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Tips for Families with Cats
Cat Pictures
Cat Pictures

Your cat may be aloof, but trust us: She needs you.

Howard Berman/Getty Images

If you have a cat, you already know that a cat isn't a dog that doesn't have to be walked. If you're about to bring a cat into your family, you need to understand that basic fact. The common wisdom is that dogs are friendlier than cats; cats are more aloof -- but that's only true to a point.

In recent years, scientists who have done DNA studies have offered a better way to understand cats. Unlike other domesticated animals, cats domesticated themselves, and, in a way, trained humans. Cats decided to live close to humans because doing so benefited the cats themselves.

Studies show that cats have lived with humans for about 12,000 years, since people first settled down and started farming. When they started storing grain, mice arrived and started eating the grain. Wily cats figured out that the mice settlements where people stored grain were easy hunting, so they started hanging around. Cats did what they needed to do to get the people to let them stay, but they maintained their independence. Over time, cats allowed humans to get a bit closer to them [source: Brown].

Today, about a third of American households have cats. In most of those homes, the cats are still more interested in pleasing themselves than in pleasing their human families. A dog may do anything it can to make you happy, but kitty will teach you to make kitty happy.

Keep reading to learn more about how to please your cat and keep it healthy.

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