Over the many years, cats have been with us, they have evolved and learnt how to use clever manipulation techniques without us noticing. They are incredibly smart and they will always find a way to get what they want from their human. Even the sweetest, most caring ones use those techniques.
Why do cats manipulate us?
Simple answer: to get what they want.
But surely they realise that we will provide them with anything they want? Food, toys, attention. It’s all theirs before they even move their paw. Perhaps, but your feline friend probably sees themselves as your boss who has to train a new employee in a big catporation.
Cats are perfect alarm clocks and always stick to their schedule because they live for routine. If your cat wakes you up at the same time every morning, if they demand to be fed at the same time every day and if they expect you to dedicate your free time after you come back from work/school, then congratulations, you have a small tiger-like boss at home.
Don’t feel bad if you have just realised your cat is a master manipulator. Many felines find human-cat interactions more pleasurable than food (and don’t take that lightly, cats love food!). So deep down, they care about you, in their own way.
Even though their brains are small, they have 300 million neurons in their brain, more than a lot of mammals. For many years, we used to test intelligence in animals on a human-based level and compare it to us. We used to think that other animals are stupid and only a few who have passed the mirror test are somewhat equal to our intelligence level. Only recently have we started to look at this issue differently. Your cat doesn’t have to be Albert Einstein, they can be their own version of Catbert Kittenstein and influence you in ways you didn’t even think of.
When you see two cats interact, they use a different, particular body language. We, however, don’t always read cat’s signs accordingly. Maybe because we are not a cat or maybe because we are stupid in our own way. As a result, cats have to resort to using whatever signs we recognise and can interpret correctly.
Without further ado, here are some ways cats have wrapped us around their little paw.
You might have heard already that cats don’t meow at each other, they reserve this noise for humans. These noises are similar to baby cries, and these cries get more and more urgent as time goes by. You might be wondering how our little furry friends have learnt this trick. The answer is through years of imitation and evolution. Cats have lived with humans for a very long time (4,000 to 5,000 years) and they have discovered that the noise infants make always results in a quick response.
There are many variations and types of a cat meow. A sharp, short meow usually means your cat is saying “hello”. A growling meow is their way of telling you to back off. An increasingly urgent meow is your cat’s way of demanding something, usually food or water. Cats are not famous for their patience after all and if your cat feels they are being ignored, the sound won’t stop; on the contrary – they will escalate the sound.
That unique sound when you pet your cat behind their ear, is also another weapon for controlling humans. Most of the time, your house friend purrs, because they know it will garner a reaction and they will receive your attention. However, multiple studies have shown that purring also has a positive effect on us. Holding a purring cat close to you reduces stress levels, you will feel calmer, and your cat will feel relaxed and happy.
If your cat wants attention, they will start by rubbing against your leg or bumping you with their head. If you ignore that attempt, they will likely jump onto your laps or lie down on your papers/computer, and start purring. You will instinctively start petting them, and enjoy the calming experience and they in return will enjoy your attention.
If the purring stops, it’s time for you to stop as well, because excessive petting can result in biting and scratching. This may be another form of manipulation – your cat is the one in charge, they decide when they want to be pet and when they’ve had enough.
Misbehaving, such as knocking down a glass off the table, hiding or damaging your belongings, refusing affection or hiding from you, is not a sign of manipulation. It’s easy to assume they are acting this way to send you a special message, but that’s not the case. Your cat is probably stressed. Sometimes they may know that they have misbehaved and may fear repercussions. They need some time alone to restore their batteries in their own special, safe space, just like us. Once they are ready, you will see them more often and they will start acting like the pet you know and love.
Anybody with a kind heart will be manipulated by a cat. But don’t worry about it. It’s not a sign of weakness, and you don’t need to change anything in the way you act towards your feline friend. It’s a part of the relationship between humans and cats – it’s been this way for centuries, and will probably stay the same for many more.