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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas to all cats!


Hola, George!

Hope all Vincent Brown’s Christmas wishes came true! I didn’t even know what Christmas is until I read your blog.

See, I was rescued from the streets last summer when I was about four weeks old.

The family that rescued me is a funny one! Each of them is calling me a different name! Thanks God I know who I am!!! Anyway, my favorite is the male human; he’s a sweetheart! He can stay up all night waiting for me to come home

The boys are good but strange – one is calling me Fifi and the other one Diego.

I personally prefer Diego even if I’m a cute girl J

But, George…I have major problems with my female human. She’s stubborn, she has a mind of herself and everybody has to obey to her orders! I believe she thinks she’s a cat! I have to address this and I need your help! I want her to completely obey to me!

Oh! Almost forgot! Regarding the Christmas tree ….that was a scare!

Tell you the truth I thought that my humans brought a tree in the house to keep me inside during winter since I always want to spend the night out (I’m a gypsy at heart) J

Well, I discovered that I can have much fun “decorating” the tree – at litteram (see the picture). Anyway, George I need your help in dealing with my female human.

As much as I want all cats and their staff to enjoy Christmas I want my female human to be put in her place and learn that ….cats come first!

Please help

Diego

PS. Feliz Navidad to all gattos and gattinos and their humble staff!


Dear Diego,

You look great on the Christmas tree. It must be a whopper or else you are a very slender cat! How kind of your human to be so thoughtful as to get a tree big enough to climb. It's really quite touching. She may be untrained but obviously in her limited human way, she does want to please. This should encourage you.

Christmas is not the best time to start a human training plan. Humans get very distracted by eating too much and they become over-excited by other human visitors. They can't really concentrate. Many of them also are drug users - instead of catnip they drink something called alcohol which seems to make them high. Unlike us cats, they don't know when to stop. I mean I like a catnip sniff, but I can take it or leave it. I don't sit there and sniff it about nine times, as I saw a visiting human do last night. Nine glasses is at least seven too many.

Have you also noticed how bad tempered they are in the morning? Boxing Day does allow the pleasure of a special wake-up session with your human. You will probably have noticed snoring and some digestive discomfort during the night. Now is your chance for a really thorough wakey-wakey routine - biting toes under the duvet, landing with a jump on the tender part of the lower stomach, patting the cheek or even lifting one of the eyelids. Have a go. It can be fun but be ready to spring backwards fast if any human is so hungover that it becomes truly savage.

It is always interesting for us human behaviour experts to see this dysfunctional species at close quarters with their families. It is often not a pretty sight! Human behaviour is so very primitive. They quarrel so easily - unlike us cats who merely avoid each other wherever possible rather than fighting. And the noise! Caterwauling is nothing to the noise of humans shouting at each other.

No. Training will have to start when normal life resumes. It is always a mistake to start on a sour note. As similar human excesses also take place at New Year, you will have to be patient, Diego. Training a human is a long term project and patience with this pathetic species is essential, if you are to make anything of them.

Happy Christmas.

George


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I want for Christmas by Vincent Brown

Dear George,
Reverting to Christmas presents. I think it might be wise to let all kindly people know what I really want. To avoid disappointment on either side.
I do NOT want the following items:

* Bells and squeaky toys. No. I am deaf.

* Catnip. No. It leaves me cold

* Scratching posts. No. I have an adequate supply of curtains, carpets, furniture and wallpaper.

* Pussycat pellets. No. I give these to the Cat Next Door (and may they choke him).

But please choose from the following selection:

* Chicken, raw or roasted.

* Kippers, boned.

* Salmon, fresh or smoked or as Manuka pate.

* Slivers from the joint

* Cream
Fur ball medicine (for some reason delicious)
* Yoghurt, plain.

* Mild cheddar and perhaps a little Brie.

And maybe a length of string or a rumple of paper, a dangle or baubles, and ping pong balls.
I know full well that most of the above comestibles are banned. But just for once. Just a smidgeon. Just for Christmas Day.
Thanking you from the bottom of my heart,

Vincent.


Dear Vincent,
Interesting letter which I find mildly disturbing. It suggests that you wait to be given these items by your owner, Pam. Why? I have found that this is not a good idea, where human beings are involved. The species does not share. They say cats are selfish but there is nothing more selfish than a human. Normally they think in terms of giving stuff that either they think you will like but you won't (silly new beds, expensive toys that are too heavy to move, etc) or even stuff they think is
good for you (organic cat treats, tooth brushes, horrid spikey brushes). You must move on to new ways of thinking....
Christmas offers interesting food items to take. Notice, I say take. Do not wait to be given. Think cat burglar rather than cat beggar. Not only are there the normal pieces of food dropped on the floor, but there are also large food items left unguarded. Keep an eye out for the smoked salmon waiting on the plates for the starter course. If you walk casually and quietly into the food area, you may find that these are just there. Hop on the table and help yourself.
On the kitchen surface, people put down food like hot turkey, cold turkey, sausages (cold and hot), little meaty nibbles for humans, fishy nibbles for other humans, little bits of spilled gravey and spilled goose fat. Then there is that old standby - the butter. Butter always tastes good. Humans use it lavishly and I have never understood why they are so mean minded that they often cover it up so that we can't get the slightest taste. They wouldn't miss just a little lick or two of it.
Now is the time to expand your idea of food. French cheese often comes in sort of squidgey, creamy forms like Brie. There is a kind of ground up meat called pate which tastes very good indeed and is easy to lick off the plate. Not forgetting cream, brandy butter, custard, and yoghurt. Don't wait to be asked. Don't wait to be given.
Just go for it.
My motto, when considering humans, is what's thine is mine and what's mine is my own.
Happy Christmas
George.
Don't forget the tree. It's quite good fun to spray on it. Mark it as your own



Saturday, December 12, 2009

La Dolce Vita - the amazing joy and awe of being rescued

Dear George,
I'm one lucky cat who got "to live" not one but two of the late Maestro Frederico Fellini's movies. Well, my life started with my mom being an alley cat. She was rescued by a good woman, Adriana, who took her in her house. My mom was pregnant and had three kittens. Adriana (who already had three cats of her own) kept us until we were eight weeks old. She found each of us new homes. I know she liked me the best.
Anyway, I ended up with a family that kicked me out when I was no longer a kitten (about one year old). I survived for almost a year (and a bloody cold winter) on the streets. Somehow Adriana found out about this and asked the family that adopted me to bring me back to her. Here I was once again in Adriana's house! And once again she was looking to find a good home for me. Right on my 2nd birthday I was adopted by Rita-Mae and Francesco. They were my "angels' - what a wonderful birthday gift!
Oh! I forgot to tell you that my name was Freddy! When Francesco first saw me he said 'We'll take the cat but his name will be Frederico." Destiny! What better birthday gift .?
And so began my "Dolce Vita". I spend most of my time in "dolce far niente"!
First thing in the morning I bite Rita'Mae's toes so she''ll "wake up and serve me breakfast. Later, I read the newspapers with Francesco. Then ... I watch the birds, cars, and all the crazy things you can see outside. Sometimes... I play with Tutu - the house rabbit.
George, isn't this amazing? Quite a journey from "La Strada" to "La Dolce Vita", from "Freddy to Frederico". Do you think I might have a karmic link with Maestro Fellini?
In awe
Frederico.


Dear Frederico (formerly Freddy),
Your journey from suffering to happiness, from pain to pleasure, from human cruelty to human love,
is awesome. That journey is wonderful for all of us rescued cats. At Christmas I think of Lou (www.westoxoncats.co.uk) who took me in as an orphaned kitten, bottle fed me, and gave me a happy home. I also remember all those poor cats on the street (at this time of year in dire straits because of the cold) who need human angels like Adriana.
I looked up the karmic link idea on the web and it says it is metaphysical attraction between different souls, according to their karma. So it is often a kind of link of love that attracts people. I think I have a karmic link to Lou. I hope I don't have a link to the cruel person who thrust my mother out into the cold when she was pregnant. It must be great to have a karmic link to Maestro Fellini, maker of great films. Pity that he is on the other side. We could do with a really really good film about cats - not one where the cat is the baddy.
Dolce far niente is my motto too, with one exception which is hunting. But when the weather is heavy rain and wind, as it often is in the UK, my day goes something like this - woke up, eat food out of bowl, nap, eat food out of bowl, nap, investigate flies on the window, nap, eat food out of bowl, nap.... Of course, if it is a dry cold day I am out there hunting, checking my territory for any change, sniffing at the rabbit poo, seeing if any mice are around. After hunting, I nap and nap well.
Christmas -- I hope there is not going to be any silliness about putting a Christmas hat on me, like some years. I don't appreciate this human stupidity!
Love George.

PS. My housekeeper/butler/cook is back. Keeps talking about statistics. That woman has no sense at all.



Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Zzzzzz! I'm a Zen cat!

Dear George,

Sometimes life can be very boring between breakfast and dinner, especially if you are an indoor cat and alone until your human comes home!

I’m not complaining, don’t get me wrong! If you remember …I was rescued after living for about 2 years on the streets of a suburb.

I do love my forever home and I do love my mom, but once in a while I get THAT urge to scratch or knock down things. Obviously mom is not pleased and calls me “a naughty girl”! So, trying to keep myself busy…..I took up meditation!

My “focus point” is a little fish in the aquarium next to my bed.

I stare at it until I fall into a deep meditation as you can see in the picture!

And I meditate (guess…deeper then a monk) until mom comes home.

I think I am a ZEN cat now! But I heard people talking about an Alpha cat!

George, what’s the difference between the two? Can I be both an Alpha and a Zen cat?

Something like the “A to Z” cat?

Love

Shumba


Dear Shumba,
Yes, fish are interactive TV for cats. Your human has obviously provided them for you to help amuse you. I see you are using them for meditation. Have you thought of a snack? Raw fish is very tasty and it is fun to put your paw in the tank and swish it about even if you don't actually fish one out! Some even more thoughtful owners provide a hamster cage for our amusement - though be wary, because if you put your nose too near the bars, these bite.
Deep meditation, intense serenity and the ability to nap often and anywhere (under radiators, on top of wardrobes, inside the bed, windowsills, near the Aga or on a radiator hammock) is something humans could learn from us. They don't know how to switch off. They spend their time working and worrying while they could learn from us the art of relaxation. So congratulations on being a Zen cat and setting them a good example.
Of course, you can be and should be an Alpha cat too. Being Alpha in the household means taking control of the family. First thing your Mom can do to keep you amused is to hide dry food in containers for you to "hunt" and eat - toilet rolls with sticky tape on the ends and holes to let the food out, paper (never plastic) bags, large cardboard boxes, small cardboard boxes to sit in (look at the photo of Cayenne on the blog entry for November 20th). And she should build some high stairs, ledges, using planks. Get that human to work.... This is the time when you don't let her nap or do Zen things, but you need her work much harder at being a feline amusement operative.
Make her get out the fishing rod toy and use it while she is watching TV. It is all on www.celiahaddon.com under Indoor Cats. Cats rule. Humans serve. If you are bored, Shumba, your human is not doing enough for you. They can be very slack in their duties.
Love George
PS. My secretary will be at college next Monday for five days so comments will be slow on going on the blog until the next weekend. I wish that woman would take her duties more seriously. Humans should be seen and not educated. The idea that they can learn anything much is just plain silly. She doesn't even clean my litter tray often enough - I like it cleaned 5 times a day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hi, I'm Bella. I'm a dog.


Dear George,
My name is Bella and I am a 5 month old Shitzu girl. I''m so cute that I can pass for a kitten.
Mommy is so proud of me that she is inviting all her friends over to see me.
I enjoy very much all the attention, gifts and treats, but I'm a bit concerned since some of her friends have cats. The other night they were telling my mom about your blog.
What if they suggest her to get a cat too? I really don't want to share the house with a cat. Cats can be bossy and I'm too cute to be bossed around.
George, what exactly cats don't like about dogs? What can I do to make sure that no cat will come to live with us? Sorry, I know I sound selfish but, cats don't like to share houses with dogs either.
Tanti baci,
Bella.

Dear Bella,
To us cats, dogs are ridiculous. They actually look up to humans, as if they thought humans are superiors (surely they can't!). They obey commands. They do what they are told. Dogs have masters. We cats have staff. That's what our humans are for. They are our butlers, housemaids, cooks, secretaries, grooms and nurserymaids. A dog makes a human feel like a god. Not a good thing. Humans need keeping in their place - as bottom dog not alpha superior.
There is only one safe rule - which is that CATS RULE. You are right that we often boss around dogs. We have to. If we become the underdog (or under cat) we are in danger of our lives. Dogs often hunt cats. Even small dogs like Shitzu's could wound us severely. In fact small dogs like terriers are more likely to chase cats than labradors (more gentle by nature).
Usually it all starts when a cat is introduced to a strange dog. Heaven knows, we cats don't like strange animals. We don't even like strange cats, let alone strange dogs. So normally if that happens, a cat that doesn't know about dogs just makes a run for it. The dog runs after is and Voila! the relationship is fixed into that of prey (cat) and predator (dog). So naturally we cats don't want dogs coming into our homes.
The only exception is if we have been brought up in a home with cat-friendly dogs. Dogs learn how not to chase cats when they are young puppies and we cats learn how to love dogs while we are young kittens. The best way to have a cat and a dog (scientists have proved this) is to get a cat first, then add a puppy carefully and safely. Preferably a nice gun dog type not a terrier or a guard dog sort.
If your Mom is determined to get a cat too, she needs to get one now while you are still young enough to adapt to being underdog. A good rescue shelter will know if a cat is used to dogs and find one for her. But better still don't let her... Oh I forgot, you will do what she says.
Love George
PS. This sums it up nicely. You need to read right to the end. It comes from David the Dogman - http://www.thedogman.net/

Where
do pets come from? It is reported that the following edition of the Book of Genesis was discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls. If authentic, it would shed light on the question, "Where do pets come from?"
And Adam said, "Lord, when I was in the garden, you walked with me everyday. Now I do not see you anymore. I am lonesome here and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me." And God said, "No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will know I love you, even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish and childish and unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourself."
And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and he wagged his tail. And Adam said, "But Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and all the good names are taken and I cannot think of a name for this new animal." And God said, "No problem! Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG."
And Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him. And Adam was comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail. After a while, it came to pass that Adam's guardian angel came to the Lord and said, "Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but no one has taught him humility." And the Lord said, "No problem! I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not always worthy of adoration."
And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam. And Cat would not obey Adam. And when Adam gazed into Cat's eyes, he was pleased. And Adam was greatly improved. And Cat did not care one way or the other reminded that he was not the supreme being. And Adam learned humility. . And God was pleased. And Adam was greatly improved. And Cat did not care one way or the other.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Help! - my beautiful Hollywood cat career in ruins


Dear George,
With the current economy being so slow both Cayenne and I decided to help our humans increase their household income!
So we thought of different sources of revenue such as "modelling", "knitting", "hunting", "lulla-purrs for kittens'' CD, 'yoga for cats"video - something we'd enjoy and yet making money. We had quite a few good ideas but none was as tempting as a commerical for panetone. Panetone is a sweet Italian bread that you cat eat "as is" or with coffee, milk, etc. Some humans will have it with cappucino; some with red wine! Anyway we created our own little scenario, music, decor, etc.
I was soooooo excited, but.... Cayenne ruined it all!
The day we were supposed to do the comercial, I realized that my sister Cayenne gained too much weight (probably snacking on panetone), so we won't fit in the box together as we were supposed to. The whole thing was a fiasco!
Look at me in the box, so lonely and sad! What kind of ad is this?
Who would want to eat panetone now? And the worst thing is that Cayenne is laughing! But if she doesn't lose weight fast.... she is going to ruin by career (our mooomy won't let me go alone to Hollywood)! Please help!
Love Fluffy.


Dear Fluffy,

You look beautiful. Any advertisement with a cat in it is a good advertisement. Human beings are programmed to notice animals more than anything else. Evolutionary psychologists (dedicated to trying to find out how human brains are programmed by evolution) have experimented with showing flash pictures of animals, buildings and cars. Even though these humans are fixated by cars and houses (in the UK, at least), they notice animals the most. This seems to be left over from the days when humans were as clever as animals, and spent time trying to avoid being eaten and trying to find animals to eat. In those days they were like intelligent cats.

Since then they have become like naked babies (neotony is the name for that). They have lost their conscious abilities to think as sensibly as we do. So don't worry about it, Fluffy. You look wonderful in that box. The humans will notice you maybe even if they don't know they are. The only problem might be that they forget to read the name on the box because you are so much much more attractive than panetone.

Are you sure that Cayenne WANTS to lose weight? And are you sure you WANT to go to Hollywood? Apart from The Cat From Outer Space (a Burmese) there aren't great career prospects - though maybe readers can add some more cat movies.

I think we all ought to be on YouTube.

Love George


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scraaatch - the way to get attention from these humans

Dear George,
I wish to pass on a good way to get attention from these absent minded humans. I expect, like me, you get irritated by their inability to
concentrate on what really matters - me, my food bowl, my sleeping places and my need for fun. Too often they will spend their time selfishly doing things for themselves - eating (better food often), sleeping, watching TV or even going out shopping without bringing back Whiskers. So get their attention fast - choose an antique chair, look at them, and then while you have that nano second of their attention, scraaaatch.
Love Jaffa

Dear Jaffa,
I can see that you have it down to a fine art. I particularly
admire the use of the left front paw, holding it up as a asign to "collect" their attention, rather in the way a conductor holds his baton just before the orchestra starts with the music. Then the quick swivel round and the double scratch downwards. That shiny covering material - is it brocade? - must have been expensive. All the better to make your mark.
Other good places to leave the sign of the velvet claw include the side of the bed - this is often upholstered with a satisfactory cushion effect. A few downward strokes help wake them up in the morning like a speaking clock. "At the third scratch, it will be 6 am. At the next s
cratch it will be 6.03am." Makes a change from biting their toes under the duvet.
Scratching also has its place in the garden, particulary the rockery. For years dogs have marked and killed small focus conifers planted on rockeries. We can do our part too in improving their garden design either with claw or spray.
Have you tried scratching the carpet? I know that it is rather boring to have to do a horizontal rather than a vertical scratch, but it becomes quite pleasureable once you have broken down the carpet so that the strong hession backing is showing. Masterful horizontal scratches near doors will stop them ever shutting you out again. "We can't shut him out - he just ruins the carpet."
Finally, don't forget curtains. Some cat-wary humans don't have curtains down to the floor, because they know what will happen. Others, in a spirit of optimism and folly, buy long expensive brocade or velvet ones that sweep downwards. Not only are these delightful for kittens doing climbing exercises, but they also have good adult cat potential for scratching.
Let them have it, Jaffa.
Love George

PS. Sign the Canadian petition against declawing at www.petitiononline.com/bandec/petition.html
PPS. Rabbits do it too. Here is a photo of Harvey - read his remarks in Comments below

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Many toed polydactyl cats - six in all or even more

Dear George
I am one of two black brothers in the care of West Oxfordshire Cats Protection (www.westoxoncats.co.uk ). As you can see we look very much alike - apart from four interesting features. My paws are bigger and (I think) better because they have six digits not just five. You can see the difference in the photo of me (higher up) and my brother and see how it looks from the detailed photo of my back paw. Some cats have seven digits.
Love CP Kitten

Dear CP Kitten,
Impressive. I see that your feet look sort of large when you are sitting down and there's an odd sort of bump sticking out. I can only count five on the bottom photo of your paw close up, but, of course, the sixth digit is higher up the leg. I can just see the dew claw
on the bottom middle of that picture. I like the way the paw pad has got a little extra bit on the left hand side (in the bottom photo). Normal cat feet have four digits at the bottom and the smaller one up the side of the ankle (so to speak).
A scientist who studied more th
an 100 polydactyl cats reported that extra digits were more common on the front than the back paws, though you have them on both. Also sometimes there were seven digits in all - ie six on the main pawpad. Sometimes the extra toe is just an extra dew claw higher up rather than a full toe. Just occasionally the claws on the extra toes retract differently on the back paws from the normal claws.
Extra toes are the result of a domi
nant gene (according to C. H. Danforth author of Morphology of the feet in polydactl cats,American Journal of Anatomy, (1947) 80, 143-171 available on Google Scholar). Exactly how many extra toes and their size and shape varies from one individual to another. Six or seven toed cats aren't going to have any great advantage, so that evolution isn't going to encourage them to flouish at the expense of ordinary cats.
I guess we cats just have to be grateful that cat breeders aren't interested in this variation. There are always humans interested in the bizarre who are breeding bald animals, animals with stumpy legs, animals with floppy ears, huge animals or tiny animals. I have even seen photos of bald guinea pigs.
Humans can't mind their own business. They start with some unusual animals, breed them to each other, keep breeding them with each other and, bingo, there's a new breed with a tiny gene pool (unhealthy). Luckily six toed cats have escaped the attention of these humans and so, because they are not inbred, are as healthy as normals. Let's hope it stays that way.
Love George

Monday, October 26, 2009

The most beautiful cat in the world is dead


William Bedford Payne died Monday October 26th at Cogges Veterinary Surgery of a merciful overdose at the age of fourteen years. He had cancer of the tongue and was finding it difficult to eat or wash himself. He did not go gentle into that good night but fought, biting me several times, until a sedative did its work.

He was cheerful to the end, despite the pain. Only a fortnight ago he caught and brought back a weasel - he had always been an accomplished hunter. On the last night of his life he came for a walk with me and when I went in, spent the early evening checking
his territory before coming in for the night.

William was serious and conscientious about territory. Each morning he would pause at the back door which I opened for him (he preferred this to the cat flap) and sniff the air with care. Then he would pad round to the willow tree at the front of the house, pausing to inspect the cars to see if there were new smells on the wheels.

He often sat for a while gazing towards the hedge from where the rabbits had played in the cart track the night before. Then he would go back to the garden, walk up past the box plant (which he often sprayed) towards the pond and the long grass where he sometimes caught mice. This was his world and i
t was important to him to make sure that all was well in it.

On the last evening, though it must h
ave hurt - he had a cracked pelvis too - he jumped on to the bed and slept alongside me. On the last morning, he ate a little cat food from my hand (which included pain killers), took a nap, then went out again to check his territory as usual though (he did not know it) for the last time in the autumn sunlight. He came back into the house, and I took him on his final journey.

William started life living in a household full of 70 cats. He came to me via Cats Protection and his health problems - fleas, mites, giardia, and others - mea
nt a vets bill of £800 way back in l995. He spent so long at the vets - in London - that the staff named him Mr Purr.

Not only was he a great hunter, but he was also an accomplished performer. He jumped little jumps. He sat up and begged. He offered a paw, always the right one, to shake. He lay down and died for his country. In the last year of his life he learned to roll over on command - though, for some reason, would only roll one way. He would also roll on his side putting his paws together (see that in the picture) in a praying position - just for the reward of my full attention.

William was not a difficult cat but he was never a cuddle cat either. He enjoyed my company but always at a distance. He preferred games to petting - showing that he was playing by his demeanour (see the picture in the snow). On the last evening of his life he thought about running up the willow tree to show off to me and realised he could no longer had the strength for it. Instead, with dignity he rubbed against the garden bench, as if the willow tree had been furthest from his mind. He would not show weakness.

He kept his independance to the end - refusing to let me help get rid of the knots that began to appear when he could no longer wash himself properly.

William, you showed no signs of pain. You did not complain or ask for food when you found you could not longer eat properly. You did not cuddle closer to me on the bed for comfort but kept what you felt was a proper affectionate distance that last night together.

You have shown me how to die with integrity and dignity. May I show the same qualities of bravery and serenity when it is my time.

Farewell, William, Mr Purr. I shall miss you with all my heart. Celia

PS. The blog will start again in November

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Humans - they are so irresponsible.

Dear George,
Why is it that the human servants of cats are not made to act more responsibly? Molly, the cat next door sneaked into our house while our front door was open for a few minutes while my family was packing the car to go away for a few days. Luckily for me she was spotted looking out of the bedroom window and chased out but if she had come into the kitchen instead of running upstairs I wouldn't be alive to write this letter.
While it is difficult to control you hunters, your owners should realise that owning a cat immediately removes freedom of choice for neighbours. Apart from the poo in our garden and cat paw marks on the freshly cleaned cars we can no longer leave doors or windows ajar in our house for a bit of fresh air.
What do you suggest?
From a very worried
Harvey the house rabbit.


Dear Harvey,
I can't say I share your fears because I don't. But I do accept that having a cat intrude into your territory, if you are a prey animal like a rabbit must be very frightening indeed. We cats are predators, but we are also prey to dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes etc. And we too get very very frightned when these animals either stray into the house or even just pass through the garden. Some foolish cat loving humans feed foxes in their garden and think they cats will remain safe - well, sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. It all depends on whether the fox thinks it can win the battle.
Oddly enough we cats are also worried by neighbourhood cats. In leafy suburbs there can be an awful lot of them and, if you are a timid home living pussycat (unlike me) it is very upsetting to find strangers in your territory - particularly if they come in the cat flap. One distinguished vet and behaviour expert says there are "despot" cats that can terrorize a whole neighbourhood.
What can we do about it. Well get those humans to install PetPort cat flaps - www.PetPorte.com and think about window screens that let in the cool air - w
ww.cataire.co.uk or www.thescreendoorcompany.co.uk
But human control? I think not. Oh no. We HAVE to keep up the proper cat-human relationship with the cat in proper charge.

Love George (alpha cat in charge of Celia)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Introducing the sticky crunch of newts


Dear George,
When I first came into the kitchen with a newt thrashing about between my gums, my humans were – heaven knows why – shocked rather than grateful. Even though I have no teeth I managed to munch it with my gums and swallow it down. I made my trademark hunting cry of “marrp” in celebration.
Later I saw my companion Whicky Wuudler batting something about and stamping on it – he’s a real back paw stamper and his hocks are legendary for dispatching moles. Sure enough he’d got a newt too – only just a tiny one. The humans tried to interfere AGAIN. He ate it, except for one tiny foreleg. Next Oliver brought a live one into the house, whapped it around growling and took off at high speed when our humans interfered. He ate it too!
Why can’t they understand…. Newts are good to eat and fun to hunt. We bring them in to show them off to our two apes. Whicky left that leg out of the goodness of his heart so that they could have a nibble. Did they? They did not. What's more, a day or two later, the newts had totally disappeared! What’s wrong with these apes, George?
Love Gerry

Dear Gerry,

Many humans, or apes as you so nicely call them, seem to think that newts produce a foul tasting mucus to deter predators. They don't. I think they have them confused with toads, which do taste horrible, though frogs are quite nice if you like that sort of thing. Some humans even eat them - though they are so unsporting as to buy them frozen in frenchy supermarkets rather than going out and hunting their own. All too typical of this species. You call them apes: I call them Homo stupido.

Do you actually fish your newts out of the water, or do you just wait till they come on land and get them then? I know of cats that will clear a small garden pond of all goldfish. Fanny brought in a goldfish, left it on the kitchen floor where it was found by the humans. They placed in a tank and it survived for a further 15 years. It made interactive piscal TV for Fanny!

And I even heard of a cat that brought home a two pound koi carp, which was probably worth thousands of pounds if it had the right markings. Its humans never dared to confess to the crime.

Newts, frogs and toads will all survive cats (apart from the occasionally unlucky individual) , if there are enough hiding places for them in a garden - long grass, wood piles, stone walls etc.

I have never tried back stamping. Can your apes take a video of it so I can post it?

Love George


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Do books make me an intellectual?



Dear George,
I have decided to become an intellectual cat and the reason is that I’m fed up with my female human. I can’t stand her any longer telling everybody that my sister Cayenne is “the intellectual one” and that I’m “the frivolous” one that needs to be entertained. Well, since Cayenne decided to find her “inner kitten” ….I decided to become an intellectual and teach my snotty female human
a lesson!
Firstly, I started sleeping on books as you can see in the picture. It’s a bit “tough” but I hope this way I’ll accumulate more knowledge quicker.

Secondly, I think I should “shred” some curtains, art, something in the house…just to tell her that I don’t like it. Why can’t she have a normal painting, something like a big, fat mouse next to a piece of cheese? Even that chubby, smiling woman (the one who smiles, no matter from what angle you look at her) would do it! But no, she likes “melting clocks” or men flying hangin
g on umbrellas. And her favorite?…that guy looking in a mirror and seeing his back! See what I have to put up with?
George, I badly need y
our help to punish this snob! Or should I do something to impress her? What should I do next?
Love

Fluffy
Dear Fluffy,
Sleeping on books is a good idea. It's high up which gives an immediate impression of superiority. Its draught free. Looks good, looks very good, and if the books are large enough it is not too uncomfortable. But the big question is - which books? I can't read the titles so I am not sure.
In an ideal world the books we would choose would be Purrsuasion, Scratch 22, Mouse Catcher in the Rye, The Cat of Mounte Christo, Great Catsby, The Cat is a Lonely Hunter, Bleak Mouse, Plain Tails from the Hills, Tail of Two Kitties, Goodnight Mr Tomcat, Middlemog, The Brothers Catamazov, Zen and the Art of Mog Maintenance, and The Purrsuit of Love. Just one fully human book - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, because in it Mark Twain suggests installing a royal family made up of cats.
Shredding, as you can so plainly see, an art form
in itself. Most of us favour the downward scratch at the back of loose covered armchairs, but several have experimented with wallpaper and report a really beautiful effect. Curtains can be more difficult, as they swing loose, but with experience a completely frilled effect can be achieved. Finally, do not forget carpet. There's lots of it, and horizontal scratching, once you get used to it, can play its part in Home Decoration.
Finally, the litter tray. The philosophical and beautiful patterns of a Japanese gravel garden can be achieved in most litters, though wood and paper litter refuses to co-operate. Dig deep. A pleasant scatter effect can be achieved from an open litter tray. Performance art - think about digging, using the tray then rushing round the house scattering litter as you go. It's
the litter skitter.
Happy Scratching. Happy Digging.
Love George.

Please suggest some more book titles in the comments. There are some that have made me laugh out loud already. Puss Puss has contributed this photo of himself on the book by Churchill, the country's leader and a good inspiration for all cats anxious to take their place as leader of their household.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Dragons for cats - the lizard option.


Dear George
There was talk of dragons earlier. I think you said you"d like to get a crack at a small dragon. Well, I have. Here's a photo of one of the tiny dragons I hunt relentlessly at home in the Pyrenees. Ok, so they don't breathe fire - the hillside would be alight in a second if they did. But lizards do look dragon-like.
Oddly enough my humans do not appreciate my efforts. Well, I say oddly enough, but you know what they are. Humans don't do gratitude. I've tried bringing these in to the kitchen and they just seem to shudder.
Yours
Lolo
Dear Lolo,
It looks pretty odd to me. I am used to mice - nice warm furry things. These lizards don't have any fur at all. it reminds me - in so far as it reminds me of anything, - the snakes that Clarri kills. He also comes from the same part of the world as you. His humans are just downright terrified even though they are much bigger than she is.
Interesting that they don't like lizards any more than they like mice. I caught a particularly large and succulent one the other day. I wondered whether they would like it better absolutely fresh, so I took it in while it was still alive. Nearly lost it through the cat flap. But I decided I would give it to Celia in her office.
The effect was not what I hoped but it was quite amusing. She let out a tiny shriek and jumped over me and the mouse (who was sitting on the carpet looking stunned), ran downstairs, ran back upstairs with a dishcloth, threw it on the mouse and grabbed the wrapped up mouse, ran downstairs again at full speed, and threw the package outside.
Were my efforts appreciated? No. Were they noticed? A big YES. Clearly mouse delivery works as a way of getting our pets to react and notice us.
Love George without Dragon.
For a photo of Clarri killing snakes look at Thursday, April 17, 2008 of this blog.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Human whiskers - they've vanished!


Dear George,
My male human used to wear a moustache! Recently he shaved it (I think he tries to please someone). What I’ve noticed since….is that he’s no longer able to give correct directions when asked for. Could this be because…. he shaved his whiskers?
I’m really concerned! I wanted to ask him directions to a “sushi place” (Ah! those tuna sashimi – so yummy!) but I’m afraid that he’ll send me south instead of north and so on!
What can I do? How can he grow back his
whiskers? Should I water his face? Implant?
Worried,
Sir Winston

Dear Sir Winston,
Shaving off whiskers. What on earth does he think he is doing? This is one of the most worrying habits of humans. They self mutilate by shaving off the fur on their face - almost the only fur they have. They also shave off the fur under their arms and (sometimes) below the navel. You'd think, as they have to little of it, they'd want to keep all they have.
The only furry area they want to keep is the area on the top of their head. And that falls off somewhere around middle age. Some cats have tried grooming on the bald top of the head, sitting on the top of an arm chair so they can reach it. It doesn't work. Fur never re-grows though - and this is truly pathetic - some humans wear a little wig up there to hide the baldness.
Facial hair? One reason why humans shave it off or pull it out(female are particularly committed to the latter) is that their facial whiskers are so inferior to ours. The whiskers sometimes grow long and strong, but they can't DO anything with them. Their whiskers do not send messages to the brain - except for an Ouch if they are pulled too hard!
Our whiskers function as an extra sense. When we catch a mouse, the whiskers automatically move forward, touching the struggling rodent. That we, we can tell how much it is still moving and at what angle it lies in the mouth. We also have whiskers on our legs, so that when we hold down a mouse, we can measure its struggles. I have added a photo of these.
Whiskers don't just help us keep hold of our prey, they also help us measure the size of holes or small places. If our whiskers can get through, the rest of us probably can.
Love George
PS. May I say that yours are particularly fine, Sir Winston.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Help me find my “inner kitten”!


Dear George,
I’m often told that I’m too serious; too much reading and studying!
But I can’t be laying on my back waiting for my humans to rub my belly
or rolling over making that “small talk” (meow-meow) noise like my sister Fluffy does!
I know she makes them laugh, but I can’t be frivolous! I have an important mission! I have to solve all kind of crisis! I was a cute, playful kitten – see picture attached (Fluffy and me when we were 7 weeks old), but I grew up and I’m more interested in helping other cats and animals. I wish I could manifest more “joie de vivre” in a sense that I could be more like my sister; worry free and always looking for excitement!
George, help me find my inner kitten ☺
Cayenne


Dear Cayenne,
The first change is attitude. Cultivate an attitude of cattitude. This includes taking for granted all human efforts on your behalf. We cats find that gratitude (if we are strange enough to feel it) simply weighs us down in our cat-humanpet relationship (or as Wicky Wuddler puts it cat-ape relationship). The food, the beds, the caresses are our due. Cat worship is what these apes/humans should be exhibiting. Train 'em harder if they are falling short.
Once you have floated free from gratitude, play. This is the inner kitten bit. Everything that exists is a potential cat toy, from a fallen bean on the kitchen floor, to the hair of your human. Poke, prod, jump, roll, nibble, groom and throw it.
The whole human body is a potential adventure playground for cats. Jump on the groin first thing in the morning. Bite the toes that poke out of the duvet. Place yourself on the abdomen in the small hours and have a thorough wash. Sleep on the lap. Share the shower. Sit on the side of the bath and play boats with any human bits protuding from the foam. Play with human hair from the safety of the top of the armchair. Ambush your human on the stairs, on the sofa, from behind the door....
Tease them. When they have friends over for a meal, dig loudly in any litter trays nearby and mew while you poo. Jump up on the table and start eating the butter. Play with shoe laces. Experience the pleasure of a good ripping noise as you claw your human's tights. Thrill as you rub your fur against their best trousers.
JDI, Cayenne. Just Do It. You're worth it.
Love George

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mice training for humans - my brilliant idea


Dear George,
I've trained my human to catch mice and other little furries! All you have to do is bring them indoors still alive and squeaking, then drop them and wait. The male human generally shouts out for the female one, then goes round shutting doors, and usually picks me up and takes me away somewhere while the female has to chase the mouse. She's getting quite good at it, but I don't know why her paws aren't any use - she always has a towel or a duster or something that she drops on the prey. I don't quite know what she thinks she's doing with it after that, but she goes out to the other end of the garden where it's a bit wild near the fence, and comes back with the cloth flapping. It may be clever of a human to catch things but it's really stupid to let them go! Why not try a taste? I recommend mouse or vole as a starter, though shrew isn't worth eating, and rat is only any good when young. It's funny how I feel hungry after eating my catch, and usually top up with a lot of biscuits. Humans just don't get it, do they?
Love Foggy,
PS This is me and Pansy on the bed.


Dear Foggy,
Training humans to chase mice is a good game. It's very amusing to see them blunder about crashing into the furniture, lying on their tummies poking mice from under the cooker, and generally doing their poor best. Some even jump up onto chairs and scream. Very satisfying.
There are other amusing things to do with a dead, or even a living mouse. Probably the best is simply to carry it into the bedroom and push it under the bedcovers, where it can be discovered later on in the evening by the human. Usually this results in a scream and jumping out of bed fast.
Other places to put a dead mouse include paper envelope files (my predecessor Fat Ada left one there), into the handbag (if it is left open), pushed down into shoes where it will not be discovered until the foot goes in, or - this is the big one - put it into the toaster. Your human will discover it when she comes down bleery eyed in the morning and if she only puts in one slice of bread, the smell of toasted mouse will waft into the air. Yes, it has been been done though I have forgotten the name of the brilliant cat that did it.
Meantime, have you trained your human to EAT the mouse? Bet you haven't.
Love George.
PS. My companion cat William has joined twitter and is boasting about his prowess. Find him on http://twitter.com/WilliamTabby

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Can you mend a broken heart?


Dear George,
I'm in a difficult situation and here is why. About a year ago we (me and my humans) moved into a new place. Soon after, one day when I was home alone on my favourite armchair, I heard someone "tip-Toeing" around.
I wasn't afraid. Don't get me wrong! I was an abandoned kitty and grew up on the streets (even if I am a Maine Coon) until I was rescued by "my mom" at the very young age of six weeks or so. So not much frightens me. I knew that the main door was locked and only the door to the balcony was open, so I was wondering who could possibly be in the house?
I opened my eyes and to my complete surprise I saw this tiny cute tabby! I looked at her and ... she smiled back to me! Of course, she instantly became my best friend. We found out that she lives next door and she's lonely! She comes and goes, but she spends most of the time with me. My humans don't mind; actually they like her very much.
Then last week I found out that we are going to relocate overseas! That news broke my heart. I don't know what to do with my little, dear friend. Sh
ould I say "goodbye" or should I kidnap her and take her with me?
A broken heart,
Jimmy Boy.


Dear Jimmy Boy,

It's sad to lose a friend, but your humans need you. Of course if the little tabby doesn't have a human pet of her own, you can take her with you but it sounds from your letter as if she has. You have to go with the humans even though we cats don't like change of any kind - least of all to our nomal territory. Moving house is one of the penalties we pay for having domesticated humans. We have made them into pets so we have to give them continuing care, even if they do things we don't like.

Your dear little friend, Tabby, is obviously an ingenious cat. She has probably worked out that her humans are out at work five days out of seven, the house is empty, There are no laps to lie on, and the heating (if it is needed) is off. She has done what thousands of cats do - found herself an extra home. You made her welcome and she therefore spends time with you.

Two timing humans is our right. Many cats, who live in suburbs or towns, have discovered they can set up two or three homes. One home is their original family, the second home is the place where the old lady feeds them, and the third home is the house where the old age pensioner keeps the heating on all day.

There's a black cat near me called Smudge who lives in a small hamlet. His official owner thinks he is hers. Four houses down the road is a family who told Celia that he belongs to them. And five houses up the road is a woman who told Celia "He's not really my cat but he spends a lot of time here and sleeps on my bed in the afternoon." Celia decided not to tell the three "owners" about each other. What the eye doesn't see.....

If Tabby is lucky, a cat lover will move into your home. Or she will find another welcoming house in the street. Have faith in her ingenuity. We cats know how to look after ourselves. If you are a friendly cat, you will probably find another feline friend.

Love George


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Help my human is a paparazzi - she's always papping me.


Dear George
My human is obsessed with this thing she calls a camera; I know I'm very cute, but I only have to roll over or play with something and she gets out this great black thing and clicks away. But it's not just me she clicks at, I've seen so many cat faces on her computer screen that it makes me worried that she is going to get a lot more cats to crowd out the house! (At the moment it's just me and my bigger brother, and we rub along OK, mostly.) I've heard her say that the pictures of cats are for something called a 'website', which belongs to some nice people who try to find homes for poor lonely cats, (www.prestoncpl.com <http://www.prestoncpl.com> ) but I know she gets very interested in some of them, and would like to bring them home. I don't want to share my human with any more cats - I sometimes have to push my brother off the bed when he's taken my place beside her! (It's really easy, I just wash his head hard till he gets fed up and goes away to sleep somewhere else.) Luckily the other human is dead against any more cats, so I think we are safe, at least for now, but it's quite worrying.
Love Pansy

Dear Pansy,

Humans are obsessive by nature. My own is just as bad. She's got completely overcome by the desire to photograph cats, so much so that she puts the brakes on, j
udders to a halt, just to photograph any cat at all. And if she has to continue driving, she literally moans with frustration about the photos she didn't get - the cat on the roof, the cat raiding somebody's goldfish pond and so forth.
Obviously she photographs me - though she says the black makes it a bit difficult. I say not at all. Black is the most beautiful of al
l colours. I am adding a couple of black cats, myself included, just to make the point. I rather like the shaft of sunlight hitting me, as I play with a dead mouse - like one does.
It's not just taking our photos, is it? I think Celia shows signs of cat addiction. She spends a lot of time thinking about
cats, obsessing about cats, planning her next cat, worrying about whether she has enough cats, and the only reason why she hasn't got hundreds of us, is that William and I would object strongly. In her heart of hearts she knows that our welfare must come before her disordered desires for too many felines. Her local branch of cat rescue is www.westoxoncats.co.uk There are usually a few black ones on the website because for some reason, although black cats are thought lucky in the UK, they are harder to home. People seem to think tabbies are prettier - how wrong they are.
It's quite amusing to tease human photographers. Put on a nice pose. Wait for them to run for their camera. Then just the instant they get it out and begin to focus it, drop the pose. A tease variation on this is just to walk towards the camera and rub on it. That frustrates any hope of a good photo. And it is fun to tease humans. They are so simple minded.
Love George
PS. Please sign this petition against the cruel practice of
pulling out cats' claws. Cats need their claws just as much as humans need their fingernails. If not more. Click here -http://www.petitionthem.com/default.asp?sect=detail&pet=4312

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Animals that attack cats.... watch out!


Dear George,
I was away at my cottage (for a short vacation) and I had to stay indoors most of the time because it was raining almost every day! However, one day, when I was allowed out, I had so much fun with a duck on the lake that I immediately wanted to adopt him. Of course -- my housekeepers thought differently.
I know my humans respect my royal demands but I think they need some "professional" help, as they tend to worry too much
over everything concerning me! Rain is just one example of how my housekeepers' brain (so called) function. If it is raining... I might get wet. So what? If it is sunny and dry... I might venture too far from the cottage and some wild animals might get me! Blah!
So I was confined to watching from the cottage window all the squirrels, birds, mice and other exciting creatures! I also did a bit of research and I came across this list of the top ten animals that can harm us cats. Hmmm! Maybe my humans are right (uh! I hope I don't have to apologize to them). I know Oscar and Minnie are our big hunters bringing home snakes, mice, birds etc. And I read that Minnie is willing to put up a fight to protect her territory, so I thought I ought to share this list of dangerous animals with you all.
The top ten dangerous animals are 1: Snake. 2: Coyote. 3: Raccoon. 4:Squirrel. 5: Scorpion. 6: Javelina. 7: Porcupine. 8: Ground hog. 9: Skunk. 10: Rat. This comes from http://blogs.catster.com/the-cats-meow-a-cat-and-kitten-blog/top-
ten-wild-animals-that-attack-house-pets/2009/07/26 It's based on a list from Veterinary Pet Insurance in Canada - or perhaps in the USA.
Scary, huh? And what is a Javelina? What's your take on this, George.
Just curious,
Sir Winston.

Dear Sir Winston,
A javelina is a kind of pig. Here's a photo. W
e don't have them in the UK. Indeed we don't have raccoons or scorpions or porcupines and I am not even sure what ground hog is! Except that there is Ground Hog Day movie.
Our dangerous animals in the UK would be foxes, badgers, and perhaps ferrets or polecats. Foxes definitely attack young, elderly or vulnerable cats. They would finish off any cat that was already wounded in a traffic accident, but usually will leave alone a strong healthy cat that looks as if it would put up a fight. Badgers would do the same but as they are slow moving it is unlikely they would get near enough to do any damage. Ferrets and polecats might attack too.
However the greatest danger to cats in the UK and worldwide are humans. Feral humans who shoot stray cats. Uncaring humans who trap or poison them as pests. Disgusting humans who think it is fun to train their dogs to chase cats. Cruel humans who catch up cats and skin them alive for their skins. Feral young humans, usually male, who torture them on bonfire night.
Then there is the slaughter of cats by drivers - some people say as many as 1 in 4 cats that are allowed out at night will be run over. The lights dazzle their eyes and they make a dash across the road in front of the vehicle. And finally there are the dog fighting community who train their dogs by throwing in living cats.
Some humans say of these cat-killing humans: "They are animals." They are not. They are far worse than any decent animal.
What is the most destructive species in the world? Homo sapiens.
Love George
I love going hunting on a moonlit night but my human keeps me in after dark.

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