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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-10-2011, 07:39 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Dec 2009
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Silly pet peeve

I find it a little irritating, now and again, when humans describe and explain animal (cat) behavior. Even experienced people often do this: they reduce all their behavior to automatic and mechanical functions. If they brush against your leg affectionately it's "blending the scents"; look them in their eyes and it's "in the animal world, that's a challenge", look away from them and its "showing subordination" etc etc etc.

While these things are true, its no different to lots of human behavior, but when it comes to humans, we don't strip our behavior of lots of other pertinent information and reduce them to the clinical behavior patterns of a near machine as we do with animals. Staring people in the eye is a challenge in lots of human societies too, but when someone stares at us, it's rude, and when a cat stares at another cat, its "in the animal kingdom, this is a challenge". Where I grew up in London, it was a challenge too and if you stared at a stranger, you were likely to get a "Oy you, are you screwing me out?" Looking away can be a display of subordination among humans as well as cats. Rubbing against your leg surely blends the scents, but there are other things going on too. The conscious reason they do it is to show and receive affection.

We dont describe human behavior this way, even when its almost exactly the same. If we did we would omit lots of important information. We dont describe shaking hands as rubbing limbs against each other to neutralize threats, or kissing as pressing labial muscles against each other to signal that the male and female are preparing for reproduction. If we did, we'd omit lots of other information that can cause misunderstandings. There are lots more examples, these are just a couple off the top of my head. Do a lot of people do this because they dont want to face that we too are a bundle of animal instincts and need to exalt ourselves to a higher plane?

I find that for a large portion of my gals behavior, I can find very close parallels in my own; this aids me plenty in understanding why she does things, which makes me think that drawing distinct lines between similar cat and human behavior can lead to a poorer understanding of them. Also, clearly related behavior that gets described in our case as something complex and beautiful, and in their case as the mechanics of a simplistic life form, just bugs me.

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