TED-Ed

Why does your cat act so weird all the time?

Like, what do they even want from us?

FIONA MACDONALD
28 APR 2016
 

Cats are peculiar creatures. One minute they're running around the house pouncing on anything that moves, and the next thing you know, they're cowering inside that old pizza box that you were about to throw out. Gross, guys. Gross.

But according to this TED-Ed video, there's a scientific reason cats are such creeps, and it all comes down to their evolutionary history. See, cats evolved to simultaneously be both solitary predators AND the prey of larger carnivores, and their strange habits today reflect both of those strategies.

 

For starters, the pouncing. According to veterinarian and cat expert Tony Buffington from Ohio State University, who created this episode for TED-Ed, our cats' ancestors spent millions of years honing the ability to hunt small prey.

Throughout the day, they'd regularly stalk, pounce, kill, and eat animals such as lizards and mice, which also explains why today's cats prefer to have small, regular meals rather than one big serving each day (as all cat owners know, that's just asking for vomit).

These passed-down predatory skills also explain why cats love to scratch anything and everything around your house. No, they don't hate your new couch, they just want to keep their claws sharp and their back and leg muscles stretched out, because, in the wild, that's what kept their ancestors alive. And their love for the top of your bookshelf? That's the best vantage point for hunting.

But the prey instinct is also strong - it's why your floof likes to hide in small places: bags, drawers, boxes, under the bed. And why they're so scared of cucumbers, apparently.

They'll also be grateful if you can please keep their litter tray clean and fresh, because any urine scent is going to attract big scary predators right to them. Thank you.

 

To be fair, knowing the science behind some of the curious cat behaviours doesn't really make them any less odd, or any less adorable. But it does shed some light on how conflicted our complicated little weirdos are, and makes me a little more understanding of all the ripped-up sofa legs over the years. I get it now, buddy, you need to keep your claws sharp to stay alive.

Check out the video above to find out more about the evolutionary history behind cats' strange behaviours, and to learn about the one feline-related thing science hasn't explained yet. No spoilers here, but their purrs are totally bizarre.

And all you cat haters out there, don't be fooled into thinking dogs, with their "just love me!" simplicity, are any easier. Turns out, they actually hate hugs and we've been torturing our pets this whole time.

Damn, we really did pick some of the animal kingdom's biggest enigmas to share our homes with.

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