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Thread: Feline Behavior Abnormalities Due to Ostracizing

  1. #1 Feline Behavior Abnormalities Due to Ostracizing 
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    I once had a cat "actually 12 cats at that time" who formed very peculiar behaviors. He was a stray that I took in, much younger than the others that we had by around 2-4 years. The others didn't take to his presence generously, and for the lack of a better word, ostracized him. Now this isn't that strange by any means, we humans do it all the time. He never really associated with the other cats, and sometimes fought with them, so most of the day he was with human beings. That's when the interesting things happened, he started opening tupperware, cabinets, doors, stopped meowing altogether, and frequently used the toilet for his "business". Having no connections with the other felines within the house, he developed the behaviors of the only other animals inside, human beings. Perhaps this belongs in pseudo-science, but I was wondering, if a cat that doesn't associate well with other cats and therefore forms the behaviors of its human companions....could a human that has been somewhat ostracized "social isolation" begin to develop some of the behaviors of their pets? I'm not saying that they start using the litter box, but subtle changes in body language, communication, etc.


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    Not so sure about that. This cat was obviously pretty brainy - I presume he didn't take much training, if any, to do most of those things.

    With humans associating only with their cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, or whatever, you'd certainly observe some changes in their habits of conversation. (mostly an exaggerated version of what most of us do with our pets.) I'd quite understand if people in this situation slept with their animals - or set up a bed in a stable if horses were involved. Many people already allow cats or dogs to sleep on or in their beds. And you often see people use animal calls or sounds when dealing with pets/companion animals anyway.

    As long as such a person doesn't degenerate into one of those people who live in squalor overrun by neglected animals, I reckon you'd mostly see someone who prefers animals to people. Presumably they'd be pretty isolated from others and from observation by others, so you might see more of a tendency to use the outdoors for toileting, but that also is something that outdoorsy people do quite commonly anyway.

    Maybe the biggest communication change would be in not correctly interpreting what the rest of us would see as clear facial expressions or body language among people. We do this "instinctively" we think. But in fact it's practice and constant repetition. Without that constant exposure, someone who wasn't especially socially clued in in the first place might lose some elementary communication skills.


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    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    He was a smart little turd, he learned them all without any sort of training. I'd hate to think he was peeping while I was doing my business.....
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    I've seen cats that spent all their time around dogs imitate panting and barking. And that's very odd because casts do not pant (Not unless in their death throes...)

    When I was a kid, we had a dingo (don't ask... I have no idea how my grandparents got a dingo, but she was a dingo) and a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. They got the Retriever as a puppy. The dingo was old adolescent at that time, so she adopted and raised the pup.
    Odd thing is, a dingo is fast and agile and able to make amazing leaps (well, at least she was). So the pup figured he should be the same... and when he was full grown, standing with his shoulder and head to the upper midwaist of a grown man, he was able to dart across the yard and leap over a 6 foot fence with ease.
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  6. #5  
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    Cats learn from their mothers. In this case, the cat thought of a human in the house (you?) as its mother and imitated the human's behavior.
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    The behaviors are actually pretty easy to explain, and not neurotic.

    THe opening of tupperwear, cabinets etc.. show he knew where food and treat items were kept. The lack of sound was most likely to avoid attracting extra attention from the dominant cat(s), while the toilet use is to be expected as you most likely didn't have enough litter boxes, and the ones you had were already claimed as the dominant cat(s) territory.
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    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleoichneum View Post
    The behaviors are actually pretty easy to explain, and not neurotic.

    THe opening of tupperwear, cabinets etc.. show he knew where food and treat items were kept. The lack of sound was most likely to avoid attracting extra attention from the dominant cat(s), while the toilet use is to be expected as you most likely didn't have enough litter boxes, and the ones you had were already claimed as the dominant cat(s) territory.
    The litter boxes would explain some things, however all of the cats have easy access to go outside. The lack of meowing may be correct in your definition, however, I don't see that working simply because the felines would regularly be within viewing range. All of the food is kept in a single cabinet, so he wouldn't have had any real reason to be opening empty containers. I'm very impressed with your solutions to the behavior, well done.
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  9. #8  
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    I work in a pet supply store. The association of containers and food is enough to arouse curiosity. (BTW dont keep naturally preserved foods in plastic containers) Access to the outdoors does not mean he had access, if one of the dominant cats decided to sit in the doorway to the outside, it would prevent him from leaving. And talking is a much more attention attracting act for a cat then just being present, thus not making sounds would incur less notice then talking a lot.
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  10. #9  
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    Some cats are quieter than others. I had a cat that would only make a sound if he needed to - hungry, injured, etc. Another that would just sit in the middle of the room and babble loudly to himself. He even made sounds that approximated a human voice. This can be breed related.

    Regarding imitating human behaviours, my cats used to scoop food out of their bowls with their paws and eat by lifting their paws to their mouths. They were never intentionally taught to do this. Cats are excellent when it comes to learning my imitation.

    Edit: This is an example of neurotic behaviour in a cat - One of my cats, the quiet one, was found wandering in the subway station when he was a kitten. He must have spent a lot of time struggling to find food.

    After that, he had a very spoiled existence as a house cat and never wanted for food.

    One day, many years later, I found a huge pile of balls of dry cat food (from before we switched him to wet food) hidden at the bottom of a closet. Every time we fed him, he must have hoarded away some food and hid it, just in case. This was a cat that had never missed a meal in years.
    Last edited by Alec Bing; March 29th, 2013 at 07:31 AM.
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  11. #10  
    Time Lord Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alec Bing View Post
    Some cats are quieter than others. I had a cat that would only make a sound if he needed to - hungry, injured, etc. Another that would just sit in the middle of the room and babble loudly to himself. He even made sounds that approximated a human voice. This can be breed related.

    Regarding imitating human behaviours, my cats used to scoop food out of their bowls with their paws and eat by lifting their paws to their mouths. They were never intentionally taught to do this. Cats are excellent when it comes to learning my imitation.

    Edit: This is an example of neurotic behaviour in a cat - One of my cats, the quiet one, was found wandering in the subway station when he was a kitten. He must have spent a lot of time struggling to find food.

    After that, he had a very spoiled existence as a house cat and never wanted for food.

    One day, many years later, I found a huge pile of balls of dry cat food (from before we switched him to wet food) hidden at the bottom of a closet. Every time we fed him, he must have hoarded away some food and hid it, just in case. This was a cat that had never missed a meal in years.
    Were the huge piles of kibble the result of him throwing up? if so it sounds like he was "scarf-and-barfing".
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  12. #11  
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    No. My other cat was a scarfer and barfer. I can tell the difference.
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  13. #12  
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    The cat seems smart and simply the most domesticated of the bunch. Strays for even a relatively short time change behavior towards becoming feral.
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