BBC’s Jane Palmer reports on how cats remain strongly individualistic, despite recent pressures from humans towards greater sociability.
How hard can it really be to herd cats?
Ask Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary behavioural medicine at the University of Lincoln, UK. In a recent study, Mills and his colleague Alice Potter demonstrated that cats are more autonomous and solitary than dogs. Carrying out the research for the project was as difficult as the cat’s reputation might suggest.
“They are challenging if you want them to do certain things in a certain way,” says Mills. “They tend to do their own thing.”
Cat owners everywhere will sympathise. But why exactly are cats so reluctant to cooperate, either with each other or with a human? Or to flip the question around, why are so many other animals – wild and domestic – willing team players?
Group living is very common in nature. Birds flock, wildebeest herd, fish school. Predators often hunt together too, of course. Even the domestic cat’s relative, the lion, lives in a pride.