The cat-hooman relationships can be quite interesting. As their Guardians, we’re the source of everything for our cats - the cleaners of their litter boxes and the free room service when there’s no more snacks in the buffet, but also the givers of snuggles, the door opening service and the friends who won’t be mad about all the fur left on the couch. Living with cats every day, we’re gaining their trust for which they pay us with… following our every move. But where does this need to walk us to the bathroom and step on our toes when we’re walking around the house come from? That’s a good question, fabCats and today we’ll try to sniff something out about it.
Target in sight
Though some might say cats are territorial and they don’t really like stepping out of their comfort zone, behaviourists and cat researchers have been saying for years now what an important role cat Guardians have in the cat’s life. It’s us, hoomans, who are the source of everything that’s necessary in a cat’s life - by taking them under our roof, we give cats a safe environment, we grant them unlimited access to all the resources, we provide them company and playtime and, especially with singletons, we often are their best friends. Cats communicate with their Carers when they feel unwell, scared or whenever they need anything, knowing that the hooman will react accordingly. There’s no surprise that, from a cat’s perspective, observing our every move is one of the most crucial tasks of their everyday life. The target must always stay in sight.
Who is a cat-stalker then? It’s a cat who follows every step of their hooman and always makes sure that they know where the hooman is going. Cat stalking can come in many forms - from a casual observation of events from a scratcher to a 24/7 constant monitoring of hooman’s every move, just in case they are brave enough to leave the cat alone and don’t invite them to the kitchen, bathroom or the bedroom. The latter of the two is often the case with shy cats who feel much safer with their Carer around and who nearly scream: “Hooman, come back here, for fluff’s sake!”. What is obvious for an experienced cat Carer, even the most independent and brave cats sometimes meow by the bathroom door, begging to be let in, just to make sure that there’s no evil bandits under the shower - three minutes of loneliness are, after all, a misery :)
Investigating the issue… - why do cats follow their Homans?
Cats like being in control and they’ve perfected the art of using their power of persuasion on their Carers whenever they need anything. They’re also great detectives and can easily find out what the hooman is currently working on and what’s the chance of them stepping away from it. Following the Guardian around until the goal is reached can be used in many situations - of low and high significance. When can cats follow us?
- when they’re hungry,
- when they’re bored,
- when they’re seeking our attention,
- when they’re curious about what we’re doing,
- when they need our support,
- when they feel unwell and need our help,
- when they need company,
- when they’re checking on their servants,
- when they want to show their affection towards their hoomans.
There may be many reasons for cat stalking - everything depends on the character, the needs and the individual tastes of your cat. Not every cat will be following their Guardian around when things get boring - some will just start throwing things off the shelves or chewing on plants, hoping to get the hooman’s attention. But there are also the matters that will always make a cat follow the hooman anytime, anywhere! After all, it’s unacceptable for a cat’s food bowl to be empty, the litter box not to be clean and the fur not to be snuggled enough - your cat will always make sure you remember about it.
How can I help you, cat?
It’s hard to react to a cat’s behaviour when we don’t figure out what they might want first. Following the hooman can mean many things and the fun is in correctly interpreting the cat’s body language. As a starting point, we recommend our article on that:
Once we have the basics, seeing cat stalking as a clear message shouldn’t be an issue. If the cat is trying to lead the hooman into the kitchen, it’s definitely a matter of an empty bowl. And if they sit right under our feet and swipe the floor with their tail, it’s not that difficult to see they are a bit annoyed - maybe they are bored and waiting for our move? Let’s remember that cats are born hunters and even if they’re house cats, it’s not enough for them to catch the wand toy once a day to pop their energetic bubble.
To end things on a good note, let’s set one more cat fact straight. Cats are extremely intelligent and they know when their actions work the way they want them to. So if a cat is a stalker and it results in getting an extra snack or two from the hooman or in having the chair for themselves, the cat will quickly learn to use this method for everything. Our role is to accept the complement of having a cat giving us their attention, assess the reason for their behaviour and react accordingly - sometimes by putting the food in their bowl, cleaning the litter box or playing with them, but sometimes also by ignoring their annoying behaviour and reacting only when they understand that following us and meowing won’t be a winner every time :)
How does cat stalking look for you, fabCats? Do your fluffy friends follow your every step, or are they living their life peacefully unless their food bowl is empty or there’s an armageddon in the litter box? Sound off in the comments - we feel like this topic will prompt some fun stories from you!