Why Do Cats Sneak Around?


A cat’s sense of stealth is robust: stopping their predators and prey from detecting them. The goal is to see without being seen. Cats prefer enclosed, high places where they’ll see who’s coming and going, observing their world, feeling secure from their predators and undetected by prey.

This instinct is evidenced within the wild cat species, as well. Cougars and leopards mix in with their backgrounds so well that they go undetected by people living nearby. If you happen to’ve hiked in cougar territory, chances are you’ll not see a single cat, but that doesn’t mean they’re not spying on you. Unless they’re attempting to find food or attempting to impress a mate, most cats, including the wild species, generally don’t need a confrontation with other animals or people.

Even at home, unless they’re wearing a bell on their collar, we tend not to listen to a cat approaching. How again and again have we tripped over our cats because we didn’t know they were under our feet? In truth, bird advocates recommend attaching bells to outdoor cats’ collars to warn birds of their advances. Without that bell, cats have a bonus over their prey, which might’t hear them coming.

Cats’ sense of smell

We may appreciate an fragrant meal or a brewing pot of coffee, but our sense of smell is nothing like a cat’s. While our visual cortex is dominant in our brains, a cat’s olfactory cortex is dominant. Which means cats depend on their sense of smell the best way we depend on our eyesight. They discover every little thing and everybody through scent — and likewise hide their very own scent from predators.

In truth, cats bury their waste, and queens immediately clean their newborn kittens for this very reason: They don’t want predators to search out them.

A feline anomaly

©Ysbrand Cosijn | Getty Images

A 2008 study from Duke University suggests that feline stealth is definitely counterintuitive to evolution since it’s inefficient and requires large amounts of energy. Within the study, Dogs Chase Efficiently, But Cats Skulk Counterintuitively, researchers wrote, “While the dogs depend upon an energy-efficient variety of four-footed running over long distances to catch their prey, cats appear to have evolved a profoundly inefficient gait, tailor- made to creep up on a mouse or bird in slow motion.”

Within the study, Daniel Schmitt, a Duke associate professor of evolutionary anthropology, states that expending the smallest amount of energy for max efficiency is a principle of evolution. But to hunt successfully, cats must sneak up on their prey, and that requires prolific energy. Nevertheless, although a cat’s gait is inefficient, it’s graceful.

“In the event that they’re creeping, they’re going to place this foot down after which that foot down after which that one in an excellent fashion,” Daniel writes. Humans and dogs, however, rise and fall after they walk, which actually conserves energy.

This behavior matches other feline characteristics. Cats exude short bursts of explosive energy to hunt and stalk their prey. Making up for this inefficient energy use, cats sleep two-thirds of their lives to rejuvenate. In addition they need exercise and playtime that mimic the hunt to be able to hone these innate stalking and pouncing abilities.

Traits of Feline Stealth

Listed below are just just a few traits of our stealthy friends:

  • Cats move quietly.
  • Cats sneak up on prey.
  • Cats observe their environment.
  • Cats wait patiently for the best opportunity.
  • Cats mix in with the foliage.
  • Cats bury their waste to avoid being detected through scent.
  • Cats hide after they’re sick or vulnerable.
  • Cats do every little thing in such a way in order that their prey and predators don’t see, hear or smell them.

Dangers of Feline Stealth

Because enclosed, tight spaces are cat magnets, it’s essential to examine these areas before operating to forestall your cat getting injured:

  • Automotive engines before starting ignition
  • Your feet before walking
  • Clothes dryers or every other appliance before turning them on
  • Reclining furniture before closing
  • Cabinets and closet doors before closing


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