indeed, individual cats within the same breed, have such different personalities and traits… there are some traits that are generally applicable to cats.
- They are social, without being pack animals like dogs. They are solitary hunters and most will prefer to spend much of their time alone, whilst coming together for companionship, play and bonding. This behavior is reflected in their interactions with their humans(cats own humans, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the other way around…. You will do their bidding or else). They will be extremely friendly and social when they desire your company, but when they need some alone time… you will be summarily dismissed, as is their way interacting with other cats. Some people wrongly compare this with human arrogance, or aloofness, but to compare cat behavior and emotions with humans is unfair. They are cats.
- They tend to not like water. Some breeds like the Savannah Cat(not permitted in Australia) the Birman Cat and the Maine Coone(very popular in Australia) are great swimmers and love the water. Some individual cats of other breeds will enjoy a dip from time to time and all will be curious of running water.
- Cats come in many shapes and sizes. From short stocky, to thin and rangy….short haired, long haired… even hairless. In Australia where cats breeding unchecked in the wild is a huge problem for native wildlife, natural selection of the most efficient(larger) predators in just 150 years has resulted in individuals as large as 25 kilograms being found in Australia’s top end(the average house cat weighs less than 5 kilograms)
- Cats are native to every continent, except Australia. They are incredibly resourceful and quick to adapt to any environment. They prosper in deserts, rainforests, grasslands…. Even freezing cold areas of Europe and North America(Editor’s note. My family and I visited Poland in winter in late 2012 and there were dozens of moggies roaming about in the snow. We saw one dozing on a fence one morning. It was snowing at the time, below -15°C…. this chunky, fluffy guy was quite relaxed and comfortable.
- They do well, as indoor, outdoor, or indoor/outdoor cats. Many cats never see the outside world, and are truly “domesticated”. Other families allow their cats time outside, sometimes even leaving them outside for the majority of the time(Editor. I once made a pet out of an old horse stable tom cat. He hated being inside, coming in for a quick pat, some love… then he was off to his adventures.) Cats cannot be trained to ignore their hunting instincts and will spend much of the waking time either hunting, or play hunting, so in the interest of protecting the native wildlife, ensure to attach a bell, or two…. or three.Cats in a group will often share their catch with other cats…. So expect your moggy to bring birds, mice etc into the house to share with you. Don’t panic. It just means your cat loves you, and is sharing with you, its lesser pack cat… or is seeking to help train you so you can take part in the next hunt.
- They have excellent night vision, day and night are interchangeable for your puss, that may wish to sleep all day, and be ready for playtime as you are ready for bed.
- Cats are fast breeders. So unless you wish to breed your cat neutering is advised, as females come into season several times a year, and males will always roam looking for a fertile companion. Kittens are cute, 10 of them, or a problem to find homes for, especially if they are not pedigree.
Cats tend to live to around 15 years, some many more than that, so understand getting a kitten is a long term commitment.
Having a cat as pet can be a rewarding experience, they are both companion and hobby animal, Especially when they are younger, they will be a great deal of fun to watch.