I live in a house with 4 other girls and 2 cats. As you can imagine, there is hair everywhere.
The other week one of my housemates was very upset because she forgot one of the cat’s 6th birthday. She acted like she had missed the birthday of her child. The rest of us told her not to be so ridiculous. But I did wonder, do cats know when it is their birthday?
Unfortunately when I googled Do cats know when it is their birthday I just got a bunch of results about how to celebrate your cats birthday. It’s good to know that there is so much instruction on how to make a cat-friendly cake on the internet. So I thought I would look more at what cats think of humans instead.
A lot of the time people bring up the theory that cats think that we are just big, stupid cats. That when they bring live animals into the house it is to help train us in the art of catching them.
The other day one of the cats brought in a live mouse and it created a small amount of chaos. I was yelling at my boyfriend to get it whilst also recounting what was happening to my mouse-phobic (musophobic) housemate, reassuring her that it probably would not climb upstairs into her bedroom, where she was hiding. Luckily the mouse hid in one of my shoes and my boyfriend could release it without too much drama, no mouse catching skills were honed in the slightest.
Which is good, because apparently, that is not how cats see us. The cats might just be bringing their catch inside because it is a safe place to eat it.
The interesting thing is that they don’t see us like dogs do. Dogs know that we are different from them and behave accordingly. Cats, on the other hand, don’t act that differently around humans than they do other cats. One researcher who kept coming up in my googling was John Bradshaw from the University of Bristol. He thinks that cats see us partly like their mother, and partly like some kind of superior cat, probably because we are a lot bigger than them.
That is where behaviour like kneading comes from, it is something they would do to their mothers. They also take advantage of this relationship dynamic when they cry and purr in a high pitch, which is something else they would have done with their mothers when they wanted milk. There are also some studies that suggest that these cries sound like human babies, which could be the cats trying to make themselves even harder to ignore.
So, I reckon that cats do not know when it is their birthday. If they did, I really don’t think they would let us forget it so easily.