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Study: Our Cats Take On Our Habits

May 16, 2013

Google “people who look like their pets.” Hundreds of millions of results will pop up. No matter whether or not you believe it’s true, research has proven that our cats may be more like us than we’d care to admit: Over time, our cats take on our habits – good and bad – and adapt their lifestyles to ours.

Photo courtesy stephen.butler.

The study’s researchers figured this out by looking into how much captivity can play a role in a pet’s life. They studied two groups of cats: One group lived in smaller homes and stayed close to their owners. The other group lived an indoor/outdoor lifestyle on larger property and were kept outside at night. Other than those differences, all cats received excellent care when it came to food, medical attention, and grooming.

So what did they discover?

Their findings revealed that the cats in the first group mirrored their owners in many ways. They had very similar eating, activity, and sleeping patterns as their owners. But that wasn’t the case for the second group. Those cats became more nocturnal with more feral behaviors.

The cats in the first group were so much like their owners’ that even their food and bathroom habits were similar. Consequently, the researchers wondered if that’s one explanation why human and cat obesity rates tend to match.

“Cats are intelligent animals with a long memory,” said Jane Brunt, DVM, and the executive director of the CATalyst Council. “They watch and learn from us, (noting) the patterns of our actions, as evidenced by knowing where their food is kept and what time to expect to be fed, how to open the cupboard door that’s been improperly closed, and where their feeding and toileting areas are.”

Similarly, another study revealed that we can influence our cat’s personality, and vice versa.

Photo courtesy ceruleansky.

“While it’s commonly thought that cats are solitary and aloof and can take care of themselves, studies have shown that cats are social animals and when people are their main social group, it’s important for owners to understand that they are the role model and we have to encourage their activities with proper play/prey techniques,” Brunt said.

For example, when owners take the time to play with their cats, their cats become motivated to stay active, she said.

That said, our cats can also influence our lifestyle and habits (like when we adjust our schedules to feed them or respond to their needs), but odds are you may have already known that.

All in all, there’s a great deal we can learn from our cats, Brunt says:

“When they sit on our lap softly purring with rhythmic breathing and half-closed eyes, the sense of serenity and calm that comes over us is like a private lesson in inner peace and meditation.”

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