Case Study: Lucita, the cat


A pet is an animal that lives with a human guardian and it provides company and entertainment or protection, while the guardian should provide an adequate standard of living for it. [1] In some countries, the guardian is legally obliged to care for the adopted animal (e.g. [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]). The relationship developed between the guardians and the pets during the period of cohabitation has similar qualities as the relationship developed between humans. [8]

This is a case study of the relatively short-term cohabitation of a cat (Lucita) and her guardians (friends).

This paper is structured as follows:
Initially, the subject of the study will be introduced. Then, the traits that characterize Lucita will be presented.


Lucita (a.k.a. psypsynel) is a domestic cat (Felis catus) [9]. She was born in 2014 in Ilioupoli, but she moved in Pefki shortly after her birth. After 3.5 years, she was detached from her body, after having been diagnosed with lymphoma, which she fought bravely and stubbornly for about a month.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Some traits of Lucita that made her unique are being presented in this section. The traits per se might not be unique and they might be rather common in cats, but their combination created a unique, vibrant and adorable personality.

  • She laughs when watching birds
    • Reason [10]: 
      • Sometimes when your indoor cat watches “prey,” like birds or a squirrel, through a window, or sometimes just sees them on television, he makes a chattering sound. The cat opens his mouth slightly, pulls his lips back, and then opens and closes his jaws very quickly. The noise that results is a cross between lip-smacking and teeth chattering. If he is really excited, he might add a vocal utterance that sounds almost like a cry.
  • She yawns like a human
    • Reason [11]:
      • Cats yawn to intake more air. Yawning allows the intake of a larger amount of air in one inhalation. There may, however, be several reasons why cats do this, as you will find out below. If your cat is yawning excessively, a vet visit must be considered.
      • Cats may yawn to stay alert. When an animal is tired and sleepy but, for some reason, must remain awake (like a cat waiting for a late meal to be served), they may yawn to stay alert. That is, when a cat starts fading away, they yawn to give their brain a “restart.” There are several explanations for this, such as the body and brain cooling down with the air intake, extra oxygen being received, and the cat paying attention to the yawning itself.
      • Cats may yawn due to boredom. This is the same as for us. When we get bored, we yawn. Unlike humans, though, cats probably won’t use yawning in a sarcastic way to show someone that they are boring, but cats do yawn due to boredom. Scientists theorise that this is closely tied with the previous point, simply because boredom makes it harder to stay alert.
      • Cats may yawn in order to communicate. A yawning cat may show a relaxed mood to other cats. However, cats use their body language as a whole, and yawning alone would not tell others anything unless paired with something else. For example, if you look at still pictures of a cat hissing and a cat yawning, the mouth in both cases would appear the same. But if you pay attention to the state of the ears and whiskers, you would notice that the cat who is yawning has their ears and whiskers positioned sideways or slightly forward, instead of backwards or downwards as in case of an angry cat. You can learn more about cats’ body language here.
      • Cats may yawn because it’s contagious. There is scientific proof that if you see someone yawning, you may soon start doing it yourself; yawning is contagious. We can assure you that researching and writing this article made us yawn a lot. Did you yawn while reading it? There is also a study that shows that human yawns are contagious for dogs. While we did not find similar research done on cats, we cannot think of a reason why cats would be different.
  • She is sick (motion sickness - nausea) of cars (every time she gets into a car for a ride)
    • Reason [12]:
      • Motion sickness in cats is a common problem. Unlike many dogs that can be “trained” to comfortably ride in cars, cats prove much more challenging to overcome their anxiety. Most motion sickness cases in cats are caused primarily by the stress and anxiety associated with travel. Cats that travel only once or twice a year (typically when visiting the veterinarian) aren’t used to car rides and often associate the car ride with the stressful experience that follows. This reaction can result in motion sickness.
  • She performs a certain circular ritual before bed
    • Reason [13]:
      • The sleeping ritual often begins with the cat slowly marching around in a tight circle, often kneading as it moves. Kneading is frequently a precursor to sleep, says Kristen Hampshire, co-author of the Cat Lover’s Daily Companion: 365 Days of Insight and Guidance for Living a Joyful Life With Your Cat. She explains that it’s a sign of happiness and security going back to kittenhood, when kittens knead while nursing to communicate, in part, that they are present and OK.
Relevant references that could decipher the behaviours below could not be located, either because they are quite mundane and usual or because they are actually quite rare:
  • She has an etiquette when asking for food (she extends her paw and touches the one that has the food)
    • This might be a learned behaviour
  • She has a smooth soft meow
  • The evasive manoeuvres when we are chasing her are very elaborate and she enjoys skidding on the floor
  • Her love for medium rare beef steak is extraordinary
  • She has a very sensitive stomach and she is very protective with her belly
  • She has a weird way of showing her affection (she makes "nia nia nia nia" sounds) and uses trilling [14] as an acknowledgement of existence whenever the name psypsynel gets mentioned
  • She is very careful and gentle with machinery and cables
    • She might be doing that due to the fact that she is afraid of disturbing her surroundings.
  • She always waits for her friends behind the door
  • She always "tags" her friends (slaps her with her paw) when they pass from the sofa (she actually runs on the sofa from wherever she is in order to tag them, whenever she sees one of them coming near it)
  • She adores her little football and she always carries the ball on the sofa
  • She likes looking down, from the balcony, the people on the street
  • She loves playing Elmyra and the pet [15] with her friends
  • She loves stealing the hair bands of her female friends
  • She loves to hide behind curtains and playing the ghost and ambushing her friends


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet
[2] https://findavet.rcvs.org.uk/find-a-vet/your-responsibilities-as-an-animal-ownerkeeper/
[3] http://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/compendium-map/2017/usa/COLORADO.pdf
[4] http://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/compendium-map/2017/usa/WASHINGTON.pdf
[5] http://aldf.org/wp-content/uploads/compendium-map/2017/usa/OREGON.pdf
[6] https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=090000168007a67d
[7] Iris Smolkovic, Mateja Fajfar & Vesna Mlinaric, "Attachment to Pets and Interpersonal Relationships", Journal of European Psychology Students, Vol. 3, 2012 
[8] Ronald Paul Hill, Jeannie Gaines, R. Mark Wilson, "Consumer behavior, extended-self, and sacred consumption: An alternative perspective from our animal companions", Journal of Business Research, Volume 61, Issue 5, May 2008, Pages 553–562
[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat
[10] https://www.petplace.com/article/cats/pet-behavior-training/why-do-cats-make-a-chattering-sound/
[11] https://www.pet-happy.com/why-is-your-cat-yawning-at-you-are-you-that-boring/
[12] https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/motion-sickness-in-cats
[13] http://www.thedailycat.com/behavior/understanding/cat_sleep_routines/index.html
[14] http://www.catster.com/cat-behavior/what-is-cat-trilling
[15] http://tinytoons.wikia.com/wiki/Elmyra_Duff 


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