Cats are fluffy and adorable animals, and I love them. But, for a while now, I’ve looked at cat and animal behavior in general a bit differently than perhaps others.
The way I see cats and their behavior is the combination of a few things. First, I see cats as children, in a way, in that their brains are simply not as developed, but they are still as innocent (if not far more so) and true to their nature. I look at Miko playing and that is most often when I see her behavior as similar to a child’s. She will pat around the toy and, even if she’s alone, use her imagination and curiosity to play with little objects on the floor. I think it’s important to remember, in this way, that even though we are different animals, we are both mammals with similar brain structures. Hers, simply, is less developed, but no less worthy of respect.
Second, I believe that cats, like humans, have a certain kind of collective unconscious which may influence their behavior and aversion to certain things. You may think this is a bit more “out there” than some of my other points, but I am a believer in the Jungian “collective unconscious” which is effectively the idea that all of us are tied in a deep, subconscious way to one another. I believe that this exists for animals as well, and, though of course it’s a hunch and cannot be proven, it is the cause for cats having natural aversions or interests to devices, situations, and people without even being exposed to those things before. I suppose it is sort of a flip side to evolutionary theory, where evolutionary theory would say that cats have learned certain things because of certain common elements that tie back to their evolution, where I would say that, while that may be true, they may also have an underlying, subconscious awareness of things because of what has happened or is happening to other cats in their very own generation. It’s a theory.
Third, I believe that cats are just as loving and intelligent as dogs, but that they exist always “in the moment” which can lead some to believe they are aloof or unattached. It simply is the result of their roots because, again, they are so much like children. Unlike dogs, which seem to have a strong, conscious sense of the past that can come out in the form of shame, cats don’t seem restricted in that way. Again, this isn’t to say that cats don’t feel all the same things as dogs (like shame, love, attachment) and just as deeply, but that their feelings of those things may simply be much more fleeting and that these feelings don’t seem to “stick” to cats like they do with dogs. In this way, I think an argument could be made that cats are in fact more innately playful than dogs.