Why Do We Keep Cats As Pets?

If you learn about cats from cat videos on the Internet, they don’t seem to be very good pets: they break things, they can scratch you, they run around at night… Why do we keep cats as pets, then?

Let’s find out!

By Julia Solovieva – Language teacher with more than 10 years of experience in teaching English as a second language. You can follow her on FB on Random English.

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How were cats domesticated? 

Cats are well known for their independent character. In line with this character, cats were not exactly domesticated by people: they sort of domesticated themselves. 

Around 10,000 years ago, humans first started storing grain.

Developing grain storage led to a huge increase in the mouse population which, in turn, attracted wild cats to human settlements.

And, just like that, voila – cats started living with humans. 

After all, this is a win-win situation for everybody!

Cats get food in abundance, shelter, protection from predators, and people get rid of mice destroying their food – at very little cost.

This is, of course, a simplified version of the process that took a long time, but this is the essence of how cat domestication happened.

Wild cats who were less afraid of humans came to their settlements and through this sort of ‘self-selection’ they eventually became domestic cats. 

As the cats kind of just came and stayed with humans, they were not affected by the domestication process as dogs and other animals were.

Most cats’ instincts and habits remain intact and they are quite capable of surviving in the wild.

Why do we keep cats as pets today?

In villages and on farms, people still keep cats for their ‘original’ purpose: to help get rid of mice and other pets.

However, there are plenty of city dwellers keeping cats who don’t have any barns or grain storage – so, why do we do it?

Cats are a great pet

Although some stories and Internet videos might make you think otherwise, cats are actually really great pets – especially for busy working people living in the city in small apartments.

Here are some of the things that make cats perfect pets:

  • They are independent and don’t require constant attention
  • They are small and ‘fit’ great in apartments
  • They don’t require as much maintenance as dogs – and they cost less
  • They have long life-spans
  • They are quiet
  • They are clean
  • They keep pests away
  • They are smart
  • They don’t make you feel bad when you leave home for work
  • They bathe and groom themselves
  • They are quite eco-friendly

There are many health benefits to owning a cat

Research shows that people who own pets generally live longer and healthier lives. Owning a cat, in particular, has lots of amazing health benefits.

Here are some of the main examples:

  • Petting cats reduces stress levels and lowers blood pressure
  • Cat owners have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Children exposed to cats at a young age have lower risk of allergies
  • Cats are great companion animals reducing the feeling of loneliness
  • Cats help children develop social skills and cope with traumatic situations
  • Cats’ purrs are very therapeutic

Cats are fun

On the one hand, cats don’t need too much attention from their owners and can often play by themselves. 

On the other hand, they are quite playful animals that you can have a lot of fun with – and you can easily do it in a small space without any expensive sophisticated toys. 

Get a string and a piece of paper, tie one to the other – and you’ve got a cat toy.

Get a small cardboard box, cut a few holes in it, and hide some treats inside – here’s a food treasure hunt for your cat. 

Funnily enough, many cats prefer strings and scraps of paper to store-bought toys.

Be careful, however: watch out for materials that can be harmful to the cat or small things that it can swallow.

There are many other simple things you can do to have fun with your cat:

  • Hide a toy under a blanket and let it scavenge
  • Blow some bubbles for them to catch
  • Turn some cardboard boxes into a maze or a fortress
  • Take selfies

Cats are cute

Cats are so cute that sometimes you can feel happier just by looking at them. And having a cat can make your home feel cozier and, well, more like home.

Cats are also extremely photogenic: you will always have fresh cute pics to share with your friends, relatives, and social media followers. 

Even if you don’t usually take many photos, think of getting a bigger memory card for your phone if you get a cat: cats have a natural talent for cute poses and it is scientifically impossible to not take daily pictures of your cute furry friend.

Photo: Cats Coming.

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