Cuddly kitty or ruthless killer?

Discussion in 'Other Pets and Wildlife' started by Michele, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. Michele

    Michele Canine Chat Owner Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2010
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    Cuddly kitty or ruthless killer? Evolution explains why cats are grumpy

    Alan Boyle, Science Editor NBC News

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    Do you ever catch your cat staring at you, as if to say, "I could kill you right now ... very easily"? There's a reason for that: evolution. And cat grumpiness just might get worse in the future, thanks to the way we breed and adopt cats. But there are cures for a grumpy cat, according to the author of a new book about our feline friends.

    British anthrozoologist John Bradshaw's latest book, "Cat Sense," delves into the depths of the kitty psyche. The way he sees it, the inscrutability of cats — and, ironically, their viral appeal — spring from the fact that cats aren't all that far removed from natural-born, prehistoric killers.
    "Their ability to be social ... is only a few thousand years old," Bradshaw told NBC News. "The cat's domestication is incomplete, in terms of its need to continue hunting and also in terms of its ability to socialize. One of the consequences of that is it has a rather unexpressive face."
    Alan Peters / Basic Books
    John Bradshaw is an anthrozoologist at Bristol Veterinary School and the author of "Cat Sense" (as well as "Dog Sense").
    That face serves as a blank canvas on which we project our own ideas of what a cat is thinking — whether it's cute kittens striking seductive poses, Grumpy Cat scowling her way to Hollywood, or Henri, le Chat Noir, expressing existential world-weariness. Regardless of what you see on the outside, there's a different agenda working inside that feline brain, balanced between domesticated cuteness and the killer instinct.

    That's different from how a dog's mind works, said Bradshaw, who addressed that topic in an earlier volume, "Dog Sense." Dogs have co-evolved with us humans for tens of thousands of years, and that's why their facial expressions and behaviors are so well-tuned to our own. They've even adapted to our starchy diet.

    In contrast, cats are biologically incapable of going strictly vegetarian, and they can't taste sweets. A cat's reliance on meat rather than starch is thought to be the reason why they were domesticated in the first place.

    The cat-human relationship was apparently first forged in the Fertile Crescent, to protect granaries from mice and rats. Wildcats were probably caught and tethered to keep watch on the grain. Ancient Egyptians eventually bred cats as household pets and even revered them as gods. The rest is, well, hiss-tory.
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