Why Are Cats So Naturally Curious?

Written by: Adri Sandoval
Adri Sandoval is the Special Projects Manager for iHeartDogs and iHeartCats. Her work has deepened her love for animals, fostering a strong passion for rescue and animal advocacy.Read more
| Published on December 28, 2017

Our feline friends are famous for their insatiable curiosity. But have you ever wondered why our kitties are so curious?

As with many of their strange behaviors, our cats’ need to explore is deeply rooted in their instincts. While you’ve probably heard the phrase “curiosity kills the cat,” the fact is, curiosity is what has kept their species alive for centuries.

A kitty’s curiosity comes in many forms, from trying to wedge themselves into small places, to watching our every move, to observing their worlds from a high vantage point. The short answer is, these behaviors are a direct reflection of their hunting instincts, as well as those that have helped them escape predators through the centuries.

According to TEDEd, our companions have evolved to eat throughout the day. This is because their prey generally consists of little critters, so they have to catch and consume multiple meals in order to stay nourished.

This would explain our kitties’ preference for pouncing on lizards and rodents — and small toys, at home — as well as their desire to explore crevices with their paws. After all, your cat’s natural prey often dwells in the tight spaces between rocks and in tree trunks, which is why they simply must investigate every nook and cranny they come across.

Veterinarian Dr. Kathryn Primm says that our cat’s attraction to boxes may have to do with their natural tendencies to hide from predators. Our kitties love checking out boxes because they are reminiscent of hiding spots in the wild, little safe zones they can squeeze into where big animals cannot reach them. In addition, these places keep them hidden from the view of their prey so they can catch their meals by surprise.

And as far as those high perches go? As with boxes, a high vantage point allows felines to have a large scope of the world around them at a safe distance from their predators. Also, it enables them to jump on unsuspecting prey, according to trainer Kristina Lotz.

Another thing our furry friends have a tendency to be curious about is… us! Have you ever caught a kitty with their gaze fixated on you? As  hunters, our curious comrades are always aware of their surroundings as a means of survival. So naturally, when we’re in their surroundings, they want to know what we’re doing. To them, watching us is interesting, perhaps even entertaining… plus, they love us! We represent food, warmth, comfort, safety, companionship, and affection. Is it really any wonder why they want to know what we’re up to?

In the most basic sense, the reason why cats are so curious is that it’s an instinct that helps them survive! As the TEDEd video below explains, our homes are their jungles!

Check out this fun video for more information on your cat’s curiosity:

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