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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Teenage humans - can they get obsessed with cats?

Dear George,
My name is Schwartz and I have a family of human pets - adult male, adult female, teenage boy and 11-year-old girl. They are all reasonably well trained and depend on me for affection.
It's the teenager who is worrying me. He has always been fond of me but now he shuts himself in his room with his computer and me. He has stopped vocalising to his family and spends most of his time online looking at cat photos and cat videos. Occasionally he looks at photos of naked humans, but seems to prefer cats. Is this natural? And does it matter?
Yours
Schwartz.

Dear Schwartz,
I can reassure you that watching cat videos and photos is normal for a large proportion of the human population. Scientists (I am not joking) have declared that this is good for humans and is particularly valuable for procrastinating with tasks. Your human is probably using cats as a way of not doing his homework. Watching too many naked human videos may be bad for him: so cat videos are preferable.
If you feel that he needs a rest from his computer, you can put into effect an online interruption and deterrent programme. Simply jump up on his desk and interpose your body between him and the screen. Do this is a cute way so that he responds to you with petting and eye contact.
If this doesn't work, then you need to do stronger measures. Walk up and down the keyboard, that rectangle which has small tabs on it. Or just stand motionless on it. You will see that  series of pleasing mouse tracks appear on the screen, interrupting his work there.
Finally if all else fails, lie flat on your back on the keyboard and wave your paws in the air. No fully functioning human can resist this. For me it works every time.
Yours
George.
PS. Scientists have discovered that adolescents get on better with their pets than with their siblings. Look here.. So your teenager is normal.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What's in a name? Naming cats....


Dear George, 
My name is Kriketel. You might ask what name is this. To tell you the truth I have no idea. All I know is that I was rescued from a pound on a Christmas day when I was only four week old. I live with two other cats, Minky and Didi. They weren’t too enthusiastic about me joining the family two years ago but I’m happy! I have a lovely Mom and a lovely home. Still… I wonder why was I named Kriketel? 
Not that I don’t like it but what if I want to change it? What cats do if they don’t like their names? How do we tell our humans? Based on what rules are we named? I watched a video about a black leopard who was unhappy with his name and after “talking” with an animal communicator (Anna Breytenbach) was renamed Spirit! But not all of us has access to an animal communicator! So what do we do? Again, how do we tell our humans? And, actually what’s in a name, George?
Yours,
Kriketel

Dear Kriketel,
Your name is both enigmatic and sophisticated. We cats are enigmatic sophisti-cats. Spare a thought for those poor felines who are called names like Flirtybottom (yes I knew one), Fluffytail, or Paddypaws, or even Sweetiepops (an unfortunate name given to a dignified kitten by my pet Celia who should know better). None of those names have the dignified ring that your name has.
Josephine lives in Spain
Here in the UK cats often have names like Gismo, Speedy, or Ziggy suggesting a lack of obedience (we cats don't do obedience). Or place names like Winchester or Mr Woodstock. Or just nice human female names like Jospephine or Lily or manly names like mine, George, Sam or Burt. Tibbles is a traditional name that goes back to the medieval ages, when an epic poem about animals had Bruin the bear, Reynard the Fox and Thibault the cat! 
Our names say more about our pet humans than about us, but I think Kriketel is a great name and you should stick to it!
Yours
George 
Here's a photo of Josephine.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Is dinner ready?

Dear George, 
We are Ella and Louis – that’s right… as in Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. 
I’m wearing my white coat (as you can see) and Louis (always a gentleman) is wearing his tuxedo.
We are quite like on that 1956 record cover (sorry darling but I forgot the name – we made so many records and shows together).
Anyway, the reason I’m writing to you is because we found out that you are a specialist in human behaviour and we need your help. Our humans got into the “cat homemade food” mania that lately took over the Internet, main stream news, TV, etc. – I mean all media! I’m not complaining about the food, don’t get me wrong – I’m complaining about the timing of our meals! 
See, I want to eat whenever I want ….like a real diva! My Mom is insisting on feeding us twice a day (morning and evening) at precise times. THAT drives me nuts! Absolutely nuts! And to add misery to aggravation….our Daddy is insisting on weighting and measuring everything such as protein, fats, minerals, vitamins, etc. (I think he is a nutritionist but that doesn’t give him the right to delay our meals). George, I’ll be happy with that roast chicken leftover! But, no ….I have to eat scientifically proved meals! 
Phew! So, for now I’m trying to be more vocal (as you can see in the picture attached) and hope my dear Louis will join me. I bet…no matter how much our humans enjoy music…they will give up and feed us right away! 
Any other suggestions George
Meowing on sweet blues notes 
Ella

Dear Ella,
You have got the right idea. Humans are suckers for the cute. Do something cute, like meowing, to get your human's attention. Without that, you can even start training. Once they are looking at you, then you have to "tell" these dumb humans what you want. Try the following:
The Sit Up method of getting food
  •  First cultivate the cute "I'm looking at you, kid" glance upwards - eyes large, whiskers wide, and a little tilt of the head. You may feel frustrated but you need to look cute.
  • Eyes to the food cupboard. Ostentatiously move from looking at him to the food cupboard, adding a little shoulder shift to make it more obvious - humans are not very bright.
  • Get off the table and walk to the food cupboard, then look back towards him. Even a really dumb human usually gets this one.
  • Meow. Follow up by getting off the table and winding round his legs. Then move three steps towards the food cupboard, turn, and do the appealing look. Got his attention? Another three steps towards the food and another look. This form of training by small increments is what is needed for a really dumb human.
  • Finally, when he is moving to get you your food, don't forget the thank you - a very loud purr as you are eating with the occasionally appealing look between mouthfuls. This is to reward him for his trouble.
You can adapt this schedule for being fed human food during human meal times. If you can add a little sit-up-and-beg to it, you may be lucky.
Yours
George.
 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

New Year.... New life.... .. and training a human

Dear George,
 I am Lila (the fluffy) and my sister is Angel (the tabby). We came from same litter and we are about 10 weeks old now. Before being rescued we were living under a deck but now we live in a mansion!  We spent our first Christmas with our new family and their relatives and sure enough people can be fun! At some point they all were talking about New Year’s resolutions. We don’t fully understand what that is but it seems like a good plan to follow in the year ahead! Our list would be very short: sleep, eat, play and getting lots of love from our humans. I also understood that in cats' ‘world it is a MUST to train one’s humans. I’ve heard you even wrote a book on the subject, is that so George? Then, we definitely need your help! Where do we start?
Gratefully yours,  
Lila

Dear Lila,
Start as you mean to go on.  Help your humans settle in to a sensible regime - regular meal times and regular times for sleep. Train them with reminders. Reminders include rubbing, loud purring, winding round feet, walking to the food bowl, even nipping toes under the duvet if they show signs of wanting to lie in at weekends rather than get your breakfast. 
Establish petting boundaries. Some humans are cat harassers. They want to kiss and hug and stroke for hours. Or they insist on petting in no-go areas like the lower tummy. A sharp nip will usually train them to stop. Punishment teaches them what is acceptable. Be humane - just a nip, rather than a bite which draws blood.
Litter trays (one for each cat) should be cleaned twice a day. If your human is idle about this, show them what you want. As soon as they clean the tray, use it. This makes the point that you were waiting for it to be cleaned. If they still don't get the message, and the tray is filthy, pee outside the litter tray. 
You can learn more about rewards and punishments in my book, One Hundred Ways for a Cat to Train its Human. Celia pretended she had written it but her role was purely secretarial, as I cannot type. I was the real author.
Yours
George, the real author. 


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