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The Amazing Adventures of Calvin, the Fetching Feline

Exploring the Quirky world of cats and Their Strange, Dog-Like Trick

By Asif HussainPublished 5 months ago 4 min read
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The Amazing Adventures of Calvin, the Fetching Feline
Photo by Ludemeula Fernandes on Unsplash

Once upon a time, in the cozy realm of our home, Calvin, our peculiar cat, unfolded his extraordinary talent—fetching. Calvin's fetching escapades began at the tender age of one, triggered by a casual toss of a yarn puff by my spouse. What followed was a series of mesmerizing moments as Calvin enthusiastically chased, grabbed, and returned the toy, almost like a canine companion.

In the ensuing months, Calvin's love for fetch transformed into an obsession. Nightly after dinner, he'd demand the game, meowing and nudging our calves. His paws became expert pocket raiders, searching for objects to be tossed. We found ourselves marveling at our peculiar little man, exhibiting a behavior so oddly dog-like in his pursuit of the elusive yarn puff.

But Calvin's fetching antics, strange as they were, didn't make him a complete exception. Mikel Delgado, a cat-behavior consultant at Feline Minds, enlightened me on the intriguing world of fetching felines. In a limited 1986 study, nearly 16 percent of cats were reported to fetch, challenging the notion that this behavior was a rare phenomenon. Delgado, the proud owner of three fetching cats—Ruby, Coriander, and Professor Scribbles—is now delving into a newer, more extensive data set, hinting that the prevalence of fetching among cats might be higher than previously thought.

The common-ishness of cat-fetching, however, doesn't diminish its weirdness. Retrieving a single object repeatedly, especially for another species, isn't a norm in the wild. While dogs, particularly retrievers, fetch due to centuries of selective breeding, cats don't share the same history. Wailani Sung, a veterinary behaviorist, describes fetching in cats as a paradox—an instinct with deep roots in the wild, coaxed out by playful interactions with humans.

In a preprint study from this year, surveying 1,154 fetching cats, almost 95 percent displayed the behavior untrained. Evolutionarily speaking, fetching aligns with a predator's hunting sequence: looking, chasing, grab-biting, and returning. The first three are ingrained in their hunting instincts, but the act of returning becomes the wild card. Christopher Dickman, an ecologist, notes that solitary cats lack a natural incentive to share their catch, making retrieval behavior rare in nature.

However, cats already possess behavioral elements for carrying fetched cargo. Feline mothers bring live prey to their kittens to teach them how to hunt, and cats of both sexes move their food to safer spots before devouring it. As cats were integrated into human homes, rewarded for pest control, some of their retrieval-esque behaviors may have been encouraged and amplified.

The cat brand of fetching, though not exactly Labrador-esque, has its own charm. Most surveyed owners reported fetching with their cats 10 times or fewer a month. Interestingly, felines, not humans, were the typical initiators and terminators of these rare bouts. Calvin, in true form, demands fetching on his terms, interrupting our daily activities without a care. Delgado's fetching cats also exhibit this independent streak, emphasizing that it's very much on the feline's terms.

Cats, however, depart behaviorally from dogs. Both enjoy a good chase, but dogs, bred over millennia, find greater pleasure in obeying and pleasing humans. Cats, as Sarah Ellis explains, view their owners as mere "batteries" powering their toys, lacking the innate inclination to please.

The fetching gap may also stem from human expectations. Zazie Todd, an animal-behavior expert, suggests that the assumption that cats don't fetch, a dog-exclusive trait, might hinder their potential. With attention and encouragement, more cats might reveal their fetching prowess. Many have successfully trained cats using clickers and treats, challenging the misconception that fetching is solely a canine affair.

The mystery of why some cats fetch more than others remains unsolved. Experts note a prevalence of fetching in kittenhood, with potential genetic influences observed in certain breeds. Calvin's fetching prowess contrasts with his brother Hobbes, who prefers hiding beneath a blanket with his captured toy rather than returning it.

Despite the mystery surrounding cat-fetching, those fortunate enough to witness it find it truly special. Mikel Delgado, after decades of working with cats, expresses her delight in having her first fetching cats. Calvin, with his endearing habit, provides a unique connection, allowing us a glimpse into his intimate universe. When Calvin drops his toys at my feet, it's more than a game—it's a gift, a feline invitation to share in his world of playfulness and joy.

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About the Creator

Asif Hussain

Greetings! I'm Asif Hussain, a dedicated blogger and seasoned article writer committed to delivering captivating and informative content. With a penchant for simplicity and clarity, I bring a unique perspective to various topics.

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