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Do You Take on Your Cats' Habits or Do They Take on Yours?

New research indicates that cats take on their humans' habits, but with me it's the opposite.

 |  Sep 4th 2014  |   2 Contributions


You know the old aphorism that people come to resemble their dogs? There’s also some research indicating that cats take on their humans’ habits as they live together. I’m not sure I buy this about cat behavior, though. It seems to me that I’ve taken on more of my cats’ habits than the other way around.

Take, for example, the nap. Cats are world champion nappers and could probably sleep through a small earthquake. Nothing makes them happier than passing out in a nice, hot sun puddle.

I used to wish I could pass out in a sun puddle like my cats can. My wish has now come true.

When I was a toddler, I couldn’t nap to save my life. My mother was profoundly relieved when I learned how to read so she could put me in my room with a book for an hour. Fast-forward a few decades, and now I love to nap. I’m shocked that I can just curl up on my bed in the middle of the day and sleep for a solid two hours at a time. I credit the development of this skill to the patient tutelage of my cats.

I’ve taken on my cats’ habits in the way I eat, too. As I removed carbohydrates from their diet and switched them over to food more appropriate for an obligate carnivore’s consumption, my own eating preferences changed. I increased the amount of protein (and veggies and fruits, because I’m an omnivore) and decreased the number of carbohydrates in my own diet. But even though I love to eat sashimi, I haven’t taken the leap to raw meat just yet.

Yes, I'll have the steak tartare please. Photo: Shutterstock

Cats are known as crepuscular creatures, which means they’re most active at dawn and dusk. I’ve always been excited by the dawning of the day (again, just ask my mother, who used to refer to me as her little too-early bird), but by the time dusk rolled around, I was pretty much done for the day. These days, as long as I remember to take naps like my cats have taught me to do, sunset is just as exciting and energizing to me as sunrise.

My cats are all catnip lovers, and although I’ve pretty much always been a fan of the many varieties of mint, in recent years I’ve come to appreciate catnip in a way that I never imagined possible. Seriously: I can take a deep sniff of a toy stuffed with super-fresh, locally grown catnip and it almost makes me high. I also love catnip tea (it’s great for menstrual cramps, by the way), and if I made catnip muffins I’d probably love those, too. Maybe I’ll even try to make catnip wine or beer some time.

Are there things my cats can’t stand that I can’t stand either? Oh, heck yeah, and chief among these is the vacuum cleaner. For years I’ve hated vacuuming because the volume and pitch of a vacuum cleaner motor sets my teeth on edge. I put off vacuuming for as long as I possibly can because I can’t stand that sound. (Well, I did buy a new vacuum cleaner when I moved to Seattle, and it’s a lot quieter than my old one, so I guess I don’t have that excuse anymore.)

Yes, I have taken on a number of kitty habits, but there are some things I just won’t do.

  • I’m not going to start licking myself, my cats, or any other human beings, clean.
  • I’m not going to start catching mice with my teeth.
  • I’m not going to take parkour lessons so I can learn how to walk up walls and hop on top of cabinets.
  • I’m not going to hide under the bed when it’s time to go to the doctor.

Maybe I should start taking yoga so I can catch up with my cats' level of flexibility, too.

What about you? Have you taken on any of your cats’ habits, or have your cats taken on yours? Dish your dirt in the comments.

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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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