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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I'm handsome and affectionate - so why can't I find a home?

Dear George,
My name is Chilli - but I am gentle not peppery. I'm loving. I'm handsome with wonderful white whiskers but here I am stuck in a cattery without a human pet. 
Can you give me any advice on how to get out of here.  And how to purrsuade a human to be adopted.
I want to get back into the real world again.
Yours 
Chilli.

Dear Chilli,
The first step is to get noticed. As people pass your pen, you must make them stop to take a look at you. This requires you either to walk to the front of the pen and miaow. Or  if you are sitting on a ledge nearer human eyesight (which is uncomfortably high) as well as the miaow you must do something unusual. Sitting back on your haunches might work. Or better still standing up on your hind legs.  Putting a paw to your eye, as if wiping off a tear, might also work.
Once you get their attention, you can begin purr very loudly indeed. You already have your tail in the correct tail-up position - the position which tells them that you like them. If you are near the wire of the pen, go right up to it and rub. 
If possible roll over and expose your tummy to them, always giving them eye contact at the same time. 
Miaow some more. And some more. In between the purring. Humans do a lot of vocalisation so this is likely to appeal to them.
Yours cheerfully
George

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I’m my Mama’s boy! How to keep it that way.

Dear George, 
Yes, I’m my Mama’s boy and it feels sooooo good (as you can see in the picture).
But, I’m in a fierce competition with my brother Rocky; not that Rocky cares, not even for a faint second, who in fact is the mama’s boy! He just wants to annoy me! And he does! Rocky is such a mischievous cat! I know our Mom loves us both but I was her first rescue! I was her first “fur baby”! So, in the name of my “rescue right” I expect to be recognised as my Mama’s boy and I want everybody else in our household to acknowledge it! George, what do I need to do to maintain my Status Quo?
Any tips or tricks?
Cheers,
Stanley

Dear Stanley,
That is a cute pose - tongue out, paws up, and tummy exposed. Few humans could resist that one! It feeds into their innate maternal instinct for cradling.
Purr loudly and purr often. They love to listen to purring. It soothes and pleases them. Miaow in moderation. The frequent and intense miaowing made by Siamese is not to every human's liking. So use miaows less frequently than purrs. But they still work well to get attention. High pitched is better than low sounding. Run a few tests. Do your humans like one long-lasting miaows or several short ones?
Tactile signals are cute too. While your human is lying in bed rub your cheek against hers. That's a no brainer! A gentle purr at the same time will seem even cuter. Rubbing against the legs and arms is fine too. Slow blinking is another great sign of affection too. And don't forget the slow little paw pat on the face as a wake-up call (claws firmly retracted for this one).
A little gentle play with whatever toy is around will please them too. Show off your graceful pouncing. It is our cute looks that seem to turn them on. Why else have cats taken over the internet, a visual medium if ever there was one. Charm never fails.
Do all this, and you keep Rocky into second place without  doubt. 
Yours admiringly
George.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The SNIP....why do we have it and why don't humans?

Dear George,

I have been rescued few days ago and my new humans instead of taking me to my forever home they took me to a place called “clinic” where I was given a shot and there I went dreaming. When I woke up I was wearing this terrible thing around my head (as you can see in the photo) and didn’t understand why. I meowed them asking what’s going on? What happened to me? Are they going to harm me? They laughed and said “No, baby, we will never harm you! We adopted you because we love you so much”.
Then, they went on saying that “this is snip month” and it’s only going to benefit me! Well, as much as their assurance is comforting to some degree …I feel I’m missing some “parts” of me now. Quite perplexing as I still don’t see how all this is going to benefit me?
If March is “the snip month” ....do the human males get snipped as well? Is this snipping
thing going to benefit them too? Uh! George, I’m too young to understand all this!  
Can you explain it to me, please?
Very curious,
Misha

Dear Misha, 
The same thing happened to me. I lead a celibate life of my own choice due to surgical alteration at an early age. It's a calm life without fights (with the risk of catching FIV), without roaming in search of sex (with the risk of a traffic accident) without urine spraying (which keeps my human happy). Even feral cats are healthier after neutering and spaying.
But one thing troubles me. If we are happier after this, why don't humans practice it worldwide on themselves? Surely their own lives would benefit. Human overpopulation would fall, the natural world would flourish better with fewer humans. Men would get into fewer fights and women would not be exhausted or even killed by repeated child bearing. We need a worldwide campaign to neuter and spay humans!
They call us selfish but if you want to find a selfish species you only have to look at Homo so-called sapiens. They blame us for killing wildlife, but who has been slaughtering elephants, big cats, and ruining the habitat for wildlife. Not us.
Yours indignantly
George.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Of cats training their human pets.... "cat paralysis"

-->Dear George,Last week letter and Tommy’s story inspired me to write this one from my own experience. If you remember about a year ago I was rescued from the streets by this couple with their clear intention to take me to a clinic and treat my many wounds (both physically and emotionally) and then to put me up for adoption. I saw them screening very carefully everybody manifesting a wish to take me in.
Of course in the process they fell in love with me and today I’m running their house! Even more, I didn’t need to train them through the “reward & punishment” cycle as they were quite well trained already but I started training them in what I would call “cat paralysis,” meaning I jump on one’s lap and that person can’t move until I get tired of sitting there so I leave….releasing them to freely move around! For whatever reason it didn’t work well with mummy (she can’t stay still – quite unnerving) but worked wonders with daddy (as you can see in the photo attached). What it’s very rewarding in fact is that I can get as many treats as I want and as often as I want. Why? Because they think they outsmart me and when daddy goes really numb from staying still he’s asking mummy to give me some treats hoping I’ll be tempted to jump down from his lap so he can move! The whole scenario makes me laugh my head off as I get everything I want this way…..being loved, cuddled up and eating treats!
Ah! I love my human pets! So, George what do you think? Maybe we should write a book about this special training program so other cats will benefit from it? With cheers & a good laugh  
Chico

Dear Chico, 
I am always keen to learn about tricks that can be taught to humans and about new techniques for doing this. "Cat paralysis" is a really good idea, not unlike the way humans teach dogs (poor idiots) to "stay." You seem to have cured that particularly irritating human behaviour of shifting around when we are sleeping on them.  Well, at least you have your male pet trained. Now start working on the female.
I wonder if you could transfer this technique to the bed. I suffer from the way my human, whom I generously allow to share the double bed with me, will thrash about in her sleep. I have to keep waking up and moving to get out of her way. If you find you can stop your male human moving around in the bed, please let me know urgently.
Yours
George. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

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

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

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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Valentine Cat.


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

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cookies for cats?

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

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

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Of humans, cats and hair hygeine


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

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


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Teenage humans - can they get obsessed with cats?

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

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

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


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

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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Is dinner ready?

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

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

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