Why do cats ruin everything?

The question in the title is suggested by Google. It is a question which is highly critical of the domestic cat. Unfairly so. There is a philosophical dimension as well as a practical one in answering it.

But let's agree that domestic cats do damage furniture and other possessions sometimes. They don't do it maliciously. They don't see furniture and other possessions as "possessions". As humans do.

As you no doubt know, domestic cats need to scratch vertical and horizontal objects as part of their natural behaviour
As you no doubt know, domestic cats need to scratch vertical and horizontal objects as part of their natural behaviour. Image in public domain. This is Monty.

Possessions are important to humans. They like to buy and own nice objects. They like to care for them and keep them tidy, shiny and smart.

The domestic cat is living in the human environment. They have the mentality of a wild cat wandering around North Africa under the sun. They have no regard for 'possessions' as humans do.

When a wild cat scratches a tree to mark their territory and sharpen the claws, they are not ruining a possession. They simply carrying out a practical function. Transfer that behaviour to the human home and from the human's perspective they are ruining possessions. You can't blame the cat.

Domestic cats and humans have an entirely different attitude towards objects in the home. The cat sees the home as an extension of the wild, the outside.

The armrest of an armchair becomes a tree trunk on which to sharpen their claws and deposit some scent. It is not an armchair to the domestic cat.

An example of how the desire to scratch objects can result in damaged furniture which in this instance has been protected after the fact by double sided tape
An example of how the desire to scratch objects can result in damaged furniture which in this instance has been protected after the fact by double sided tape. Image: MikeB

And so, they scratch and damage a very nice armchair. Or they knock objects off the table or the mantelpiece to entertain themselves. They damage more objects in doing this. But to a cat they are not valuable objects to be treasured. They're just things to knock off the mantelpiece to see what happens.

And they are doing this to spice up their boring lives. Domestic cats are pampered and looked after all their lives. There are very few challenges. They are treated as if they are kittens by their owner which is why they remain in a mental state as if they are kittens.

One of the great issues that humans really fail to deal with is when they keep their cats safe by keeping them indoors full-time, they don't substitute what they are missing by going outdoors which is mental stimulation in hunting.

They become bored. The snooze and sleep to kill time. And when they wake up, they might do the zoomies in a burst of energy and to try and inject some excitement into their lives. Boredom is one of those terrible problems with domestic cats. It can make them seem naughty in their behaviour when they try to break out of a boring life.

An example of a large scratching board which also doubles up as a place to rest because it smells of the cat as they have deposited their scent on it.
An example of a large scratching board which also doubles up as a place to rest because it smells of the cat as they have deposited their scent on it. Image in public domain.

If domestic cats damage human possessions it is because they (1) don't see them as possessions but as the same sort of objects that they see in the wild and (2) they need to use those objects in their day-to-day lives such as marking territory and sharpening their claws. It's all normal. Cat owners need to deal with it.

Millions of words have been said about how to deal with it. As to furniture you simply buy the biggest cat scratcher you can which replicates a tree trunk and you place it first near the furniture which is being scratched and then gradually you move it to a more prominent position.

You can add catnip to the cat scratcher to encourage using it. In addition, you can buy very wide double-sided tape to attach to the armrest of armchairs and sofas to protect them. And anywhere else where a cat is scratching it. That will more or less fix the problem.

As to knocking objects off tables and mantelpieces, you simply have to play with your cat a lot more.

Living with a cat requires adaptations both from the cat and the person. It's a mutual process. There's no point being too houseproud when you are a cat caregiver.

The home shouldn't be too sterile, sheer and environmentally cold. That kind of ambience might please a person who wants everything just right but cats prefer a place which has more objects in it so they can hide in places and climb et cetera. A more cluttered home more accurately replicates the wild.

Another well-known behavioural aspect of the domestic cat is that they like to climb. Domestic cats live vertically as well as horizontally. They live in the trees and on the ground. There are no trees in the human home obviously so they climb what is available to them. 

In doing that they might damage something. They're simply expressing their natural desires and motivations. The home should contain some sort of climbing area and a platform on high to replicate what the wildcat ancestor of the domestic cat would encounter.

The old adage that "domestic cats are barely domesticated" is true. They can switch to becoming wild cat. It's no surprise, then, that they can damage some possessions.

It seems that Google got the idea for asking the question because some people do ask it. But these are people who are ambivalent about the domestic cat and their role in society. Or they might hate the domestic cat. The question is loaded and biased.

Domestic cats might damage some possessions but they give so much more to their human caregiver in terms of companionship, comfort and entertainment. They make you smile. They make you feel better. There are downsides as in any relationship but the upsides bear the downsides which is why domestic cats are so popular.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Arabian Peninsula ginger tabby Scottish Fold dressed in a thawb

Is Cartoon Cat a creepypasta?

What is a harlequin cat?