When you stand and look at yourself in a mirror you obviously know that it is you. This statement may sound silly, but, if you are an animal you may be in for more troubled times when determining who that stranger is standing opposite.
Cats make for great pets; they are cute, playful and practically look after themselves. They can be quite intelligent animals at times, although more on subjects they choose to be interested in. You would not really know when looking at our feline friends about the similarities they have in relation to us. Surprisingly however they actually have astoundingly close links to the human brain. When cats see themselves in a mirror it depends on the age and intelligence of the cat itself as to whether they think it is a totally different cat, or just a reflection staring back.
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Cats have similar thoughts to us on subjects such as 'where is my food?' and 'what was that loud noise'? Because of this, one of the best ways to gauge whether you think your cat can tell who it is or not, is by observing their reaction. Kittens will mainly just think another kitten is there to play with. They will jump and run around the mirror looking for the reflective playmate. After a short while they will soon become uninterested when they realise the kitten in the mirror does not want to play their game properly.
Some cats may not have ever seen a mirror until they are an older. On a first encounter they will be cautious and possibly anger when approaching the 'mystery cat'. Some will arch their backs and hiss, protecting them from an intruder. Others may approach in a more friendly manor looking to sniff the 'other cats' mouth to see what they have been snacking on. If the cat is able to realise it is not them by doing this (and some definitely will), they could perhaps not care and walk away, never knowing the answer. Then again why do they need to know? Cats never have to use or understand mirrors.
I own two cats and one of them will sit and stare at the mirrored wardrobes from a distance. If I sit with him and look in the mirror too, he just looks at me. This must mean my little fat cat is secretly intelligent and knows who the moggy in the mirror sat next to me is!
To conclude, cats will continue to do as they please and if they do not want to go near a mirror, or care who is looking back at them, they will simply wander off.