The internet loves cats. If the internet were Superman, cats would be the Sun. But even though cats are cute and fluffy (and always ready to start something), it’s their strange behavior that seems to be their most powerful draw. Strange behavior that, while vexing to most people, may actually have very sensible evolutionary roots.
In the TED-Ed video posted above, Tony Buffington, a Professor of Clinical Sciences and a board-certified veterinarian,some quirky animation and smooth jazz music to share his thoughts on why cats do what they do. And unless you were already an expert on cat behavior, you may be in for some big “Aha!” moments.
The video, which is based on Buffington’s research, claims that the core reason cats behave in such seemingly strange ways is because back when they were clawing and pouncing their way through the wild a million years ago, they were both predator and prey. “As both predator and prey,” the video’s narrator says, “[the] survival of their species depended on crucial instinctual behaviors, which we still observe in wild and domestic cats today.”
This means that the reason Fluffers or Sir Snugsly or Twinkle Bottom tears your bed or curtains or toilet paper to shreds is not because he hates or (or even because you bought the wrong ply), but because, back in the day, cats needed to keep their claws sharp and ready for battle. And now, even though domesticated cats may not need to fight for their lives, they still instinctually keep their weapons and skills sharp. Like Jason Bourne (although he’s never safe, is he?).
Many other strange cat behaviors are explained via the predator/prey model in the video, including why cats sit in tight spaces, why they survey rooms as if they were auditioning to be the The Lion King, and even why they purr. And it turns out that purring, because of its particular frequency, may actually help cats—and you!—to heal bones and tissue. Which means they really may be a source of strength for us, like the Sun is for Superman. Or maybe that fact just further makes them inscrutable balls of fluff that really can’t stand cucumbers for some reason…
What are your thoughts on the claims in this video? Have any stories about wild cat behavior you’ve witnessed personally? Discuss it all in the comments section below!
Images: TED-Ed // Chintis Lundgren