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Cat Hero

Peter is an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer with over 50 years of work within zoos.

Cat Heroes

Anyone who has ever had a domestic cat as a pet will vouch for their courage and independence. In spite of thousands of years of domestication the cat Felis catus retains a wild streak. Their ability to survive and go feral is testament to this trait. Cats are heroes, They have tremendous courage, the same fearlessness that they share with their much larger cousins, the Lions and Tigers.

I have worked with large cats during my zoo career and through necessity had to hand rear on occasion. It has far from novel to be sharing my home with young lions, jaguars, leopards and others. Remarkable animals all but it is the domestic cats for which I have the greatest admiration.

It is not just their courage but their preparation to accept and adapt to novel situations that I find so admirable.

Cat And Alligator

Cats and Lions

The cat and the alligator makes gripping viewing. The cat is neither foolish nor especially brave. It obviously lives in the vicinity and has built up an understanding of the creatures with which it shares its territory. This is not so very different from antelope which will graze quite happily only yards from prides of lions. The antelope know when the lions are hungry.

Some years ago I was working at a large zoo in the Middle East. We had a large pride (more than 20) of lions in a huge enclosure. One evening as I patrolled the zoo I watched a big old feral tom cat walking towards the pride of lions inside the enclosure. The dominant male lion rose and walked towards the cat. The lion was huge by comparison and dwarfed the cat.

As they met the two rubbed their heads together in a typical cat type greeting and then turned and walked together to join the pride. It was an amazing thing to watch. Behaviour suggested that this cat had spent many hours with the lion pride previously. In spite of me spending hours after the first meeting of cats I never saw the tom again. A true cat hero though.

Cat and Bear

The clip of the cat ambushing the bear is a popular one because it is amusing. It is the size difference which gives the incident such impact. The cat here has the element of surprise and it would have been enough to make you or I jump and run too if only a short distance. We would quickly realise it was a cat, for the bear though it was completely different. If the bear were cornered the cat would get a completely different reaction after the bear had weighed it up.

Cats killing snakes is not so unusual. Wild species such as the Serval will include reptiles, including snakes, as part of their regular diet.

Cats are fairly often killed by foxes but equally they are known to get on together and even play together at times. Here we have a clip of a mangy specimen of a fox. It even has a missing tail. It is quite desperate for food. The fox is not an especially large specimen and is invading the territory of the domestic cat here. Probably any cat would be inclined to take the same action.

Cats and Hyaenas

One Middle Eastern zoo I worked at had a pair of Striped Hyaena Hyaena hyaena. They were nice enough animals which had been rescued from a far from satisfactory home. Within the zoo they had a large enclosure. It had not been originally planned as a Hyaena enclosure but was ideal for the purpose. The exception was a very large and high sided concrete water tank. This leaked a little and so there was wet sand all around the base. The Hyaenas like this and dug a burrow under the tank in the cool and damp sand. They stayed here in the heat of the day hidden away.

One day I saw a feral cat disappear into the hole occupied by the Hyaenas. In spite of waiting some time I did not see it or the Hyaenas come out. Over the next few weeks I saw the cat with some frequency. The Hyaenas took little notice of it. It was obviously living there. True enough the Hyaenas were well fed but I was surprised they did not kill the cat.

One evening to my amazement I saw one of the Hyaenas playing with a kitten. The Hyaena was jumping around like an excited child. Then two more kittens emerged from the hole beneth the tank. Cat, Kittens and Hyaenas were all one happy family. They remained that way for about a month after which Cat and Kittens disappeared. I reckon they just went on their way.

Cats are Heroes but they use their cunning too. Cats don't get themselves into difficult situations without weighing things up first.

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Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on May 30, 2012:

Thanks Chris.

Chris Hugh on May 29, 2012:

This is a fascinating Hub. I love it!

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on April 12, 2011:

Clare-Louise - Cats do their own thing whereas dogs, to a large degree, do yours. I like both. I like the company of both but dogs for walks...though I have had cats that would too...including a lion.

Clare-Louise from Birmingham UK on April 12, 2011:

Hi Peter, I absolutely love this hub! Amazing videos, and I'm also astounded by the lack of intervention by the filmers. One of my favourite things about my cat is knowing that he hangs out with me because he wants to not because he really has to!

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on April 06, 2011:

Thanks Nicole. I agree about the guy filming the snake. I wondered about including it but it made two points. The one about the cat....and one about people to which you refer.

Nicole A. Winter from Chicago, IL on April 06, 2011:

Oh, that poor fox! Awesome hub, here, very interesting, I love cats, but I can't help but wonder about the guy who is recording his cat tangling with a snake! Is the snake poisonous?!? Here he is, laughing while his poor kitty could be getting bitten by a poisonous snake! I love the anecdote you've related about the kittens / momma cat / hyenas living in harmony, so beautiful... also the video of the kitty jumping out and scaring the bear is hilarious!

Peter Dickinson (author) from South East Asia on April 06, 2011:

Simone Smith - The urge to defend territory is very strong.

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 05, 2011:

Wow... those cats are far braver than I am, that's for sure!

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