Friday, April 13, 2012

Cats sleeping in the middle of the floor: What does it mean? Is it submission?

Lucy the cat lying in the middle of the floor
Lucy displaying sprawlability.
I've heard that it's an ultimate sign of trust if cats choose the middle of the floor for a napping spot. If this is true, my cats are either not very bright or they're overly trusting. Why, you ask? Because I step either on or near a sprawling cat at least once a week.

I am not a quiet walker, and I don't intend to squish my cats, but for some reason, they don't seem to get out of the way when they hear me coming. In fact, they often roll over and expose their bellies, which makes a step even harder on their poor bodies, and on my healthy sense of Catholic guilt.

There are a few behavioral explanations for all of this behavior in dogs. Apparently, dogs who roll over and expose their bellies like this are submissive, trying to demonstrate how much they recognize the power of the person approaching. Dogs who roll over like this might also be fearful, however, worried that someone will hurt them unless they submit.

I can't find many articles that state this is a normal behavior in cats, but I do know that cats can learn and they pick up traits from those that they live with. Since all of my cats have grown up with dogs, and all of my dogs have rolled over like this at one time or another, the only thing I can think is that these weird cats think they're dogs, and they're trying to demonstrate their submission. Since they know I will step on them, because I am clumsy and easily distracted, they become fearful and this makes them hold their ground in a rolled over position.

Fixing this one will be tough, as I don't want my cats to cower under the furniture. But neither do I want to keep hurting them by stepping on them all of the time. So, for now, it looks like I'll have to keep an eye on my feet when I walk, and gently scoop these cats into their beds when they're exposed and on the floor.