We always hear the saying that cats can do whatever they like. They do. However, this is due to a couple of reasons and also our relative lack of understanding of cat’s behavior.
The domestication of cats began around 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. However, in comparison to dogs, the domestication process of cats has been extremely slow. Cats were viewed as mousers first, pets second for the majority of the time during their domestication. They performed their task, which was largely equal to rodent control, without a problem without the need of facilitation from a human. Therefore, even though they had been living with humans for a long long time before they were conceived as pets, they did not socialize a lot with humans. Cats are maintaining the trait from their wild ancestor of patrolling and hunting (yes, even an indoor cat thinks he is hunting when he does seem to us that he is playing toys), which reflects their incomplete domestication.
Kittens learn how to interact with the human world when they are about 2-9 weeks old. If exposure to humans (or potentially other kittens) is inadequate during this period, a kitty cat may grow up having trouble socializing with human beings or other cats.
Olfaction is to cats is as vision is to human, it’s paramount in determining how cats perceive the world. Much scientific research has shown that behavioral problems of cats are highly associated with a change in odor profile in their environment. However, many cat behavioral problems are actually categorized as instinct behavior but are deemed inappropriate by cat parents. One common example is scratching at the sofa, carpet, etc. The good thing is that we can train cats or modify their living environment to decrease the inconvenience caused by some of their behaviors while maintaining their instinct, but this does take time and adequate client education from us veterinarians.