Are cats social animals?

Does this look like an antisocial behavior? Seems like love to me. Pic by Glorimar Anibarro

Does this look like an antisocial behavior? Seems like love to me.

This week we will answer a few common questions regarding one of the most common feline misconceptions: cats are loners and prefer to live on their own.

Who came up with this idea? Dog-loving people? Sure, dogs live by a hierarchy code where they follow the alpha male everywhere while cats (sorry) don’t do that. But this doesn’t mean that we are antisocial. It means we won’t follow just ’cause you say so.

Dr. Avocado logoWe are socializing since birth. Kitties don’t appear out of the blue; they are born from a loving mama cat and from that moment on we are constantly fighting for food and territory: as kittens for mother’s milk, as adults aggressively conquering territories and mates. But when the fighting is done, we hang out with our pals in the colony.

Maybe the confusion comes from the fact that felines give each other space. There are moments of cute cuddling and play, but also hours of keeping out of each other’s way in order to enjoy some privacy. If you have ever visited the “cat room” in a shelter or adoption center, you have seen this behavior in action. The cats are all there, each in their own private space just chillin’.

FACT: Do you know that cats in the wild don’t meow? They learn to do that to communicate with, drumroll please, YOU. How’s that for antisocial.

Time for our first question: “That’s all fine and dandy Dr. Avocado, but I got a cat at home that never cuddles next to me, preferring to stare at us all day from the top of her cat tree. What is up with that?” Continue reading

Feral and stray cats are different but face the same challenges

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While this is not a feline medical issue, it is a common question around humans living amongst cat colonies. Can they be adopted? How come they are not friendly? Answers coming your way in 3, 2, 1.

A Feral Cat is that awesome feline that lives like we all did back in the olden days of Catdom; roaming freely, hunting for food, fighting for territory and glory. Humans? Sorry, no need for those. Lives with a “don’t come near me” attitude.

A Stray Cat shared life with humans at some point in his or her life so he knows about the species and how to act around them. Why is he living in the dumpster then? Maybe he got lost, or was tossed out, maybe he was a “gift” that the kid didn’t really want or the humans had to move and there was no space for the kitty in their new place… Whatever the case in order to survive he now has to look deep within him and find that wild cat. (MAY approach humans in a friendly matter, but not always).

You may think the feral has an advantage to the stray, but really they are both dealing with the same issues: there is just not enough space and resources for all of them to enjoy life to the fullest. This planet was not created just for us; we have to grudgingly share it. And here is where the problems start. Because now we live in people’s neighborhoods, back of restaurants or abandoned buildings and some humans just don’t know what to do with us.

For years they will collect cats and take them to the shelters where they will be euthanized. If only they had paid attention in Biology Class they would have known that that was a faulty solution. Cats multiply 24/7. It’s what we do man! So you take 20 away, 40 more will move in. The vicious circle was creating too much drama. But not all was lost.

Hope came with 3 little birds letters: TNR

Whoever came up with the idea is a savior. Sure, there are cats that will forever hate the person for snipping their special balls but they surely enjoy the comforts of living permanently in a spot and not having to fight for their right to mate. Yes, TNR has helped save many lives.

Now when the cats are trapped and sent to be spayed or neutered, humans learn a little bit about the feline’s personality. If she is a purring sweetie pie, means that she probably lived in a home at some point and can be reinstated in the human/cat community, so she is sent to a foster home or a shelter to be adopted. On the other hand if the kitty hisses constantly and just can’t wait to get out of that cage and run back to the trees, well clearly he is a wild spirit, a true feral and after the procedure is sent back to the colony. Kind-hearted humans sacrifice their time and wallets to take care of the cats in their area. Because this planet was not made just for people so you also need to share ;).

And on a final note, I have met many a feral that has gotten tired of the daily battle and has decided to “get friendly” with the humans thus ending inside a home loving the comfy life. So never say never.

Feral cats can live in human territories. Some even get adopted. Photo: Glorimar Anibarro

Feral cats can live in human territories. Some even get adopted. Photo: Glorimar Anibarro

Los gatos salvajes y los extraviados son diferentes pero afrontan la misma realidad

Aunque esta situación no tiene que ver con medicina felina, es una pregunta común entre humanos que conviven con colonias de gatos. ¿Se pueden adoptar? ¿Por qué no son amistosos? Las contestaciones llegan en 3, 2, 1.

Un Gato Salvaje (llamado también callejero o realengo) es ese gato especial que vive como lo hacíamos allá en los tiempos de antaño; explorando por donde le apetece, cazando para comer, peleando por territorio y gloria. ¿Y los humanos? No los necesita. Vive con una actitud de “ni te me acerques”.

Un Gato Extraviado compartió su vida con humanos en algún momento y sabe cómo actuar entre ellos. ¿Y por qué vive en el basurero? Quizás se perdió y no encontró el camino de regreso, o lo tiraron a la calle, quizás fue un “regalo” para alguien que en realidad no lo quería, o sus humanos se mudaron y no había espacio para el minino en el nuevo hogar… El caso es que ahora para sobrevivir tiene que buscar en su interior a ese gato salvaje. (PUEDE acercarse a los humanos de manera amistosa, pero no siempre).

Leyendo esto pensarás que el gato callejero tiene ventajas sobre el extraviado, pero en realidad ambos tienen que lidiar con los mismos problemas: no hay espacio suficiente ni recursos para que todos disfruten de la vida plenamente. Este planeta no fue creado solo para los gatos y por lo tanto tenemos que, no con buena cara, compartirlo. Y aquí comienzan los problemas. Porque ahora vivimos en los vecindarios, detrás de los restaurantes y edificios abandonados y son muchos los humanos que no saben qué hacer con nosotros.

Durante años recolectaban a los mininos y los llevaban al refugio a “ponerlos a dormir”. Si hubiesen prestado atención a la clase de Biología sabrían que esa no era la solución ideal. Los gatos se multiplican 24/7. ¡Es lo que nos gusta hacer! Te llevas a 20 y 40 nuevos llegarán. El círculo vicioso estaba creando demasiado drama. Pero no todo estaba perdido.

La esperanza tiene 3 letras: TNR (o AED en español: atrapar, esterilizar, devolver)

Quien tuvo la brillante idea es nuestro héroe. Claro, siempre está el gato que odia al humano que le cortó sus preciosas bolas, pero ese mismo felino disfruta de vivir permanentemente en el mismo lugar sin tener que pelear por novias. Oh sí, el TNR ha salvado muchas vidas

Ahora mientras los gatos son atrapados para ser esterilizados, los humanos aprenden un poco sobre la personalidad de cada felino. Si la gatita es dulce y le ronronea a cualquiera significa que vivió con humanos y puede volver a la comunidad humana/gatuna; en lugar de devolverla a la colonia, es llevada a un hogar donde la acojan o al refugio para ser adoptada. En cambio si el gato no para de maullar y no puede esperar a escaparse de esa jaula y volver a su ambiente, claramente es un gato salvaje, un espíritu libre y es enviado a la colonia donde humanos de buen corazón dedican horas alimentando y cuidando de los mininos del área. Porque este planeta no fue creado solo para los humanos y también necesitan compartir ;).

En una nota final, he conocido muchos gatos salvajes que se cansan de batallar en la vida y deciden hacer amistad con algún humano. Estos ahora viven cómodos disfrutando del amor de familia en un hermoso hogar. Nunca digas nunca.

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*ATTENTION: I am not a veterinarian. I am a proud member of the Felis Silvestris Catus family, (translates to “domestic cat” –  an inside joke in the cat community) that kindly shares his knowledge of our species to you. I can’t provide specific treatments for your feline friend. Please refer to your veterinarian. Meow!   /   *ATENCION: No soy veterinario. Soy un orgulloso miembro de la familia Felis Silvestris Catus (que se traduce en “gato domesticado” – chiste interno entre la comunidad gatuna), que con amor comparte su conocimiento de la especie con ustedes. No puedo proveer detalles específicos para tratar a tu amigo felino. Por favor, llévalo al veterinario. ¡Miau!