You may not be aware of this, but one of the best ways to figure out what is going on inside a cat’s mind is to watch how it reacts to mirrors.
Cats are notoriously weird about mirrors, and mine has always been no exception.
I first noticed that my kitten was acting strangely with her reflection when I caught her staring blankly into my new bathroom mirror for an abnormally long time.
I quickly realized she was frightened of the reflected image of herself, but I didn’t know why.
I tried to comfort her by feeding her treats in the bathroom. She was initially creeped out by that but gradually became much more comfortable with it.
Sometime later, I found that whenever I exited my bedroom door and began to walk toward the kitchen, she would follow me. I assumed she was hungry and followed me because we had left the food bowl in the kitchen.
I’d often come back to find her staring into the mirror again, but after a while, I started to notice that she’d sometimes turn and walk away from it and then return and stare at it again.
And then one day during breakfast, she walked up to my bathroom mirror and took a moment to clean herself. This completely threw me off guard, because I hadn’t even realized she would do such a thing until that point.
I realized that she’d been watching herself do it in the mirror… and apparently understood what she was seeing all along!
A short time later, I was talking to one of my friends on the phone. I watched as my cat began staring at herself in the mirror again. When she noticed me looking at her, she immediately ran around and hid behind a chair for a few minutes and then came out to stare at herself in the mirror some more.
This time, she actually appeared to be trying to do something with the reflection of her paw in the mirror.
A few days later, I still didn’t quite understand what was going on. I found her staring into my bathroom mirror again when I entered my bedroom from the kitchen.
This time, when I approached she ran away from me and hid behind a chair in a corner of my room.
I moved toward her and she hid even more deeply under the chair. I didn’t see her again for the remainder of the day.
The following morning, I walked into my room to find her staring at herself in the mirror again. Now that I actually knew what she was doing, I was puzzled by this behavior.
I gingerly approached her and made a small noise so she’d know I was there. She immediately turned and ran away from me and hid under a chair in another corner of my room.
Over the next few days, she kept doing this thing with the mirror.
I started to realize that she was clearly trying to figure out a way to escape from a corner of my room.
She’d stare into the mirror at her reflection for a period of time and then run from me into another corner of my bedroom until I moved toward her. Then she’d come out from under the chair and stare again.
I followed her one morning as she ran away from me and hid behind a railing in my living room. She noticed that I was following her and ran back toward the corner of my bedroom and then toward the door and stood waiting to see if I’d follow.
When I did, she ran back to the corner of my bedroom and again hid under a chair.
I think she was trying to find a way out — or perhaps even find a way to escape from me. Somehow, my cat had learned how mirrors work!
That’s when it finally hit me…
I realized that my cat was watching her reflection in the mirror to figure out where she’d be in relation to her reflection when she ran. She wasn’t staring at the mirror for any other reason.
She was trying to figure out where I’d run if I chased her, so she could get away from me! That’s what all the hiding was about! She knew how mirrors work, but not why.
I’ll never forget my cat’s reaction when I realized what she’d been doing. It was almost as if she was saying, “Of course I know how mirrors work! That’s not the point, you idiot! The point is that I’m trying to get away from YOU!”
So that’s how a cat knows how to use a mirror, and that’s why my cat suddenly became so interested in them.
Cats have been using mirrors for centuries… even though they don’t always understand them.
Now I know how, and I can’t wait to try it out with other cats!