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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Reward and punishment (occasionally) are the key to a good relationship.

Dear George,
I have adopted a new human family - male, female, and two human kittens about half grown and therefore a sensible age. You know my background growing up which turned me into a growling, biting and scratching adolescent.
This is my third home - first the bad one, then with Celia, and now this. Of course, I can adapt. I don't miss Celia at all though I miss the games I had with Toby. Within two days, I was sitting on the male owner's lap and (good news) he was keeping his hands away from interfering with my grooming routine!
So these are sensible humans. I have taught the children that if I sit up and beg or jump over a stick, they must give me food. What else should I do?
Yours
Tommy.

Dear Tommy,
Reward and punishment are the basis of a good cat-human relationship. In the first month of your new home, you should at all costs avoid punishment. This is the time to reward them with cute looks, lots of purring, rubbing and making them feel loved. As Barnum said: "You gotta get the suckers into the tent." These humans need all the reassurance and kindness you can give them so that they form a deep bond with you.
After the first month you can lay down a few boundaries - no interference while I am grooming: no human thrashing about the bed I allow you to share: if you use your hands to play with me you must expect to be nipped; etc. These cat rules will vary from individual to individual and in the second month you should be training them to obey by very small nips. And don't forget to purr when they behave well.
By month three, all four should be trained into proper cat servants. The key is good timing and consistency. Good luck.
Yours
George.
PS. If you need to bite, you haven't made your rules clear to these dumb humans.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Valentine Cat.


Dear George, 
I will never understand why some people celebrate Valentine’s Day and some will not. It’s such a nice, romantic celebration….or am I wrong? Hmm! Guess, it’s more of a personal or cultural choice. Anyway, yesterday as I was waiting for my mommy to come home, I’ve read a little book entitled “The Valentine Cat” – very touchy, very romantic. 
It is the story of a little, black kitten with a white heart on its forehead. The kitty was abandoned in the woods by irresponsible, cruel people but after many “adventures” (some good and some scary) in the end the kitty got to live in the royal palace with the Princess and its rescuer, a young artist. I must admit… I had tears in my eyes reading the story but the happy ending made me feel very good and optimistic. 
I believe I am irremediably romantic. And I was thinking that we, the cats, could (and should) celebrate Valentine’s Day too! I mean probably not in the same way some humans celebrate it as we all are “fixed and snipped” but platonically involved in a nice dinner and meow-conversation. What do you think? George, I’ll be very bold now as I have to ask: would you be my Valentine? I set the table (as you can see in the photo) and we shall have fresh fish for dinner!
Romantically yours,  
Didina

Dear Didina,
Platonically? Yes, if time and space purrmitted, I would have been your Valentine. But they don't, which reminds me of the Andrew Marvell poem, the only mathematical love poem I know:
The Definition of Love.....
      As lines, so loves oblique may well
      Themselves in every angle greet;
      But ours so truly parallel,
     Though infinite, can never meet.
Purrsonally I think there are some humans that would benefit from the snip. It would make bedtime so much calmer for us - none of that irritating thrashing about which interferes with a cat's need for sleep. And no noisy human kittens pulling our tails. Why can't we just neuter them? Make Valentine's Day platonic for them as well as us.
Yours in a grump
George 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cookies for cats?

Dear George, 
You might wonder…..cookies for cats? You bet! Yummy, fresh, homemade as you can see in the photo attached! Made fresh by my Mommy using fresh eggs, sardines and sometimes tuna! Mmmm! Sooo yummy! And the best part? I can eat as many as I want as I don’t have to worry if I’m a size 2 or 4 or 6! I can be size 10 – what the heck! At my age? I’m 18 years young! I grew up with my Mommy, I mean we grew up together.
She is the most beautiful, lovely, fit mother any cat may wish for. But, between you and me, George? I think she sneaks in the kitchen at night and steals some of my cookies. I don’t mind; we share so much love that few cookies here and there it really doesn’t matter. One thing though! She plans to add some catnip to the next batch and I worry …is this going to affect her behaviour (in case she sneaks in the kitchen again)? 
What do you think George? Any suggestions?
Yours… a cookie lover
Angel

Dear Angel,
I am delighted to hear that you have acquired a good cook, devoted to producing fine feline food. I have the misfortune to employ only one household servant, who is incapable of cooking for me. She insisted that I eat take-away food out of envelopes or dried pellets from a large bag. Meanwhile she cooks herself delicious dinners of chicken, fish, and even sometimes beef. 
Theft among household staff is always a worry but there is little that we can do about it. When you adopt a human, you have to put up with their funny ways.  So I think your attitude is sensible.
Catnip in your food? A small amount should do no harm. Unlike humans who use and abuse their drugs of choice, such as alcohol and weed, we are always moderate in our appetites. When I sniff catnip, it is true that for a moment or two I may behave in a relaxed roll-about fashion: but humans become drunk or stoned for hours at a time. Catnip will make no difference to your human: it's not strong enough.
I think you have a real prize. If she steals a little, so what.... just enjoy the cookies that are left.
Yours enviously,
George

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Of humans, cats and hair hygeine


Dear George,
As you can see I'm all packed to go to the groomer. I personally don’t think I need to go anywhere as we, the cats, are the cleanest species on Earth. We groom ourselves daily for hours not like some humans who don’t shower for years (or so I’ve heard). Mommy told me that this is the latest trend for humans to not wash their hair or clean themselves for months. Phew! Stinky!
Anyhow, my mommy goes to the other extreme! She goes both mornings and nights behind a certain curtain and lets “the rain” run all over her. She is extremely clean and she always smells soooo good! Yummy! But, I think she goes a bit too far when come to my grooming. Now she wants to buy me a “grooming machine”! I have no idea what that is but just the name of it makes my hair raise. I can only think of something similar to a “car wash” where you get in dry and you have all these huge brushes spitting all over you water and shampoo making you fluffy but scared. George, is there a grooming machine for Persians? How does it work? Is it scary? Isn’t the classical brushing enough? On daily basis? I love to be brushed! George, help me stop my mommy from buying that machine! Give me some basic hygiene rules so I can convince her.
In you I trust   
Punbukh 

Dear Punbukh,
You need grooming daily - with incredible care, gentle kindness and a lot of food rewards throughout, stopping if you are showing signs of fear. Otherwise your fur will mat up no matter how much you groom yourself. Humans have "designed" Persians like you to have unnaturally long hair which cannot be kept in order by the cats themselves. if your human cannot groom you daily, you need regular appointments with a professional groomer. Make sure your human stays with you while you are groomed so that she can see if the groomer is being rough or painful. (Some are.) There's a useful video here.
Grooming machines? In principal, these are basically like the machines that humans use to groom horses or to cut their own hair. But they vary. Some of the cheapest ones come from China and may not be reliable. ALWAYS get your human to read the reviews before they buy. It probably pays to buy a more expensive one. They should be silent so as not to worry you.
Finally, using a grooming machine also takes patience and skill. It might even be a good idea to get a lesson from your local vet nurse or groomer first. Your human should start by giving you treats when you are on table.  Further treats should be delivered at regular intervals so that the experience is a good one.
Purrsonally I feel sorry for Persians. I have a natural face shape, short fur, and a normal shaped body. It makes me much healthier.
Yours with sympathy
George.
PS. Read about hereditary diseases in Persians and other pedigree cats at www.icatcare.org    
 


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