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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Let the New Year roll with William, guest columnist


George has gone out for the traditional Boxing Day hunt (so far two mice, one shrew, and an unidentified bird) and handed the column over to me. I would like to wish all you cats a Happy 2007. Christmas - that day of intruding human visitors and turkey scraps under the kitchen table - has gone. Celia went out so George and I failed to get a chance to steal food or even to find anything very interesting in the trash can. Roll on a new year.
I want to put right a bit of disgraceful spin from the pen of George. I am not a wimp. I never was a wimp. I will never be a wimp. I am a socially adept cat that knows how to deal with harassment in a diplomatic and effective fashion. I don't run. I don't fight. I roll on to my back with all four claws at the ready. This is NOT appeasement. It is a warning gesture designed to deflect aggression.
If George was a sensible cat, instead of a giddy and undisplined adolescent, he would recognise this. But the bloody fool, though usually retreating, has the infantile habit of jumping on me nonetheless. Why does he do it? Just for fun, it seems. I then snarl, threaten to bite and occasionally resort to claw enforcement.
Of course, I can do the social roll without claws. Here is a delightful photo of me looking at my most charming. My paws are in prayer posture because Celia responds best to this particular gesture. I used just to do the social roll without the paws but, because she consistently responded better to the praying paws, I trained her to pay attention by putting my paws like this.
I am the most beautiful of cats with a remote and peaceful temperament. What is more I have killed two weasels - beat that, George!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

George's Christmas Message to Cats worldwide


My human and I would like to wish you all a happy Christmas.
This is the season of the year when we look back over the past year, take stock of the present and make resolutions for the year to come.
One thing is certain: the inevitability of change for all cats, who face the difficulties of sharing our lives with humans. Those cats who live lives completely independent of this species have the reassurance of a changeless though challenging life style. The search for a dry place to sleep, for mice and other prey to eat, the joys of caterwauling nights and the love of kittens, will be for them the pattern of nights and days, as it has been for hundreds of thousands of years.
But for us who live with capricious and dysfunctional bipeds, these enduring values may be lost in the pace of hectic mutability. Ours is the harder road. The species we domesticated cannot leave things as they are. Homo sapiens (surely a misnomer of the highest order) is addicted to a life of hurry, doing not being, worry and acquisition. New homes, new furniture, new pets, new babies, new routines – this is the demanding and worthless lifestyle they try to inflict on us cats.
It is therefore for us to reassert the timeless values to which our species holds fast –the love of familiar faces, the pleasure of well-known and well marked territories, the inestimable reassurance of unvarying family scent, the excitement of hunting if not prey, then dustbins or even a single autumn leaf. While all is chaos around us, a chaos only too often wantonly instigated by our humans, we need to live our lives in our way. A way nonetheless that allows us to love this extraordinary and self destructive species.
I am reminded, as I write these words, of last autumn when I was able to forgive Celia for the time when she locked me in the garden shed for three hours. I also remember that day of days, when I bagged a partridge, and she was deluded enough to take the quivering bird from me and set it free. Or the many Sundays when I have had to forgo breakfast until an unduly late time because of her determination to sleep well past the proper time of waking. I have risen above all this to offer her forgiveness from the goodness of my black heart.
During the last year I have been on state visits to Paul and Steffi next door. Their pleasure in my company has fully repaid me for the effort of getting through their cat flap though I wish they would offer a choice of cat food not just the same biscuits. These are good quality but a change would be nice. I have also visited their daughter Jessica and, with an exquisite condescension, deigned to sleep on her bed. She was duly honoured and expressed herself appropriately by opening a tin of cat food.
Compassion, as the past year has taught me, is perhaps the single most important virtue that we cats need. If we are to make sense of our companion pets, we should reflect on their history and learn the lessons from it that they seem incapable of seeing.
We must also to practice that other important value of our times, that of tolerance. If we can remember that our humans are vulnerable to that emotional disorder of living in the past or the future, if we can pity them for their inability to enjoy the moment, if we can (and I know it is difficult) feel sorrow for their incapacity to know what is really important in life…. If we can do all this then we can offer them the compassionate love that they so badly need.
As we step over the threshold of another year in the company of these poor deluded humans, may I wish all of us cats a happy New Year.
P.S. I am very indignant about this silly hat. Just when I wanted to look dignified. She tricked me into wearing it. Waited till I was having a little nap on the sofa, popped it on when I was asleep and took the picture. This is a SNATCHED photo. The woman will stop at nothing.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tale of a tail

My tail is particularly beautiful. It is a 37 centimeters long - black all the way down without any vulgar white tip to it, sleek and shining. You can learn a lot from my tail. My main way of greeting Celia from afar - sort of "Hello there" - is to put my tail upright with the tip turned over and towards my head. Human beings with cats usually recognise this signal and some scientist theorize that we cats developed it specially to communicate with them. The idea is that the poor saps couldn't read feline body language easily. So when Felis silvestris Lybica, the African wild cat, decided to domesticate them, my ancestor concluded he needed a better way of saying hello. So he ran up the tail flag, so to speak. Even a really stupid human notices this as a cat steps towards him. I use Tail Up a lot as I like most human beings and most of them, naturally, are impressed and delighted when they see 37 centimetres of tail, with a neat little twist forward, coming towards them. They see it before they see my black whiskers and dazzling golden-green eyes.
Celia, as a good servant should be, pays a lot of attention to my tail. If it starts to lash, she keeps her distance knowing that a disciplinary claw may be next. She also notices it when I am going to pounce on William like a mouse - something he does not appreciate. So she will call out to him to get his attention so that he can lie on his side and protect himself with the lie-on-side claws at the ready posture. Lying down isn't submission. It just clears all four paws for action in this case.
William's tail is much fluffier than mine and some people might think it is prettier. But mine is much longer and snakier.
Tail up!

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