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Friday, December 08, 2017

The Universal Language of Cats


Dear George,
I live in a big metropole and, I humbly must admit I live the life of the riches!
Really, I am a rescue who got the chance to live in a Four Season Hotel suite!
But, that’s not the reason I’m writing to you! The reason is that I’m afraid I’m losing my mind and I don’t know if it’s because of the luxurious life I’m living or if it’s because the electro-magnetic/microwave pollution of the big city or what! How am I manifesting my symptoms? Simply….I think there is a Tower of Babel ….in my head!You see…Italian is my mother tongue, my mummy speaks French and my daddy speaks English. They have friends who speak other languages. When we have company …everybody is talking to me in their mother tongue and I DO UNDERSTAND them all!
Isn’t that crazy? How can I understand all these foreign languages?
George, can you explain this to me before I completely lose my mind? Or is it that we are so advanced that cat language transcend any other languages?
Completely confused
Signore Bianco

Dear Signore Bianco,
Of course you understand what humans are saying - in so far as it is worth bothering about. The feline communication system is multi-faceted involving scent, vocalising and body language, far more advanced than the human one. Using those three senses we read our humans. (Admittedly like reading a book for very young kittens as most of their language is unnessary blah).
We read their body language much better than they read it. We read their tone of voice with an ability much better than theirs. We read the way their scent changes with their emotions and we read the family mixture of scent - hers, his, and mine.We can detect if they have been stroking another cat half an hour ago or which supermarket they went to (they smell different).
Human beings only understand vocalisations.  And because their other senses just don't work, they have to do an awful lot of vocalising in different languages. But we read what is behind or underneath the words: so we don't have to bother with the exact way they vocalise. Much of what they say is very boring anyway. Poor nose blind creatures!
Yours 
George.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Seductive charm is the way to a forever home.

Dear George, 
I’m trying to find a forever home and I need your advice.
I won’t bother you with the details of my life but, you need to know that I’m in a foster home right now. This would be my second foster home and I would very much like this one to become my permanent home. I like my foster human too – he’s quiet! At times he seems to be grumpy but I know he’s not! He is kind and generous! I believe he had cats before because I can still smell them. He doesn’t think I’m a good fit in his life right now but I know he likes me! He travels summertime and he worries as he doesn’t know what to do with me! George, how can I tell him that I’m OK to go for a month or two in a cattery or one of his friends’ house if I’ll be with him for the remaining 10 -11 months of the year? I really like him! I’m happy here! 
With thanks,
Petrushka

Dear Petrushka,
Foster homes can become forever homes, if a cat plays her cards right! But be careful what you wish for. If he really is away from home for several weeks, you might not enjoy being in a cattery for that length of time. Of course, if there is a partner or a best friend who could help out by boarding you, that would be great. Many cats have two homes - an official one and the one down the street where the people give him a second breakfast.
To turn a temporary home into a permanent one requires you to exercise all your charms. Purr at him frequently. Roll on your back and when he tickles your tummy, do not scratch (always tempting, I admit). Practice little loving looks with your head on one side. Jump on his lap and knead - gently.
Greet him with your tail up when he comes home from work. Watch TV with him. Play with his newspaper. Sleep on the bed with him purring regularly and quietly to help him go off to sleep. You know the score. Seduce him with charm. Make him love you. It's what we do when we want something.
Yours 
George.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Vaccines - do they hurt? Why bother?


Dear George, 
I have a question for you if you’ll be so kind to answer.
I’m just a kitten (about 3 months old) and I don’t know or understand much!  I was rescued with my mother from a park. I mean she gave birth to her litter in this park. I know there was another kitty but the lady who rescued us could not find it. I pray for my sibling – hope he/she is OK! My question is about vaccines. Last night I heard my rescuer talking to a veterinarian about me and my mother and saying that we need a blood work done, vaccination and my mom needs to be spayed as well. All this sounds very strange to me and now I’m scared. Actually how many vaccines do I need? And how often? Are they painful? Are they all necessary? Can you give us some guidelines?
Scared but thankful
Pumpkin

Dear Pumpkin, 
Much as I loathe vets, they do have their uses and vaccinations are essential. All cats that are allowed to go outside need them and even indoor-only cats will need them if they are ever put into catteries. Vaccinations will also protect them, if by chance they escape outside.
How many and how often varies from country to country. Here in the UK I am vaccinated yearly with a combination vaccine (just one jab) against feline enteritis and cat 'flu. This means I can go into a cattery if there is an emergency at home. When I was younger, because I am a cat who goes outside, I had three years of vaccinations against feline leukaemia. If I had lived indoors I wouldn't have needed that.
If I lived abroad, a rabies vaccination might well be important or even a legal requirement. Lifestyle matters a lot. If I lived in a multicat household or a breeding colony then vaccinations against chlamydia and bordatella (called kennel cough in dogs) might also be worth having. Vaccinations for FIV and FIP are available outside Europe but these haven't passed EU regulations.
Yours
George 
PS. It's complicated. Here's what UK cat vets think. You need a good vet though I hate to admit that.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Looking for my mouse....

Dear George, 
I think my human mummy is going nuts! This week it was her birthday and she got as a gift “The Essential Dowsing Guide” book! That in itself was the biggest mistake as she immediately started reading it and then, of course, she tried to “explore” (oh! excuse me….dowse) everything that came to her mind or her way. I personally think this is a big no-no …but who would think a cat knows better? Anyway, I was quite bored waiting for to finish reading so we can play so I was looking for my mouse (toy). I didn’t say anything but I heard her saying: Ah! Ok! I can find you (meaning me) if you disappear, I can find lost objects and, actually I can find your mouse – a live mouse! Then….she went to the backyard with two L-shape rods and started walking around! George, is she really nuts? Who cares about dowsing? I don’t ….for the record.
Why?
First – I do not plan to “disappear” (after I lived on the streets for 3 years? No way).
Secondly – I’m not interest in any lost object! I can find my mouse toy without any gadgets. And thirdly – the live mouse is my “quick moving and juicy dinner” and all she did was to scare the heck out of my poor dinner! Now I have to eat the food she had prepared for me! Ugh! I know she holds in utmost respect the British Society of Dowsers! Since this association is in UK can you please ask them how can I tell her she has no talent for dowsing (proved last night) and how can I stop her from scaring away my dinner?
With much gratitude
Chico

Dear Chico,
This is a serious dilemma. We don't want humans to start finding and catching mice. This is our job.  I have always argued that mouse traps should be banned as should mouse poison (so dangerous for cats that decide to eat a mouse). Now dowsing. What will they think of next? They are dumb and dumber, poor creatures.
Maybe it would help if you started bringing her live mice so that she practiced inside the home, rather than interfering in your backyard? This is a tentative suggestion because many humans fail to appreciate our generosity and just scream or stand on chairs.
Another possibility is to use her as a hunting aid. At the moment she is scaring mice away but if she could only get a bit more expert at it, she could dowse their whereabouts, then call you in to finish them off. 
But is this likely? Humans are so noisy and clumsy that I believe they can only dowse inanimate things like water.... even the British Society of Dowsers would surely draw the line at mice.
Please stay in touch and tell me how you get on with this latest example of sheer human stupidity.
Yours
George.

Friday, November 10, 2017

What is... the magic word for "Get out of my box."

Dear George,
I need your help in finding the magic word that will make my human jump out of my box! It all started few days ago as a game - I was sleeping in the box when I heard “peekaboo”. I must admit it took me by surprise and I jumped out of the box only to find my human laughing out loud! OK! I meowed back “peekaboo” and ….quite like by “magic”….he jumped into the box. I meowed again peekaboo but no response! I tried to push him out of the box as you can see in the photo attached but no reaction! I don’t know if he fell asleep there but now I worry he might take residence of my box. How do I get him out? What is the magic word? Cat Scan? I tried it with no results? Oh! By the way, my human will soon become a medical doctor! George, I want my box back! 
Please help. 
Leo.

Dear Leo,
Human-kittens are always so amusing! So sad that they have to grow up to be slow and serious rather than playful like us. Soon he won't want to jump into that box!  So enjoy those precious moments while he is still young enough to play like a proper kitten.
Me in my box
We felines know that boxes are awesome playthings. Nice to jump into. Nice to jump out of. But humans lose that creative playfulness. They just think boxes are boxes. Poor things.
So think outside the box, and encourage him to stay inside it. Or maybe you could lure him out by pretending his favourite soft toy is a mouse. 
Or just jump in with him! It will give him a bit of a surprise, as you land on his head!
Yours 
George.
 

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Halloween and cats.... Guy Fawkes day ... a nightmare for cats.

Dear George,
This was my first Halloween! Seeing my human mommy and her kitten decorating our house was a lot of fun! I was looking forward with great excitement to the Halloween night. I must admit I was rather disappointed. First of all I was “locked in” the house, actually in my mommy’s bedroom for the whole night. I wasn’t allowed outside, nor was my sister. I was told I’m forbidden to go outside because of my color (see my photo attached –laying down on a table utterly bored). Second I was disappointed because there was no fun; all it happened was that different human kittens were ringing the bell to beg for sweets. Really? Like they needed more sugar in their diet? 
Third and the scariest was that late at night teenagers started ringing the bell “demanding” sweets! What was all this about? They didn’t even wear a costume or anything – just plain begging or demanding! I don’t think this was right! Maybe my mommy should have called the police! I don’t know how and why humans find Halloween funny or entertaining! I found it profoundly disturbing! It was a nightmare for me and my sister! Actually what is the Halloween about and why people celebrate such a gloomy night?
Totally confused,
Lila 

Dear Lila,
Halloween and (here in the UK) a few days later Guy Fawkes Day is a dangerous time for us cats. Your humans were right to lock you indoors for safety. There are three main dangers. The first is that cats get scared by the fireworks or by the strangers and run off and get lost. Worse,  here in the UK sometimes feral teenagers pick up cats and throw them in bonfires or attach bangers to them.
Finally, sometimes animal lovers in the USA decide to "rescue" black cats to stop them being sacrificed in black magic ceremonies, an urban myth. They take them to the shelters, where there are already too many cats waiting for home and the bad animal shelters just put them down. Black cats are unpopular in the USA.
Why are humans so stupid and why are some of them so cruel? 
Yours gloomily
George. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

I live in a chicken's house

Dear George,  
This is absolutely true! I was rescued together with my brother by our biological mother.
I never found out how or why our lives were in danger but our mama carried us over to this place and dropped us (literally) in a chickens ‘nest! Amazingly the chickens immediately adopted us. They even adopted our mama and let her live here with us. The chickens’ house is on a big, beautiful property with lots of trees and green space.
There are some humans living there as well but they have a bigger house for themselves.
They seems happy to see us here. They take good care of the chickens and they feed us too. My brother is very shy and so is mama (guess she was abused) but I’m more adventures and bold. I let the human daddy hold me. Even the human kitten held me and pet me and talked to me all summer. I don’t know where the human kitten is now….I think she grew up and left the nest! Ah! I miss her!
Hope she’ll come back otherwise I’m afraid I’ll develop the “empty nest syndrome” (I heard the humans talking about it). 
George, I also heard that cats’ friendship with chickens is unusual. Is that true?
Do you know of any other unusual friendships?
Cheers,
Mia, the tabby 

Dear Mia,
You are not alone.There's a case here where a hen has adopted a chicken. And there are several Youtube videos of mother cats that have adopted ducklings and chicks. The maternal instinct is very strong and when chicken and cat cuddle up together, they mix their smells. And for cats, the smell of home and mother, is very important.
An even more famous cat was the stable cat who was friends with Mr Darley's Arab. The horse is one of the founders of the thoroughbred breed and it chummed up with the cat. When the horse finally died, it is said that the cat disappeared or may have died of grief. We don't know its name or perhaps it never had one.
And of course, many cats make friends with that other different and inferior species - humankind.
Yours
George.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A second chance for a special needs cat.


Dear George, 
My story is very sad but perfectly illustrates that kindness and generosity really have no borders! I came a long, long way! I was rescued in Iran when I was about 6 months old as a paraplegic kitten. My spine was broken and I was abandoned on the streets. I was rescued by a Vafa Rescue group and I made it to America. I now live at “Home for Life” shelter. There is a small group of talented people who come and paint us. The shelter then creates a catalogue which people can buy. This year it’s a catalogue with dogs but the shelter planned to take me to a tour to educate humans about animals with special needs and prove that even cats like me can live a happy life. I’m sending you one of my photos at the shelter and one painting of me. You can read more about me at this link:

Love to all
Apricot

Dear Apricot,
You are not the first paraplegic cat I have met. I met Thomas, an elderly black and white cat, who was incontinent after a car accident and was handed into Cats Protection. He found an private adult care home - though it took a long time. Two very special human carers were needed.
He didn't wear a nappy. His owners learned how to manually express his urine twice a day (the vet showed them how) and he lived in a kitchen with a laminate floor and a catflap to the garden. Yes, they had to keep the tiles clean with bacterial wipes and, yes, they put out clean bedding out for him each day. They used the sort of bedding where liquid soaks through, so that it doesn't stay in contact with the skin.
Thomas lived happily for another few years before dying of old age. Here is his photo on the right. There are some lovely human beings around who make very good carers.
Yours
George. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Catwalk – Milan, September 2017

Dear George, 
I must tell you I was “the sensation” at the Fashion Week in Milan this September.
I was fundamentally modern (as you can see in the photo attached) with the cutest natural design. I was admired by most famous fashion designers in the world and envied by most famous movie stars especially for my natural make-up! Probably the only one not jealous of me but rather smitten by my beauty was our dear friend Karl Lagerfeld (he LOVES cats). You might wonder how I managed to get there. Well, I live with young fashion designers as my house pets! They are painfully young, trying to design tight leather pants and jackets which they even wear as it seems they can’t grow their own hair/fur.
Actually that’s the reason I’m writing to you if you can help with advice for humans how to grow hair? My humans take excellent care of me; my coat and I would like to return the favour and help them grow a nice fur all over their bodies! Some “pret-a-porter” but more on a fancy, luxurious side….like a nice, fluffy Himalayan coat or Norwegian Forest? Also, I’m planning to open my own “kitty model” agency to help young kittens to become famous! So, if you know of any…just tell me!
What do you think George? Good plan? 
But, first help me with my humans, please!
Mille grazie,
Cara

Dear Cara,
Sensational photo. Not just the beautiful fur coat (your own) but the true catwalk gait. I particularly like the bi-colour ginger and black facial fur. A really brave design. 
Sad to say we can't help humans grow fur. They have just a little - on the head, face (but no proper whiskers), armpits and pubes.
They often shave off these pathetic patches currently even the top of the head. Is it because they compare themselves with us and feel naked and ashamed? Or, in the case of bald headed males, they try to grow more facial hair to compensate. It can look a bit sad - bald on top, furry on the bottom of the head.
No. Nothing will work. We must accept them as they are in all their nakedness.
A model agency for cats? Why not. Internet opportunities grow daily. There are many cats more famous than the pathetic humans called Kardashians. Got for it. You could make millions.
Saluti.
George.
PS. Karl Largerfeld's cat, Choupette, is already a fashion icon - read here

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Ways for a cat to exercise its human.


Dear George,
As much as I loved reading your book One hundred ways for a cat to train its human, I’m surprised that you never pointed out some ways for a cat to exercise its human.
I’m saying this since I’m in much need of your help in this regard. You know that most indoor cats are called “couch potatoes” but, in my case…the couch potato is my human daddy and I’m really worried about his lack of exercise.
I tried to set up examples for him but I think I must do something wrong since he is not responsive to any… such as:
  • Climbing up the curtains.
  • Climbing up and scratching the door frames
  • Jumping from the book case's highest shelf down on his desk.
I even tried the fishing rod and hanging from the chandelier with no success!
To all these excellent examples (in my opinion) he just stares at me in some sort of amazement! Do you think there is something wrong with him? Am I not clear enough in my intentions? George, please tell me how I can train him to exercise more.
Yours truly
Dumi 

Dear Dumi,
In training any animal, it is important to realise that each species has its quirks and particularities. You can only train humans to do what comes naturally to them. For instance you can't train them to scent or hear the location of a mouse. Their noses and their ears are too weak for that.
Exercise is difficult too, as humans are naturally indolent. They will spend hours staring at a screen and only drastic measures such as lying on the keyboard will successfully get their attention towards you.  So first, you have to get their attention.
Even the stupidest of humans usually notice climbing up the curtains and your other activities. Most will spring into action in a vain rescue attempt (either to rescue your or the curtains!). I fear you may have adopted a human nerd, halfwit or a dingbat, as Oz cats call them. These humans are to be pitied not punished. It is not their fault they lack the ability to understand us properly.
You will have to accept that you cannot change him. Don't cease your activities, as this is good exercise for you. One of my achievements was to rip out all the lining from a pair of curtains: it was a truly satisfying achievement - as you can see from the photo on the right.
Yours
George.

Friday, September 29, 2017

My name is Love....

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Dear George,
My name is Love! I’m a six month old kitty which has been rescued two months ago from the hands of a traveller in a Central European farmers’ market! How I got there or how the gypsy kitten got hold of me I have no idea. All I know is that my mummy rescued me and called me Love! She even made me a cozy spot (at the market place) as you can see in the photo attached. I spend all day sleeping but at night sometime I hide so she won’t find me when she goes home so I get to spend all night in the market looking for mice, bugs and all that fun! I feel empowered being in charge with the place.
In fact my mummy lives in UK and I don’t understand why she’s selling wild berries here in Central Europe - guess she has a summer house somewhere nearby this market! Anyway, she’ll return to UK in October and she’ll take me with her.
George, are there any farmers’ markets in UK? Do you have mice? I don’t know if I’ll be living in the countryside or a flat in London but I wonder how could I enjoy my stay over there! What cats do in UK?
Yours,
Love

Dear Love,
What a great name. Cats in the UK do what cats in Central Europe do. When they have eaten, they chill out like you are chilling out in the photo. All of us, wherever we are, have a talent for serene relaxation - as long as we have food, water and shelter.
If we are allowed to, we hunt. Hunting is what we were designed to do. I hunt house mice, wood mice, rats just like the ones in Central Europe. And occasionally I hunt bugs and flies too. 
We do have farmer's markets in the UK but usually cats are not encouraged to hang around them - due to boring human health and safety obsessions. Write me another letter when you get to the UK. I love your colouring - striped tabby with bits of ginger. Very attractive. You will create a sensation in the UK.
Love to Love,
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