Monday, August 25, 2014

Is Your Cat Trying to Kill You?

(Reclaimed from Bubblews.)

Check out the obese orange cat here... . If it's trying to kill the humans who've overfed it to this point, it can claim self-defense!

Seriously, here's what I've learned about common annoying cat behaviors:

1. Staring: Staring is hostile behavior in the animal kingdom, but between cats and their families, including their human godparents, it can be done in fun. A cat who stares at you is likely to pounce on you. If you don't want to be grabbed, throw a toy for the cat to chase.

2. Tripping: If a cat can get you down onto its level, and into something like its position, it will definitely get your attention. Unfortunately cats don't understand human-specific concepts like broken hips and sprained ankles very well. Some people use the phrase "kicking kittens" as a sort of metaphor for viciousness in a human. If you hear that phrase that way, then please think of what you need to do with your pets as nudging them away from human feet. You don't want to hurt a kitten but you do need to give the kitten a very clear sense that human feet could hurt it. (Yes, all Cat Sanctuary resident cats have been deliberately kicked, or nudged. No, none of them seemed to mind. Yes, Heather and Ivy occasionally still run under my feet, because they are divas and make these little control-the-human gestures to impress each other, regardless of the danger to themselves.)

3. Pinching: All kittens instinctively pinch, knead, and press into the soft parts of their mothers' bodies in order to extract milk. Pet cats often do this with their human godmothers too. Over time they learn how and where we appreciate being kneaded. Screaming and shoving them away may speed up the learning process. Keeping cats out of bedrooms is recommended.

4. Mind Games: Really. You wanted an alien form of intelligence to stimulate your mind, right? Deal with it.

5. Projectile Shedding: Actually human hairs float around on air currents too, but cat hairs are much smaller and lighter and float further. If you must wear dressy clothes that don't match your pet's coat, brush them often.

6. Disgustingness: Let's just say that, if you assume that any feline body excretion found outside the litter box is evidence of illness and take the cat to the vet right away, this will discourage any inclination the cat may have to use its body fluids to express its feelings about your music, your food odors, or the fact that you stroked the other cat first. It may also lead to a happier vet, since vets enjoy vacations, new cars, and remodeled homes as much as anyone else does. I don't know of any indoor cat who's never used gross-outs to punish humans.

Outdoor cats have little opportunity to use gross-out displays to punish humans. If you see any puddles or piles that came from an outdoor cat, there probably is a problem--at best your unaltered pet is desperately advertising for a date. On the other hand you might fail to see evidence of a problem while there's time for veterinary intervention to help.

7. I'm not sure why the Hubpages writer didn't mention this one, but my cats Minnie and Bisquit, lacking opportunities to use gross-outs, used the Endless Whine in efforts to shape my behavior. (Pounce and Ivy had tendencies in this direction, but outgrew it.) Endless Whiners don't just say "meow"; they "meow...meow...meow...meow...meow...meow...meow..." for half an hour at a time, or until they're fed, or strangled, whichever comes first. I suspect that many cases of outrageous cruelty to animals have involved a whiny cat. About the only way to check this behavior is to try to ignore the whining, avoid doing anything the cat seems to want when it whines, and give it what it needs when it's not whining. Bisquit's whining subsided after she was five years old, and if Minnie had lived another seven years or so, who knows, she might have quietened down too.

There are no perfect cats. There are no perfect humans. (I was blessed with a first cat who was a perfect pet for me, though.) Time, patience, and understanding will resolve most of the problems between cats and their humans. If all else fails, there's always "re-homing."