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Science Explains How It Feels To Be A Cat

Science Explains How It Feels To Be A Cat

There are over 74 million cats in American households. These cute and furry companions light up the lives of cat parents in nearly 40 percent of homes in the United States. If you are one of these passionate cat owners, you know that their actions can be confusing. If cat behavior has you baffled, check out the following science-backed information to learn how it feels to be a cat.

Cats see things that are invisible to us

Have you ever visited a nightclub that uses black (UV) light? This UV light is outside of the range of light that we as humans can perceive. However, when black light shines on an item that contains phosphors, such as laundry detergent, cosmetics, urine or blood, we can see the reflection of the light.

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According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, cats and some other mammals can see this ultraviolet (UV) light. Thus, our feline friends can see things that are invisible to humans such as urine trails, flickering lights on power lines and distinct patterns on flowers. This explains why your cat is afraid of the invisible boogieman.

Cats can be neurotic and impulsive bullies

If you are a cat, you feel like a lion. It is not surprising that the domestic cat evolved from the wild cats of Africa. According to a study by the Bronx Zoo and researchers at the University of Edinburgh, domestic cats exhibit personality traits similar to their larger counterparts, such as the Scottish wildcat, clouded leopard, snow leopard and African Lion. Specifically, this study found that domestic cats show dominance, impulsiveness, and neuroticism, much like the larger wild cats. In fact, domestic cats were reported to commonly exhibit traits such as bullying and aggressiveness.

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Cats want to kill their toys

Cats are driven by their hunting instincts. According to cat researcher and author of the best seller Cat Sense, John Bradshaw indicates that play behavior mimics hunting behavior. He found that cats prefer furry, feathered toys that represent mice and spiders. In fact, he found that cats interact differently with mouse-shaped toys as opposed to rat-shaped toys. For example, cats are more careful with the larger rat-shaped toys, keeping them at arm’s length, because of their perceived danger. Also, he observed that cats’ enthusiasm for play increases when they are hungry.

Cats can read your mood

If you are a cat and your human returns home grumpy, you might feel like hiding in the closet. According to a study by Moriah Galvan and Jennifer Vonk of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, cats behave differently when their owners are smiling compared to when they were frowning. In the study, when cats saw that their owners were smiling, they exhibited affectionate behaviors such as purring or crawling into an owner’s lap. If the owner engaged in a negatively charged conversation or frowned during the study, the affectionate behaviors of the cats were less likely to occur. Naturally, cats use their emotional intelligence to their advantage. They know when you are in a good mood so they will give you some extra affection in exchange for a special treat.

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Cats are just not into you

According to research by Daniel Mills, domestic cats do not show the signs of attachment that you would expect to their owners. In his research, he placed the pets in an unfamiliar room with their owner, a stranger and alone. Typically, with dogs and humans, the owner or parent is perceived as a secure base and the person or pet that are left alone or with a stranger exhibit distress. In the case of cats, they are relatively indifferent when left alone or with a stranger. In fact, the cats were just as happy to play with a stranger than their owner. He states that the human might just be a source of resources, such as food, water and safety to the cat. The good news is because of their independence and indifference, cats are great companions for those who work long hours or travel.

Cat social groups are like high school

Do you remember how it felt to be in high school? This is how it feels to be in a cat colony. We typically think of domestic cats as solitary animals, but according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, they are actually social animals. They form colonies that are similar to lion prides. They have hierarchies and it isn’t easy for a new cat to join a colony, especially for tomcats. New cats are typically driven away when attempting to join in, but can be gradually integrated over time if accepted by the group.

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Featured photo credit: Cat looking up/Barn Images via flic.kr

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Marilyn Rogers

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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