Because of their excellent sense of stealth, cats are invisible to both predators and prey. The goal is to see without being seen. Cats prefer enclosed, elevated areas where they can watch passersby, examine their environment, feel safe from wolves or other predators, and remain undetected by possible prey.
This tendency also exists in the wild cat species. Leopards and cougars blend in so well with their environment that they are hard for locals to spot. When traveling through cougar territory, even if you don’t see a single cat, that doesn’t mean they aren’t observing you. The majority of cats, even those that are wild, usually avoid conflict with other animals or people unless they are on the prowl for prey or trying to impress a potential partner.
Even at home, we rarely hear a cat arriving unless it has a bell on its collar. How many times have we fallen over our cats because we were unaware that they were beneath us? In order to alert birds about cats roaming outdoors, bird advocates advise fastening bells to their collars. Cats have an advantage over their prey since they can’t hear the bell ringing when it’s time to attack.
Cats’ sense of smell
Our sense of smell is nothing like a cat’s, although we may like an aromatic meal or a pot of coffee that is just starting to boil. Our brains’ visual cortex is dominant, whereas a cat’s olfactory cortex is. Thus, just as we rely on our vision, cats also rely on their sense of smell. They use scent to detect everything and everyone, as well as to conceal their own scent from predators.
In fact, because they don’t want predators to find them, cats bury their feces, and queens clean their newborn kittens right away.
A feline anomaly
According to a 2008 Duke University study, cat stealth is actually counterintuitive to evolution because it wastes a lot of energy and is ineffective. According to the study, dogs chase more effectively than cats. Contrary to popular belief, researchers found that cats have evolved a profoundly inefficient stride that is specifically suited for sneaking up on a mouse or bird in slow motion. While dogs depend on an energy-efficient manner of four-footed racing over large distances to catch their prey.
A fundamental of evolution, according to the study’s author Daniel Schmitt, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke, is using the least amount of energy possible to achieve the greatest efficiency. However, cats must sneak up on their prey in order to hunt properly, and this demands a lot of energy. A cat’s stride is graceful despite being inefficient.
In Daniel’s words, “If they’re creeping, they’ll put this foot down, then that foot down, and then that one in an even pattern.” On the other hand, when humans and dogs walk, they rise and fall, which actually saves energy.
This behavior fits with other feline traits. In order to hunt and stalk their prey, cats release brief bursts of explosive energy. Cats sleep for two-thirds of their lifetimes to recover from this inefficient use of energy. To enhance their intrinsic tracking and pouncing skills, they also require training and play that simulate the hunt.
Traits of Feline Stealth
Here are a few characteristics of our sly friends:
- Cats are sly creatures.
- Cats approach prey covertly.
- Cats take note of their surroundings.
- Cats are patient and wait for the proper moment.
- Cats resemble the vegetation.
- In order to avoid being smelled, cats bury their faeces.
- When they are ill or in risk, cats hide.
- The entire time, cats are working to keep their prey and predators from seeing, hearing, or smelling them.
Read more: What Makes Cats Lick Their Owners?