Tiny Hunters: 5 Traits Your Cat Shares with Its Wilder Brothers

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Whenever you watch your feline in action, you probably notice that it looks a lot like a miniature wildcat. Conversely, when you see a lion or cougar grooming itself on television or at the zoo, it reminds you of your pet’s behavior. According to research from the Washington University School of Medicine, cats are still not considered fully domesticated even though they have lived among humans for thousands of years. There’s still some wildness in your sweet, purring kitty.  So just how much does your tabby have in common with a full-grown tiger?

They Exhibit Butting Behavior

Your housetrained feline has the same body language as her cat ancestors. One trait that you’re probably familiar with is head butting. You come home after a long day, and your kitten appears at the front door, doing figure-eights around your feet and shoving its head into your shins. You might also notice your pet doing this to furniture, door frames, and walls.

Cats have a lot of scent glands on their faces. When they rub their foreheads and chins against an object, they deposit some of their scent onto that item. If they do it to you, they’re telling you that they have a special connection with you. They’re also trying to exhibit alpha cat behavior and say that they own you.

According to Feline Docs, cats also learn at an early age that this kind of touch is comforting. As their mothers groom them, they experience the sensation of pressure along their heads and faces. This feels good, and cats in the wild will rub their faces against other members of their pride in a friendly manner. Your own cat probably purrs and gets excited when she does this to you. She is showing you affection while simultaneously asking for a little love.

They Mark Their Territory

Cats have a few ways to mark their territory. Rubbing their faces on things in their home is fairly innocent. Spraying urine or scratching furniture can be a little more irritating. However, these cat habits come from your pet’s wild cat relatives.

The Humane Society reports that scent is a major medium of communication for cats. In the wild, most types of cats roam alone. To protect themselves, they have to show the other animals who’s boss. A leopard may scratch a tree to leave its scent and warn another big cat of its prowess. If the visiting cat can’t scratch as high, it might realize that it’s walking into the territory of a potential threat.

Big cats may also squirt horizontal jets of urine to leave their mark. They may mark large areas their home. Because they can’t patrol every inch of their environment, they spray throughout the region to let other cats know that they’ve recently been there. Tigers might spray their territory every three minutes or so.

When your housecat sprays to mark its territory, it might be trying to tell you that it’s stressed out. Delineating its boundaries can give an anxious cat a sense of security. If you bring home a new baby or pet, leave the cat alone for too long, or invite another feline into your yard, your cat may start spraying to soothe her nerves. Spraying can also be a sign of a medical issue in a housecat. If you’re not sure why your cat is stinking up your house with spray, you might want to take her to the vet.

They Vocalize

All types of cats make different sounds. You may even notice that your housecat makes a guttural moan when she’s watching another cat out the window. However, she may chatter at a squirrel and meow like a siren when she wants food. Big cats in the wild vocalize too.

Why doesn’t your cat roar like a lion? Well, only the larger cats in the Felidae family roar. These are part of a sub-family called Pantherinae and include tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards. Your pet is part of the sub-family Felinae. It can make lots of different sounds, including a purr, but sadly cannot roar.

Although experts aren’t sure what allows cats to roar or purr, they think it has to do with the hyoid bone in the cats’ throats. This bone is flexible in larger cats and lets them build up a deep, roaring sound. The shape of large cats’ vocal chords lets them make big sounds with limited air flow. In a housecat, the hyoid bone is stiff. This fact, combined with the shape of your pet’s vocal chords, allows it to make a vibrating sound when it breathes.

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