Cats Think They're in Charge, Not You
If you don't know by now, you'll quickly find out that cats think they're in charge. Of you. Of the household. And of the entire universe.
And why wouldn't they? Research outlined in Scientific American estimates that the affiliation between people and cats dates back as long as 12,000 years ago. For thousands of years, kitties have been revered by royalty, regular people and everyone in between — give or take a few non-cat-lovers.
As a pet parent, you can't deny that your cat thinks she's the boss. Here are three ways she'll prove it:
Attention on Demand
Despite the pervasive myth that cats are aloof or standoffish, they actually are very affectionate creatures, especially when they want your attention. Like right now. Working from home on an important project? She'll set up camp right on your keyboard. Trying to get in a quick afternoon nap? She'll head-butt you until you wake up. Why? Because cats think they're in charge, and are pretty resourceful when it comes to getting their demands met.
According to National Geographic, scientists have found out that cats learn how different people in the house will react to their antics, and they understand exactly which noise they have to make to draw someone into the room or conjure a snack. P.S. When you make noises to indicate you're ready for some cuddles, your cat probably won't listen. She only does things on her terms.
Refusal to Move
Simply stated, cats only move when they want to do so. Your cat thinks she's the boss (isn't she?), and if she wants to sit on that magazine or newspaper you're reading, she'll do so without a care for your reading pleasure. Want to put her in a cat carrier for a trip to the veterinarian? Good luck with that. Cats are very, very intelligent creatures; you aren't fooling her by talking in a baby voice to coax her inside. And when it's bedtime, don't even think of repositioning her so you can lie down. You'll be on the receiving end of a swipe, an annoyed glance, or even a low growl. While your little kitty may not be competing with you for food, Ohio State University's Indoor Pet Initiative points out that she is a territorial hunter just like her jaguar and tiger cousins. This doesn't mean she doesn't love you — it's just that she values her access to food and comfort so much more. And that means you'll sleep on one tiny corner of the bed because you love her, and you're her loyal subject.
Perhaps the one thing cats love more than sleeping is eating, and that's what makes you the number one employee. Cats think they're in charge of the food supply, and you have to admit that they do call the shots when it comes to dinnertime. You are your kitty's can opener, her waiter and her cleaner-upper. What's that? You want to try out new cat food? Your cat may not take too kindly to a different daily special. Cats are notoriously picky eaters, so don't be surprised if it takes a (very) long time for her to come around to eating it, let alone liking it.
Ever get the weird feeling that someone is watching you while you sleep, then open your eyes to find your kitty staring right into your face? That's her wanting a snack. It doesn't matter if it's 3:00 a.m. She is hungry, and you will feed her now. Cats don't function on the same daylight schedule that humans do, nor are they nocturnal like owls and bats. Your kitty is actually crepuscular, meaning she's most active in the hours around dawn and dusk. Her instincts still wake her up in the predawn hours when small furry, feathery prey would be most active. Providing your kitty with healthy cat food and fresh water is an essential part of being a pet parent, but you'd better do it on her schedule.
Your cat thinks she's the boss (or rather, she knows she's the boss) of what you do and when you do it. (Not all cats have this mindset, of course.) And why wouldn't cats think they're in charge? Cat moms and dads fulfill their feline friend's every whim and request — which is just one of the many reasons why she allows you to be a part of her wonderful, happy life. It almost makes you think, that maybe it is not us humans that rule the world, but perhaps there is this secret cat society pulling our strings like puppets to cater to their every whim.
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, and long-time cat parent whose two Russian Blues rule the house. Her work also appears in Care.com, What to Expect, and Fit Pregnancy, where she writes about pets, pregnancy, and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien.