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Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Dear George
Here is me as Santa. Click on http://www.dancingsantacard.com/?santa=6919478
Herbie.

Dear Herbie,
That is demeaning. Worse than the silly hat.
George.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What's the point of Christmas - cats in the Holy Family?


Dear George,
As you can see, I celebrated Christmas with the family - own plate, own cracker, and (more importantly my own portion of turkey). But it still puzzles me. What is the point of it? And why Christmas not New Year or winter solstice? I find human celebra
tions confusing.
Figgi

Dear Figgi,
My research in the art history world suggests that it is something to do with a family that loved cats. There's a painting in Venice of the Annunciation by Lorenzo Lotto showing a human called Mary who had her own (rather startled) tabby. The Lotto painting shows a tabby cat scampering across the floor just as an angel is telling Mary of the birth of a baby. Tabbies were popular with this particular family.
There's a charming ginger and white cat painted by Frederico Ba
rocci about 1575 sort of begging in the nativity scene showing Mary, Joseph, the child and the infant John the Baptist. Perhaps the ginger and white lived with Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist and cousin of the family. And Leonardo da Vinci sketched a nativity scene with a cat twice - can't be sure of the colour except that it is not black.
The Lotto tabby may be an ancestor of the tabby that appears Jan Vermeyen’s picture of the Holy Family at home later on after returning from Egypt. The cat is lying at the feet of the Virgin Mary on what looks like its own little bed. That makes me think that the family loved cats.
There was also a
tabby at the birth of St John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus, according to a sixteenth century Book of Hours. And there was one even earlier at the birth of the Virgin herself, according to an alterpiece in Romania, c. 1480-1500. You can just see it in the background of the painting at the bottom left hand side. I think it is yet another tabby.
Tabbies were
there in the home before and after the birth of Jesus. But what about the stable? A black cat, like me, may have been there in the stable. We black cats are less prized than tabbies so it's more likely that we were just pushed out to live as pest controllers out of doors in Bethlehem. The stable would have been a warm place in winter, with the ox and the ass, so we cats would have been there at night sharing the space with that young travelling couple tired from coming all the way from Nazareth. I like to think that the heavily pregnant girl would have smiled to see a cat there purring her a better welcome than she had got at the inn.
I can't find any paintings of black cats with this family. But I really hope that one of my ancestors was part of this great event, perhaps somehow living on the margins of domestication, catching mice in the stable and sneaking the odd meal from the waste food of the inn. They say He came for those who were outcast, poor, and marginalised. Please may we cats be remembered too when He comes into his kingdom - as that human once said.
And any humans reading this spare a thought for
the cats still out in the cold - give money to no-kill rescue shelters. In the financial meltdown they will need it.
Georg
e, Cats Protection rescue cat.
PS For more cat paintings take a look at http://larsdatter.com/cats.htm

Friday, December 12, 2008

Why have they put this silly Christmas hat on me?


Dear George,

They've done it again. Some time as the days get longer here they try to put a silly red hat on me. Why? What's it all about? They've gone funny in the household. Odd things on the TV - less wildlife more choirboys (and I don't like small boys). The only bit I like are the tinkly things that later on they will hang on a tree. That's more like fun. I read in your book, The Joy of Cats, published under HER name, that a mad Victorian clergyman hung herrings on his tree. Why can't she do this instead balancing this hat on me? As you can see, I am not pleased at all.
William
Dear William,
This is the time of year when humans go slightly mad. Some of their behaviour is extremely vexing - loud tuneless caterwauling carols, the influx of strange humans turning up at all hours, inter-human aggression due to tiredness and drunkeness, human kittens and juveniles wanting to "pet" us, and thoughtless behaviour like dressing up cats. We don't need clothes or hats, thank you very much. We are not naked apes. We have our own fur coats which suit us much better.
However, Christmas is a time of opportunities. Take the tree. Twinkling balls hang from it - so nice to play with. I enjoy batting them about and if they fall off they move over a wooden floor in a mouse-like fashion. And have you tried climbing it? Right at the top, for some reason, is a particularly bright star. Go for it. Every human in the house will react with a gratifying squeal of excitement as you exhibit your skillful ascent - before the tree crashes to the ground.
Christmas food. Turkey - yum yum. Get to the kitchen early on, while the bird is uncooked. At this point you may get one or two bits cut off to tidy it up for the oven. Even if you don't receive them, note that they have gone into the trashcan. This is usually easily overturned later in the day and you can rummage round for that nice bit of skin taken off the breast area. It's fun to hunt for it. More fun than being given it.
Throughout the morning there will be interesting things on the kitchen surfaces or dining areas. It's no trouble to jump up and take a look to see what is on offer. At various Christmases, I have found the following - bread sauce, ice cream, brandy butter, cream, custard, sausagemeat balls, forcemeat balls (not so good as the sausage meat but worth licking), butter, goose fat, and smoked salmon.
There are hazards. One year I ate the whole of a piece of string used to tie up the turkey which was unwisely left within my range. That was a visit to the vet on Boxing day - very expensive for the human and I didn't appreciate the laxative either (dangerous to pull it out). But my human followed me about attentively and checked the litter tray ceaselessly. The silly woman seemed to want her string back. Can't think why - the turkey flavour would have gone completely. More on Christmas accidents next week and after that cats and their role in the nativity story.
Keep up the Christmas capers - to make those humans properly attentive.
George
PS. Other cats please let me know of their Christmas experiences and email photos via my website, www.celiahaddon.com

Friday, December 05, 2008

Civilising a female cat


George, old boy,
It's bin far too long. Club suitable as to grub and heat, staff quite civilised after years of my hard work, excellent mousing. Many birds, so many it's hard to decide which one to hunt. Humans keep dogs, but dogs keep their distance. Would suggest you come here for a while if it didn't involve travel and those damn cage things. Only trouble, hesitate to mention it, is the new one. Gel called Arabella, bloody silly name. Arrived in a bag, took staff by surprise, I expect. Tiny thing, long white gloves on all her legs, face you could only call pert, very young indeed and much too bumptious. Climbs humans like hills, sits on heads, dives into their very odd morning meal: called mewsel or something. Then skids down their backs and you know how ridiculously sensitive they are to fleshwounds. Attacks dogs, just when we'd come to terms. Usually pursues own tail, but sometimes mine, and she bites. Obviously dreams of being a lion and anything that moves is a gazelle, humans included. Staff have tried games, affection and isolation, but nothing seems to civilise the creature. Dogs say she's a rat with military training. Myself, suspect she's some kind of subversive. My suggestion she leave, this being a gentleman's club, not taken kindly by Arabella or by the staff. So I ask you: how to tame a kitten who can't be kept out of anything. She's even taken my chair and my place in the middle of the fireplace and a gentleman hardly knows whether to swipe or smile.
Humans ineffective as usual, so most grateful for your advice.
Your friend Ze.

Dear Ze,
She's young, she's flighty and she's a female cat! Whaddya expect? She may not even have been neutered. Why do you think humans sometimes call their females sex kittens? It could have been of the greatest interest, except that you had the alteration, the op, the snip, the cut. I dream of sex kittens but waking it is no such matter. Like you, that part of my life disappeared for ever after humans snipped me.
Perhaps this is just as well. We can relax into the deep peace of the chaise longue instead of the hurly burly of life on the tiles. None of this helps much with your troubles with Arabella. I think this is a claw and order issue. Stop this gentleman nonsense. Biff her but biff her with claws retracted. That kind of swipe - rough but not vicious - should establish yourself as top cat again.
Wny on earth haven't your humans installed another chair especially for her? And what about the double bed? Is there space for both, preferably with humans in between? Maybe an electric blanket or a snugglesafe on the spare room would help give her a warm night. And why only one fireplace when there are two cats? I hope they have at least installed another litter tray and also a second feeding station. You need two of everything.
Cats don't share. Geddit, you stupid humans? Sharing is a doggy thing not a feline thing. We compete or we ignore.
We need our own space which means our own feeding station, our own beds (plural), our own chairs and our own place at the fireside. Two of everything if there are two cats. That way we don't have to share. Sharing is stressful for us. The ideal relationship inside the same house is one where each cat has about 3 metres distance at all times from the other, different places to sleep, to eat and to defecate. A proper distance should be available at all times.
Sometimes I despair of humans.
George

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm upset about the new kitten. Should I be?


Hello George,
Whicky is a friend of mine and he advised me I to speak to you about my problem.The problem is my new kitten brother, Alfie. He arrived last weekend (from cat rescue aged 12 weeks) and Mom is trying to settle him in with me. I am 8 months old and a bit of a spoilt only boy until now.I've been a bit hissy and growly - and because I am so much bigger and stronger than Alfie, Mom is nervous about leaving us unattended. She introduced us behind a glass door (one either side) and I was very hissy & growly!Then gradually over the weekend she fed us at the same time (one each side of the door) and now I am comfortable near my little brother. BUT Mom closely supervises and I show interest and sniff - and then give a hefty swipe. My claws are usually in ... but sometimes I forget myself.Mom is scared that if she puts Alfie down that I might attack and hurt Alfie. I don't mean to be like this ... I can't help myself.Mom is giving me lots of reassurance but she wonders if
you could advise further. Is there anyhting else she should be doing, or not doing? Thank you.
Love Milo

Dear Milo,
Unlike many of us, you seem to have a sensible human. You must have educated her well in the ways of cats. Or perhaps she was already socialised to cats when she was a human kitten. Either way she is being patient and kind. (Not very common among in this pathetic species. We can wait for hours at mouseholes. They want it all now.)
The difficulty for our humans is that they are primarily social animals but we are not. We don't live in packs like dogs do (which is one reason why they fit into human life so well). We weren't designed to do cooperative hunting, like both wolves (dogs) and
humans. We hunt alone. We go out alone and we kill mice. Mice are not big enough to share so we don't share our food with others - unless we are mother cats bringing back food for kittens.
That's not to say that we cats are all loners. Some of us are. Some of us will always be unhappy sharing a house. But, if we were in the wild, many of us would live in colonies of related females. The toms would come and go but females would live closely together. The sisters and neices might even help each other raise kittens, share nursing duties, and baby sit.
Where does that leave us house cats? Well humans like more than one cat and they will often bring home a new cat. For us cats this is upsetting. This new cat will not be a relative. It will smell different to us and we identify friends and foe by scent. Any cat that isn't familiar is a foe until it becomes familiar. And even if it is a kitten, well, some of us don't care for kittens much. This all adds up to a period of between 3 to 6 months while we come to terms with the new arrival
What we need is time to accept the change. Next we need the smell to come right. We need the new cat to start smelling of our family - ie smelling of us, and our humans. Swapping bedding form one cat bed to another, installing Feliway, and getting the human to stroke first one cat and then the other will help. We like a nice mixed scent that all the family share. Feliway is always soothing.
A crate for the kitten to be in - large enough for bedding, food and litter tray - is a help. Means you can't swipe at him but you can go close and take a good look. (Crates are useful for sick cats too or for if you take your cat travelling or on visits. I love my crate.).
Finally we need space and resources. We will probably never want to get too close to another unrelated cat. We will live happily in the same house while making sure we are about three metres away at all times. So ask her to help you and the new kitten to avoid each other. That is what we cats do to make social life bearable. You need at least one litter box per cat and at least two different litter locations. It will also help if you are not forced to eat side by side. So two feeding locations will help too.
Keeping our distance is how we cats cope. Your human is being helpful in this. She's obviously a relatively enlightened individual of an otherwise dumb species. She seems to realise that cats are not human - some humans never do.
George.
PS. She's written yet another book under my guidance. See above. Order it for Xmas at www.amazon.co.uk

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What does it mean on the cat food label?


Dear George

Thank you for the earlier information about what is in pet food, particularly what is in cat food. But what's on the label. How do we know what is inside the tin, or the packet?
Hesper

Dear Hesper,
Regulations vary from country to country, but in the UK you will find a list of ingredients. Reading the label is an art form. Start with the main bit of the label which will say either "complementary" or "complete." This is very important indeed. Anything labelled "complementary" is not designed to have all the ingredients you need. It is probably a treat food. Eat it in that way. "Complete" on the other hand is what is says on the tin - ie if your human feeds only that you will get all you need.
Next stage is to look at the list of ingredients. If you are thinking of cost (you have a poor or a mean human) look for the percentage of water. Dry food looks more expensive but if you do some complicated maths (which I can't do) then you may discover dry food is no more expensive than wet food. Dry food is easiest to leave down so you can snack through the day - the way of feeding that we cats prefer. On the other hand, some of us need wet food - cats who have a history of cystitis, for instance.
In the UK, the list of ingredients are listed in order of how much there is in the tin. That may well mean that cereals comes before meat and meat derivatives. As I said an earlier blog, carbs are cheap even though we do not need carbs. Meat in catfood in the UK comes from sources fit for human consumption and does not contain horse meat or whale meat. This might be different elsewhere. Then there are oils and fats, minerals, various sugars. Sugars, which can be table sugar, fructose or glucose, can be used as a preservative or flavour enhancer. We cats don't taste sugar so the latter is more likely to be a reason for use in dog food.

Next comes an analysis of protein, ash, fibre. Ash is particularly disconcerting.What it means is the amount of ash left if the food was burned. Why it is there, I do not know and would welcome information on this. It does not mean that the food contains ash. You can get a download with a bit more information for your human from www.pfma.org.uk
If a pet food is described as "containing" chicken and rabbit, then the minimum amount of these meats must be 4% of the contents of the tin and this minimum must be stated on the label. But the actual amount of the chicken and rabbit inside your can might be more than 4%. If it just says "chicken flavour", there may be no chicken at all!
Additives in pet food are those in human food but that's not saying much. In the UK there is a movement to ban E-numbers tartrazine (E102), quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124) and allura red (E129). If these are not good for humans why hsould we feed them to our cats. So, on the whole, my advice would be NOT to let your human buy any cat food which is highly coloured - yellow or red or green. Only a human would be stupid enough to be attracted by bright colours in food! Poor dears. We need to keep them under constant surveillance.

George
PS I am experimenting with LOLs. Watch this space - http://mine.icanhascheezburger.com/view.aspx?ciid=2693271

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why does cat food contain junk?



Dear George,
Why does does cat food contain cereals? Obligate carnivores do not need wheat. Why soya protein - and just what benefit does this give to cats? filling up any mammal (but especially neutered mammals) with phyto-oestrogens is insane. Look at the problems it causes in humans! (Human males growing breasts etc) Why do the prescription diets sold only at inflated prices by
vets STILL contain the same trash that the foods on supermarket shelves contain. And why this rubbish about "healthy vegetables for cats" Humans may find pretty pictures of peas, carrots and asparagus appealing, but we cats are not going to benefit from this? Oily fish, there is huge concern that oily sea fish have significant amounts of dreadful stuff like PCBs backed up in their muscle and fat. As humans consume more oily fish (for health reasons ho ho) there are more waste by-products from processing going into cat foods - Look at the supermarket shelves laden with salmon, tuna, mackeral, sardine "flavoured" cat food! - the rise in cat food containing this stuff has been linked to the rise in hyperthyroidism in cats (since the 80's ?) Herbs - just no, no, no, no, no and NO. Cats are not herbivores. Time and time again my human sees brands of cat food purporting to be "natural" or " a better way to feed your cat" - on examination, it's just another attempt to plug into the 21st century guilt driven, human desire to return to nature and imbue sham spiritual goodness into every aspect of life by filling up cats with inappropriate food. Essential oils - yeah, just poison us, let us die a horrible thrashing agonising death, because "tea tree oil balances the immune system" why not, it's natural after all!
Whicky Wuudler of http://everycat.blogspot.com

Dear Whicky,
You have really said it all. We should be fed on fresh mouse, or even tinned mouse. The whole mouse, of course, with all the bones and the fur and so forth. One of the rarer cat disorders, among Siamese, is wool eating. It's thought to be a disorder of the predatory sequence - eye, stalk, pounce, kill, tear off skin or feathers, and eat. Modern cat food misses out on tearing off skin and feathers. So cats chew wool instead. If you feed them whole
mice or turkey poults (sold dead for reptiles) they stop wool chewing (see www.celiahaddon.com). Thanks to the Furry Fighter I can pass on the information that there are dried mice - as treats - available from http://www.petextras.com/pofdmo21gr.html
So why carbo
hydrates in cat food? Carbs are cheap. We cats can't tolerate too high a proportion of carbs so cat food has more protein and less carbs than dog food (message - don't feed us dog food, puurlease). Not only do we not need carbohydrates, we definitely need some of the contents of proper animal protein - taurine, vitamin A, and and arachidonic acid.
You can see the difference from looking at a picture of our innards. The digestive tract of the cat has a simple stomach and a relatively short gut - look on the left here. Compare this with the innards of a sheep (lower down on the left) - a really long gut and a complicated stomach to ferment and then digest all that plant material. That explains why we can't manage a vegetarian diet. We just can't process it. We don't have the ruminant stomach to ferment it and the long gut to retain the stuff long enough to absorb it.
We can tolerate (and can get some energy from) carbohydrate in their diet because it has been cooked and processed enough for us to digest it. And carbs are cheap. Just like milk was cheap which was why it was fed to cats - even
though it is now known that some cats can't digest it at all. Same with fish. A diet of fish was traditionally fed to us because it was cheap. The history of cat food is the history of human meanness. If it is cheap, feed it to the cat.
The answer, however, is not necessarily a home cooked diet. Most home diets consist of flesh meat without the bones and fur and stuff that we would need in the ideal tinned mouse diet. Flesh meat alone doesn't give us all we need. Some kittens have growth problems because breeders recommend feeding only chicken and rice when a good balanced tin of kitten food has better ingredients. Other cat owners feed us too much liver which is sort of junk food for us. If we eat too much we get vitamin A poisoning.
So, if you can't go out and catch your own mice, I recommend a good "complete" cat food. Mice are better. We all admit that. But at least nowadays those damn manufacturers have done the research and conventional cat food produced by reputable firms doesn't do too much harm. As you say, Whicky, ignore all that stuff about vegetables and herbs. It's just a silly marketing tool designed to appeal to humans. As we cats know only too well, humans are a basically stupid species.
I really ought to add a bit about those ridiculous cat food labels but I haven't time now.
George
P. Regular readers will be delighted, as I am, that Zealand (see last blog) has found a home. He has settled down happily and has bitten nobody - so far - probably because no longer stressed.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I bite humans. I enjoy seeing them flinch. Should I stop?


Dear George,
I bite humans. Here I am stuck in a pen waiting for somebody to adopt me. Worse still, until recently I itched and itched and itched. I felt so bad I pulled out all the fur of my belly and backside. The anti-flea stuff they gave me made me so ill I thought I was going to have a fit. Then they changed my diet- after four months of itching - and my hair is beginning to grow back. You can just seem the remains of the bald bits if you look carefully at my tummy. I used to bite humans because I felt so itchy and awful. Now I just bite them anyway. They keep wanting to touch or pet me and I just want them to keep a respectful distance. Biting works well. I bit Celia four times in ten minutes. I wonder if I should stop. I don't much like the human race.
Zealand

Dear Zealand,
There's no ethical reason why you should stop nipping and biting humans. After all they are a different species and we cats don't owe them anything. Least of all you. Your humans gave up on you and just chucked you out into a rescue centre, where you are now. While you were itching all over, no wonder you bit. It must have been hell if you needed to pull out your own fur. No wonder you don't like humans.
Humans have this unhealthy desire to cuddle. And to touch. They must do it. They don't seem to realise that cats like you, who were probably given the wrong education as kittens, are frightened of being touched, or hugged, or cuddled or picked up. You want to be in a household where you get regular meals, somewhere nice to sleep, and you can get on with your own life - perhaps doing a bit of hunting in the garden. You are a no cuddles cat.
Celia can take it. She spent a year going into rescue centres and has been bitten by a large number and variety of cats -- frightened tabbies, neurotic pedigrees, Persians that have suffered from rough grooming, beautiful white princess pussycats terrified of the nearby noise of dogs, terrified gingers cowering in their beds, and cats like you that just bit any passing hand. The worst consisted of a bite plus a real clawing when half her hand swelled up. She doesn't enjoy it but she does understand that cats in rescue shelters are highly traumatised.
However, there is a reason for rethinking your biting policy. The more you bite, the more difficult it will be to find a home. Kittens find homes easily. Loving cuddly adult cats usually only stay about a few weeks in rescue. Somebody who wants a cat comes into the pen and picks them up and cuddles them and they purr.
But when somebody comes into the pen tries to pick up a cat and gets bitten, they often have to wait for months and months. Is there any chance you could try to be nice? Or just try not to bite till they take you home. Think about it. There are a few humans who don't mind being bitten but not many.
George

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Should I go on teasing her by making my human jealous?


Dear George,
I have found out a good way to tease my humans. My two carers are Janet and John, like the children's books of past years. Janet does everything for me. She feeds me, makes sure the litter tray is clean, trains me on the lead and in the car. John does far less. I have discovered I can really irritate Janet by showing a distinct preference for John. I join him, not her, on the bed lying at his, not her, feet. I walk out of the room if Janet gets too near me. I rush to welcome John when he comes home and ignore her when she does. It's easy peasy. John wears a sort of smug look on his face and Janet looks anxious. How far should I take this?
Jasmine. (Apologies for black and white photo)

Dear Jasmine,
I think we all enjoy teasing humans. They make it so easy for us. They are ridiculously over sensitive when it comes to feline attention. They sulk if they think they are not getting enough or just go around looking worried (like Janet). It is part of the power that we hold over them. Power that they simply don't even acknowledge.
Have you tried the visitor game? I expect you have. I enjoy it. I scan all arrivals at the house. Those that try to come towards me, or attempt to touch or pet me, I ignore. I walk away with a haughty look or, better still, rush off under the sofa. These are cat lovers and most of them are devastated by my behaviour.
Those that don't seem to like cats or that ignore me, I walk up to and rub against their ankles. Some may
even be frightened of cats. They are even more fun. I leap on to their lap at the first opportunity then crawl up their chest trying to lick their face. Their horror is good fun.
The best way to play the game is when there are both kinds of human in the house. The cat lovers are even more upset to see other humans being the recipient of my favours. The cat haters are annoyed and feel, in the presence of my own humans, that they cannot just swat me off. If you haven't tried it, do so.
As for Janet, why give her a break? She is totally co dependant about cat and adores them. So whatever your behaviour, she will keep looking after you. So my advice is to play the game as much as it amuses you. But about once a week, jump on her lap and play adoring kitty. This will keep her on the boil, so to speak. You can eavesdrop on her pathetic conversations with John about "Why won't Jasmine be like she was on Monday?".
Cats rule.
George
PS Would Whikky Wuudler like to communicate via www.celiahaddon.com with a photo so I can run the interesting question about cat food contents?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saggy tummy syndrome - how can I stop my human dieting me.


Dear George,
You may not be able to see from the photo, but I am a large cat. A seriously large cat. I put it down to my inheritable British Blue genes. Large size runs in my family - or so I like to think. It's not really fat. Just toned gorgeous muscle round the neck with a bit of FSTS, better known as feline saggy tummy syndrome. Alas, there are signs that my human wants me to diet.He has bought a huge sack of low calorie cat food. What can I do to stop him?
Herbie

Dear Herbie,
Feline Saggy tummy syndrome or FSTS is well known among cats of a certain age but from your photograph (which conceals the rest of your body) you certainly look like a well found cat of gravitas. There's a layer of muscle (I can be tactful) over the top of your neck which if repeated lower down must be fat (sorry to use the f. word) saggy tummy syndrome, FFSTS, the stage before obese saggy tummy syndrome known as OFSTS. Frankly, it would be a good idea if you got more exercise. There are ideas for indoor cats on my secretary's website, www.celiahaddon.com
That said, it is none of your owner's business to police your meals. What on earth gives the human species the right to interfere with the feline pursuit of love, life and happiness. Why are humans so fattist? Meals should be regular, of good quality and of sufficient quantity for you to enjoy. If you choose to be fat, why not? I suspect however, that your human is an enabler. While buying you diet food, he is probably feeding you on the sly. He may even be "feeding" his own codependance by over feeding you with unhealthy snacks. Maybe he too has human STS and he is working out his own psychological inadequacies on you. Humans can be much, much fatter than cats.
Rather than deprive you of the joy of food, he should be thinking of ingenious ways to get you interested in exercise to release some endorphins. Of course, the most obvious way would be to import living mice into his house, but that would be unduly cruel to the mice. He could however start feeding you in a more fun way. Hide the food throughout the household before he goes out. Get a food dispensing ball, and put it in there. Get various cardboard boxes, and hide the food in them so that you have to pull it out with a claw. Put food on the top of the cat gymnasium (that is, if it is steady enough to bear your weight.) More time spent playing with you, instead of slumping in front of the TV, would help too.
That way he would be adding fun to your life, giving you more exercise rather than simply depriving you of food. I blame him anyway for your weight. He is an enabler. Could you rehome yourself next door for a better kind of owner?
George
PS There's a very good comment about cat food below, which I will take up in a future blog.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

How can I stop my human hauling me off to the vet?


Dear George,

Periodically, my human will ambush me without warning (usually when I am sound asleep enjoying dreams of chasing mousies and birdies) and stuff me unceremoniously into my PTU and cart me off to the dreaded v-e-t! There I am subjected to all sorts of atrocities -- loud, barking dogs in the waiting room, having to sit on a cold metal table in the exam room, having my teeth and ears checked, and the worse one of all...getting a shot in the butt!
What can I do to get my human to show a little common courtesy and ask me first whether I would like to be stuffed into my PTU and carted off to the v-e-t to incur all those atrocities?
And when she doesn't take NO for an answer and carts me off anyways, what, if any, recourse should I take against her?
Sincerely with a sore butt,
Wally

Dear Wally,
You have put your paw on a very sore issue indeed, one of the most outrageous examples of human stupidity even human cruelty. It is the sheer hypocrisy of it, that gets up my gleaming black nose. One moment the human is cooing all over us, then suddenly they are taking us off to what is a torture chamber. How can they do this?
So what can we do about it? The first thing is to brush up your verbal skills in human language. Like the rest of us, you probably stop listening to their endless vocalising. They never stop "talking" so most of us cats simply screen out the noise. However, this is a mistake when it comes to the v-e-t situation. You simply have to keep an ear out for that particular vocalisation.
It's not alway easy. The word comes in the middle of a torrent of other similar sounding vocalisations like "pet" "yet" "vat" "vit'amins and so on. However, if you apply your considerable cat skills to the task you will find that you can hear it. Once heard, the word is an advance warning.
Make yourself scarce immediately. If you are an outdoor cat, this is the moment to saunter through the cat flap and disappear for the nex 24 hours. If you are an indoor cat, it is a little more complex but there are places from which she will find it difficult to extract you - the furthest side of the bed, underneath the cooker, behind the fridge, high up on the top of the wardrobe, inside one of the drawers in a chest of drawers.
If these places don't work, think laterally. The point about the human species is that they are relatively unintelligent. I have found it useful at times simply to hide myself by sitting on a chair that has been drawn up to the table - ie: I am hidden by the table itself. This is a particularly good place if your human has a tablecloth over the table. I have seen my human running up and down stairs, peering under beds, opening cupboards sometimes in the same room, and all the time forgetting to find me there.
Perhaps other cats will contribute their suggestions for good hiding places. All of us need them in order to avoid the visit to the veterinary torture chamber.
George
PS Revenge on your human is easier. Withdraw all attention from her - no purring, no looking at her, no rubbing round her legs. Ignore her for at least 24 hours. Refuse to sleep on the bed (unless it is a particularly cold night). This "silent treatment" is hard for a social species like humans to bear. If there is another person in the household, be particularly affectionate to him.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mouse deposits - the way to stop financial meltdown?

Dear George,
High finance and the arrogance of merchant bankers, who call themselves the Masters of the Universe, usually don't interest me. We cats are Masters of the Universe. We all know that. We are the most successful species in the world, inhabiting not just every continent but also every small island. However - and it is a big however - I am beginning to worry about the cat food deposit in my human's kitchen. Is it safe? Or will it disappear in the financial meltdown.
Henry

Dear Henry,
Times are worrying. Very worrying. Here in the UK we cats have been directly affected. Cats Protection, the feline charity, has lost 11 million pounds that they deposited in a bank owned by the bankrupt Icelandic Bank. This will compromise their plans to set up more rescue centres for needy felines.
We all need to pull together. We cats can help our humans if we look for creative and useful solutions to the mess produced by this, the most incompetant of species. We can start by hunting our own food, to eke out those vital kitchen deposits. Every mouse, lizard, fly and rabbit caught and eaten by us will make the tinned or dry cat food go further.
Better still, deposit stuff into the food bank. Catch a mouse and store it for later. Currently I have deposited a live mouse under Celia's kitchen cooker. When she shines a torch there, she can see it moving about. The silly woman doesn't realise that this is food. By depositing it live I have ensured that it does not take up room in the fridge. It leaves no carbon footprint at all. This is green food storage.
I also put one in the utility room and, deciding on a 3 am snack last night, I re-caught it. It was fun. Actually I wasn't that hungry, so I just ate the head and deposited the body on the landing just outside the bedroom door. She nearly, but not quite, stepped on it in the morning. Did she congratulate me? Was she pleased at my efforts to help the household budget? No. She swore.
Nevertheless, I am a cat with a plan to put an end to financial meltdown. Help your humans during the stockmarketl crash. Catch a mice and deposit it in your own personal home food bank.
George
PS She's back. Miaowing about cats that barber each other. If you can help her with information, or if you want to send her a photo, contact her via her website, http://www.celiahaddon.com

Sunday, October 05, 2008

How do we cats vote?

Dear George,
How should we felines vote? Republican or Democrat? Tory or Labour? And why don't we have a vote? I should like to have a paw in the business of choosing the human leader.
Lucy.

Dear Lucy,
Don't even think about voting. Humans spend hours bothering themselves about politics. We cats are much more sensible. We just get on with our own affairs. However, in theoretical terms your question is an interesting one.
AS an English cat, I am not so sure about the differences between Republicans or Democrats though obviously my colour predisposes me to take an interest in Mr Obama. On the other hand that Sarah woman is obviously a terrific hunter. Did you see that bearskin! And moose not mere mice!  What she brings home beats any of the mice or rabbits I have brought home.
We cats have been described as selfish. I would call us sensibly self interested. And independant. As such we might vote Tory rather than Labour. We don't do altruism except for our own families. We don't look after poorer cats. We don't share. 
On the other hand we do exist on handouts. I mean I don't actually pay for my cat food. My humans do that. So perhaps I am part of the dependancy culture. So on that score we might vote Labour.
What do the rest of you think? Please enlighten me.
George.
PS. My secretary is away for a week learning the scientific side of animal behaviour so this is only a short entry.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why can't humans grow proper cat's whiskers?

Dear George,
As you can see from my pictures I have elegantly long whiskers from my muzzle and some rather charming whiskers above my eyes, one or two on my cheek and even two on my fore legs. They not only transmit important information to me, but, to my mind, they are gloriously beautiful. Why don't humans have them? 
Fanny

Dear Fanny,
You have to feel sorry for the species,don't you? The most they can manage is facial fur. Some of the male humans, particularly those of various religions, grow quite long and droopy fur on their chins, but other males shave it all off. The females don't even have facial hair - or if they do they wax it off or pull it out. Odd, aren't they?
However even the males with the longest and furriest faces, with what they term "beards' or "sideburns", have non-functioning hair without proper nerve end receptors. 
Human facial fur just sits there for no good reason at all. Sometimes the fur even looks like whiskers. But it doesn't work. It's completely useless for navigating through tight places, or for helping them hold down mice. And, as far as I know, they don't have anything like whiskers on their fore legs, or "arms", just a scatter of useless slender hairs. 
Our whiskers work like a sixth sense. A blindfolded cat can pounce on and hold down a mouse with the information conveyed by his whisker sense. And, as I have discovered, I can switch off my whiskers while I am sleeping. If Celia is stupid enough to stroke them while I am dozing, I take no notice at all. I can control the sensory input, so to speak. When I pounce on a mouse, my whiskers shoot forward towards it, so that when I am carrying it, they can monitor the rodent's struggle without my having to open my mouth. 
Clever stuff, eh? Humans can't do it. No wonder they are so bad at mousing. It's difficult to believe, but I have never ever, in all my life in a human house, seen a human successfully carry a mouse in its jaws. 
A rather pathetic species, really, but I guess we love them all the same.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Humans, not cats, are the true killing machines

Dear George
I spend a lot of time hunting in the nearby hedges, in the village were I live. I brought a mouse home yesterday through the cat flap and there were shrieks as it slipped out of my mouth in the kitchen. My humans don't seem to like the fact that I go hunting almost every day. Yet it's the activity which gives my whole life its joy and meaning.
Yorkshire Patch

Dear Patch,
We all have difficulties with our humans about this one, - that is if we live in a nice family home rather than a barn or stables. Humans like the idea that we keep down the mice numbers but they are also queasy about seeing us doing it. Humans are dreadful hypocrites on this issue.
A few thousand years ago, we noticed that humans needed cats. Indeed mice are the cause of the cat-human relationship. They had started growing grain and building granaries and we moved in. Soon we saw that humans would be better off if we domesticated them, so we moved further into their homes and the close cat-human relationship was off and away. 
However domesticated they are, humans like us don't seem to have lost the killing instinct. Their instinct is worse than ours. We kill mice and usually eat them. They kill each other. That is unimaginable in cat society.
Over the past 9000 years of domestication we have tried to teach them how to live in peace with each other. We keep the peace instinctively. True, there are cat fights over willing females occasionally but more often than not, our toms just line up peacefully for a go. Why fight when there is plenty to go round and our females seem to enjoy it.
We deal with conflict much better than humans do. We avoid it.OK so we do a bit of posturing and hissing but most of the time we just walk round each other. If you look at how cats live together in a home (in a group of unrelated animals which is totally unlike the normal closely related wild cat colony), we manage ourselves by avoiding each other. 
We have our separate beds and favourite places and, unless we are forced to, we eat at seperate times. If we do fight, there may be wounds but we don't kill. We time share rather than sharing - unless we are good friends or relatives in which case we eat together and sleep touching each other.
Humans at low levels of society seem to manage this but once there are thousands of them it all goes wrong. They band together in large packs and slaughter each other. They don't even fight fairly with their feet and hands. They invent weapons which allow themselves to kill each other from thousands of miles away. They even slaughter babies and females. So it is the greatest hypocrisy when they object to the odd dead, or not so dead, mouse.
Yes, we have our hunting instincts. Yes we kill mice and rabbits and lizards and insects. We are predators. But so are humans. They prey on their own kind. We don't kill other cats. They kill each other in the millions. 
Humans could learn from us if they weren't so arrogant.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why do humans disapprove of washing?

Dear George,
Why are humans so odd when we wash. I wash after I have eaten. I wash after a human has stroked me, particularly if I didn't really want to be stroked. I wash when I feel I have nothing better to do. And I wash when I feel embarassed or upset. I was doing this the other day when my humans had guests. Perhaps I was a bit noisy. And perhaps I did expose my tummy. But so what? As you can see I have a particularly beautiful white tummy and I can't see anything wrong with it. Or the bits lower down, come to that. Humans are so prudish.
Jaffa

Dear Jaffa,
First of all, humans don't wash enough anyway. They only wash two or three times a day and instead of using their clean tongue they throw themselves into a huge bowl and wallow in their own dirt. Or they pour water on themselves while standing in a kind of cabinet. All very odd and often very unhygienic. Frankly, we cats are cleaner than they are.
Is it envy that makes them embarrassed when we wash in front of guests? Or a feeling of inferiority? After all, if they wanted to clean up their tummies with their tongue, most of them are too fat and unflexible to be able to do it, even if they did have a longer better tongue. Maybe that makes them feel uneasy. But you are right. They are embarrassed in front of other people.
Rather than let this get on your nerves, Jaffa, why not enjoy teasing them with it. See if you can jump on the dinner table and wash your backside in front of their very noses?If that isn't possible, choose a chair nearby and do it. Make a real performance of it - licking, pulling the hair slightly, breathing heavily and generally making slurpy noises. 
Use the litter tray with a lot of heavy scratching which can be heard even if the tray is out of sight. Then walk back into the room for a thorough wash "down there". This is best done with guests because your own humans are used to this and, if they were on their own, would think nothing of it. But it's fun to see if you can embarrass the guests - their eyes flick on to you and then flick away and a sort of prim expression comes on their face. Then if they are embarrassed, your own humans will often get embarrassed too.
What else to do with washing? Well, it's fun to do it on the bed in the early hours of the morning so that you make the bed shake. Or just near your human's face on the pillow. I'm sure the cats out there will have their own ideas about how to use washing as a way to tease their humans.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What is this weird human behaviour?


I've heard this weird story from a friend whose human visited another cat lover. He reached down to pet her cat a couple of times gently, and had to defend himself as he was about to have 12 lbs of kitty wreak havoc on his body. The woman grabbed the cat and sat down on the couch, proceeded to put the cat on his back and rub his tummy till he calmed down. While she was doing this - and this is the crazy part - she held a pencil between his teeth. I guess the wood was flying, bits going all over the place. He chewed for a few minutes then was calm again. She apologized and said he had quite a temper and this was the only way to calm him. Is this some new Dr.Phil for cats technique? Or do I just lead a sheltered life? Whatcha think, George?

Dear Goldie,
I think this is just another example of mad and bad humans. Most of us who respond badly to petting are doing so because we are frightened of humans and want to keep our personal space. We may look vicious but we are scared. Personally I like being petted by strangers (I've been criticised for being too much of a human lover)  but many cats do not. They were not brought up in kittenhood to enjoy the promiscuous caresses of passing humans they do not know. So they strike out in order to get humans to retreat - a very effective technique.
What does this woman do then? Grab the cat,roll  it on its back, forcibly pet its tummy (its most sensitive area!), and in order to avoid being bitten (an appropriate feline reaction, in my view), she thrusts a piece of wood in its mouth. A calming technique? Cruel, I think. There is a danger that the cat will break a tooth. There is the emotional damage of being handled in a rough way and forced to comply.
Although I am a cuddly cat, I hate being tickled on my tummy. Most cats do. Sometimes I will allow a little bit of petting there but mostly I respond by grabbing the intruding hand and biting it. My tummy is a no go area and (except for the very occasional caress from Celia) I am the only one who is allow to clean it or touch it. This poor cat, who is already frightened by strangers trying to caress it, is now unable to bite because it has been forcibly gagged. I am amazed it calmed down - perhaps it was freezing with sheer terror.  Cats that are unable to escape do sometimes freeze and go motionless.
The whole story is horrible.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

How to make a human give you food.


Dear George,
I have had to find a new home, because my last owners just went on holiday last spring leaving me to fend for myself. But my new humans don't believe in feeding cats titbits. My last humans didn't exactly hand out titbits but they were so disorganised that a lot fell to the floor or was left out in the kitchen where I could find it easily. They did very little cleaning up. Now I am having to start a new training regime. What do you suggest?
KitKat.

Dear KitKat,
We all know the principles of human training - reward good behaviour and ignore bad. But the major difficulty is how to get across to a human exactly what we want. They are not very bright. Indeed, I would go further. Frankly, they are dumb animals.
Some humans understand a little body language. Do they follow your gaze? these are the rare humans (rather like dogs) that are aware of where a cat is looking. For these it is easy to signal what you want. You just stare at it. Then stare at the human. Then take your eyes back to what you want. This is particularly easily done if you are sitting on the table next to your human's plate. If you are very lucky, you will have that kind of alert human.
But it is more likely you don't. Stare all you like, they will ignore it. The next method is to signal by approaching what you want. If the cat food is hidden in a cupboard walk to the cupboard and paw at the door. If the food you want is on the table, jump up and sit close to it. Use your paw to signal which bit you want. Try to point hesitatingly while looking cute.
If cuteness fails, you need to be decisive. Training is all very well but a cat sometimes has to take what he needs without involving human compliance. Some humans are just too stupid for training at all. They can't seem to focus on it. Too busy vocalising, watching TV and generally lounging about.
If your new humans are like this, just get there and help yourself. Some cats take the food off the fork, while the human is transferring it to his mouth. Others just hook it off the plate. There are even cats that try to eat it out of their human's mouths - Spink, a Cypriot cat, used to lick toothpaste off his owner's teeth. But you need to be very bold.
If you are a frightened cat, think devious. Just wait till the humans are out of the room and sneak quietly in and steal it. Well it's not really stealing, is it? What's theirs is yours anyway - all of it, beds, food, chairs, windowsills, house and garden.
George

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How should a cat help in the kitchen?



Dear George,
I have decided that I want to be a chef so I am learning the trade by taking more part in kitchen activity. It's one of the warmest places in the house and, apart from the bare surfaces and floors, it's one of the most enjoyable spaces. There are things to eat that are dropped on the floor, things to eat that are placed on the table and things to eat on the kitchen preparation areas. Some are put there specially for me. Some I find. Any tips on how to improve my kitchen awareness?
Speedy
 
Dear Speedy,
I am glad you are taking part in food preparation. Most cats find this very rewarding. Here are some of the items you can help clean - frying pan (not too fast one this one - it may burn your tongue), human plates when they have "finished" their meal (usually plenty of gravy), board used for cutting meat or fish, supermarket plastic containers empties of prawns (nice liquid), supermarket containers full of prawns placed on kitchen surface before humans empty them.
Humans throw away a lot of food. Keep an eye out for old chicken bones in the trash can (pull it down and scatter contents on the floor), pieces of fish or meat left over before cooking, fat cut off pieces of meat, stuff dropped on the floor below the kitchen table (young humans and old humans scatter these generously), stuff dropped on its way to the oven.
Really talented cat chefs learn how to open cupboards. Somewhere in these is the dry cat food. Better still teach yourself how to pen the fridge. Full of goodies of all description. Also learn how to chew open plastic bags. These are set down after shopping and before putting away and there is sometimes a ten minute window for stealing the food. Chew egg cartons to get at eggs. Pull these down off the kitchen surface to the floor and lick them up.
Before dinner parties, patrol the dining area. Humans often prepare food in advance. You may find the following (if you are lucky) - butter on open dish, cold seafood ready for first course, interesting sauces, cheese put on the sideboard ready for the last course (or second to last if you are a French cat), cream in a jug, gravy in a more open jug.
Get active around the cooker. Help your humans as they stir or check the pans. Peer in intelligently. Leave hair in all empty dishes and pans to convey the message "Speedy Was Here Helping." 
Oh yes, remember that your human may not appreciate your help. Odd, isn't it? Would other cats like to comment or suggest kitchen activities.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Surely we cats need cat addicts!



Dear George
I am only a kitten but it seems to me that you have missed the point. We cats should encourage cat addiction. Cat addicts love cats. They run their lives round cats. They buy expensive food for cats. They share their houses, their beds, the very food on the table sometimes, with cats. Isn't that a good thing?
Tic, aged nine weeks.

Dear Tic,
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings comes truth. Yes, of course, cat addiction is a good thing for most cats most of the time. Without cat addicts where would we be? I mean Celia is one. But, I guess, what I am saying is that there is a point when cat addiction, ie like animal hoarders, starts harming the cats themselves. Most humans enjoy a little, or even a lot of cat addiction. It's just when it gets out of hand.
So I thought I would do a little quiz for your humans to answer. 

ARE YOU A CAT ADDICT?
1. Do you spend more on your cats than yourself?
2. Did you choose your flat/house because it would be good for your cats?
3. Have you ever said no to an invitation because you didn't want to leave your cats?
4. Have you ever turned down the possibility of a relationship because he/she didn't like your cats or didn't like cats in general.
5. Do you think of your cats more than ten times a day?
6. In the last week have you bought any of the following - a)cat treats. b) cat bed. c) cat toy. d) specially expensive cat food as a treat
7. Do you fix your cats arrangments for holidays/vacations before you fix your own. For instance do you book the cattery or the cat sitter and only after that fix the travel arrangements?
8. Do your cats sleep on or in the bed?
9. Do your cats sit on the table while you are eating?
10. Have you ever turned off the TV because you thought your cat wouldn't like the programme or turned to a programme because you thought your cat would enjoy it.
11. Do you have cat pictures/photos/ornaments in the house?
12. Are most of the cards you receive cat themed?

ANSWERS
Fewer than three yes answers - you are not cat addicted.
Between 3-6 yes answers - you are beginning to be cat addicted.
Between 6-9 yes answers - you are definitely a cat addict.
Between 9-12 yes answers - oh dear, you are as bad as Celia !



Sunday, August 10, 2008

Are some humans cat addicted?


Dear George,
I always know when They are up to something...  And now I know what it is: they want me to have a companion. They talk about it in huddles. Should they get an older chap like me (I'm 13)? A younger quieter nervous chap, as I know I was? Or should they  leave well alone? The thing is, George, do I or don't I want a companion? I don't know. Especially having lived with the imperious matriarch who ruled the roost here when I arrived - though I must say she looked out for me whenever I appeared under threat from neighbouring ASBO feline bullies. But I do get bored. I'm spoilt, admittedly. There's always treats all for me and sleep. I'd welcome your thoughts, George.
Kind Regards, Bodmin.

Dear  Bodmin,
Why let Them have all the fun and leave all the hassle for you? It looks to me as if they are being selfish.  If it's a kitten, it will spend its time trying to play games with you. When it's an adolescent it will play rougher games and may even bully you. At the age of 13 surely you are allowed a bit of piece and quiet. The idea of another cat is Theirs, not Yours. Are your humans suffering from problem cat owning?
Humans seem to get addicted to cats. First they get a cat, then they add another one, then somebody goes away and leaves one in the neighbourhood which moves in, and then they see a pathetic cat in a rescue shelter. Before you know where you are, your peaceful home has become a hostel for homeless felines. I exaggerate, of course, but it's a possibility.
But think of this. Will there be room for two cats on the bed? I mean, I find there is barely room for the humans on my bed. I aim to edge one of them out and send them to the spare room, then I can settle down with enough space and just one human. If there are two of you cats, you may have to banish both the humans from the bed altogether. I know there's plenty of room for them on the sofa downstairs. I know that they have no right at all to expect there to be space in the bedroom. But just think it through.
Better still talk to them about cat addiction. I have spoken sternly to Celia about this. I tell her that just as heavy drinking can lead to alcohol addiction, so a heavy cat intake can lead to cat addiction. Perhaps your humans are not real cat hoarders yet but addiction to animals really does exist. Get them to look at this bit  of film - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v+CxcchlDbACU. There's even a special website about it at the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium, http://www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/hoarding/rescue.htm 
Those of you out there who are owned by addicts, watch out. Once a cat addict, always a cat addict. They need a Power Greater Than Themselves to recover. If you can make them see sense you might be that Higher Power. Many cats have this position in the house - they rule.
If not, it will have to be that Great Ginger Tom above the stars, that Being which humans so oddly think is sort of human. The One that made everything from the glory of our whiskers to the shining of moonlight.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Humans quarrel among themselves as much as we cats do

Dear George
I think you have been taken in by human hypocrisy. They quarrel among themselves just as much as we cats do. If not more. Ask yourself how many humans want to live with their mother. I mean old age homes are overflowing with humans (not cats) because humans dump their parents there, or because the parents go there rather than be bullied in their childrens' homes. I was passing by in France when your Celia was there with her family. The tension.... you could feel the family dysfunction.
Dorothee of Castres

Dear Dorothee,
I stand corrected. I don't know why I supposed that humans are truly social or pack animals. In some ways they may be, but they certainly often don't get on very well in families. They talk about loving each other, but in actual fact most of them are very selfish. Talk... yes. Real family feeling...maybe.  Translated into family action and kindness ... often not.
And very few of them live with their parents after the age of 30 - and very few old parents are taken in by their children particularly when they get old, confused and perhaps rather difficult to live with. Why is there sheltered housing and old age homes for humans? Because they need them. They don't want to live with each other!
Humans are always so hypocritical. They expect us to live in the house together, without thinking of whether we want to. They keep a female cat, let her have kittens, and then expect her to live with one of the kittens. What if she doesn't want to? What is the kitten wants the freedom to live apart from the parent? That's what humans have. Why can't cats have that freedom too! Why do they assume they know what is best for us!
They choose our friends for us. They  go out and come home with another cat without so much as consulting us. Then they expect use to like each other. Why should we? I mean if I went out and brought back a human that appealed to me, why should Celia want to live with him or her? I know a cat called Vincent who was in love with the postwoman. But he never asked her to live with his friend, Pam. He didn't expect Pam to like her too. Humans do this to us all the time. Just add a cat. Without thinking. Without asking.
It is only because we tactfully avoid each other, and try pass by without fights that this completely random habit of humans doesn't lead to real bloodshed. Sometime I despair of the species. Clever monkeys? Not at all. Give me a sensible ape any day rather than a ridiculous human.
George


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Help! I just can't live with my adolescent daughter.


Dear George,
I had kittens a year ago. I have now been spayed but having kittens was a mistake for me. It all went well. There were six of them and five of them went off to new homes. But, alas, my human kept one of the females back. There are now to of us in the house and we don't get on. I spend most of my time outside, even in the cold weather, because my adolescent daughter is larger than me and a bit of a bully. What can I do? 
Beauty

Dear Beauty,
This is the result of humans thinking we cats are like them. (Luckily for our pride and dignity we are not!). Or worse still they think we are like dogs, always looking for other dogs to play with and desperately in need of doggy pals.
Fundamentally at the heart of most of us cats is a solitary hunter. We don't share. We don't pack. Some cats can live with their relatives but many can't. Actually humans often find out that living with a teenager is hard work, so it is ridiculous for them to assume we are so family minded that they can just assume we want to live with our relatives without asking us. Would your human like to live with her grown up daughter? Or her mother?
If you were living in the wild, you (or your daughter) would just move on and live in seperate territories unless there was only one place of shelter. That would be the natural way of life but humans have never grasped that they are asking us to live in very artificial surroundings. As it is, you are stuck with her. Have a careful think about the house facilities. If she is sleeping on the bed, could you find room in the spare bedroom, for instance? 
Could you persuade your human to put down two feeding locations so that you can eat in peace without having to be near each other. Probably not.  Humans get stuck in behaviour patterns and are not willing to change. They imagine we like eating side by side. We don't. We wouldn't be eating our mice side by side. We cats eat privately if we live wild. Luckily you obviously have a cat flap so you needn't share the litter tray with her.
The other obvious way out of this problem is to start visiting the neighbours. This is particularly important in winter. If you can find a suitable human, who will provide good food and has enough heating in the house, this may be the moment to re-home yourself. Plenty of cats do this. Or you can compromise and simply spend most of the day with the neighbour just coming home at night. Timesharing your company with another human might work out well.
George
PS No advice for a bit. My secretary is going away for two weeks to visit her brother. She certainly couldn't live with him for longer than a week or two without quarrelling.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why don't humans wash properly?


Dear George,
Have you noticed how rarely humans wash? They are really quite filthy. I wash at the following times -- after eating (and I do that several times a day); when settling down for a little nap during the day; last thing at night on the bed just after my humans are about to go to sleep (I make that a long wash),  at three am in the morning on the bed because I just feel likeit (my humans aren't too pleased), first thing in the morning about an hour before the alarm goes off; after breakfast; when I am sitting on a lap ( a bit uncomfortable for me but I think they appreciate it); and any time I think about it. When do they wash? At night and in the morning. 
Sammy

Dear Sammy,
It's not just when they wash (rarely), it's how they do it! I can never get over the fact that they don't have proper tongues. I have occasionally seen a small human kitten licking its fingers but never a full grown adult. They can't do it. They can't lick a plate clean - or, if they can, they don't choose to. It's not clear to me what their tongues are for.
Instead, they throw themselves into a large bath of foaming water. I find this extremely funny. I enjoy - as I am sure other cats do - walking round the edge of the bath while they are in it and patting the foam. The bubbles are good fun. They make a small popping noise. And I like the reflections in the water too. This is the moment when I realise that the human lack of fur is perhaps a good thing. Imagine if they had proper fur. They'd have to spend hours rubbing it down with the towel.
My human doesn't bath much nowadays. Instead she stands in a small cubicle and lets water rain down on her. Outside she avoids the rain like any sensible animal would, but indoors she actually turns it on. There's a lot of pother about the temperature, and foaming soap on her hair and her intimate bits. As if saliva wasn't good enough. It's always been good enough for me. Saliva, applied with a manipulable tongue, has antiseptic qualities as well as making a very good wash.
Sometimes I try to wash them myself. But there is just too much skin surface to do a proper job. I used to lie on their heads while they were asleep and wash their hair but they had an unfortunate habit of waking up and lashing out, so I have stopped that. I just let them stay dirty.
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