Unbeknownst to many cat owners, their cat may be suffering from stress, not because the neighbors are too loud or there is too much going on, but rather because their owners treat them like low maintenance dogs. According to leading animal behaviorist and director of the Anthrozoology Institute at Bristol University Dr. John Bradshaw, people expect cats to be fully domesticated and comfortable with sharing their living space. Giving a cat endless attention may not necessarily make it happier.
The honest truth is cats are still half way between domesticated and a wild animal and may not be enjoying their place in this modern world. Unlike dogs who were social before being domesticated, and were domesticated so they could better understand what we wanted from them, cats were only kept around to keep farms and food stores free of mice. Cats enjoyed that time, but recently, humans have wanted them to be something else.
Owners have grown to expect two things from cats: that they will get along with other cats readily and that they should be as affectionate towards us as dogs are.
As Dr. Bradshaw explains in full on his new BBC Two series, Cats, many cats will not settle for either. Humans may be able to get along with neighbors and roommates, but many cats don't cohabitate well. Dr. Bradshaw saw this demonstrated by placing infra-red cameras in a home and observing two cats during night time hours. The owner believed they got on fine, but once their eyes were off them, they fought over who would get the best spot on the owner's bed. Dr. Bradshaw suggests that cats can live in the same building, but merely carve up the house so as to not live in the same space.
When it comes to affection, research has shown that cats will spend more time with their owners when they approach the owner and not the other way around. They love the occasional petting and cuddle, but have other things on their mind. Dogs thrive on human affection, but cats can take it or leave it. Cats have lives, just like people. Not respecting that will result in a stress out and often irritated animal.