If you are a feline-loving kind of person – and I know you are – then you know that interacting with your tiny companion can bring out quite a bit of... strangeness. But if you have ever wondered why playing with cats brings out all of that weirdness in you, then read on. In this snappy little piece, we discuss the top 5 strangest reactions, and also try to shed some much needed light on the mystery of kitty-induced madness!
We Try to Mimic Prey
This one is incredibly strange, but we pretty much all do it... we try to mimic prey solely for our cat's amusement. But why?! Simple... we want to engage our felines. For cats, play has a lot to do with honing their hunting skills – those skills that are inborn, but tend to dull over years of being housebound. To keep our fuzzy little buddy's instincts nice and sharp, it's important to whip out a bit of pretend, and play like mice. Or birds. Or whatever else our cats are into.
Unfortunately, some of us take it a step further, and allow our pals to use our hands, fingers, feet, and toes to stand in for said “prey.” If that's you... quit it. I cannot stress this enough... stop. Otherwise, you're gonna end up covered in scratches and bites, and also have some seriously sleepless nights!
We Try to Mimic Them
This one might be just a little weirder than that prey thing, but... who can look at their majestic, flexible, infinitely adorable little feline without feeling just a tad envious? That's not to say we dress up in cat suits and whip a leg in the air for cleaning (unless you do, in which case, no judgments here). Instead, we track their movements and try to follow along. We gently headbutt, rub, and quietly purr in time. When our cats look surprised, we look surprised; when they whip out an angry face, so do we.
Why do we do all of this? Well, for one thing, it's fun to see our kitty's reactions. For another thing, we are essentially mirroring our cats. Mirroring is the subconscious act of imitating. Humans tend to do this with individuals we are attracted to in the unspoken – or, rather, unconscious – hope of building rapport. Of course, it could also be because it's just funny!
We Make Bizarre Sounds
Pretty much every living thing wants to communicate... I mean... even plants do it! But when it comes to humans and their kitty companions, simple conversations just aren't happening – not yet, at least. While this doesn't stop us from having full-blown conversations with our cats, it can leave a little to be desired, which is why we often lapse into “cat speak.” Our pals mew at us, we mew back. But that's the least of the strangeness. We will also chuff, rumble, trill, and chatter, all in the name of conversation!
Part of the reason we do this, of course, is simply for fun. Another part is a subconscious desire to not only communicate, but also teach. Kitties respond to us and learn from our cues. Though they may not understand what you're trying to tell them, they do eventually begin to grasp what certain tones indicate. For instance, a sharper tone may mean that he needs to get off the kitchen counter... quick, while an excited voice may well mean dinner is on the way. All of that said, your meowing might not mean a whole lot as far as vocables go, but your delivery just might.
We Start Begging
Playing with cats can be a real joy... at other times, it can be the very epitome of frustration. Think, for a moment, of this exchange, and see if it rings true for you:
You: “Look kitty! After a long and exhaustive search – not to mention half of my paycheck spent – I have procured you this delightful trinket to light up your day!”
Your Cat: …
You: “Watch as it floats through the air, just like the birds you gaze at, longingly, through the windows...”
Your Cat: …
You: “Just try it. Just for a moment...”
Your Cat: …
You: “All right... this crinkled ball of paper. How about that? Please?!”
Our feline friends are smart and fickle, which means that we – the lesser human animal – will often resort to begging, and playtime is usually the worst for this. If you didn't live with a kitty and happened upon this exchange through a living room window, what would you think?
We Become Big Softies
Playing with cats will make even the most hardened individual into a big, mushy, blubbering mess. After all, they're so soft and sweet, and pretty much everything they do is freakin' adorable – I mean... who doesn't gasp a big dramatic, “Aaaaaaw!” when a kitty does something as commonplace as, say, sneeze. It can't be helped. All that said, spending any amount of time with a feline will almost invariably inspire a barrage of baby talk, hugs, and picture-taking – and can you say that about playing with any other friend?
But why do we go all gooshy when we play with our felines? Well, there's an obvious answer: we do it because they are just so unreasonably darling. But let's be square... there's much more to it than that. Simply put, when we look at – or interact with – anything we deem “cute,” our brains reward us with all sorts of nice-feeling chemicals, like dopamine. The reason this happens is that our biology tells us, “Take care of the cute thing... keep it alive.” Thus, in a vicious circle, we play with our ferociously dear cats, our brains reward us with joy, our cats live to play another day. Of course, this principle applies to pretty much every area of nurturing, but... hey... all we're talking about today is playing with our cats.
Playing with cats can bring out the best in us – after all, communing with our animal companions is a truly beautiful, natural thing. But given that our fuzzy buddies tend to be on the unusual side all on their own, it's no surprise that they can bring out the weirdness in us, especially during playtime.
Tell us in the comments: What sort of strange things do you participate in while playing with your favorite kitten?
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Image by Trent Bamberry via Unsplash under Unsplash License