How to understand a cat
By mistake people considered cats to be estranged creatures which are not interested in people's company. But it is not true. The matter is that cats don't care what do you want from them.
Anyone who has ever had a cat, trained to live with people, know how close the relations between people and cats may be. Cats are loving, playful, charming and cute companions. But at the same time a person who has ever had an independent cat, which wasn't trained to people since the first days of life, know how happy such cats are when existing independently of people. The ability of adapt themselves to quite various conditions and feel good at the same time is the part of cats' secret.
To penetrate into the essence of cats, first of all you have to realize the principles of social structure of their society. Let's begin to consider them as personalities. Each cat has four main zones, which it knows quite well. We, as human beings, have similar zones too, that's why let's compare cats and us.
The first and the smallest zone is your private space. This space is reserved for bosom friends. This is the space surrounding you. If you sat in the empty room and suddenly a stranger came in, sat near you and touched you, you would think it queer. Probably you would stare at him angrily and ask him to move aside or do it yourself. Your cat also has such zone. Only its close friend and family are admitted. It will gladly sit on your knees. But many cats won't sit a second on stranger's knees. It will allow the best friend to comb its hair but if a unknown cat is in your house - be careful! My pet, Shvaika, doesn't want to lie on my wife's knees but it allows her to comb its hair.
The next zone cats have is their social zone, which corresponds with our circle of friends. Depending on who is in its zone, a cat either allows to come near it or stays at some meters distance from you. It won't allow to touch it too. When your pet allows a guest to sit on a sofa near it, regarding a cat, your guest is situated in its zone.
One more zone for cats is their home. In our case it is our apartment or a house and a yard. The cat considers this space to be entirely its. It will drive all uninvited guests away, it will guard its property and try to protect it against infringements. The dimensions of such zone may vary depending on number of population of cats living in the zone and also on the amount of food. A cat may get used not to suffer from lots of other cats close to it, if there is enough food. Attention! If you keep more than one cat at home, they need minimum 4 square meters per cat. If there is not enough food, that means tense struggle for vast territories. And it doesn't differ much from our society, does it?
The last and the largest zone is the nearest environment. The cat knows this zone quite well but it has to share it with other cats. If all our neighbors are in their own yards, it suits us perfectly. The same with cats. They don't have problems with next-door cats if each cat is in its own territory. All together they watch the common zone. Cats know each other and think it normal when somebody comes or leaves, but they won't stand the unknown cat long.
Most cats live as private individuals on their own territory. But if they are supplied with food in abundance, cats with gather together. Such cats, living together, create an original social structure, which is sometimes too complicated. Inside it there are three main levels, each level corresponds to certain status.
At the top of this structure there is a king, who reigns all. Before him even seas part. As a rule it is non-geld male. Everybody respects him.
The next level consists of the majority of cats. It is the masses. Their main resemblance is that all of them understand and respect the role of the king. The second resemblance is that all the cats have the same status. This group is subdivided into matriarchal families consisting of mothers, daughters, aunts and nieces. All together they take care of descendants. Females, inside this group lactate the kittens of other females, hunt for everybody and protect all the kittens.
A step lower there are miserable creatures, who seem to have posters "Kick me!" on their backs. These cats are the cat's variant of children who always suffer on the playground. Such cats are on the periphery of the group and try not to be the "fire zone".
All points enumerated above will help you to understand the behavior of your pet. If you keep many cats together, you may observe their social structure in action. But all in all the understanding of principles of large social systems won't be useful unless you understand the language of cats. (See: Cat's language)