#atozchallenge: Innate

Image by Samson Jay from Pixabay

Change a letter from yesterday’s word and you get today’s…

It was really a sight to see when Judy, the stray cat that came to us pregnant, gave birth to her kittens. She was still a kitten herself, but she knew when it was time to have them, and she knew just what to do to give birth to them, clean them up, and, when she was finished, how to get them to nurse and how to stimulate their bowels. Nobody had to show her what to do.

About a week after the birth, she developed mastitis and we had to take her to the vet. The only way we could get her in the carrier was to put the five babies in there with her, and when we got her to the vet she watched the vet like a hawk while he checked the kittens for cleft palates. She knew, these are my babies, and you’d better damn well be careful with then, or you’ll have to answer to me.

A couple of months later, we had her spayed, which is the responsible thing to do. We were so worried that she wouldn’t remember her kittens. When she got home, she remembered them, and had them all nursing before long.

Nobody taught her how to have kittens or how to care for them after they were born. It was innate: she just knew how to mother those kittens.

As I mentioned last week, Pepper, who was about Judy’s age, saw Tuffy when the kittens emerged from the back bedroom, and decided to "adopt" her. Pepper was like a nanny to Tuffy. Again, no one told Pepper how to do that. She just knew.

Then there was Lucy. One Saturday night she was in the kitchen howling. We just thought she was being Siamese (she was half Siamese), but when we went to check, we could see that Amy, one of our newer cats, had gotten into the space between the dishwasher and the cabinet it was attached to and was stuck. She didn’t stop being noisy until Amy was free. She knew that Amy was stuck and that she’d need our help to get free.

Lucy also helped us raise two kittens that we adopted, not knowing that they hadn’t been weaned. We fed them (gave them a bottle, anyway) and Lucy took care of the cleanup. She knew what she had to do and did it.

These are all examples of innate behavior. None of these cats had been taught any of these difficult tasks: they were born knowing how to do them.

What sort of behaviors do humans have that are innate?

19 thoughts on “#atozchallenge: Innate

  1. This was a great story and we see animals take care of their own so innately. I recently watched a calf born in the pasture across from my house and to see how the mom cared over it for an hour after it birthed. Incredible. Wouldn’t it be nice if people acted more like animals in the good way rather than the bad way? Playing catch up today from the annual A2Z Blogging Challenge
    Love kitties and what a great story…


    1. The reason animals know to do things is because no one is telling them otherwise. It’s the old joke:

      Why does a dog wag its tail?
      Because the dog is smarter than the tail. If the tail was smarter, it’d wag the dog.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that photo which is just so cute. I loved reading about your kitties and how protective they were. I think most human moms do know what to do innately as long as most do not read all these books that are out. When I took a psych class, it was very interesting to learn our innate qualities that we like to say does not exist or can be shared. I hate to admit it but most women are the hearth and home. How to clothe, keep kids safe, make things grow etc… while the males are the hunters. They search out food and they also protect. I know, my hubby immediately puts me behind him if he thinks there is a threat nearby. I am an oddball that I have no care to nurture babies and do home things. I like to decorate but I refuse to knit or darn socks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so amazing to read! I particularly loved the story about Judy remembering her kittens as much after she was spayed as before.


  4. I think the only thing we’re kinda successfully innate at is emotions and displaying said emotions
    No one really teaches us to love, be angry or be happy

    Sure the other animals can do it too.. but definitely not as good as us!


  5. We will die for our young, step in front of them. Most of us. Protect and nurture. Most of us innately want to procreate as some kind of immortality. Most of us stay close to water, maybe because of developing in the womb. Lots more subtle atavistic traits passed down among females particularly, some actual connection with their physical bodies. Women are actually changed physically by each child they carry, but there seems to be a stronger bond mother to daughter. I swear sometimes I am my mother or turning into her. The need to nest or store up is innate. To gather food (both sexes). Probably lots more.


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