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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Brush or play? No, brush and play, please.


Dear George, 
I’m Shumba and I have a problem with my human. I know you are the most awesome human behaviourist even if you let your own secretary slack on her duties so much and so often! Sorry George, but this was a much discussed issue since I joined your blog – your soft spot for Celia which ….creates “disturbances” in the blog …at times!
Anyway, I was living on the streets for quite few years when I was rescued by my human! We do have a great relationship but I’m not quite sure if she fully understands me or I’m lacking in my training her! See, she works full time and sometimes I become bored. I miss the human interaction during the day so I took up the Zen Zzzzzz meditation and I do relax a lot but I wish she comes home during her breaks at work. 
Anyway, she got me a brush …which I love and I learned how to brush myself (video attached) but, my question to you is….should I wait for her to brush me or should I spend our time together just playing? I would like her to both “brush & play” but how am I going to tell her so she can understands?
Cheers
Shumba.
PS. I had a video on this but it didn't seem to work.

Dear Shumba,
You are absolutely right. If I have a fault as a human behaviourist, it is that I am too indulgent to my human, Celia. Which means she slackens and I don't punish her by withdrawing affection, as I should do. Last night she came home very late and for once I did let her know I disapproved. I sneaked out of the door as she opened it and didn't come home till 5am. She was distraught. I hope she learned her lesson about coming home too late.
Now, your problem. Your human should both brush and play. That's a great brush, a Zoom Groom,  that she has got for you and I see that you have worked out how to self groom. Many congratulations. But it isn't enough. She should get a fishingrod toy and, while she watched TV, play with you with that. It's not hard for humans. They are just too lazy to do it enough.
Do as I say, not as I do. Don't let her slacken off!!!
Yours
George. 
PS. At least she grooms. Some humans don't bother even to do that. 

Saturday, August 05, 2017

What we cats see, what dogs see and what humans see.

Dear George,
As you will know, all gardens in the immediate vicinity of any cat’s house legally all belong to the cat. I currently oversee around 6 gardens in my neighbourhood but unfortunately have to allow a rather uncouth dog to use one of my many estates. Being a lesser animal with barely any brains, he often barks at me, so I tend to taunt him from the fence, commenting on his wirey fur and lack of beautiful whiskers, while he tries in vain to jump up and reach me.
However, the other week while throwing some of my best insults at him and watching him jump and bark as usual, my beautiful red collar came loose and landed in the grass on his side. I have appealed to him to return it several times but he claims he cannot see a red collar in the grass. Is he just trying to wind me up or are dogs’ eyes as poorly developed as their brains?
Yours,
Chipstick


Dear Chipstick,
Dogs have inferior brains, yes, and they can't see the colour red. Humans are even odder. As well as an inferior brain, they have eyesight which shows them this unnecessary colour, red. We cats don't see red (except possibly a little tinge of it) because we don't need to. Whoever saw a red mouse? What we see, is what humans call colour blind. What I call feline eyesight is highly developed specialised vision.
We cats are far better than humans at seeing movement. Anything which moves we like - not just moving mice but also moving small furry toys from fishing rods! And also some people now believe that we may even see some ultraviolet!  And we can see in the dusk far far better than any human.
Instruct your human to look at  https://www.lasik-eyes.co.uk/see-world-pets-eyes/ which gives a good illustration of how animals see compared to humans. That way they will understand more about us. Oh yes, and incidentally they will be able to see how dogs see - if they are interested in this inferior species.
Yours
George. 
PS. On that website the gecko vision is very odd! But they taste good.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Danger.... raccoons are dining next door

Dear George, 
I’m following your blog for some time now and I really enjoy it! My mommy bought some of your books (whatever she could find at a local book store). We have recently moved to a village – countryside I would say! Nice and quiet, lots of trees and birds and plenty of backyard. But mommy is a little worried as she learned that our next door neighbor is feeding a family of raccoons in her backyard! Our house is not that close to hers but still within walking distance. Mommy is afraid that I’ll get hurt by these raccoons! I don’t even know how they look like – I didn’t see any yet – all I’ve seen so far were little lizards. Am I in any danger? What can we do?
With thanks
Julius

Dear Julius,   
Your human is right to be careful that you don't get into any danger. Raccoons don't usually attack cats and if they do, a full sized adult cat often sees them off. Elderly cats, very small cats and kittens might be more vulnerable.
Here's what your human needs to do to keep you safe. Firstly, make sure there is nothing to attract raccoons to your garden - no garbage, no vegetables, insects etc. Secondly, install a microchip operated cat flap (or a flap too small for a raccoon to squeeze through), that will only open for you. Thirdly, raccoons can climb but they can't jump high. So make sure that good fencing keeps them out.
Put items around the garden for you to jump on to get out of their way - garden chairs, garden tables, large plant pots with room for a cat, and maybe ledges on the fencing at various points. 
If humans were not so dumb, she could go politely to the neighbour and ask her to stop feeding them. But that might set off a neighbour quarrel and quarrelliing humans are difficult! I have had no success in counselling them. Inter-human aggression among neighbours is impossible to resolve.
Yours
George.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Indoor life is boring... I want to get out and about.

Dear George,
I’ve heard it’s safer for a cat to be indoor (even if it’s soooooo boring) but is it better?
I mean considering the cat’s emotional and mental health? George, I’m asking for your opinion since my humans decided to not let me go in the backyard. See, I was rescued few months ago when I was a tiny kitty and until now I wasn’t interested in the outdoors…but one sunny Sunday I sneaked outside and discovered the trees and the bushes and the ravine behind our house! My humans got really worried and started looking for me frantically. I was hiding under a bush and I just didn’t want to come out. Apparently this upset them very, very much and now I’m not allowed outside at all. I don’t think it’s fair! I want to go out! Any ideas what I can do to be safe outdoors?
Yours….desperate for fresh air!
Minky

Dear Minky,
I like the great outdoors but I live down a cart track near fields where it is not too dangerous (except for foxes). And I come in at night for my last meal, so that I don't stay out too late - which cuts out some of the risks of being run over or eaten by a fox. Most cats would like this kind of lifestyle.
But it is safer indoors, definitely. Safe from predators like stray dogs, coyotes, foxes. Safe from traffic. Safe from disease caught by fighting with other cats. If indoor life is boring it is the fault of your humans. You should have lots of toys, a different one every day, lots of games with fishing rod toys when your humans are watching TV, and you should hunt for your food.
Hunt? Well hunting is what we cats do and it is what I do outside in the garden and fields. You can hunt too if your humans stop putting any food into a bowl. They should put it into food dispensers (look here for ideas), or scatter it so you have to run for it, or hide it round the house.  Or build a feeding pole! Or by the Funboard - video here. That way you can keep busy hunting for food even when they have gone off to work.
I hope you have chosen rich humans... If so, they could build you a catio or even just fence in the whole garden - ideas here. There's a photo of a catio here. That would keep you safe and give you some fresh air.
So if they won't let you outside, get them to start doing what humans should always do - make you happy with an active lifestyle. It is their job to make you happy.
Yours
George

Saturday, July 15, 2017

What the DOG....... cat survival tips.

Dear George, 
I’m convinced now that I’ve completely failed in training my humans! Why do I think so? Because past weekend they came home very happy, shouting from the rooftops - "look, look …we’ve got you a brother” I was totally perplexed as you can see in the picture attached! I was like “what the heck is THAT”? I mean I knew it was a dog but… WHY?   
Are they nuts? How could this puppy be my brother? Were they skipping zoology classes in school? Dogs and cats are VERY different! Don’t they know that? And, what am I supposed to do with this unsolicited “brother” now?
He’s not even good as a “pillow” as he’s constantly running around, it won’t stay still! Plus he’s trying to eat my food and this is a BIG mistake! George, do you think I can train him to be my humble servant? What is the purpose of a dog in a cat’s life?
Yours….totally confused
Pepe

Dear Pepe,
Your photograph shows how upset you are - ears back, feet braced ready to run, body stiff with nerves... Your humans are putting you through a really stressful experience. I only hope they are keeping the puppy under total control - on a lead, in a crate, never unsupervised if you are around. You need to be free to go, or to jump up on to a safe high place, at all times.
That puppy should never EVER be allowed even to think about chasing you...
Why on earth are they feeding you where he can get to the food? Is your litter tray in a safe place where you can reach it and he can't? (Dogs sometimes EAT cat poo - disgusting). Can you get to the litter tray without being ambushed by this excitable canine? Are you safe at night completely away from him so you can sleep without one eye open? Can you choose whether to be in his company or not? I can't see a house-line on this dog, which should be there to make it easy to restrain him.
Keep your nerve. Never run otherwise he may chase. Stand up to him. If all else fails, if you have a cat flap, you can just leave home.... 
Yes, you have failed to train your humans. Now concentrate on training the puppy. Rewards (purrs, rubs and attention) and punishment (swipes with the paw). If you do this properly you will be able to use him as a pillow eventually.
This puppy is not a brother. He is a very junior servant. That's the purpose of a dog in a cat's life.
Yours in great sympathy,
George.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Do I look fat in my fur? Do I need to diet?

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Dear George,
I don’t want to see anybody (as you can tell by the photo attached) - I’m mad!
I’m angry because my mummy dared to “body shame” me last night calling me “fat”.
Well, I don’t think I’m fat - I’m a big boy! I’m a large, well-built cat as my daddy said. 
I mean what’s the point for her to make me homemade food based on Dr. Pitcairn’s recipes and measure everything to be nutritionally balanced, mostly raw and mixed with some organic cooked vegies (1 tsp per meal) and then call me fat? I eat 3x a day small portions and that’s it! I don’t eat junk and I can’t open that fridge on my own!
But, there she goes calling me fat! Even more she said “obesity” it’s a pandemic in North America in both humans and pets! I didn’t understand exactly what she meant by this but, by the tone of her voice, it must be something really bad! Am I in any danger?
What is a pandemic? I didn’t want to ask her because I’m not talking to her now! George, is it really bad? What is the difference between being fat, overweight or obese? It must be a difference! How can one tell? Please look at my photo again and tell me I’m OK!
Yours ….in stones (won’t tell how many)
Chico

Dear Chico,
You may be a bit overweight but you are not obese (30% above the proper weight, which your owner can check with the vet). Here is a photo of really fat cat, Boomer. He was obese and he was suffering because of it. You couldn't see or even feel his ribs and he was so fat that he couldn't reach his backside to groom it, so he had mats there. He lived with a slightly demented elderly owner, who couldn't remember if Boomer had been fed. And because Boomer was bored - he was a young indoor-only cat - he kept asking for food.  And getting it every time.
We cats need exercise. I am lucky. I can leave the house through a cat flap and go hunting. When I am not doing that, I am patrolling my territory making sure I know where everything is and if there have been any changes in the garden or down my cart track. I do a lot of walking around. So I don't get fat. And I don't get too many treats either. Just three meals a day and nothing in between - apart from what I steal off the kitchen surfaces.
So get your owner to buy a fishing rod toy and play games with you using that. She can do it while watching TV. Play is good for her and play is good for you. Being obese can give us cats diabetes and arthritic pain. Just like humans.
Yours
Slimline George
PS. They eat delicious and varied meals but they expect us to eat the same bought cat food over and over again. It's not fair. At least your human cooks properly. Mine doesn't.


Saturday, July 01, 2017

Ouch... toothache... pain....dental hygeine

Dear George, 
I’m a 5 year old cat who has lived on the streets and in shelters until I was adopted by my current human parents! I’ve always been grumpy or somehow upset and mad at everything and everyone. My human parents were very patient with me all this time trying to do everything in their power to please me and make me happy!
At some point they decided to take me to a doctor to check my health trying to find the cause of my moodiness! Oh boy; they did not expect what they discovered! I had all my teeth infected and I was in constant pain. So, I had to go through a surgery and had all teeth extracted. Now I’m toothless but happy! My mood improved as you can see in the picture attached. George can you share some wisdom when it comes to dental hygiene? Maybe other cats will benefit as well? 
Yours….totally toothless
Nora

Dear Nora,
Life on the streets is tough for cats and poor nutrition often means that our teeth are not as good as they can be. My friend Toby has lost 7 of his teeth at the age of only four. Hardly surprising as he was forced to scavenge bird food to survive.
I always bite my human when she tries to brush my teeth. When she has tried sticking the feline toothbrush into my mouth with special feline toothpaste, I just won't bear it. She watched this video but I still bit her. It's the only thing some humans understand!
So now she feeds me several pieces of large kibble, specially designed for dental health in the hope that these will reduce the plaque build-up. Also she ensures the vet looks at my mouth when I get my annual vaccinations - which is how I had to have tooth extracted only two weeks ago. Get your human to read up here.
Toothless cats can eat dry food as well as soft, so losing all your teeth is probably the best thing for you, Nora.
Yours
George (29 instead of 30 teeth). 
PS. The hole in my tooth (feline reabsorption lesion) was so painful I went off my food. That never happened before. And, like you, I was very grumpy.




Saturday, June 24, 2017

Vacations for humans but not for us. Making guilt work...

Dear George,

Big debate in my family! My humans plan to go on a two week vacation but they feel guilty for leaving me home! I must admit I enjoy very much their “guilt feelings” as they are extra nice with me now and shower me in presents and treats!

But….the big debate remains….what’s the best solution for me? In a cattery? In someone else’s home? A cat sitter who can visit twice a day?

I personally prefer to stay home, in my house and have a very nice “live-in” cat sitter! 
So, what do you say? What other human pets do? Or they never take a vacation? I’ve heard of some who never go together because of the cat (who is their master and, of course runs the house). Your ideas are most appreciated! I still have a month to find the best solution!
Cheers,

Didi

Dear Didi,
How right you are to make guilt work for you. It is one of the best human training technique and all it requires is a soulful look of unhappiness! Yes, vacations for humans can be stressful and unpleasant for cats and the best humans do not go away at all.... wish my human didn't.
No doubt in my mind. The live-in pet sitter, if reliable, is best. Humans that call in once a day are not good enough: twice a day is far better, though even this may not be enough care if one of us disappears outside through the cat flap and is not seen for 24 hours. Cat boarding establishments may be the safest option but from our point of view they are just imprisonment.
Month long human vacations are a dereliction of duty. They have no right to inflict this on us. Make your human stay at home, where it belongs. Or stroll down the street and see if you can find a better pet.
Yours
George.
 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Backyard plants for cats....

Dear George,
I need your help urgently! Maybe Celia’s help as well (assuming she knows about plants). My Mom is planning to do some gardening this weekend and I heard her saying she wished she knew more about plants - what should she plant for me?
George, please, please, please say catnip and catnip and catnip - of course unless you know of some other plants as enjoyable as catnip.
What other cats like beside catnip?
In haste,
Leo 

Dear Leo,
Obviously catnip is a must for us cats and it looks lovely to humans too. My friend Toby can be seen enjoying it here. Don't confuse it with catmint, which doesn't have the same delicious scent though it looks good to humans. Valerian, another herb, is also enjoyed by cats and is easy to grow.
Why not have a small area, or a pot, devoted to cat grass? Ordinary wheat, the kind grown in for bread, or oats, the kind grown for porridge, will grow nicely. Or there is a special kind of grass, Dactyitis glomerata or cocks-foot grass that is sold as seed for cat grass. You will enjoy munching on any of these. A list of plants that are poisonous can be found here. As well as avoiding lily of the valley,  avoid lilies themselves  - if a tiny bit of pollen falls on your coat and you lick it off, you could die. 
What else? Well, why not purrsuade her to give you a water feature with a little fountain or trickling water for you to drink. And think about putting  a walkway, or a ledge, or a shelf on walls or fences. We like to sit up and look down on others. One of my friends, Pixxi (right), has a little shelf just on the corner of the fence so that he can sit and survey his territory.
Yours
George 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The love of birds....a certain human-feline incompatibility of opinion.

Dear George, 
After reading your book “One hundred ways for a cat to train its human” I started to apply your suggestions quite actively in my daily life. For the beginning I set up two goals just to see how it goes!  One was to have at least one bed in every single room and as you can see in the photo attached I have totally succeeded! Ah! Don’t be silly; of course I OWN that huge bed in the master bedroom as well….just that my humans don’t know yet!  The second goal was to train our next door neighbour first to like me, then to “catsit” me, then to miss me and finally to fall in love with me! Yes, you heard me right! Why would I stop to my own humans when I have such a cute next door neighbour?
Plus he has a bird! ONE love bird – quite laughable when you think “love birds” come in pairs!  But, I love the fact that he has just one – easy prey for me! Can you imagine the day (or night) when my cute neighbour will take me to his place and hopefully the bird cage door is open?  Ah, George! I can’t stop dreaming of that fresh, juicy dinner waiting for me in a little cage next door. 
But I need your expertise; all the “tricks and tips” as I have to make him fall in love with me first, right?  Where do I start?
Rio

Dear Rio, 
I love love-birds. Just the right size for a cat - not too large (like pheasants) or too small (like wrens, only a tiny mouthful). Just to reassure you that it is not necessary for any bird to fall in love with you first. All that is needed is for them to be close enough for a good pounce....
However, I reluctantly have to warn you that humans take an ridiculous view of bird slaughter. They love birds as much as they love cats and get very upset if birds are killed. Particularly if they know the "murderer" (their phrase not mine) or even "serial killer" (again, their phrase not mine).
Leave that love bird alone. Killing it, while naturally enjoyable, would ruin your relationship with the neighbouring human, whom you are so successfully training. You have to take the long view. Are a few mouthfuls of love bird worth the loss of a catsitter, a neighbour who may well offer extra cat treats and even a warmer house sometimes? 
I think not.
Yours 
George.

 

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Of human ethics and morals

Dear George, 
I have a “life and death” question for you: what is a cat supposed to do if his human wants to put him down because the human thinks he can’t afford a treatment/medication cost?
It is a nightmare for many cats but it is so true – that’s what happens in real life!
I’m a 8 year old cat and I’ve got an UTI - my human brought me to the vet to put me down because he can’t afford the treatment. However, the doctor explained that the treatment is not that expensive and there is no reason for euthanasia. Then, the nurse – God bless her heart – called a lady who runs a rescue group. The group got the money for the treatment and offered to adopt me! In the meantime….my human had a change of heart and started saying that he wants me back and he’ll pay for the treatment.
For the moment I’m back with my human…but what should I do? 
How can I make sure he’s not taking me to another clinic or abandon me on the streets?
Is there any legal course this rescue group can take to adopt me? I don’t trust my human anymore! 
Bertie 
Dear Bertie,
Your dilemma is awful. We cats should never fully trust humans. Some human owners "love" their cats, won't pay for vet treatment, and yet won't let their cats be adopted into a home that will pay for the treatment. And the fact that you have a UTI suggests that, apart from this dilemma, you are in a home that is stressful and worrying for you. 
The problem is human law. Stupid unethical law. Here in the UK cats are property. If a vet is asked to put down an animal, she cannot refuse. All she can do is suggest rehoming and, if the "owner" (disgusting term) agrees, put the animal in rescue, after a legal form has been signed saying the cat is now the property of the rescue. Without that bit of paper, the cat still belongs to its original "owner" (notice that word again).
Cats that are truly miserable sometimes rehome themselves - if they are lucky enough to have a cat flap. If you can leave the house, I would advise spending several weeks checking out likely homes in the neighbourhood and seeing if you find a better human.
Human laws against cruelty are totally inadequate and rarely enforced. You have to be half dead before the law steps in to save you.
My poor brother feline. My heart bleeds for you.
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