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Answers from vets about your cat:

5 Ways Big Cats are Just Like Yours

(But they still shouldn’t be pets)

Reviewed by Bill Saxon DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC on Monday, December 15, 2014
Posted December 16, 2014 in A Vet's Life

Recently, while on a trip to Africa, I was fortunate enough to really observe more ‘big cats’ than I had ever seen before. I often marvel at how similar the behaviors of my own cats are to the behaviors of their wild cousins like lions, leopards and cheetah. Clearly some behaviors are learned from ancestral cats and genetically woven into the fiber of these amazing animals both wild and domestic. Here are 5 ways big cats are just like yours:

1. Big or small, cats like to rest

Ever notice how much time your cat spends sleeping or resting? In Africa, I came upon a family of cheetahs languishing in the sun just a few feet from the road. I sat there watching them do nothing for about an hour. What’s the reason for all this sleeping? According to Ohio State University, “Cats don’t have the sleep/wake cycle that we and many other animals have. This is because cats in the wild need to hunt as many as 20 small prey each day; they must be able to rest between each hunt so they are ready to pounce quickly when prey approaches.”  Clearly, our domestic cats have held on to these unique traits. 

Because all cats sleep so much, they often wake up and move to a new spot just a few feet away perhaps for a better view but more likely to exercise their muscles and stretch before resuming their horizontal position. I witnessed the cheetahs do just this, relaxing in the sun until for some unknown reason they stood up, stretched and moved to another sunny spot.

Photo credit: Jennie Della

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.

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