Domestic cats are still very close to their wild cousins and there are many things to remind us of this.
Cats evolved in hot deserts and even shaggy-coated cats living for generations in a cold climate still have adaptations to heat, such as ability to concentrate urine and drink little.Hunting instincts are strong and an essential feline characteristic even when they are redirected to toy mice.
The preference for running water that sees many cats leaping up to the bathroom sink when their owner picks up the toothbrush goes back to a survival instinct to avoid unhealthy stagnant pools.Conveniently for us the instinct to bury faeces has not disappeared and draws our pets to the litter tray.
Affectionate cheek rubbing is a behaviour Wild Cats use to mark territory.However, there are some wild behaviours we would rather our pets didn’t cling on to, such as territorial urine markings;some of the things we class as problem behaviour are just cats still acting out their wild sides.
Some people will claim that the proof that cats are not far removed from their wild ancestors is that they can revert to living as ferals.Although it is true to say that they can still draw on their behavioural repertoire and hunt to find some food the statement does not really stand up to close scrutiny.Ferals are certainly not the same as wild cats;they seek out a marginal and miserable existence and are forced to live in a habitat which they are not designed for, still indirectly relying on humans and often only surviving because of what food and shelter they can scavenge from our bins or buildings.
Thanks to that unique symbiotic relationship with the human species the cat has evolved to become one of the most widespread and successful species on the entire planet.While many other cat species are endangered, domestic cats are extremely numerous and have conquered every continent, even joining expeditions to the Antarctic. The story of how cats came to share our lives is truly remarkable and reminds us of what amazing creatures we have the privilege of sharing our homes with.