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15 Important Facts About Cats

8. Far from aloof, they become profoundly attached to their humans.

Key points

  • Cats are a major threat to wildlife populations worldwide.
  • Cats have different personality characteristics, including being shy, confident, and playful.
  • If cats are not handled by 14 weeks, they will not want to socialize with people.
  • Some older cats don't like to be petted, and instead prefer other forms of attention.
Source: Belchonock/123RF

If you’ve ever taken a moment to ponder cats, it’s understandable why people find them fascinating. For one, it would be difficult to design a better predator. But stalking small prey is only one facet of cat behavior and attributes.

Here are 15 things to know about cats.

  1. Cats are prolific predators. Chinese researchers estimate that in China, for example, free-ranging cats kill at least 1.48 billion reptiles, 1.61 billion invertebrates, 1.61 billion fish, 2.69 billion birds, and 3.61 billion mammals. The authors hypothesized that cats are wreaking havoc on wildlife populations, which is a concern shared worldwide.
  2. Urine-spraying (urine, scent marking) can occur among domesticated cats in the home and is a frustrating behavior. Although cats usually tend to spray vertical surfaces from a standing position, they can also spray horizontal surfaces, which makes it harder to identify the behavior.
  3. Free-ranging neutered cats tend to be less active and tend to stop marking their territory with urine spray.
  4. Despite many cats exhibiting behavioral issues, owners rarely address these concerns. The use of psychotropics can help improve behavior, with medications including fast- and slow-acting prescription drugs, cannabinoids, and pheromone products.
  5. Cats are remarkably intelligent animals and possess object permanence, working memory, and long-term memory to help with their hunting.
  6. Cats understand quantity and time, which explains why they remind their owners at meals.
  7. Cats recognize the voices of their owners as compared with others. They also use vocalizations such as meowing, purring, and hissing to communicate with people and other cats.
  8. Despite the perception that cats are aloof, they exhibit profound attachment behaviors to their owners, which are akin to the attachment that children feel for their parents.
  9. Experts suggest that cats harbor a wide range of personality types, including being shy, bold, confident, friendly, or nervous.
  10. To mentally stimulate your cat, experts recommend setting up scavenger hunts for treats, playing hide and seek with their favorite toys, and playing shell games using empty cups.
  11. If cats are not handled by 14 weeks of age, they become fearful and aggressive towards humans. Even holding a kitten for as little as five minutes per day between zero and seven weeks can help them better socialize with humans.
  12. As some cats mature, they become less amenable to petting that lasts more than a few seconds. They can lash out if petted excessively, and instead prefer other forms of attention.
  13. Cats will hunt prey even when not hungry. To limit hunting behaviors, kittens can be raised with potential prey such as small birds or other pet animals.
  14. Cats not only fight with other cats but can be aggressive in other ways, such as controlling access to food, perches, litter boxes, and owner attention. The victim cat then becomes withdrawn.
  15. When aroused by a cat or other animal, cats can project aggression on another cat or person. When cats are in this aroused state, they should not be touched, as they can cause serious injury.

Facebook image: Andrey Montenegro/Shutterstock


Cafazzo S, Bonanni R, Natoli E. Neutering effects on social behaviour of urban unowned free-roaming domestic cats. Animals. 20199(12):1105. doi:10.3390/ani9121105

Grigg EK, Kogan LR, van Haaften K, Kolus C. Cat owners’ perceptions of psychoactive medications, supplements and pheromones for the treatment of feline behavior problems. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2018;21(10):902-909. doi:10.1177/1098612x18807783

How smart are cats? instinct and intelligence in cats. Petozy.…. Accessed September 28, 2022.

Li Y, Wan Y, Shen H, Loss SR, Marra PP, Li Z. Estimates of wildlife killed by free-ranging cats in China. Biological Conservation. 2021;253:108929. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108929

Overall KL, Rodan I, V. Beaver B, et al. Feline behavior guidelines from the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2005;227(1):70-84. doi:10.2460/javma.2005.227.70

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