I have a cat, or rather, there is a cat in my home: which of us actually rules the house is up for debate. Darcy is disdainful of my existence, regards my presence in his life as an inconvenience, and suffers my feeding him, cleaning out his litter-box, and taking care of his health with noblesse oblige. Okay, maybe the debate is over. Giving him attention generally disrupts his lengthy napping schedule, and I can probably only give him a couple of pets before I am rewarded with a bite or a scratch. It turns out that’s probably better: holding, cuddling and stroking your cat for too long just stresses them out. According to UK charity Cats Protection, “Being held or stroked for too long can be very stressful for some cats. Space and peace is often what they need. They are not small furry humans, so what would comfort us will not necessarily comfort them. Owners love their animals and want them to be happy but our research has highlighted a lack of understanding.”
The charity has conducted a survey of cat-owners and concluded that 55% of them do not understand that cats can suffer tremendous amounts of stress, and that cuddling them only makes it worse. The survey is part of an upcoming BBC documentary, Cat Watch 2014. 100 cats were monitored “using GPS and micro-cameras to examine the transition from pampered pets to predators, how 21st century life is changing their solitary nature and how they are learning new ways to communicate with each other and humans.” Judging by the bite-marks on my hands, Darcy has no difficulty communicating with me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a litter-box to clean.