It is common knowledge the fact that monkeys as well as apes are thought of as being the closest to us But did you know that cats also have several similarities with us physically, biologically, and psychologically?
A genome study from 2007 found that around 90% of genes found in cats are like human genes. In this study initial sequences and comparison analysis of the cat’s genome ( ncbi.nim.nig.gov) The percentage of genes that were present in dogs was 81.9 percent, and in chimpanzees, 78.8 percent, compared (to human beings).
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor of emeritus at Tufts University, explains that cats’ brains are made up of white and gray matter. Similar to humans, they possess occipital, temporal, frontal, and parietal lobes in the cerebral cortex. The researcher Dr. Dodman adds that “Cats seem to think in the same pattern as humans, too, partly owing to the similarity of neurotransmitters … Cats receive input from the basic five senses and process that data just as humans do.”
Cats also have long- and short-term memories. The author Dr. Dodman provides an amazing illustration of the cat’s memories in his award-winning book the cat who cried for Help (Bantam 1999). The story is about a cat who was extremely attached to its owner, who died in his bedroom at home. When the owner passed away, the cat would not go to the bedroom for one year. On the day of the passing of his owner, the cat walked into the room and immediately jumped onto the bed.
One time, I almost slammed my cat’s legs into an opening in the door. The next day, he ran away from me as I opened the door. It was clear that the incident he had experienced and was worried that it could occur again if he walked close to the door.
Pam Johnson-Bennett, a certified cat behavior expert and best-selling author, says “Cats learn constantly. Every situation teaches them that things are either positive, negative, or insignificant. Cat owners are usually not conscious of the extent to which they are educating or reinforcing their pets’ knowledge throughout their daily lives … As with our cats, we are prone to repeat actions that have an intended consequence. We also try to avoid encounters that could be stressful or unpleasant.”
Samantha Martin, owner, and trainer of Amazing Acro-Cats and Rock Cats Rescue Samantha Martin, owner, and trainer for Amazing Acro-Cats and Rock Cats Rescue, that “People particularly young children, learn by watching other people do things and observing them. Cats can also copy the things that other cats do and get recognized for them. My cats have learned tricks I haven’t learned to do because they have watched another cat do it over and over again.”
Dr. Dodman recalls an incident at an event for cats in Texas in the past, where obstacles were constructed. Cats were guided through the course by people who waved teaser toys to guide them through the obstacles. It wasn’t as impressive since cats are the only animals that would follow using a teaser for cats. However, when a cat that was already through the course came back again and did the same course without teasers or help It showed how fast cats can be taught and recalled.
4. Connection and Affection
Pam further explains that even though cats are often portrayed as being aloof, however, they are social animals and require the same amount of affection and companionship that humans do. Similar to us, they also display the same affection but in various ways.
“There are cats who love close physical contact with each other when it comes to love. For some cats and even people, this could mean anything from holding to touching. It can also mean a physical bond like sitting close enough to be touching or leaning on each another. There are animals and humans who like to show their affection with more subtle and difficult-to-miss manners,” Pam says. “Not everyone enjoys touching their pets and may demonstrate affection with thoughtful gestures such as being present or using nice words. It’s also easy to overlook certain ways that cats display affectionate gestures like being close and displaying a relaxed posture, purring, or even giving eyes that blink slowly.”
The cat’s owner Diane Kane had a cat named Scooter whom she discovered as a kitten that was away from the mother. Diane remembers, “I fed her with a dropper and slept with her on my chest … As she grew, she was my constant companion.” Diane offered an example of when she was working at her gardens, Scooter would watch her digging and mimic her movements by digging holes as well. Another way Scooter loved her was by the kisses Diane gave her back by giving “audible smacks.” Although Scooter passed away at a young age from kidney problems, Diane says that “she lived her life perfectly content to be one with her human family.”
Cats are afflicted with “human” diseases such as obesity and heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, and cancer. I’ve had cats suffering from cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease, and my present feline, Stripey, has hyperthyroidism. My cat with diabetes, Floppy who died at age 15 in 2007 was treated with prednisone to treat asthma when he was a kitten. He began to develop diabetes at the age of six. I gave him two shots a day in the form of Humulin insulin to Floppy. He also had liver disease and pancreatitis. The treatments he received for these conditions were comparable to the treatments that other patients suffering from the same ailments were treated for.
Deborah Barnes, past president of the Cat Writers Association also has a cat named Zee who suffers from hyperthyroidism, just like the cat I have named Stripey. “When Zee was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, we were given some choices for treatment,” she said. Deb took the methimazole pill for me, and I picked the transdermal cream that is compounded and applied to the ear at least twice per day (which I have found easier for me to use than the pill). Loss of weight is common among hyperthyroid cats just as it is for humans and is one of the primary signs of the disease. Stripey as well as Zee has gained weight since the treatment began. Deb is also keeping Zee on a diet. She says that Zee is fed an assortment of dry and canned food that meets the nutritional requirements of a cat suffering from thyroid issues. She provides extra supplements to his food. When Stripey is a canned and dry eater together with the other cat breeds, we offer him treats along with his medication and occasionally fresh chicken.
6. Disease Transfer
Apart from sharing common human illnesses Cats can also transmit so-called Zoonotic diseases to humans. In accordance with the American Association of Feline Practitioners (catvets.com) in its Feline Zoonoses Guidelines, “Zoonotic diseases are defined as being common to, shared by or naturally transmitted between humans and other vertebrate animals.” A few common zoonotic diseases mentioned are listed in the catvets.com brochure: What Can I Get from My Cat? Feline Zoonoses are the cat scratch disease, which is also known as ringworm toxoplasmosis, and rabies.
Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of the CATalyst Council for Lifelong Health of Companion Cats says the single most crucial factor in preventing numerous feline zoonotic illnesses is to have a year-round preventive for parasites that include indoor-only cats. She suggests cat owners work with vets who are cat-friendly to determine the right prevention for their pets. There are also concerns about coronavirus being a Zoonotic disease. Mental Health Issues
Dr. Dodman says that cats may also be suffering from the same mental issues as humans, and are treated similarly for these issues. They may be anxious, experience phobias, or even have disorders like OCD. “Cats (with anxiety) respond to the same anxiety drugs as people,” He states.
Another aspect in which humans and cats are alike emotionally is their response to loss. Pam describes her experiences in dealing with “clients who have suffered losing a family member feline or canine friend and are in a state of confusion about what to do with their cat that survived. Often, they think the cat is lonely and so they choose to adopt a feline friend. While the family is aware of their own sorrow but they’re often shocked to discover that the remaining cat is crying and the sudden introduction of a cat that is not familiar adds to the stress. Although we don’t express our grieving in the same manner as cats do, as felines we do share feelings of loss and emotional hurt.”
Cats also resemble humans in terms of personality. Dodman, Dr. Dodman refers to tests that have been conducted on cats in order to discover their personality characteristics. These tests are compared with those of the Myers/Briggs investigation of human personality. The cats were found to possess three distinct characteristics such as active (active as well as curious) as well as sociable and equitable (stable personality). The various traits that are a part of them as per Dodman, Dr. Dodman, are also observed in humans. Cats can be introverts or extroverts or somewhere in between both.
“There are more similarities than differences between cats and people,” Dr. Dodman says.
The other thing I’ve noticed in my many years of sharing in my cat’s life is that, like human beings, each cat has a distinct personality. The individuality of cats is the reason I believe cat owners love most about them most.