Friday, 28 September 2007

September 28th - Play Cat Behaviour and Human woes

Cats are strange creatures and no matter how hard we try to study their behaviour they will always do things that they will break the ground rules that us humans might have established as general rules to explain their behaviour.

One of these 'grey' areas that they seem to be really difficult to undestand why they behave in certain ways is their playing habits.

The fact that they actually know that they are playing and not for example that they are hunting is one of the things that for me can be seen as proof of the fact that they are really intelligent. They are using play to amuse themselves and to keep themselves busy so they don't get bored.

The fact that they can catch real mice or birds but still decide to play with toy mice and treat them like they were alive it is a sign of a similar behaviour that children exhibit, using playing to entertain themselves and to learn about the world they are living.

Also cats can easily adapt to their humans' environment and routine with very little training and effort required from the human part.

My cats will get up when I get up in the morning and they will be willing to play with me or on their own in the middle of the day when we are moving about. They are very prompt on the daily schedules and they have certain times during the day when they do things.

For example Choo Choo's playing time is between 11 and 12.30 in the morning, when he will use the staircase as his base for his playing behaviour, chasing balls and mice up and down or chasing the light from the laser light if me and my partner can provide it. After he had his playing in the staircase he will start playing hide and seek in the paper bag and boxes he will find around. After his play time he will be ready for his lunch and after that he will find a quiet and depending on the weather sunny or warm spot where he will go to sleep making sure that he will not be disturbed for a few hours.

Sheng Chi on the other hand she will wait till Choo Choo has gone to sleep before she goes into playing mode herself usually starting carrying around and playing with her little toy mouse and then moving into paper and other balls which she will hide into the tunnel or paper bag or cardboard box. After her playing she will climb on her box by the patio door and she will wait patiently for me to brush her fur before she have her afternoon snooze.

As for Ripley being the oldest and the one that she can't be asked to do a lot of running and chasing she will be at the top of the staircase around 7 o clock in the evenings waiting for one of us to bring upstairs the feather toy so she can chase it downstairs. This s is the only toy that she likes playing with and of course she also likes finding catnips spots on the carpet so she can roll around or she will just use her catnip cushion.

But what it is really puzzling is the things that they find interesting and want to play with. As a responsible and caring cat 'owner' you do feel obliged to buy them toys that you see either being advertised or you see them on pet shops (like buying gadgets for yourself but instead you feel less selfish by buying gadgets for your cats...).

And of course pet shops know how you feel about your cats and that you want to make sure that you buy them the latest and more entertaining toys available which of course is not what your cats more than likely think.

So you end up spending an arm and a leg so you can buy a nice cat entertaining centre for them to play and they chose the box it came in instead. They give a very weary and puzzled look to your expensive entertainment area and then they just jump inside the cardboard box in which their new toys has just arrived to spend hours of having fun while you are spending hours regretting the money you've just spent on another never going to be played again toy. Of course this doesn't mean that you've learned your lesson and that you've never going to buy them another expensive toy, no, no of course not. You will stay away from expensive cat toys at least till you see again something new and fun for them to do (while at the back of the room your cat is chewing the new box she has just found....)

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