Why Are Cats So Jumpy?

Greetings, my pawsome human minions.

It’s Forrest Wisewhiskers, bringing you answers to all things feline. And this time, I come to you with my ears flicked back and my tail all bushy because dad startled me while I intently observed my mockingbird nemesis through the window. And when I reacted to what my instincts said was a possible threat by springing up high, he proceeded to laugh at me, saying, “Forrest, you old scaredy cat! You jumped higher than a piece of popcorn!”

He continued to guffaw as I stalked off, insulted, my fur all atwitch. Sure, startled cat reactions are fun to watch and often appear dramatic to the human eye, but the jumpiness isn’t just for your entertainment. Feline reaction times are about survival.

Speed Means Survival

Feline senses are as sharp as our claws, and thanks to our keen senses of smell, sight, and hearing, we tend to avoid many issues. But, and I’ll never admit this again, we aren’t purrfect. Like everyone else, cats have moments of distraction, and they can occur during deep sleep, when engrossed in the food bowl, and even when watching a tasty snack hop about the yard with its smug gray feathers and mocking tones.

So, touching, making loud noises, or suddenly moving fast might scare your cat if they’re otherwise engaged, leading to what you might call a crazy cat jump and run, or even a jump and swat, depending on the situation.

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But, in the feline way of being, we find overreactions a preferable outcome to being got by a critter. Our super jumps and ability to haul tail at the drop of a hat are about survival. In the wild, speed saves feline lives.

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The higher and faster I jump, or the quicker I tear out of there in response to that which has startled me, the more likely I will escape the situation with less damage. And while humans may term us jumpy or even call us scaredy cats, our reaction time is proof positive that felines are evolutionary masters.

Avoiding Danger

Though we are fierce predators at heart, there are bigger beasties that go bump in the night that might want to take a bite out of a cat. But, as supreme beings, we avoid those that would make us prey, thanks to our keen senses and crepuscular schedule. That’s just a fancy term for active at dawn and dusk, and this schedule allows felines to prowl without worrying over nocturnal enemies.

Simply said, cats are jumpy because a big swift reaction can mean the difference between life and death. Sorry to be so drear, but it’s the truth, and that’s what I’m here to tell you on behalf of the feline species.

But for all the things in this world that can scare a cat, the most terrifying is the prospect of an empty food bowl.

So, don’t forget to feed the cat.

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