Why do cats often "do nothing"?

Anyone who owns a cat probably has seen that they spend inordinate amounts of time appearing to do nothing: e.g., they’ll sit down and stare at a blank wall for hours. What exactly are they doing when they do this? Being bored? Being content? Thinking deep philosophical thoughts? Snoozing? My dogs didn’t do this… when they were awake, they kept themselves occupied, even if it was by watching for squirrels.

They’re carnivores. They’re either in Digestion mode, power conservation mode, or asleep. All they have to do is hunt, eat, breed and defend territory. Meat’s pretty easy to digest so they don’t have to browse & forage all day & chew cud between meals. Apart from what is necessary to become a mommy or daddy cat, they simply don’t need to do anything else.

And it allows them time to astrally project to their lives in other dimensions.

…that they are plotting your demise. …and wondering if you taste like chicken. :eek:

Good idea about them being carnivores… they probably spend hours sitting still waiting for prey, so they might have it built within them to stare at the wall for hours.

Of course, being still and plotting my demise aren’t mutually exclusive activities. :eek:

You think cats are bad? Just look at your average human.

They stare blankly at the TV for hours.

Since cat’s rarely watch TV (and are in fact harsh TV critics on their home world) they find staring at walls a lot more enjoyable.

I’ve been around indoor dogs all my life and they sleep most of their days away too, often sighing as they lie down and seeming bored. We currently have three dogs and three cats and they are about equally active…which is to say, not much. The dogs play for awhile if they’re outside and then they lie down and the cats spend about the same amount of time playing with things in the house. But they all seem to sleep or just lie around about 80% of the time.

Point taken, conceded. :slight_smile:

They’re waiting for the wall to crack open and a mouse to pop out?

Activity level isn’t really the question here…

My dogs were primarily indoor dogs, and you could always tell what they were doing, like watching squirrels, sleeping, lazily chewing, and so on.

My cats, however, appear to deliberately find endless fascination in watching paint peel. :confused:


No, but they might have it hardwired into them to be perfectly still purring & staring at nothing.

They see Dead People.

Felines are proponents of “aahala’s rule of personal energy conservation.”

If something doesn’t absolutely have to be done, then you shouldn’t. And you’ll know when it absolutely has to be done, Mrs. aahala will tell you.

Being a solitary hunter (as most wild cats are) takes a lot of energy. Hours of tracking and sneaking up on prey burns calories, so they’re wired to not use energy if they’re not actively hunting. Since pussy’s human does all the hunting for her, she’s in mostly-permanent not-hunting mode.
The same thing happens to the big cats when they’re in zoos. It seems like I’ve never seen a lion in a zoo so much as twitch if the keepers aren’t feeding them at that moment.
Dogs, on the other hand, are pack animals. It’s much easier to single out and kill a stray herd member when you’ve got 10 buddies backing you up. So they haven’t evolved to be so conservative with their energy-consuming habits.

Also, on a physiologic side note, cats as a group (house cat to African Lion) have high percentage of muscle mass to “other” when compared to most other animals. It makes them better predators and it’s why they can leap into the shoulder-level cabinent you just opened that has all your nice martini glasses in it. Muscle, in turn, has a much higher resting metabolic requirement than an equivilant weight in fat (think bears). Kitty rests, in addition to the fascination with paint-peeling, because her ancestors had to maintain those energy stores for the hunt.

Some people are frightened by this behavior. They wonder if the cat could be actually watching at… something.

But there’s a difference. Cats never look bored. They seem perfectly content to sit still. I don’t know what it is that gives this impression…

'Cuz dogs’ll do that open-but-droopy thing wth their eyelids and lay as much of their bottom jaw on the floor as possible, cats close their eyes and smile and usually hold their heads erect–like a sphinx.

The difference in resting metabolism between muscle and fat isn’t all that high, but the difference in active metabolism is.

I wonder: are cats that have not been neutered more active?

They’ve got very small brains. Boredom is beyond their cognitive abilities. :wink:

Actually, IIRC, cats don’t have object permanence, so it’s hard to imagine how they could be bored.

INSIDE A CAT’S MIND: Whaoh, The wall! That’s…that’s a wall! The WALL! hmm…:gasp: The wall! … 3 hours later … The WALL! And that’s…the wall! Wow, that’s the wa…hey, is that the can opener?