Why do cats react so strangely to their reflection in the mirror?

In ancient mystical beliefs, cats and mirrors were associated with some invisible connections. It was assumed that cats could see what is inaccessible to us, and mirrors somehow revealed this world to them. However, modern researchers have carefully studied this phenomenon and offered a more rational explanation. The results of these studies will be interesting to anyone fascinated by the world of cats!

Cats’ Senses

For us humans, vision is one of the primary senses, so we often assume that it’s also true for other beings. But cats see the world quite differently! Their primary sense organ is smell.

Cats have a much more developed sense of smell than humans. They receive a vast amount of information through their noses. However, cats’ brains are slightly smaller in size and function differently than those of humans. Therefore, most cats probably cannot recognize themselves in the mirror. For them, it’s just part of the surrounding space.

Perception of Reflection

Thus, a young cat may mistake its reflection for another cat. But a more experienced cat will likely just ignore the mirror. The reason is that the reflection doesn’t smell like a living creature, but rather like an object.

Nevertheless, a cat’s reaction to its reflection can provide us with some information about its emotional state. For example, a playful cat that jumps at its reflection likely wants to play. If a cat hisses and scratches at the mirror, it could be a sign of stress. A cat that simply studies its reflection is probably just curious, while a cat that rubs against the mirror may consider it as its territory.

Over time, even the most anxious cat may stop reacting to its reflection. Cats, like us, learn quickly. They understand that the reflection poses no threat and stop paying attention to it, going about their business.

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