Study: Cats mimic the behavior of their owners

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A new study from the Journal of Veterinary Behavior published January 7 shows cats adapt to and even copy the behavior of their owners. Two groups of felines were studied, both of which received excellent care from their owners in respect to feeding, grooming and receiving proper medical care. The first group of cats studied lived indoors in close proximity to their owners. The second group lived both indoors and outdoors, and were kept outside overnight. The group of indoor cats who stayed close to their owners and did not go outside adapted eating and sleeping patterns similar to those of their owners. Their activity levels were also similar to that of the humans around them. The group of outdoor cats with less human interaction became nocturnal and mimicked the habits of feral farm cats. "Our findings underline the high influence of human presence and care on the amount of activity and daily rhythm in cats," said Giuseppe Piccione from the University of Messina's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Piccione also indicated that feline food consumption is associated with the eating habits of their owners. This may explain why human and cat obesity in the same household often occur. Some cats have even been shown to match their patterns of elimination with those of their owners. "Cats are intelligent animals with a long memory," Jane Brunt, DVM, and executive director of the CATalyst Council, said. "They watch and learn from us, noting the patterns of our actions, as evidenced by knowing where their food is kept and what time to expect to be fed, how to open the cupboard door that's been improperly closed and where their feeding and toileting areas are," she added. In a recent study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science indicated many personality traits exhibited by cats including arrogance, curiosity, excitability, timidness and friendliness often apply to the humans with which they spend substantial amounts of time. Jane Brunt believes that not only can cats learn from their owners, owners can learn from their cats — and reap the rewards of their feline companion. "I also think we can learn a lot from cats," she added. "When they sit on our lap softly purring with rhythmic breathing and half-closed eyes, the sense of serenity and calm that comes over us is like a private lesson in inner peace and meditation," she said.

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