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From a cat's point of view

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From a cat's point of view

In some situations, it can be very helpful to try to look at the world through your cat's eyes, especially when it comes to behavioral disorders. Sometimes cats would react drastically to things that we easily overlook as they are no big deal for us. If you want to help your cat, try to look at the situation from the cat's point of view.

Start by lying down on the floor and look at your place from the cat's perspective. Now you will realize how big and threatening some things are looking, a human for example...

Cats have the amazing talent to adjust to their environment and to tolerate things that are not natural from their point of view, i. e. permanent music from the radio or the strong scent of an air freshener. Hecticness and restlessness are also things that are no part of the feline nature, and so it happens that noisy persons or children scare them. But if the cat has grown up in such an environment, it has learned to a certain degree to tolerate these things - or it will find ways to evade these situations.

Often cats would react strongly to changes in their environment by showing various symptoms such as depression, aggression, or litter box problems. The cat is a territorial creature, and it loves its daily routine. Cats need these things to feel secure and safe, and for this reason most cats do not appreciate changes.

As already mentioned before, the feline emotions may resemble those of humans. The limbic systems of humans and cats are very similar, so it's supposed that cats and humans share the same feelings. This makes it easy for us to understand our feline friend's emotions! They can feel joy, grief, jealousy, fear, maybe even hatred... those are feelings we all can relate to. It's more difficult, however, to find out the cause of these emotions. You will need a lot of observation and empathy to find out - and this works best from the cat's point of view!

To make this easier for you, I would like to describe the sensory perceptions of cats, which are a little different from ours:


Acoustic perception

Cats hear much better than humans or even dogs. Humans are a bit better in hearing low frequencies, but cats are able to hear high frequency sounds which humans cannot hear at all! Very high sounds, almost ultrasonic sounds, can still be heard by a cat. A cat's ear can perceive more than 10 octaves, and it is able to tell sounds apart that only vary by a tenth tone. Did you ever get the impression a cat is able to recognize the engine of its human's car when he arrives? - There's no doubt, it is!!

Cats do not only hear high frequencies, no, they also hear sounds much louder than the human ear does. With their big, movable ears, they're able to hear the quietest sounds, like the feet of a little mouse walking by a couple of meters away. Considering this, it's easy to understand why cats leave the room and hide when you're bringing out the vacuum cleaner, or that loud music or yelling scares them. As said before, a cat grown up with such a noise may have learned to tolerate it, but if you notice your cat is leaving the room when you have very vocal discussions or when you're listening to loud rock music, you should better think about your actions - for the cat's sake!

Some cats are deaf due to a genetic disposition or after an ear infection, but this is not the end of the world! The cat is able to compensate the loss of hearing very well, but it should be kept indoors as it won't be able to realize a danger (like an approaching car).


Sense of smell

Scents are very important in the feline world. A cat's nose has twice as much olfactory cells than humans have. Scents are helping the cat to form an opinion about objects and living creatures, and for that reason, everything will be sniffed carefully. The sense of smell is very important when it comes to food: a meal that doesn't smell attractive won't be eaten (for this reason, colds are very dangerous since cats usually don't eat as long as they cannot smell their food).

The human habit to cover natural scents with perfumes, room refreshers and deodorants can be very annoying for cats. For example, one of my cats is really disgusted with the smell of tooth paste. Others show the same reaction when they smell citrus fruits. Besides, you should also keep in mind that essential oils may cause a life-threatening anaphylactic shock - so better be careful with these things. (see also Sources of danger in the house)!


Sense of taste

The feline sense of taste may be very picky. They like to eat what's smelling good, and they favor a food with a lot of nitrogen and amino acids, as in meat. The scent and taste of a food will be "saved" by the brain, and the cat will remember these informations for the rest of its life.

By the way, tests have shown that there are no taste buds for sweet tastes on the cat's tongue, so their (unhealthy) love for chocolate and candy must still have another reason.


Jacobson's organ

Have you ever seen your cat sitting there with a half-opened mouth, obviously very focussed on something? Well, you have most likely witnessed the process of "flehming". This is a perception that's something between smelling and tasting, and the cat is using the so-called Jacobson's organ for this, which is located inside the mouth, just behind the front teeth, connected to the nasal cavity. Interesting scents, for example when the cat mates, will be registered, rated and saved in the memory.


Vision

People are often fascinated by the cat's eyes. Many of them believe that cats are able to even see in total darkness, but this is not true. But in the dawn, which is the favorite hunting time of cats, the feline eyes are working perfectly. Their elliptical pupils widen in the dark to catch as much light as possible, and a coat of reflecting cells on the retina works like a mirror - that way, the cat has its very own residual light amplifier.

The cat's stereoscopic vision is better than in humans, it's even better than in dogs, and the cat is able to see things coming from the side.

The color vision is not very advanced. Cat can see green, blue and yellow, but they are assumed to see no or only a little red. Besides, their picture is a bit blurry on the edges, while it is very sharp in the middle:


Visual perception of humans

Possible visual perception of cats


By the way, it's amazing how well blind cats are able to cope with their disability! They rely on their other senses and it's working great. However, a blind cat should be kept stricly indoors.


Sense of touch

The sense of touch is very important in the cat's life, it's essential for detecting preys, or to locate approaching dangers. Their most striking whiskers - or vibrissae - are the long ones on the cheeks, but there are more on the side of the head, above the eyes, and behind the front paws. With these organs, a cat is able to walk in complete darkness. It senses air flow, the slightest variation in temperature and vibrations in the ground. It's assumed that these organs are helping cats to "foresee" natural disasters, such as earth quakes.