Are cats the most religious animals?
I’m not asking because I think cats are locked in an eternal good-vs-evil struggle between their deity, the God of Napping, and the evil forces of the Red Dot. We’re all well aware of that.
I’m asking because, well, my cat prays. He eases onto his hind legs, sits straight up, puts his paws together and gestures as if in fervent prayer, just like this guy:
Or this marbled tabby apparently in the middle of her evening vespers to the God of Yums, that from which all sustenance seems to come. The fridge.
And finally this kitty, who baffles his owners as he stands up, presses his paws together and shows excellent prayer form:
Buddy has some bizarre and amusing moves in his repertoire of feline quirks, but the “praying” thing is the one behavior I haven’t come close to decoding. I hadn’t even heard of it until I saw the little guy doing it one day when he was just a few months old.
First thing’s first: No one seriously believes cats are praying or know what prayer is, so I just wanted to get that disclaimer out of the way before my inbox gets flooded with variations of “HAHA U MORAN CAT’S CANT PRAY LOLZ”
Some people think the motion looks more like a begging gesture. Cats are asking for something when they do it, proponents of the begging theory argue.
I think we can rule that out. I’ve heard owners of other “praying” cats say their furry lieges wave their paws like that in various situations, and that’s been my observation as well. Bud does it randomly, and I’ve seen him do it while he was unaware of my presence. He couldn’t have been asking for anything.
There’s no research on this behavior and there’s virtually nothing about it on the web aside from a handful of Youtube videos.
Maybe it feels like stretching or provides some other form of muscle relief. Maybe it’s a cat’s way of limbering up. Maybe it’s an indication of a cat’s mind state, the same way relaxed ears and an upright tail indicate kitty’s happy and relaxed. Or maybe it’s a form of self-soothing for anxiety.
Those are all guesses, and none of them feel quite right. So help a dedicated cat servant out: What’s your take on this behavior, and what prompts cats to do it?