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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Am I psychologically damaged?

Hello George,
My name is Jake, Shakey Jake and a girl – don’t ask; that’s another story. My slave keeps suggesting I’m ‘damaged’. Me? You should see some of the things she gets up to! Anyway I am concerned she may be right but to understand why I think this you need to understand where I have come from. This is me at about four weeks old. ‘Where is your mother?’ I hear you ask; well I’d like to know that too! I was found in a metal fright container by a man; my slave calls him ‘dad’. I went to the vets who believed I was about 2 days old. I had fleas and a flea allergy to boot, this left me with no fur. 
This is me as a kitten
When the aforementioned ‘dad’ opened the box slave asked ‘what the hell is that?’ but I was asking myself the very same questions. I forgave her this indiscretion when she woke up every two hours to feed and help me do my business. She treated my fleas and when I went back to the vets 2 days later he thought I was doing well – naturally. The vet then made the suggestion they sneak me in with dad’s dog that had just had puppies. Sneak me in? Like that would work, but alas it did!
When I was 5 weeks me and the slave moved. I like to think this was all for me but apparently it was planned. So I left the dog and the brute, Rufus (big feral ginger tom – you know the type), it was just me and the slave. She’s a reasonably good slave. I have a good vocal range with an impressive volume which is hard to ignore and have mastered the art of knocking things off surfaces to get her attention.  I have a pillow and she knows it, if she tries to sleep on it I sleep on her, she soon moves! 
Now this brings me back to my concern. I have a habit or more of a compulsion. I still like to suckle, suckle my slave to be precise. She wears a fab purple fleece dressing at times which is great but failing that I will suckle her nose, collar bone, I don’t even mind a toe. Everyone thought I would grow out of this but I’m three now and still love it – I just can’t help it!
Jake x

Dear Jake,
I have to admit that needing to suckle your human's dressing gown or body parts can be classified as a little eccentric. But really it's quite natural. It's a kitten thing. Your human brought you up, fed you, cleaned you, and generally acted as your mother. So she is your mother. 
But.... your real mother would have pushed you away when she had decided it was time to wean you. You would have learned that further sucking would result in a fed up mum. Humans can't teach us all the stuff we need to know.  Your slave should start gently pushing you away each time you do it and turning her back on you or leaving the room immediately afterwards, withdrawing her attention. In a word, she must try to wean you.
I don't usually recommend too much co-operation with humans. They get above themselves too easily. But this is a rare exception when you should try to co-operate, Jake. What you don't want is to develop a real eating disorder and become one of those cats that starts eating the dressing gown rather than just sucking. I don't think this will happen to you, unless your biological mother or father were Siamese. It seems to be a breed thing. But it might.
I also think too much affection or dependence is bad for humans. They should not be given the impression that we need them (except for food and shelter). Cultivate a little distance from her, Jake. Don't become a cat who loves too much. Keep your pet in her place. She may be your foster mother but remember she is your intellectual, social and physiological inferior.

George.
PS. Don't get too worried by this. Cats that persist in suckling their humans usually come to no great harm. It's the dressing gown, not the body parts, that worries me!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Stressed, unhappy and never off the litter tray... what's going on?

Dear George,  
I am a very troubled boy, and I hope that you can help me.
 I lived in a nice house with my human, and I liked it very much. I had all my things around me, direct access to the garden and I was very comfortable and relaxed there. It was my house – my home!
 Then about 8 weeks ago, there was lots of disruptions all my things were packed away and I was put in my cat basket and taken to another house – a strange house, with lots of strange smells…and none of them my comforting home smells. Obviously I was distressed by this and began meowing continuously to my human and pacing up and down the rooms. My human tried to comfort me by stroking me and talking softly to me. She also put down worn items of her clothing in different rooms so I could smell her everywhere around the house, but it still didn’t calm me.
 As the weeks went on my agitation grew and I just couldn’t settle. My agitation was made worse by the fact that we are now living in a flat, so I have to go out of my house and down a strange ‘shared’ corridor to get outside. And there is another cat who lives next door to us that uses the corridor too, and he didn’t take kindly to me using it and spat at me. Now I am even more upset. My human bought some Feliway plug ins, and whilst they calm me down for a while, my anxiety comes back.
 I have taken to using my litter tray constantly, sometimes as much as every ten minutes, which has given me a very sore and irritated bottom and I sometimes have a bit of blood in my urine. My human is very, very worried about me and doesn’t know where to turn.
 A few months before the move, I got lost for a number of weeks before I was found and re-united with my human. I was a rather traumatised from the experience, but soon settled down back in my home. So I don’t know if this has anything to do with my reaction now at the house move?
 Can you help me George and help my human to understand why I’m behaving like this and not settling down?
 Yours tearfully,
 Thomas.

Dear Thomas,
There is few things more upsetting to a cat than moving house. There you are settled and happy in your territory, when suddenly your pet human stuffs you in a cat box and turns you out into a strange new place. All the smells are wrong. You don't know where anything is. And it feels very very unsafe.
Most of us hide under the bed for a day or two. But some sensitive cats like you suffer from stress-induced illness. All that going to the litter tray is, I fear, a sign of cystitis. Vets (loathsome people) call it FIC, Feline Idiopathic Cystitis.  "Idiopathic" just means "we don't know the cause." But we cats do know the cause. It's stress due to house moving.
The earlier trauma of getting lost will not have helped. That must have been unsettling and probably also very frightening. Then this... poor Thomas. Even loathsome vets know that moving house is stressful for cats and can result in FIC.
Having to share the corridor with another strange cat (who hisses because he is frightened too) is another stress. Perhaps your humans could invest in a cat ladder letting you go outside from the window. Or put several cardboard boxes with entrances in them, where you can hide if the strange cat passes by. Or just keep you safely in the flat till you have recovered. My human's website has some suggestions for how to make indoor life more interesting for you.
Why humans insist on changing their territory is beyond my imagination.  They are a very insensitive species. Your letter makes me feel angry about their ridiculous behaviour.
They must reduce your stress and read the instructions at  http://www.catexpert.co.uk/cats/reasons-why-your-cat-feels-stressed-and-unhappy-and-what-to-do-about-them/
Yours with sympathy,
George.
PS. We hate vets but this is one time when you need their help.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Indecent? No cat can be indecent. That's human behaviour.

Dear George,
I know it’s been Halloween again and I’m black but I wasn't concerned about the dangers or “tricks or treats” but my human pets! I have less to complain about “her” since she is beautiful, good mannered and very well trained in responding positively to my demands but I’m quite fed-up with him! Over the years I was accused (by him) for many things such as peeing in the plants’ pots or stealing food or biting people but NEVER EVER was I accused of being indecent until now! The other day I was sunbathing when he came shouting that I was indecent! He is such a prude! George, you be the judge! I’m a senor, I’m 14 years old not a kitten anymore! Did I go topless? No! I know most people in Hollywood go topless, I heard even the royals! Did I take my coat off? No! Then, what was his problem? How was I indecent? I think he’s jealous of me. The truth is that I am better looking then him; I’m black, long hair, huge green eyes! Him? Fair skin, short, fair hair (almost no hair) and blue eyes! Phew! When I enter a room… people gasp! Him? Phew! He doesn’t realize that I am the Alpha Cat and he is a mere housekeeper! George what should I do? Ignore him or better…. fire him?
Choppy

Dear Choppy,

Insulting remarks about indecency are out of order. We cats have sex in season only. Humans are up for it every day, in and out of season. What's more they are naked without fur, except in areas which highlight their private bits. You look perfectly decent in the photo.  If he was lying naked on his back, that would be indecency..
Ignore him. This is a useful training tool for us cats. Give him the shunning treatment. Refuse to share the bed or sofa with him. If he sits beside you, get up ostentatiously and move away. If you choose to stay in the same room as him, turn your back on him at all times. Should you make eye contact, give a withering sneering look. We cats are usually good at this. No more nice cat for him!
At the same time smother your female pet with love. Purr on her and at her. Climb on to her lap. Give her little cat kisses.  Gaze adoringly. Play with her hair (if she likes that). Make little friendly noises. Roll on your back if she so much as glances your way.
The contrast in your behaviour will be hurtful to him. As it should be. Only relent when his behaviour has reformed.
These humans... who do they think they are?
George.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I'm a Bristol kitten - elite, special and very important indeed

Dear George,
I'm one of a group of elite kittens.... very special indeed. I've been enrolled in the Bristol kitten study. This means that experts will be checking up on my progress as I grow older. They will be able to tell if a good kitten education helps protect me in later life from stress and perhaps even disease. 
They need about 600 more kittens from the UK by the end of the year, so if anybody reading this has a new kitten get in touch with them. They'd love to hear from you.
We Bristol kittens are proud to be helping with important human research.
Love Tootles.

Dear Tootles,
Congratulations. Anything which helps Homo sapiens understand cats better is to be welcomed. I recommend that all UK kittens sign up here now. Humans need all the help we can give them, poor old things.
The human species is odd. Mine spends a lot of time on "research" at her computer when she is actually looking up Facebook and generally wasting her time when she could be tickling my tummy.  In short bursts - I only like about 30 seconds then I swipe her.
So don't let this human research fool you into thinking that humans are more intelligent than cats. We have innate and instinctive knowledge which far outweighs human wit. 
We know humans are stupid because they demonstrate it daily.
There you are sitting near the open cat flap. You make a polite meow to your human. There is no response. You make another one. "Why can't you use the cat flap?" they say.
No way is it worth dignifying that with a response. Why don't I use the cat flap? Because, you pathetic human, I don't choose to. You make a third meow. Finally the human servant does its duty and opens the door to you.
Don't spoil your human, Tootles. Train him or her in obedience from the very beginning. A good human pet should have the following duties - open the door on command, feed on command, get out of bed on command, leave the armchair for you on command, move over in the bed to give you more space on command..... and so forth.
Start as you mean to go on.
Yours
George

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