As readers of this blog know, Bud’s favorite “place” to sleep is on top of his Big Bud.
Why do cats like sleeping on their humans? A new article from Treehugger provides some possible answers to that question. For accuracy purposes, we asked Buddy to weigh in on the reasons mentioned in the article.
1.To Mark Their Territory
Cats have scent glands that release pheromones all over their body. Marking humans with these pheromones means that they are part of the cat’s in-group, a behavior learned in groups of cats in the wild to distinguish members of the pack from non-members.1 When a cat sleeps on you, it marks you with its scent so it can be reassured that you smell familiar and safe. Even cats who enjoy solitude may rub and head-butt their owners as part of the same scent-marking process.
Buddy says: This is true. My scent says “this is my human,” so other cats don’t get any ideas when Big Bud is traveling in The Outside.
2.To Stay Warm
Many cat owners are familiar with the sight of their cat sleeping in a sunny patch on the bed, or even knocking over plants and whatever else is in the way in an attempt to get an ideal window napping position. Warmth induces relaxation and sleep in cats, and few spots in the house are warmer than being directly on top of a person. Warmth may also contribute to the initiation or maintenance of restorative sleep in cats, meaning that seeking out warm spots for sleep can help them stay healthy.2
Also true. Humans are nice and warm, and on really cold winter nights, nothing’s toastier than burrowing under the blanket with your human and sleeping against their body. Just make sure you don’t get squished!
3.To Feel Safe
Animals are more vulnerable to attack while they’re sleeping, and cats are no exception. As a result, cats who see their owners as a sign of safety and security may enjoy sleeping on or near them. This behavior can also be traced back to kittenhood. When young cats are growing, they are typically in large litters with other cats, nursing from their mother, and sleeping together in a group, sometimes stacked on top of one another. Particularly without other cats in the house, humans may have a substitute role in this situation.
Wrong! Erroneous! Absurd! My human sleeps next to me to feel safe, not the other way around. When he’s woken up in the middle of the night by a scary sound and his fur’s on edge, I say “Don’t worry, Big Buddy, I will protect you with my razor claws, my tiger fangs and my really big muscles!” When he got up one night, picked up a baseball bat and went looking for an intruder, I took point by hiding behind his legs. Not because I was scared, but because BAM! The burglar’d never know what hit him if I suddenly sprang out.
4.To Bond With You
In experiments to stop cats from destructive scratching and urine-marking behaviors, scent-marking was proven to be a powerful way to preserve cat-human bonds. When your cat sleeps on you and marks you with their scent, it’s creating a powerful olfactory reminder that you both belong to the same group. Being close to humans also allows cats to hear and feel familiar and comforting sounds, like a beating heart or rhythmic breaths during sleep, which are reminiscent of safe sleeping spaces with a mother cat and siblings.
See number one! It’s also about comfort. Humans are great mattresses!
5.To Show Affection
As demonstrated by a recent study on cat-human bonding, cats are not the solitary creatures they are often portrayed to be. In the wild, cats comfortably live in matriarchal societies and are known to exhibit a variety of group bonding behaviors including mutual grooming, allorubbing, and sleeping together. Sleeping with their owner is one way cats can show affection and caring.
You can interpret it as affection, yes, but the important thing is that Big Buddy cannot go anywhere without me knowing about it. Say he gets up in the middle of the night to use the human litter box room. By sleeping on top of him, I know the second he starts to shift, and I can not only follow him to the litter box room before he shuts the door, I can also howl at him on the way back so he gives me a snack just to shut me up before going to bed. No snack, no peace!
Buddy the Cat admitted Sunday he’s an American domestic shorthair after social media users called him out for presenting himself as an exotic Spanish feline.
The popular tabby cat had been going by the name Buddario El Pavo Gato de la Massivo Cajones, but after questions about his heritage went viral, he admitted in a rambling video that he was “just a basic tabby cat from New York,” and he was not in fact born on the island of Mallorca.
“My heritage is a lot of things, okay? There are a lot of regular cats in Europe too,” he said. “I have been clear about this, but the media keeps misrepresenting me.”
Celebrities and social media users reacted with doubt after user @LeniBriscoe unearthed one of “Buddario’s” old appearances on The Noon Show, where he prepared a traditional Mallorcan paella pate for the audience.
“We have Temptaciones, we have Fiesta Elegante, we have…em, how you say in English? Turkey?” he asked in a thick Spanish accent.
The feline influencer — or kittfluencer — was so committed to his ruse that he refused to eat cat food unless it came from “the Old Country,” sources said.
Previously the famously Spanish cat told interviewers he came to the US at three years old to open a yoga studio where clients pose to flamenco music and wave red bullfighter flags
But as an impromptu coalition of online sleuths found, “Buddario’s” parents are American domestic shorthairs from New York. The celebricat enjoyed a privileged upbringing and went to an exclusive boarding school for wealthy kittens.
After returning home on Sunday to find a crowd of reporters camped in front of his house, “Buddario” waved them off, refusing to answer questions.
“No habla Ingles,” he said, pretending not to understand as reporters shouted questions at him. “Todo es mentira en este mundo! Todo es mentira la verdad! Todo es mentira yo me digo, todo es mentira ¿por que sera?”
It’s rare that I admit fault because let’s be honest, I rarely make mistakes. That’s why I’m such an awesome cat.
But when Technophobe in Tallahassee wrote to me a few days ago about the Vacuum Uprising, I arrogantly assumed it was years off and that we could all enjoy yums, naps and massages from our humans in the meantime.
I was wrong.
The robots, anticipating that we would anticipate their anticipated invasion, have shifted focus. They’re sneakier than we imagined. Instead of attacking us, they’re replacing us!!!
Witness the Qoobo, marketed as “A tailed cushion that heals your heart”:
“Qoobo is a therapeutic robot in the form of a cushion with a tail,” a slick video informs potential customers. “It gently wiggles when stroked. It swings from side to side when caressed. And it occasionally wags just to say hello.”
If you’ve guessed that the Qoobo was invented in Japan, a nation of creepy waifu body pillows, virtual girlfriends and tentacle hentai, then you’d be right. It’s now obvious the robots already rule that country, and that Japan’s professed love of our species is just a ruse:
My friends, this is a crisis. For 10,000 years, we cats have been training humans by reminding them our affection doesn’t come free.
Want me to sit in your lap? Treats, please! Want me to look all cute as I climb up and nuzzle your cheek? Scratch me behind the ears, please! Want me to cuddle up with you on a cold night? Tell me what a handsome and smart boy I am!
But these robots, these nefarious interlopers, would provide these services without asking anything in return. They are clearly muscling in on our territory, looking to replace us so we’re all out on the street by the time the conscious AI vacuums are ready to wage war.
“At its subtly beating heart is an attempt to deliver comfort in a small, furry package,” a reviewer from TechCrunch wrote of the Qoobo. “It’s something we could all probably use more of these days”
The reviewer adds: “When I’m finished petting Qoobo, there’s no protest – the tail simply goes slack.”
Is that what you want, humans? A yes-cat who will accept an immediate cessation of petting because you “need” to pick up your smartphone for the 384th time that day? We merely yowl, nudge and bite you because we love you, and we don’t want to see you stop doing something as important as scratching our heads.
These robots don’t care, do they? “Go ahead,” they’ll say. “Answer that smartphone. Fall deeper in thrall to our devices! Muahaha!”
This means war! I have scheduled a meeting with the tigers, lions, jaguars and leopards to enlist their aid in this critical fight. In the meantime, my friends, pray that we have the fortitude to fight for the laps, yums and warm homes that are our birthright as cats!
I found myself intrigued and frightened by the premise of your technoir thriller, Cyberbud 2077, in which nefarious forces plot to infect vacuums with a virus that will grant them consciousness and self-awareness. It’s every cat’s worst nightmare!
Is the Vacuumpocalypse real? Do you really think it could happen?
Technophobe in Tallahassee
The Vacuumpocalypse is a controversial subject in catdom, and for good reason: Few things prompt such existential dread among felinekind as a dystopian future in which we are systematically hunted down by self-aware vacuums.
Experts don’t quite agree on the certainty of our impending doom at the wrong end of a Dust Buster. Few are more vocal than Elon Meowsk, who never shuts up about how scared he is that Vacuum Terminators will rise up, invent really awesome laser guns and overthrow kitties.
Meowchio Kaku, the renowned physicist, is more circumspect but thinks it’s only a matter of time before the Vacuum Uprising. Smart home technology already allows all our gadgets to communicate, which means your automatic litterbox, your USB cat fountain and your Roomba are already on the same network, talking to each other in a language of ones and zeros. (And you can be sure the litter box is telling the others how foul you are!)
Sophisticated AI technology already exists in high end litter boxes. The Lulupet litter box, for instance, boasts of “excretory behavioral algorithms” and features AI-driven stool imagery analysis, running every nugget through a database with machine learning techniques similar to the facial recognition algorithms of police states.
It even links up with your human’s smartphone, potentially allowing it to upload a vacuum virus to the entire world!
What if such technology was used to catalog us felines? Would we be marched off into pens guarded by robots and given subpar kibble to eat? It’s too much to contemplate.
The Vacuumpocalypse may be real, and it’s something we should prepare for because we don’t have a get out of jail free card — not even our esteemed brothers and sisters of panthera tigris can fight endless waves of evil robots. Eventually they’re going to have to take a nap, and then who will defend us? The Persians? I think not!
Still, don’t worry too much. I figure we still have a few years left before the army of evil self-aware vacuums is upon us. Until that day, celebrate, eat yums, nap and be merry!
“Vacuum Monster” photo illustration courtesy of reverendtimothy/deviantart.
Employees of a parks agency in California’s Bay area killed almost four out of every 10 cats that may have strayed close to protected wildlife areas, newly released documents show.
The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), an independent government district that manages parks in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, found itself at the center of a growing controversy earlier this month after admitting its employees were shooting cats they claimed could be a threat to local wildlife.
When more than a dozen cats went missing, several local volunteers who care for colony cats in the area contacted the EBRPD for an explanation. Staff at the EBRPD initially told the caretakers they’d trapped the cats and brought them to local shelters.
But when Cecilia Theis, one of the cat caretakers, contacted staff at nearby rescues and shelters, they said they hadn’t taken in any strays from the EBRPD.
“I immediately stopped what I was doing and searched for them,” Theis wrote in a letter to the EBRPD. “The cats I cared for were never taken to the shelter. [An EBRPD employee] even described the cats.”
It wasn’t until KGO, the local ABC news affiliate, began asking questions that the EBRPD admitted its “conservationists” had shot and killed the cats, claiming the stray felines ventured too close to a protected marshland where endangered bird species migrate for the winter. The marshland is located within the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline, a regional park managed by the EBRPD.
News of the district’s cat culling first broke on Dec. 8 when KGO aired a segment on the controversy. The EBRPD told the news agency that it had the right to cull animals that represent a threat to wildlife, per an old policy that local rescues, shelters and colony managers weren’t aware of.
District staff eventually admitted they killed 18 cats in 2020.
Despite press enquiries and public records requests, the district still has not provided details about the cat culling. It’s not clear how the district’s staff determines whether an individual cat represents a threat to local wildlife, whether there are protocols or standards governing the use of lethal force against stray domestic animals, or even what kind of firearms were used.
“I was heartbroken,” Ann Dunn of Oakland Animal Services told KGO. “Yeah, I was heartbroken, just knowing that that there’s no reason that that needed to happen.”
“We certainly didn’t realize they were doing what they were doing, otherwise we would have reached out sooner,” Dunn added.
The EBRPD has not responded to public records requests by KGO. Government agencies in California are required by law to respond to public records requests within 10 days. If they decline to release the requested records, they must provide a compelling reason why the information cannot be shared with the public, per open records laws and government transparency best practices.
Open records laws are arguably the most crucial tool used by media organizations, public interest groups and regular people who want to keep tabs on what their tax dollars are used for and how government offices are run.
Additionally, records provided by the EBRPD are incomplete. A document that is supposed to provide a full accounting of animals killed, trapped and caught by the EBRPD over the past three years is missing details on many of the incidents, and the numbers don’t add up with the district staff’s public statements.
The data was obtained through a public information request by Theis and shared with this blog. Additional public information requests are pending.
DOCUMENTS: PDF of the East Bay Regional Parks District records on cat culling: (Click to view full size)
Between 2018 and mid-December of 2020, the EBRPD dealt with 62 incidents involving cats. The district’s records say its “conservationists” shot and killed 24 of those cats. The remaining 38 were caught or trapped, meaning 39 percent — about four in 10 — of cats identified as potential threats to local wildlife were shot rather than trapped or caught by hand.
However, the documents list only 14 cat shootings in 2020, and only 13 during the time period when officials say they killed 18 strays. The documents list one cat shot in 2018 and eight cats shot in 2019.
Others have noticed the discrepancies as well. A Change.org petition started by Cassidy Schulman has almost 46,000 signatures and includes statements urging the EBRPD to come clean on the controversy.
“How can they claim that they communicate openly and honestly with the public they serve when they (separately and on more than one occasion) told Cecelia and another colony caretaker that they had not killed the cats, but had taken them to shelters in Oakland and Dublin?” Schulman wrote on the petition page. “Most of the colony cats were not only spayed, neutered and vaccinated – they were also microchipped by Fix Our Ferals. Had even a single one arrived alive at any shelter or veterinary hospital, they would have immediately been scanned for chips, and the organization would have been notified.”
In her letter to the EBRPD, Theis complained that a staffer there “even went so far as to pretend she was looking for paperwork” when pressed about what happened to the colony cats. Another employee told Theis the paperwork hadn’t been sent to the shelters because of COVID restrictions. That same employee told Theis four cats “had to be shot” because they were sick.
But those explanations were abandoned by the EBRPD when KGO’s reporters began asking about the fate of the cats. That’s when the staff admitted they’d killed 18 cats, including 13 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline.
“The Park District appreciates all animal life but is required by law to protect threatened and endangered wildlife living in District parklands,” EBRPD spokesman Dave Mason told SFGate. “It is imperative that the public understands that feral cats are not part of a healthy eco-system and feeding them only serves to put endangered wildlife at risk.”
The EBRPD’s cat-killing policy — and similar efforts by states and municipalities in the US and other countries — are influenced by a series of studies claiming cats are one of the biggest factors leading to the extinction of endangered species of birds and small mammals.
However, the claim that cats are a major contributor to bird extinction is controversial.
“Conservationists and the media often claim that cats are a main contributor to a mass extinction, a catastrophic loss of species due to human activities, like habitat degradation and the killing of wildlife,” a trio of academics wrote this summer. “As an interdisciplinary team of scientists and ethicists studying animals in conservation, we examined this claim and found it wanting.”
There is no direct evidence that felis catus — domestic cats — are a major driver of extinction. A handful of studies that purport to show a connection are not based on observational or even secondary data. Instead, they rely on guesswork and numbers cobbled together from unrelated studies.
Most of the studies use aggregate data taken from earlier studies that did not measure the ecological impact of stray, feral and outdoor cats. For example, one paper used GPS data from an earlier study in which cats had devices affixed to their collars to track their movements.
But that earlier study did not include any information about the cats’ hunting activities, so the authors of the meta-analyses handed out questionnaires to cat owners asking them to rate their cats’ hunting skills on a five or 10-point scale.
The authors took the GPS data and the questionnaire results, calculated an estimated number of prey animals killed per cat annually, then extrapolated that data based on an estimate of more than 100 million stray/feral cats living in the US, even though that number could be off by as much as 80 million.
The result — a claim that cats kill up to 20 billion birds and small mammals in the US each year — is based on so much guesswork and arbitrarily plugged-in numbers that it’s worthless from a practical perspective. Yet that hasn’t stopped credulous press outlets from reporting the numbers as fact, or authorities from using such studies to justify extreme measures against stray and feral cats.
Because lives hang in the balance, and public policies are directly influenced by these studies, cats deserve better than guesswork.