Blog & Editorial

Reflection on this famous video where a cat saves « his »child

I don’t like to comment on sensationalistic videos filled with anthropomorphic commentaries, but since this story made headlines on the Internet, we will demystify things together. Basically, I’ll bring you back to reality!

Please, watch this video.

IMPORTANT – When analyzing behaviour, it’s essential to never attempt to enter the animal’s head. The domestic cat doesn’t speak with words.  As a result, it can’t tell us what it thought or felt when the events took place. As behaviour specialists, we can only analyze what we see, which is quantifiable and measurable.

The cat prefers calm and routine. A familiar child is playing in « its » yard. This is a normal situation. A hunting predator, the infamous dog, gets enters the yard and attacks the child. The cat attacks the dog. The dog runs away. The cat pursues it for a moment, then returns to the child. By analyzing the body language of the cat, we get some additional information: the dog seems irritated by the presence of the dog and seems sure of itself, despite some signs of stress. Upon returning to the child, the cat’s posture suggests that it is confident and calm. The images don’t give us enough information to analyze further.

Why does the cat adopt this behaviour? WE DON’T KNOW! The only way to find out for sure is to ask the cat, but we don’t speak the same language. It may not know itself! All that can be said is that the presence of the dog biting the child caused the cat to attack, and the dog ran away. The dog’s escape stopped the cat’s attack behaviour. There is no point in trying to dig further. Moreover, it’s a safe bet that if a similar situation happened again, the cat would react exactly the same way. Indeed, the behaviour paid off: the dog left.

In the following weeks, the cat and its family received incredible media attention, going as far as to throwing the first ball in baseball games. A commemorative day was held in the city in the name if the cat. Not only did the cat probably not appreciate this kind of disturbance in its daily life, in the meantime, the dog was euthanized.

All because of the anthropomorphic interpretation of a cat’s behaviour. « It loved the child so much that it saved him! » Let’s say that a sudden event triggered a series of reactions from the cat. Always keep in mind the simplest explanation when analyzing the actions of an animal. Generally speaking, cats do something when they get something out of it. Let’s enjoy it even more when they come to us to be caressed, lie on our laps… of it a child is saved!


Daniel Filion

President, Cat Educator

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