Friday, July 15, 2011

How Pets See the World

By Julia Williams

I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked at one of my cats lounging around without a care in the world and thought longingly, “Oh Cat, if only I could trade places with you. How awesome that would be!” Our pets are so blissfully unaware of all the struggles we face just being human, not to mention making sure we are responsible pet owners. Pets don’t know a lick about mortgages, utility bills or credit card debt. They don’t ever have to shop for groceries, do the laundry, clean the house or cook a meal. For the lucky ones with doting owners, their whole life is about joy, love and contentment. They only really worry about two things: “Where should I take my next nap?” and “Is it time for me to eat yet?”

I admit, I’m quite jealous of my cats. I want to be the one who gets to sleep all day and have food magically appear in a bowl (although I don’t really want that bowl to be on the floor, thank you very much!). Life is infinitely simpler for our pets, and it just doesn’t seem fair. Why should my kitties get the cushy life while I slave over a hot computer, slinging words together just so I can buy them the meowvelous FELIDAE cat food they love? That settles it – in my next life, I want to be a feline!

So, while contemplating what it would be like to be a cat, I started to think about how our pets see the world around them. I tried to imagine what they might think or feel when they see us doing things that are commonplace to us, but oh-so-alien to them. I began to wonder…Is the life of a cat or dog as carefree as I imagine it to be? In actuality, there are some things that scare the bejeebies out of my cats. Such as:

1.  The vacuum, aka the “Suck Monster.” I don’t even have to turn this noisy thing on to give my cats a fright. The second they hear me getting it out, they run for their safe spot under the bed. Their little cat brains can’t comprehend the Suck Monster’s purpose, and I wonder if they think I turn it on just to terrorize them? Gosh, I hope not!

2. The lawnmower must be the Suck Monster’s evil cousin, because the mere sight of it also sends my fearful felines runnin’ for dear life. They’re probably thinking “Look out! That thing takes perfectly good, edible grass and shreds it into tiny pieces!” 

3. Thunder and fireworks are loud to human ears – just imagine how deafening they must be to our pets since their hearing is so much more acute. Add in that these noises come seemingly from nowhere, and pets must be thinking something akin to Chicken Little’s famous line, “The sky is falling!”

4. Loud noises from the TV or computer send my kitties scurrying for cover. Hearing bombs exploding or the rat-a-tat-tat of gunfire must also make them think the world is coming to an end; I’m pretty sure they’re hoping it doesn’t happen before dinnertime, though.

5. Car rides turn my cats into howling creatures capable of waking the dead. They must be thinking, “Oh no, this thing is moving! Where is she taking me? Please don’t let it be to that lady who pokes me there!”

5. The camera, aka the “flashy beast,” doesn’t really scare pets as much as annoy them. They can’t fathom its purpose, but I think they do understand it results in a tangible thing that makes otherwise sane people go all goo-goo-ga-ga when they do something cute, like curl up for a nap in the turkey roasting pan.

Let’s face it. Life seen through the eyes of our pets is not even remotely like what we see through ours. I’m just not sure who has the better deal. I mean, I know the vacuum isn’t going to suddenly suck me up and that the sky isn’t falling. Then again, relaxing 24/7 and having food appear twice a day without lifting a paw isn’t too shabby!

Photo by Domenico Salvagnin

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. I think about their perspective, so close to the floor--usually when I'm playing with the Horde on the floor or sprawled out, trying to get an eye level shot. The house (and everything else) looks so HUGE from 12 inches off the ground.

  2. I've always said when I come back, I want to come back as one of my cats. I think I'd take the occasional encounter with the suck monster or the flashy beast in exchange for spending my days lounging around and being waited on hand and foot :-)

  3. That is funny, I was just thinking, wouldn't it be great to sleep 23 out of the 24 hours in the day. But I sure would want a good owner and not get kicked out of a nice home like so many cats do. Great post. I have been think about all the good things about being a cat too. Take care.

  4. HeeHee, you just think we don't know what's going on! Success!!!

  5. I concur with Ingrid's sentiment COMPLETELY!

  6. Cats, at least the ones in good homes, do have all of the luck. I love the post; so many things in an animal's world mean different things to them than to us.

  7. None of those things bother my sisfur Isabella at all because she's one of those extremely mellow cats. But I don't like fireworks, loud noises, delivery trucks and doorbells. They all disturb my naps! Nothing disturbs Isabella's naps.


  8. Oh, I could deal with those few scary things being a cat would be wonderful if I could pick where I wanted to live. Love this post. Hugs and nose kisses

  9. Tobi's a scaredy-cat of almost everything, so I really identified with your list of scary things we humans use! It's true, he hates that vacuum so much and I doubt he understands that the point is of such a miserable machine. He runs top speed when he even hears me move it from it's usual spot! Part of me feels guilty using it with the way he darts around and hides to avoid it! :)

  10. Except the camera, Eva is absolutely interested in them :))

  11. My guys are afraid of all of these things, except for the camera (they're used to it by now). I think thunder is the most scary to them!

  12. What always amazes me is that cats and humans can have such a trusting relationship. We must look like huge, scary giants! Whenever Link cuddles up and reaches his paw to my face, I think about hwo lucky I am to have this small thing's love.

  13. Our guys are afraid of the vacuum, too (and like yours, all we have to do is pull it out of the closet to cause an instant kitty exodus). I think I'd like being a cat ... as long as I had a good and loving owner. :)

  14. Ha! This is funny.

    I kinda think that the SMELL from the vacuum is what bothers my cat. Whether there is a fresh bag or not the cat hair and whatever tends to heat up and can't smell good to a cat that doesn't know what it is. When it is not on she will sit by it. And it is not that noisy. She jumps at TV doorbells (and the real one). My cat is used to fireworks for some reason (cuz we live by an amusement park?). She only goes in cars to go get "tortured" (vet visits). We only have a cat so she is our primary photo op. The camera very much annoys her, but it is probably more me . . . .always in her beautiful little kitty face trying to snap that cuteness!


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