We Stress Cats Out by Thinking They're Like Dogs: Expert
Socializing isn't their strong suit
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 16, 2014 2:16 PM CDT
A woman touches noses with a kitten during a stray cat adoption event.   (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru, Mediafax)

(Newser) – Cats aren't dogs, and they'd like us to remember that, an animal behavior expert tells the Telegraph. We stress them out by expecting them to be as sociable as our canine friends, happy to be petted and hang out in the same space as other cats. But that just doesn't fit with how cats think, says Dr. John Bradshaw. "Dogs were sociable before they were domesticated," he says. "Unlike dogs, the cat is still halfway between a domestic and a wild animal, and it’s not enjoying 21st-century living." And when a cat is stressed, it can develop dermatitis and cystitis, he notes.

In the past, "with cats, all we wanted was for them to keep our houses and farms and food stores free of rats and mice, and they got on with that," Bradshaw says. “It’s only in the last few decades that we have wanted them to be something else." That's not to say your cat doesn't love you, he adds. It's just that they "have their own lives" and interests. (And, as he told the Huffington Post earlier this year, your cat probably also thinks you are a very large cat; that's why, he theorizes, they communicate affection with humans the same way they do with other cats.) Some tips: Cats are likely to spend more time with you if they approach you, rather than if you approach them first, according to research, he notes. And if you're planning to get a second cat, you might want to bring its smell home first on a handkerchief: "It’s the cat equivalent of exchanging photos before a blind date." (Read about a cat who lived secret lives with two families.)