2001-Sat Jan 21 21:08:43 EST 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Cats most commonly eat multiple small meals throughout the day, but some owners notice differences in the
way their cats eat their meals.
For example, some cats wolf down their food like hungry
dogs, whereas others seem finicky and only
pick at their food. Some pick up mouthfuls of food and then run off to eat away from the bowl, or away from other cats, before coming back for more. Or they eat only at certain times or when no one else is noticeably around. Some cats (and some owners) prefer canned or dry food to other alternatives. Cats also have prey preferences during hunting or play that can influence how they like to eat, and some leave “trophies” of dead animals for their owners as part of their eating experience.
I like to think of behavior in general as the result of three interconnected factors:
Your individual cat’s history, as well as the context in which his
behavior occurs and what his expectations might be as a result of that behavior all influence what actually occurs. For example, each time your cat acts, his environment responds in some way. Your cat receives a response from the environment through his senses — sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. His brain then attempts to make sense of this information and shapes a meaning from it according to his personal history. The place where the interaction occurs (the context) and what he expects to happen next (his expectations) also influence his behavior.
Your cat’s life history consists of his family and environmental past. The context is the cat’s present surroundings — the resources he has available to cope with the situation he’s living in, as well as his interactions with the world around him. Your cat’s expectation is what he thinks will happen next.
Some cats are programmed to be more sensitive to
stress or threats in their surroundings. For example, a cat may have had a bad experience early in life (like being orphaned), which can make him more sensitive to threats in his surroundings. If your sensitive cat lives in an
enriched home that meets all his needs, this sensitivity may never be expressed. On the other hand, if the cat lives in a barren or unstable, chaotic household that is more than he can cope with, unusual behaviors can result.
Your cat’s expectations are also about predictability. If your cat expects a good outcome, he will thrive in most situations. Expecting a bad outcome, or even more importantly, not knowing what to expect, can be very threatening to a cat. This is especially important in indoor
cats because they are confined and have much less control of their surroundings than do their owners, who literally control every aspect of the cat’s life, including where and when he can eat, drink, eliminate, explore, etc.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Want to choose the best food for your
pet? Here's why you shouldn't fear
preservatives or fall for marketing…
Electronic cigarettes may be growing in
popularity, but their higher concentrations
of nicotine can poison cats and…
Are you handling your pet the right way?
Our vet shares five things your pup wishes
you knew about picking him up.
We combed through 505,270 kitten
names to determine the hottest male
and female monikers of the year.
We scoured our database of 1.1 million
dogs to find out which male and female
monikers reigned supreme this past…
The laid-back American Wirehair’s crimped, coarse coat requires almost no brushing or combing.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.