We all know that cats enjoy watching fish swim in aquariums, but anyone who has spent time with a cat also knows that they have an aversion to water.
A love of fish cannot exist with a hatred of water. So how did our feline friends learn to enjoy surf when they prefer to be on turf?
The short answer is that the domestic cat of today is genetically similar to their wild friends and cousins we all wish we could have, and one of these breeds of wild cats, the fishing cat, actually fishes for their meals.
It is also said that cats may have been domesticated by early humans enticing them with a snack of fish meat.
All cats have hunting instincts stimulated by small prey with sudden, quick movements, and their sense of smell is heavily relied upon.
Fish have a strong odor and move quickly at the bat of a murder mitten; therefore it is reasonable to state that fish are the prey of choice for cats who do not mind water.
Cats are also intelligent and opportunistic; when they notice people eating, or smell fish being prepared, they will come to investigate and request a sample.
According to Purina, Despite the fact that cats have been domesticated for a significant period of time, they remain true to their roots; the fat and happy felines ruling households today are genetically similar to their wild counterparts.
Their genetics helped them maintain wild behaviors and killer hunter skills.
The Wild Cats who enjoy the Catch of the Day
Similarly to how people have different preferences can be traced to the preferences of their relatives, you may be able to determine which wild cat your favorite feline descended from based upon the preference of the palate.
If your cat does not mind water, they may be related to an interesting and adorable wild cat – The Fishing Cat.
Believe it or not, there is a type of wild feline called The Fishing Cat who actually enjoys being in the water! According to SanDiegoZoo, Fishing cats literally go into the water and fish to enjoy the catch of day caught by their own paws and claws.
These fishing cats are equipped with webbed paws for their fishing adventures and are adept swimmers.
They are attracted to water and primarily reside wetlands, marshes, and mangroves. Fishing cats also enjoy catching frogs, crayfish, crabs, and snakes.
Despite being miniature bosses, this wild cat is unfortunately threatened in the wild due to habitat destruction.
If you would like to assist in their conservation, learn how you can help these fantastic felines by visiting the Urban Fishing Cat Conservation Project’s website.
As our domestic cats remain true to their roots, it makes sense that many of the fishing cat’s domesticated cousins would also request that fish be served for dinner.
As you can see in this video by Big Cat Rescue, the fishing cat looks very much like their domesticated friends and is quite comfortable being in the water.
This video by scarce worldwide shows that the fishing cat uses her paws to catch fish, and even goes underwater to catch fish.
Our cats larger wild relatives are also seafood connoisseurs. Leopards enjoy fish. Tigers are attracted to water and they enjoy fishing.
Zoos often make fishing available as an enrichment activity to their tigers.
Jaguars are also excellent swimmers and impressive predators; they are even capable of taking down a caiman in the water, which is the caiman’s element!
Killer Hunting Instincts Attract Cats to Fish
According to TrueInstinct, Cats are carnivores; therefore, they must be excellent hunters to be able to eat meat.
According to CatFriendly, Quick movements catch their attention, as their prey mainly consists of birds and rodents, who naturally move in sudden and quick ways.
If they were not interested in quick movements, they would never be successful hunters. Fish swimming in an aquarium or body of water can make these quick movements that capture their attention and initiate the kill switch of their hunting instincts.
The Influence of Smell
According to ScienceDirect, All cats have substantial olfactory abilities and rely heavily upon them. Cats may even have a better olfactory system than dogs.
According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, The smell of food plays an important role in the eating habits of cats; dry cat food is usually coated with flavor enhancers, such as animal fat, to create an irresistible aroma to entice finicky felines to eat.
Fish meat has a strong smell, so it is logical that cat food manufacturers frequently select this meat.
The Domestication of Cats
As cats are rodent hunters, they likely first discovered early human settlements when chasing their usual prey.
After discovering that rodent hunting in human civilizations was like shooting a fish in a barrel, they likely chose to stay as they learned to become opportunistic diners; following the smell of fish meat to the meals of early humans, then utilizing their cute appearance to beg, or get close enough to steal, appetizers of fish meat.
Historians have traced the domestication of cats to Egypt, Africa, and the Mediterranean.
Considering the importance of smell to interest finicky felines in search of a delicious meal, it is likely that early humans utilized the odoriferous fish to lure cats into their homes, as depicted in this Egyptian painting.
Cats became domesticated as a result of their rodent control abilities.
Ancient peoples brought their feline friends on their ships when they failed to ensure that rodents did not populate on their vessels and destroy their goods.
When food sources originally packed ran low, the passengers on the ships would catch fish to eat.
Anyone with a soft spot for a cat has difficulty saying no when they beg for food; one can imagine that these rodent control professionals enjoyed a few bites of the catch of the day off the plates of passengers and sailors, either as a tip for a job well done or as a result of their adorable faces.
Providing Mental Stimulation for Domestic Cats
Since the cat’s transition from chief rodent control officer to dictator of the living room, many cat owners struggle with helping their cat maintain a healthy weight.
Burning more calories means earning more treats, and playing with toys is the most fun way for a cat to exercise.
By purchasing interactive cat toys, you will stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instinct, which will help them be more active.
These interactive fish cat toys are an excellent way to stimulate your cat’s mind and their natural hunting instincts.
If your cat eats too quickly and needs more mental stimulation, this fish slow feeder toy would be an ideal purchase to make them fish for their food.
As cats rule the world, it is only natural their reign extends to the technological sector, and that people have catered to their needs by creating game applications for them to play.
Download Friskies’ Free Cat Fishing game app for your cat to enjoy digital fish to bat at with their paws.
Feeding Domestic Cats Fish
Ironically, feeding cats fish exclusively is not recommended. Fish meat used in most cat food is fish meat that is unfit for human consumption; if it is not fit for a human to consume, we must ask if it would be harmful to our furry friends.
Further, most fish meat contains a high level of mercury and other contaminants, a sad result of the pollution of our world’s oceans.
If your cat enjoys eating fish meat, it is best to do thorough research to locate a cat food company that uses farmed fish meat, which would avoid the risk of unhealthy contaminants.
Additionally, eating fish exclusively is associated with cats who suffer from thyroid, kidney and urinary tract issues.
Always consult with your veterinarian about your cat’s diet to ensure they are consuming balanced nutrition, and ensure that your cat regularly receives preventative veterinary examinations to prevent illness.
Cats have literally sailed around the world and are taking over it, one paw at a time. It seems they have earned having their fish and eating it too.