The intense curiosity of the domestic cat is switched on by fast movements

The domestic cat can be intensely curious. They are inherently and instinctively motivated to respond to quick movements and sounds which might correspond to the sounds of a prey animal. Domestic cats can locate the source of sound very accurately

The intense curiosity of the domestic cat is switched on by fast movements
The intensely curious domestic cat stimulated by fast movements. Screenshot.

They will pick up a quick moving object in their peripheral vision and investigate to find out if it is a prey animal. This cat is responding in this way to what sounds like a liquid being poured into a container. It doesn't matter what's happening off the screen. 

What matters is how the cat is reacting which is with great intensity and curiosity. The pupils of the eyes are wide open. This is because it's inside the home and there is not a lot of light. Also they may be wide open partly because this cat wants to see as clearly as possible.

 
The domestic cat's instinctive reaction to fast moving objects can interfere with how people interact with their cat and those that are unknown to them. If you wave your hand at a strange cat they might see it as a prey animal and attack it. 

It is always wise to present a hand gently and it should be the back of the hand in my opinion. This avoids ends of fingers being presented to a cat. Jackson Galaxy, the American cat behaviourist recommends what he calls the Michelangelo technique. It mimics the domestic cat nose touch greeting. It should be done gently under calm conditions. 

 You want to avoid stimulating your cat into this stalking/attacking mode which can be switched on quite easily and rapidly. Of course, it depends upon the personality of each individual cat. Some cats are quite disinterested and apathetic and are far less likely to respond as I have described. The laser pointer is a toy which almost invariably stimulates a domestic cat into this instinctive attack mode. 

A laser pointer does not produce sound but it is a small object which is fast moving. It is exactly the sort of movement (depending on how the human caretaker moves it!) that a prey animal makes. In fact, if a laser pointer is used correctly it should mimic prey animals. The domestic cat will be frantic in trying to get it. It's all instinctive. It's like switching on a machine when a cat sees that sort of fast moving object. 

They say that laser pointers are a bit cruel to the cat because they can never kill it. It is also said that the best cat toys are ones that can be destroyed by the cat. They are less likely to become bored with destructible cat toys, perhaps homemade ones. They can become bored with toys they can't destroy. How many cat toys have you got in a drawer that your cat has quite quickly become disinterested in?

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