Why are cats so nosey anyway?
by Elijah Jones
What? Oh, please. Are you kidding? Curiosity certainly did not kill the cat. In fact, we’re about to show you, the exact opposite is closer to the truth. That old adage has been around for a very long time and the real truth? Far from getting them into trouble, curiosity is one of your cat’s survival assets.. You cat’s curiosity is as vital a part of their happiness as purring or scratching. So, why does your cat seem so darned curious about every little thing?
Well, along with many of their other almost mysterious behaviors, your cat’s curiosity or, more to the point, her need to explore is deeply rooted in ancient survival instincts. You may notice your cat observing you, as you do things around the house, or following you, when you leave the room. A cat’s curiosity is a mix of her natural instincts that have evolved over many thousands of years. Forget mysterious, the senses that make your cat such a curious animal are downright miraculous. You could say a cat’s sensory gifts are built for curiosity. Get a load of these.
Your cat’s ears are highly sensitive, able to pinpoint precisely where various sounds are coming from, even when she’s in a darkened room. Their super-keen sense of smell provides even more information about who or what is in the room or who has been in the room. But it doesn’t stop there. Your cat uses her whiskers to detect vibrations in the air. With the aid of her whiskers, your cat is able to create a virtual 3-dimensional map of a room’s surroundings. And see, you thought those 3-D computer printers were so amazing. Big deal! Seems your cat has been doing that…for centuries.
Getting back to the whole curiosity thing, there’s a reason your cat has been blessed with and uses all of those amazing sensory skills. Turns out, a cat’s very biology is designed for curiosity. Evolution has taught your cat to be an expert at taking in and processing her surroundings. Why is all this so true? It’s all about survival.
Ever notice how your cat examines anything new you may bring into the house, even that shopping bag from Macy’s? Cats are very territorial, just like their big cat ancestors, including those ferocious saber-tooth tigers. They’re naturally suspicious of anything unfamiliar that enters their domain. And, speaking of domain, even though you’re the one who pays the mortgage, your cat considers your house her domain, her jungle. A cat’s curiosity is instinctive. Checking out anything new to the territory is a way of protecting her domain and, okay, yours too.
Those natural instincts that make cats curious begin when they’re still kittens. If you’ve had your cat since she was a kitten, you’ll remember how she may have been even more inquisitive then, than she is now. New to the world, your kitty was getting to know the place she now called home. Did your kitten ever get caught in a small, tight place? That’s because curiosity probably sent her exploring, then getting wedged into that tight spot.
Or here’s an interesting one. Cats may sometime perch themselves high up on a piece of furniture, giving them a nice vantage point, to see everything in the room. Way up high like that, your cat is mimicking the hunting instincts of her ancestors, looking for prey!
Cats are smart, too. They know you’re going to take good care of them, making sure they’re feed regularly, and on schedule. But get this. Your cat can’t get rid of her natural hunting instincts, a holdover from the days of her ancestors. You’ve probably noticed how your cat likes to stare out the window, not missing anything going on outside. But she’s not just taking in and admiring the scenery outdoors. Your cat is actually keeping an eye out for prey! Those built-in hunting instincts will always there, so those birds better be careful when your cat is playing outside. (Has your cat ever brought home a captured little bird for you?)
Know one more thing your cat is curious about? It’s YOU. Sometimes, you may catch your cat sitting nearby, simply staring at you. It’s all part of the curiosity thing. Your cat finds it interesting to watch you, maybe even a little entertaining. To your cat, you represent comfort, knowing she can count on you for those daily meals. You’re also a source of safety, companionship and yes, affection.
When your cat gets a little less curious and, instead of checking things out, decides to snuggle up in your lap? It’s her way of showing how much she trusts you, putting her guard down, to show you some love. And oh, when she does that, it’s also your cat’s way of giving you the alpha role for a change. Her way of saying, it’s your turn to keep an eye on things for a while. Hey, even your little tiger likes to take a break from watching the jungle every now and then.
Your cat is an amazing animal but you didn’t need us to tell you that. And the next time you hear that silly phrase, “curiosity killed the cat,” now you’ll know, it really is silly. Curiosity is what helps make your cat the smart and amazing little animal he or she is!