How much of cat behavior is influenced by the human companion versus their own nature?

pegasus

New member
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Feb 18, 2021
This isn't a problem or a complaint, just curiosity about things I've noticed with our new feline companion. For many years we had a cat that acted differently than other cats I was used to. With other cats they seemed standoffish or aloof most of the time, never came when you called them, (unless you had something for them to eat) things I just associated with typical cat behavior. The cat we had seemed to almost have dog like behavior. She liked going for escorted walks, liked to play fetch, did things on command, like sit, lay down, roll over, and never had to bribe her with food, just reward her with attention. I took her to a dog and cat show once and she did all the usual things the dog owners did with their dogs. She was quite a hit with the crowd. We never trained her to do anything she just did it. I supposed the previous owner trained her, we don't know. I told my wife it's almost like having a dog in a cat's body or something. One day when my wife overloaded a laundry basket from the dryer and a sock fell off onto the floor, I was going to pick it up but the cat picked it up and carried it into the bedroom, and dropped it next to the pile of laundry my wife had emptied from the basket onto the bed. After seeing this if we didn't accidentally drop something we would occasionally intentionally let something fall off just so she could pick it up.

Anyway, this new cat, even though male instead of female and a different breed, has all of the same behaviors as our previous cat. It almost feels like having our old cat back in a different body at times. One day a few months ago my wife accidentally dropped a washcloth on the floor from the dryer. He was standing there just looking and I pointed my finger at it and said, "Pick that up, that's your job," not really expecting him to do it. He walked over and picked it up with his mouth. I walked into the bedroom and pointed to the bed. He jumped on the bed and dropped the washcloth. He's been doing it on his own ever since.

When we told a relative she thought it was reincarnation or something like that, but my theory is he might be picking up cues from us and just doing these behaviors because he thinks that's what we want him to do. Anyone have any theories as to what's going on?

Like I said, this isn't bad behavior, not looking to change anything, just curious as to the why of it from a cat psychology standpoint.
 

CatMom1994

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Jul 23, 2017
Some cat breeds are like dogs. Other cats learned dog behavior by living with, well, dogs. Where did your cat come from?
 

TTouch

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Apr 20, 2021
This is another nature v nurture and as you say you 'accidently' dropped and asked your cat to pick it up and it did... so you had some expectation/vision of what is possible and achieved it... someone else who didn't have that vision wouldn't even attempt it....so in your case I think you had some vision/insight of possiblity and ( even some) expectation and it worked, so nurture.

Dogs and cats learn from each other, they also learn from humans, I have friends who have dogs whose dogs are not necessarily 'cat friendly' or rather they don't live with a cat and yet when they come to see me they totally accept my cat in the same way as if it was another dog. So as I have not trained their dogs, I have an expectation/vision that they can behave and accept the cat and they do, I also think my cat has the expectation/vision that dogs are all OK which is why she is an indoor cat as she has no 'fear' of strange dogs at all or the knowledge of potential harm they can do

My cat is more dog than cat, like yours she is a dog in a cats body, when I was training the dogs a new trick she sat and watched and seeing this I asked her to do it and she did, she play fights with my BC, no claws, no biting it is true 'dog rough play', when I do 'find it' games she joins in and plays the same game with the dogs, in every aspect including waiting in another room while I hide the treats and rushing in with the dogs to find them.
I have never had a cat like her, many of them have 'tolerated' the dogs, even gone for walks with them, but this one sits and waits with the dogs on the floor for me to get their meals, shakes hands, comes when called, tell her to 'wait' and she will, an inside cat, so if I open the door and tell her to wait she will not shoot out the door, she sits in line waiting to be groomed, get her nails trimmed etc etc ... she spends her day time in a catico, so loves outside and will knock the 'door alert' ( the dogs use to tell me they want to go out even though I have never taught her to use it) even if it is raining, cold or snowing she still wants to be outside in the catico
 

pegasus

New member
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Feb 18, 2021
Original Poster
Some cat breeds are like dogs. Other cats learned dog behavior by living with, well, dogs. Where did your cat come from?
Both of them just showed up. Neither acted like feral cats, we think they were abandoned. We checked with all the neighbors, had them checked for microchips, put notices up, both online and at the local grocery corkboard. The first one had a collar but no tags. The collar had a phone # and ID but when we called it we couldn't get a live person. A computerized voice said to enter the ID # but after we did it said something about how the customers subscription had expired and no further information was available. :( We tried everything we could with both cats to find out where they came from. With the first cat we lived in the city, with the 2nd we're in the country. After about a week with the first cat I picked her up and carried her down the street. I put her down on the sidewalk and nicely told her to go home. I hoped that she might be able to find her way home in case she wasn't abandoned. She walked a few feet away and then stopped. I walked up to her, and then she walked a little bit further, and stopped until I followed her. She ended up leading me back to my house.

With our first cat we just assumed that she must've been around other dogs and was treated or trained the same way. Maybe it's the same for the 2nd one but it just seems like an odd coincidence that we ended up taking in a cat whose behavior is almost exactly the same as the first one.

The main differences between the 1st and 2nd one is mostly physical. The first one had a useless collar and someone had declawed the front paws. She was still able to defend herself though because when she had hit dogs so hard that they ended up leaving her alone anyway. In fact she ran up to a large dog that got into the back yard, leapt into the air and hit the dog in the head so hard the dog went down for a couple of seconds. The dog then yelped, got up and ran away, with the cat chasing him. I ended up finding her almost 3 blocks away, sitting on the sidewalk looking lost. She then walked back at my side until we got home. This kind of thing however is NOT what happened to have her end up on our street when we took her in. I know this for a fact because we checked with all the vets in town. (and 2 out of town) and because of her breed there was only one person in that area that owned that particular breed, and she was not that cat.
We had a granddaughter who when she was a little girl and used to come over the previous cat always gave her attention, even sleeping with her.

The current cat is just a typical all black cat, not a rare breed. He's a he, and he's not been declawed. He uses a scratching post, doesn't damage the furniture. We now have great grandkids coming over to stay for a night or two, and this current cat asks just like the previous one with one of the great grandchildren. In fact I left the house today and when I came back neither the dog or cat greeted me at the door like usual. I sarcastically asked if the grandkids were here. When I went into the next room sure enough, the cat is with the great granddaughter and the dog is with the great grand son. This is why I can type this without one of them trying to lick my face or sit on my laptop. :)
 

TTouch

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Apr 20, 2021
This is why I can type this without one of them trying to lick my face or sit on my laptop.
Sounds like my little girl, she is a Burmese she was my 'accidental' rescue, she was at the vets I thought waiting for an operation taken in by her mum/dad I was taking in some feral kittens to be spayed/neutered/vaccinated. I feral rescue and tame if they are young enough, so they can go into pet homes, my intention was that I was planning on keeping a couple of the feral kittens from that litter of 6 as once tamed they are 'very dog like' easy trained, very independant frightened on nothing and no one and a good match for dogs I have...but I got talking to her and she was very vocal back, I had always wanted a Burmese and said "if your mummy forget you and doesn't collect you, you can come home with me" and the vet staff told me I would have to "wait in a long line " turned out she was found as a stray was in rescue/looking for a home and in the vets for vaccinations/check up...I thought no more knowing she would have a home as I was told lots of people wanted her and a long list to adopt her , including one of the vet techs only to get home and get a phone call from the rescue asking if I was serious about wanting her... 30 minutes later I was collecting her...
 

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