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Home > Cats > Why Do Cats Imitate Their Owners and Other Cats? The Science Behind It

Why Do Cats Imitate Their Owners and Other Cats? The Science Behind It

bengal cat gives high five paw to owner

The phrase “copycat” seems to have been borne out of frivolous and playful phenomena. No one would think this silly phrase holds much significance in practice, but recent scientific studies prove otherwise.

Cats imitate their owners to establish a hierarchy within the household. Cats are highly social animals and tend to copy their owners’ behavior as a way of showing deference and familiarity.

But this barely scratches the surface when it comes to cat imitation. Here, we’ll highlight the various reasons why cats imitate their owners and other cats.

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The Science Behind Cat Mimicry

One of the best-studied aspects of cat behavior is mimicry. Many studies have shown that cats are highly tuned to their owners’ and other cats’ actions and behaviors, making them masters of behavioral imitation.

For a long time, scientists thought cats didn’t have the cognitive capabilities to mimic their owners. However, recent studies have shown that this is not true. Cats pay attention to their owners’ behaviors and learn from them, using mimicry as a social tool for communication and bonding purposes.

This doesn’t mean that cats only imitate their owners. They also frequently imitate each other to establish dominance within the home. For instance, a kitten may copy its mother’s body language and vocalizations as a form of observational learning.

3 different colored cats sitting on balcony
Image Credit: gon4, Shutterstock

divider-cat The 3 Reasons Why Cats Mimic Humans and Other Cats

There are a couple of reasons why cats mimic humans and other cats. Some of the most common include:

1. To Establish a Routine

Cats are creatures of habit. They often innately mimic the behaviors of their owners to establish a routine and feel more comfortable within the household.

This isn’t to say that any slight routine variation will throw your cat off its game. Cats are highly adaptable and can easily adjust to new routines and environments, even without mimicry.


2. To Learn New Skills

Observational learning is a type of learning where an individual learns by observing and imitating the behavior of another. Many animals employ this type of learning, including cats. In doing so, they can acquire new skills without direct instruction or reinforcement.

When cats observe the behavior of their owners or other cats, they can learn new skills that they would not normally be exposed to. That way, cats are able to rapidly adapt and survive in a wide range of environments.


3. To Bond With Their Owners and Fellow Cats

As social animals, cats use mimicry to reinforce their bonds with other individuals within the household. This is especially true for owners and kittens, who often develop a very close bond over time.

This behavioral bonding also applies to other cats within the household or neighborhood. By imitating each other’s postures, vocalizations, and body language, cats can strengthen group cohesion and establish stronger social ties.

two cats fighting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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What Do Cats Imitating Us Tell Us About Ourselves?

Believe it or not, there’s actually quite a lot we can learn about ourselves by looking at our cats’ mimicry. Our cats’ behavior may hint at our own behavioral tendencies and social needs.

For instance, if you’re an extroverted person, your cat will display more extroverted behavior. And if you’re shy or introverted, your cat will likely mirror those same traits. The same goes for a neurotic person and their cat. Like its owner, the cat will also display signs of neuroticism.

Ultimately, the mimicry of cats can tell us a lot about ourselves and the social dynamics within our homes. By paying attention to these behavioral cues, we can better understand our cats and ourselves.

cat staring its sleeping owner
Image Credit: MOUii, Shutterstock

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Your Cat Is a Reflection of Yourself

There’s no doubt that cats are one of the most fascinating animals on the planet. They are highly intelligent, displaying complex social behaviors and a seemingly endless capacity for mimicry. And just like their owners, these behavioral traits say a lot about who they are and what kind of person they might be.

So the next time your cat mimics you or another cat, take a moment to appreciate how amazing these animals really are. And remember that your cat is a reflection of who you are as well—a loving, intelligent, and highly adaptable individual.

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Featured Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock

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