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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Six-toed, highly active, and taking supplements....


Dear George, 
I’m following (silently) your blog for a while. I must say I enjoy it very much. At times I found it quite amusing and at times I found it quite informative.
Lately I’ve seen that one of the reoccurring theme was food – what should cats eat.
I’ve learned that Gizmo is eating his broccoli, Chico has his food homemade, Jasper is eating a raw diet from the pet food store and the list goes on and on! But, I have one question: do we need to take supplements and/or vitamins?
I’m a very, very active polydactyl baby (see the picture attached) – I have lots of energy and I can run and play all day (of course having 6 toes helps), but I wonder if it’s the supplements my mummy gives me (she’s in the business) or am I naturally active?
Honestly, what’s your take on this?
Yours in health
Baraboo 

Dear Baraboo,
My preferred diet would be mice, other small rodents, the odd bird and the occasional insect , a completely natural diet. But I don't lead a completely natural life as I live in a human home. Instead I get given very good quality complete cat food. No human food, except what I steal off the kitchen floor, the occasional bit off a plate that hasn't yet been put into the dishwasher, and the odd mouse. A little of what I fancy does me good.
I seem to be completely healthy. So I would say that if you are given a good quality complete diet (and there are now raw food diets available in envelopes here in the UK with no risk of salmonella), you shouldn't need anything else. Would a supplement be a good idea? Only if your human knows what she is doing. 
Humans sometimes think what is good for them is good for us. Wrong. Human medicines, like aspirin, can kill us. There are foods like onions, grapes and raisins, and chocolate, which are good for humans: bad for dogs and for cats. There's a list here.
So tell your human always to check with a good website or a vet before giving us human food, human supplements or human medicines. Stay safe.
Yours 
George.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

How to avoid getting an "unsolicited" brother

Dear George, 
How much I wish you had never posted the letter about the kittens born to that wild cat!
Ugh! The minute my mommy read your post I knew she’s up to something!
It seems that I’m getting an “unsolicited” little brother! No, no, no! Of course my mommy is not pregnant but now….she wants to adopt the little tabby! He even got a name: Pepe! Well, Pepe is totally unsolicited (by me); he is not welcome in my territory!
What am I going to do with the little bugger? Being born to a wild cat probably he has no manners! Definitely he knows no etiquette!
George, any tips on how to be properly introduced? I don’t want him to step on my paws! Any rules to be set up? Any specific language that he’ll be responsive to? I mean …something simple as, mind you, he doesn’t come exactly from aristocracy! Or….teach me how to make my mother change her mind.
I’m royalty after all (photo above). Can I share my house with a pauper? Should I take him in my life?
Yours with apprehension
Princess   

Dear Princess,
You can't stop them, alas. Why do humans think we cats want another cat? They want another cat. It is not natural for cats to share, except with close relatives. Myself I have had to adjust to another cat in the household but I would have preferred to be the only cat. The centre of all attention. The focus of all eyes. Second, or even third cats in our territory just mean there is less human attention and less human service for me. No wonder you are apprehensive.
A very slow introduction is best with Pepe in a cat crate or a carrier or a separate room (Details here). You need to get used to his smell. Feliway Friend, a new product designed to encourage intercat friendship, will help here. Get them to plug in a diffuser where territory will be shared.
I recommend avoiding Pepe as much as possible at first. Make sure your humans feed you in different locations, not in row. Close-up feeding bowls look sweet on Facebook but are stressful for cats. In nature we are solitary eaters and solitary hunters. Make sure there are plenty of beds - human beds, cat beds, sofas, armchairs. You need a place to sleep undisturbed by a kitten.
Although it will be irritating to watch your humans playing with the kitten, at least it will mean that some of that kittenish energy will be soaked up and he will be less likely to harass you...
Best of luck. 
George
PS. Celia is helping Muriel Brasseur next year put on a course, Companion Animal Behaviour: Listening to and Understanding Animals. Animal Communication (Dogs, Cats and Rabbits) Day and Weekend Course at the University of Oxford on Fri 26 May 2017 to Sun 28 May 2017.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The cat that eats his broccoli....

Dear George,
It's true... I eat broccoli! And once more I put humans to shame as most of them “hate” broccoli! But not me. Of course I eat a species proper diet (meaning carnivore and well balanced) but I like to snack on broccoli … little bites at a time! My Mom is quite worried but I know it is good for me and it’s not doing any harm! I can even be a “poster cat” advertising for humans to eat their veggies! I’m setting up an example for kids!
Parents should be grateful! What do you think?
Gizmo

Dear Gizmo,
There are many ways that humans can learn from cats. Eating broccoli is only one of them. Humans can learn the value of silence from us, the importance of sleep, the beauty of graceful movement, and ability not to desire material possessions. These are spiritual as well as moral talents.
This all adds up to a spiritual superiority to humans. We have a natural absence of self pity: an acceptance of life as it is without the yearning for things to be different: the courage to live with pain: and a straight forward ability to live in the present most of the time. We don't shop. We don't envy. We don't try to control others. We walk away from, instead of towards, trouble. We keep ourselves clean without being vain about it.
So yes, you are an example for kids who won't eat their broccoli. But more than that. You, and every cat that is alive, sets an example of modest spirituality for humans to follow.
Yours
George.
PS. If you Mom is worried about your habit of eating broccoli she should keep an eye on the litter box. There is a special chart here which will gives graphic illustrations of what poo stools. Grades 2-3 are what should be in the box. grade 3.5 onwards suggests you should ease up on the broccoli!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Born to be wild.... or perhaps not.

Dear George, 
Is this a valid statement or not so much? We were born of a feral cat but in a human house! Does that make us wild? We are five kitten - seven week old now - and quite social. We are ready for adoption (if anybody is interested). Our mother, who actually let this nice, generous human touch her, is getting to the clinic to be spayed. We heard our “temporary” human mother saying that she won’t release our feral mother back to the wild since she’s quite used to human touch now. But, what about us?
Are we going to be OK? One of the "girls' in the gang is getting used to catnip toys as you can see in the first photo.
Any wise advice George?
In a very playful mood,
The Three Musketeers (out of five)

Dear Kittens,
You are getting the best education you could have for a happy future  - warm shelter,  regular meals, soft beds, and attentive human servants. Train them using rewards (purrs, rubs, and the opportunity to stroke you) and punishments (hisses, ignoring them, and if necessary swipe and bite).
Start as you mean to go on. An intelligent kitten will have trained his human within the first four weeks to feed the correct food, change the litter tray regularly, and play enjoyable games with him. And all this without the human knowing that she has been trained.
Don't be too selfish. Allow them to share the bed with you. They make good hot water bottles.
Love 
George.
 





Friday, April 29, 2016

Good manners means starting at the nose not the tail.

Dear George, 
I wonder if you can help me with my human. I believe, if what I read on your admirable blog is representative, that she is not really any more stupid than the average for her species, but she seems unable to understand the correct procedure for eating wild food. My mother, a cat of impeccable manners and breeding, taught me that the correct way to eat a rabbit is to start with the head. Then, if your appetite is delicate, you can leave the body to be shared by your family. Amy Vanderbilt’s invaluable Complete Book of Cattiquette confirms that this is how prey is consumed in the best circles, and I have followed her additional advice to leave an eyeball uneaten for “Mr Manners.” My human seems unable to understand this basic concept and keeps asking me why I eat the head first. She seems unsatisfied when I tell her that this is simply the right way to do it. How can I make her understand? 
Yours ever, 
 Scaramouche

Dear Scaramouche,
Humans don't understand fur. They don't have any (except for some long fur on the head and some in the pits and pubes). Males have a few bristles and that it that. But mice and rats have fur - lots of it. If you eat it from the head first, the fur lies down flat. If you eat it from the backside forward, the fur gets ruffled up and makes it difficult to eat.
So it's not just good manners to eat that way: it's good practice. I do know of a bad mannered cat called Toby who starts in the middle. But he has lost 7 teeth and grew up on the street. You can take a cat out of the slum but you can't take the slum out of the cat. 
Keep up the good manners.
Yours respectfully, brother,
George.
PS. I leave the scut of a rabbit for Mr Manners.

Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, www.celiahaddon.com This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online VetTechprogramms.org