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Friday, October 25, 2013

A mother worries about the fate of her little black kittens.

Dear George,
I am the proud mother of five kittens - two ginger tabbies, one dark tabby and two black ones. I love them very much even though I know they will have to leave me to go to a new home.
My fosterer keeps coming to look at them and says things like: "There'll be no trouble in homing the tabbies, but the black ones will take time to go."
What is she talking about? I don't think she is colour prejudiced because she took me in when I was just a heavily pregnant stray. And she wouldn't have done that if she really hated black cats. I worry about the fate of my dear little black kittens.
Yours with anxiety
Orchid.

Dear Orchid,
Your kittens will find a human to love but it may take more time. Colour prejudice is alive and well in the human-cat world. Not us. We are not racist. But humans are colour prejudiced about cats. They prefer light shades of fur, nice tabby patterns, and these are the cats that are rehomed first. Cats Protection currently have 1,300 black cats needing homes.
Last week Cats Protection held its Black Cat appreciation day here to remind humans that we black cats are just as beautiful and loving as cats in the other colours. Facebook has its Black Cats are Wonderful page here. Elsewhere national black cat days vary in their dates. Nevertheless some enlightened humans are working for us not against us.
It's not too bad in the UK where black cats are considered lucky. But in the USA superstitious humans think they are unlucky. There is a ridiculous human idea that black cats are connected with Halloween and witches.  They have persecuted in the past. And even today in the USA some animal shelters just refuse to let people adopt black cats around this time because disgusting humans come in, adopt a cat, and then give it back afterwards. They just wanted the cat as Halloween window dressing.
These humans aren't the worst. The worst capture cats, especially black ones, and throw them on bonfires. Well meaning cat lovers, trying to save them from this fate, sometimes collect the black cats living on the street and hand them into animal shelters which then (if they have too many) euthanase them.
We must stop this prejudice against black cats. We are black and beautiful. We are sensitive and loving. It's humans, not us, who are ignorant and colour prejudiced.
In anger
George

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cell phones and cool cats. Puss Puss speaks out.

Dear George,
Really, I am at my wit’s end. As you know, my human female has always been a challenging subject—fascinating for research, terrible in the service department. And it’s gotten worse! This past weekend, the time was 5:30—in the morning!—and there was no sign of a forthcoming meal. Naturally, I went to awaken the humans to demand service. I opened their bedroom door, jumped up on the bedside table, and poked, prodded, and meowed plaintively; but I got no response. I was motivated only by concern: I could have starved to death, a circumstance which I find extremely concerning.
While desperately trying to awaken the human female, I noticed her cell phone on the bedside table. I have examined this device before, and find that it changes pictures interestingly when prodded. Also, I have heard the female vocalizing on it in the past, apparently to other humans. In my moment of need, I reasoned that if humans communicate with phones, perhaps I could use this phone to remotely give other humans orders to come and feed me—which would be useful. So, I decided to use my human female’s cell phone to signal for help.
Unfortunately, the bald thumbist prejudice with which these devices are constructed renders them difficult to use by higher beings who lack apelike grip hooks on their limbs. In frustration, I poked at the phone, and I prodded it; and all I succeeded in arriving at was something called a “Facebook page,” where there happened to be displayed an annoying photograph of a cake. But I noticed something: if you don’t like the pictures of cakes or humans or what have you that are on these “pages,” there’s a little button you can poke which reports it as “inappropriate”—presumably to some central authority, which logically must signal some official humans to come and take away the human who put the offending picture there. I was angry, George, and I was hungry, and I have had years of slow and shoddy service from this human female. So I did it. I pushed the “report” button, and then sat back comfortably on the phone to wait for my miscreant humans to be taken away for
neglecting me.
Not only did no-one show up to take these humans away, but the stupid phone has an alarm in it, which makes it vibrate at a certain time. I was sitting upon the phone, awaiting justice, when this alarm went off. You can imagine, George, that my distress was immediate and complete. I later needed an extra meal and a nap in the closet to recover from the shock. And it turns out that all that I reported was the stupid picture of the stupid cake, a mistake which the human female later and with great embarrassment sorted out with the cake’s owner.
So here it is: I am at the end of my rope. I don’t think these humans can be turned into decent servants, years of effort notwithstanding; and reporting the deadbeats I live with to whatever authorities monitor the cake pages proved to be an exercise in futility. George, help me: is there some way I can bend the humans’ technology to my will, use it to re-home the lot of them (two humans, their human kitten, and their ridiculous little dogs), and keep the house for myself? It is, after all, my territory, and I have worked long and hard getting it to smell and look just so. Can I somehow phone in an order for another complete human staff to come to me, instead of me going to them, and have them provide me with meals and regular litter box changes, not to mention an unending supply of tuna-flavored Pounce? There is some Pounce left, in the kitchen, but the supply is down to two full bottles and I think that this is a dangerously low level. Maybe there is a central authority I can
ring up for more Pounce?
George, I rely upon your calm feline guidance to help me determine a course of action. I anxiously await your advice. Time is of the essence! I haven’t eaten in nearly an hour.

Neglectedly,
Puss-Puss
.

Dear Puss-Puss,
I am in awe of you. You are the first cat I know who has successfully used Facebook. And what was wrong with labelling a human cake inappropriate? It surely was. Now a photo of a bowl full of cat food or even a mouse would have been appropriate. Don't give up. Purrsue this excursion into social networking further.
Although we naturally want to rehome unsatisfactory humans, it is usually easier for us cat flap cats to rehome ourselves. But not in a hurry. First explore the neighbourhood, visit various humans, and assess whether they would make better pets than your own. This will involve setting up new territory which is a massive bore.
Why not see if you can progress further. Get on to twitter and start tweeting your dilemma to the outside world. This might shame them into better behaviour. I see you have already purrsuaded your human to post about you on the Cats Behaving Badly Facebook page. Go further: set up your own Facebook page and start letting the world know about your awful humans.
And congratulations on a feline first. Keep poking that mobile phone.
George.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dear George,
My name is Maggie and I’m a 12 years old (and cute) rescue as you can see in the photo.
I was rescued as a kitten with three other cats. We always lived downstairs with our mommy.  Her daughter always lived up-stairs with her human tomcat and their rescued tabby, Ziggy.  There always was a lot of mystery of what was happening behind the door that separated the downstairs from upstairs. I could “smell” Ziggy through the doors but we never interacted. Even in the rare occasions when we tried to pay a visit… his daddy was so protective of this “Prince Charming” that we, the other cats, couldn’t even catch a glimpse of him.
Unfortunately not long ago my mommy crossed the Rainbow Bridge and we suffered very much losing her. I was her favourite and I was by her side until the very last minute.
It was very hard for me and so was for my mommy’s daughter that now became my new mommy! But, I took on…. the mission to be the Alpha Cat in the house.
My new mommy leaves all the doors open so we can have free access everywhere in the house.  George, you probably guessed by now ….why I’m writing to you!
Yes! You are right – my first real encounter with Ziggy was a disaster. He tried to ignore me - as you can see him in the photo - pretending he’s watching TV. It did not end well.
I beat him up! That created a lot of trouble! His daddy was very upset and my new mommy was trying to make peace. But, so did end up the second and third and any other encounter. The others cats are OK; they get along well with Ziggy. It is just me!
I know they are not going to send us to shelters …but…why am I acting like this? Am I jealous? Am I upset at his daddy? Or…am I crazy? I want Ziggy’s dad to love me too!
I wish we all live in peace!
 Yours very sad and confused
Maggie

Dear Maggie
The problem is your humans not you. Humans think that we cats can get on with almost any other cat, like dogs do. Dogs will go to the park and then play with stranger dogs. Our attitude is very different. Some of us are quite social: others are natural loners. You may be a natural loner.
If you are, you naturally try to see off strange other cats. It is just in your nature to do so. And Ziggy is another cat. I wonder if there is any way in which you could have your own space, perhaps with a microchip operated cat flap inside the house to keep Ziggy out? These flaps are a boon. Your human could adjust it so that only you could go in and out (or perhaps the other three cats) but Ziggy could not. Or visa versa - giving Ziggy a safe place of his own.
Now that you have had several fights you are not going to become friends with him. So the best thing your humans can do is try to arrange the house so that you two can avoid each other. Lots of hiding places for him and for you (because although you are fighting him, it is because you are afraid). Cardboard boxes with holes cut in them? High shelves?
Worst come to the worst, get your humans to time share themselves. Ziggy comes into the living room at 6-8pm while you are shut out: then from 8pm-10pm you are in the living room while he is shut out. Make sure both of you have an place in the house which is your den and where you can be separated at night: so both of you can have a period free from stress.
You are not crazy, Maggie. You are just a natural loner cat needing her own space, and doing her best to cope. A Feliway diffuser in the area where you spend most of your time, and another one where Ziggy hangs out might help the general atmosphere. You need two because if you have to share one, fights might break out again.
Finding yourself a new home might not be the worst solution: but at your age it can be difficult to find one.
Yours with the greatest sympathy
George.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Dear George,
This is me among the heather. I think  I look  rather  sweet, but  I swiped  Mummy 's finger  just  after she took this photo. Blood everywhere,she seemed a bit  upset. Humans don't seem to understand that there are times when we need space.
A good swipe usually gets that space but does rather upset the humans. They are sensitive souls. She cooked me coley a couple of hours later, so think  I've got away with it.
But has she learned her lesson? Less likely, I fear. Humans don't seem to able to take in the fact that when we punish by swiping or biting they need to review their conduct and amend their ways.
Love Toby.xxx



Dear Toby,
It's a problem isn't it? Trying to get through to them. You would have thought they might realise that if we purr or rub, we are relatively pleased with their behaviour. Or even that we are encouraging future behaviour (such as putting out more food).
When we scratch, we are displeased. Whatever they have done just before the scratch was bad. I just wish I could miaow in human language 'Bad, human. Bad, Celia"  I do our feline body language but she fails to understand.
Still, they are sweet. Warm in bed. Generous with cat food. As pets go, they are definitely better than dogs. A human is a cat's best friend.
Sometimes.
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