Thursday, March 27, 2008

Help! How can I get out of cat rescue?

Dear George,
Can you help me get out of here. I am banged up in a small pen with nothing to do. It all started when somehow I lost my way home. I had been investigating some dustbins in a nearby street and there was a huge noise from a monster lorry passing by. A kind of gigantic fart. It terrified me and so naturally I ran. Then I couldn't find my way home. Then I couldn't find any decent food in the new area so I positioned myself at the door of one of the houses and a very nice woman took me in. At least I thought she was nice until she picked me up, thrust me in a box and took me to this place. The food is OK but people keep passing by and staring in at me. And I can smell other cats nearby. How can I get out?

Dear Suzy,
Those people passing by and staring at you are catless human beings who have come to a cat rescue shelter. Of course it is rude to stare but they know no better, poor souls, and, besides, they are deprived of the love of a good cat. They are looking for a proper relationship - with a feline, of course. If you can bear it start looking back at them and begin to assess whether they look OK or not. This is the time you decide whether they are worth hiring as human servants.
Unless you are good with human kittens, avoid the ones with little humans by their side. Turn your back on them or get back into the bed and look as malign as possible. When you see a nice middle aged female or an elderly couple or a well groomed man (metrosexuals make good cat lovers), put your head on one side and look as attractive as you can. Mew plaintively at the human of your choice. Perhaps wave a paw - this is human body language for hello. (I know it is a rude gesture in cat language but they don't know that.)
If it is the right kind of pen, move towards the front of it. Roll on your back, eyeing them and flashing your tummy! You'll soon be out!
PS There may be a delay in the next posting. My secretary, most thoughtlessly, has decided to take a short walking holiday on Exmoor. She would have done better to stay at home and do her duty to her cat.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Why buy scratching posts when furniture is better?

Dear George,
Coud you advise me how I can dissuade my human from investing her money on scratch posts and balls with bells. Furniture and a length of string, or even a shoe lace, are perfectly adequate. The money could be far better employed on chicken breasts and plaice.

Dear Vincent,
It is one of the most irritating things about humans that they buy us presents they think we ought to like and then are amazed when we don't like them. The scratching posts they buy are almost always too small or, if they are large enough for what I call a full-body scratch, then they are usually too wobbly. There are some quite nice cardboard ones, which are at an angle to the floor but when my human installed one and I used it vigorously, she took it away because she said the cardboard pieces were messy. Apart from these my own preference is for the sisal ones but some cats prefer the carpet covered post. AFter scratching the carpet post for a time they then discover scratching that the real carpet is much more pleasurable. And the humans are surprised! Yet they encouraged this by buying the carpet-covered post in the first place!
Worse still, if we do condescend to use one of the posts, just when it is getting nicely smelly from the pads of our feet with interesting bits falling off it, the humans change it. We like scratching posts with bits of sisal or carpet hanging down. We like to see the results of our scratches! But just when we have run in the post, so to speak, they get rid of it. They throw it out just when it has been scratched to our idea of perfection. What fools they are! Then they are amazed when we refuse to use a new one.
So what can you do about it? Very little, I fear, Vincent. Just never EVER use it. It is always good for humans to have their wills thwarted. It keeps them in training. I never use a new cat bed for at least three months or more. I turn up my nose at any new toy. And I particularly boycott anything expensive which is bought for me. It keeps humans in their place.
So ignore those balls with bells. Why should a cat want a rolling ball with a bell? We are neither dogs nor vicars. Continue to use the furniture for scratching. If there is no string available as a toy, pull out a shoelace or two, preferably while the shoe is on the foot.
Oh yes, have you thought about scratching the wall paper. A wall with strips hanging off it is a lovely sight. It makes a room look like an art installation.

Monday, March 10, 2008

How can I wake up my human?

Dear George
What's the best way to wake up a human? Mine has naps when she should be playing/ stroking/ feeding me, especially at the weekends. She finds touching noses endearing, so sometimes I indulge her. Most of the time she hides under the covers and puts them over her head. Then I have to reach down and stroke her face gently (at first).
Most useful to share training tips, I've taught mine some voice commands for "I want to go outside" and "I'm back now". There is also one she takes as "thank-you", when in fact it means "about time/good" - I'm with the Bear on being too polite to our carers. I also find that it helps to get your rest. My humans are always running around and come home tired, then they attempt to train me (the cheek!) I think we both know who's best placed to have the energy for that!
Keep up the excellent blog!

Dear Smudge,
I can think of several interesting ways of waking up a human and I invite other cats to share their favourites. Try some of the following.
1. Purr loudly near the ear. Normally this doesn't work very well but if your human had spent a night on the tiles, your purr will chime in with his hangover and intensify it very effectively.
2. Jump on to the head set of the bed (if your humans have one) and leap down on to their chest. A variation of this is to climb on to the feet end, then make a flying leap towards your human's groin. This works best with male humans.
3. Sit on their face.
4. Merely turn your back and, using a flirtatious backside presentation, move back towards their face. As their eyes open slighty, they will see your backside VERY close to them. Something about that seems to upset them!
5. Open their eyelids gently using a sheathed paw.
6. Bite the nose.
7. Go down to the bottom of the bed, lift the duvet with your head, and bite their toes. This is useful when they are cowering under the duvet and you can't reach their noses.
8. Jump on to the dressing table and swipe down their brush, comb, face cream etc one by one on to the floor. Pause between each crash, to make sure they have noticed.
9. The sneaky snoozy method. Lie very close with your face touching their cheek. Rub gently. Poor deluded creatures, they think that you just love to soooo much.
10. Sit on their chest and use the command stare on them. Believe me, even if their eyes are closed they will FEEL that stare and have to open them. A further development is to sit on the chest, and if they don't stir, to roll over and wave your paws in the air. This makes them laugh and laughter wakes them up.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Under the Paw - where humans belong.

Dear George,
My humans, Tom and Dee, are constantly voicing "my" thoughts for me. It's not just that these thoughts are largely inaccurate (I have never said "Please" or "if you don't mind awfully" before being fed a tin of Applaws chicken and cheese cat food - because I view receiving it as my right) that bothers me, nor even the humiliating fact that some of them will soon be available to the populus in a book that Tom has written called Under The Paw ( ). What really gets to me is the voice in which said thoughts are delivered, which is somewhat upper-class and simpering - the kind of voice you might have found Willie Rushton using whilst narrating a 1980s children's TV programme, and - I think you'll agree - utterly unbecoming of a cat who started his life in a plastic bag on the side of a motorway and has braved some of the tougher parts of South East London and Norfolk. I am neither a) a character in a Beatrix Potter book, or b) a slightly effeminate aristocrat fallen on hard times. I am a warrior, who has slept on the world's sofa and fears no-one, with the possible exception of my pygmy grey half-sister, Bootsy, when her back's up and her breath is particularly fishy. How can I explain this to my two-legged dimwit housemates and get them to stop patronising me in front of my step-siblings?
Yours sincerely,
The Bear

Dear Bear,
Or should I say Dear The Bear? Forgive me if I have addressed you incorrrectly. We cats need our dignity, and I would not like you to think I had diminished yours by one jot. I am not a human. I do not do the indignities they inflict on us cats.
Which brings me neatly to your letter. I entirely sympathise with your dilemma. I too rely on a human secretary. I have tried to type, but frankly my paws are ill fitted to the keyboard. (Why don't Macintosh make the feline version? They could call it the IPuss. And it would come with a mouse, of course.)
I have trained Celia intensively, using rewards and punishments like standing on the keyboard repeating one letter for about 20 lines, to be sensitive to my voice. Most of the time she realises that she should not put in her own sympathies and feelings. She is MY ghost, not a writer in her own right. Even so, I have to watch her closely, particularly at times when I am being frank about human deficiencies. She has a tendency to turn to me and say: "George, you can't mean me to type this?" I say "What exactly is difficult about typing dysfunctional, stupid or clumsy? Get back to the keyboard. You are there to type not to give your own opinions about the human race."
It's a question of discipline, Bear. You have got to assert yourself as the Alpha Male of the household putting your humans in their proper places which is in the kitchen, the bedroom and in front of the computer. Don't let the male one think he is writing the book. He is your ghost, nothing more. A good ghost should be only a shadowy figure in a book. However, I congratulate you on getting the title right. "Under the Paw." I like that. Short, snappy and accurate. That's where humans belong.
Have you thought about spraying on the first copy that arrives in the household? Just to show them what you think of the style.
Yours George.
PS. I like the photo too. Nice to see an online brother.

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, This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online