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Saturday, March 31, 2012
I am just a kitten but I want you to know that I am learning fast in a human home. My mother had me in a cardboard box and me and my three other siblings have been romping round this human cottage from the moment we left the box. The two humans here handle us and play with us and pick us up, and generally make much of us. As a result we are learning how live with this other inferior species and how to deal with their behaviour.
But what about other kittens? What about the ones that are born in shelters? How will they learn?
They won't learn very well, is the answer. Too many rescue places are still putting mothers and kittens into cat pens - often in a "quieter" part of the shelter. So they grow up only meeting a few humans and only for a little part of the day.
So when they get outside into the wide world, it is a struggle for them to know how to train and live with their new humans. It's like meeting an elephant for the first time, or even a whole family of elephants, and having to work out how to make sure these huge animals do what you want..... not easy, Susie.
Luckily you have had a good start in life. Some of the better rescue charities in the UK are beginning to realise that kittens do better if they are fostered in a human home. That way, they learn to live with humans from the start and begin at a very early age to pick up the basics of human training.
PS. This blog entry is late due to my secretary, Celia, going away for the day for a "college" reunion. She didn't learn much there when she was an adolescent and her absence from her duties this Saturday has sorely tried my temper.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
I have now turned to the important topic of honouring cats. Here are some more nominations for feline oscars, from cats that have featured in my column. Taken from the top.
Sir Winston on the left. That nose with its darkened stripes. Those green slanting eyes. And the fur in his ears...... Forget George Clooney. This is just the most glamorous male in catdom.
Fluffy and Cayene are nominated because they don't give a stuff about Oscars. They just chill out.....
Scaramouche is nominated for his very beautiful brow and nose, making perhaps the perfect profile of a cat. The
Lucy for her caring qualities. Lucy has looked after her human in a devoted way, seeing her through bereavement and major health problems. She adopted Jane from Cats Protection three or four years ago and has been a responsible and loving pet owner.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
I know you recognise the difficulties I have been having with staff. (You may not be royal like me, but all cats are noble, n’est-ce pas?)
I’m afraid I have another problem. My human hostess seems to expect me to come and go through a window in the bottom of the door. She says it would be just like having my own key. Well George, I ask you, does HM Queen carry a key? No, she has a footman to open the door for her, and that is what I expect.
There is a teenager who lives here who is always rattling in and out of this window. Well really, he might be a burglar! I find it most disturbing, clatter wallop. And he looks most ungainly as he exits – really, I have no wish to display my posterior in such a manner. The hostess has tried to bribe me with food to use this window, but I have let her know that I shall just politely wait until the door is opened properly. There is a man here who could perfectly well act as footman – I know my hostess has encouraged him to learn from Downton, but he just fell asleep.
I am sure I am not alone in having this preference, George – as my special friend, do tell me what you think.
Opening doors as a footman or cat commissionaire is an essential part of a human's duty towards its cat. As you say, it is a question of class (cats are upper, humans are lower) or species status (cats are superior life forms; humans are inferior life forms).
Door keeping by a human is particularly important for those moments when we want to sit near the door frame and sniff the air, in order to decide whether we will go out or not. A good footman will wait for ten minutes while we make our decision.
This is a question of human training. The first problem is getting your would-be footman's attention. Homo sapiens (don't make me laugh) have flibbertigibbet minds, unable to concentrate on one thing, their duty to a superior species. They keep going off and wasting time with a plastic mouse and a screen. Or cooking. I have nothing against human cooking (handy for bits of chicken and so forth) but I don't want a human that cooks instead of keeping an eye out on the cat flap, or "the window at the bottom of the door" as you so correctly term it.
The trick is never ever to come through the cat flap when the human can see you doing it. Once they have seen you can manage this cat flap, they will feel empowered to keep you waiting outside. So do not use it. This refusal may involve waiting in the rain but purrsist. Wide-open mouth mewing and a pathetic look will help them recognise their duty to let you in. Finally, if they have made you wait, crawl in loudly mewing and shaking yourself as if shivering with cold. (In the unlikely event of UK hot weather, collapse on the kitchen floor panting.)
What is the basis of this training? It is Making Guilt Work. Guilt is a specifically human emotion, which makes humans feel uncomfortable on behalf of a victim. We cats don't do guilt but luckily for us, humans do. So, the aim is to wait outside looking unhappy in order to stir up this guilt emotion in your staff.
Purrsistency will win this one, Natasha.
PS. When they are out you can come and go through the cat flap as you please, of course.
PPS. More cat photos for feline oscars next week.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Here are some of the great cats that I would like to nominate for an Oscar. This is my personal choice. There is also an actual UK Oscar award organised by Cats Protection.
My selection this week. Further photos will go on in two week's time.....From the top here goes:
CAT VICTORIA for her STAR QUALITY. Victoria has what all cats have - charisma, charm, beauty. She has all these qualities and more. She is a natural star.
FLUFFY. Fluffy has devoted her life to making sure her human has healthy eating patterns. One of her training methods is to sit firmly in the box showing that it is empty and reminding her human that she should order some more fruit.
SID. Sid is nominated for his hair style. It's not just his long fine hair which all Maine coons have. His ear hair is particularly charming, with great tufts coming out at the top. He also has great whiskers and a beautifully marked whisker pad with regular lines of dark whisker roots.
SPEEDY. Speedy has proved that cats can dance. As a kitten he practised on his human's bed throwing his toy mouse up and dancing below before catching it. Now he has taken his dance routine into the outside world, where it is much admired.
COCO. What-a-tail-my-cat has got award. Like all Birmans she has white gloves and white slippers but her glory is her tail.
MISS RUBY FOU. Miss Ruby Four (she does not like her name being truncated in any way) is nominated for her human training skills. Her humans obey and, if they don't, her firm tones make their life intolerable. She is the Mrs Woodhouse of cats, only a great deal more beautiful though noisier. At night she allows her humans to sleep either side of her, or (if she feels in the right mood) will sleep in the female human's arms.
Friday, March 02, 2012
Can you imagine that I was invited to attend the Oscars last Sunday and I missed it because I couldn’t find a date? I was SO excited – I was supposed to sit right next to George Clooney! Can you imagine sitting next to him? But let me tell you why I missed it! Of course my mummy wouldn’t let me go alone so I had to find a date. I invited the George Clooney’s of cats (as Celia called him) I mean….Sir Winston! He kindly declined my invitation as he was having other commitments (in reality I think he secretly likes Cayenne more then he likes me)! Anyway, I desperately tried to find a tuxedo cat since who would have time to look for a proper suit before the show? I even tried to get you George but Celia played her tricks again! So, quite upset I watched the Oscars on TV. I was delighted to watch the Hollywood glamour! I was happy that the feline’s world was so well represented! Cute kitties with gorgeous coat, I mean dresses – Penelope Cruz, Michelle Williams, Cameron, Sandra. Wow! “Puss in the boots” nominated. I was in a dreamland until I’ve seen that little dog on stage! WHAT? A dog named Uggie at the Oscars? What name is this in the first place? And what was he doing there? Tell you what….he was begging (for treats)! Phew! Did Hollywood go nuts? Best movie with a dog named Uggie? They must be kidding! And he's on YouTube too. Anyway, to protest I got myself into this bag and I won’t come out until they edit the movie and get that dog out!
George, what do you think? Should we, the cats, punish the Hollywood?
It is too bad that I failed to receive your invitation to the Oscars. I would have broken the habit of a lifetime and accepted a white bow tie for my neck, since I don't have a tuxedo inbuilt into my fur colouring. If you and I had gone, I assure you that nobody, but nobody, would have looked at George Clooney. We would have been the centre of attention throughout.
I think we ought to start our own Feline Oscars. We could, for instance, nominate Larry from Downing Street for a prize (imagine having to live with all those politicians - horribly stressful) , Homer the Blind Cat (he fought off a burglar), and Oscar, the cat who does the rounds in a hospice (his medical skills allow him to know which patients are about to die). I personally would also nominate Tilly, the ugliest cat in the shelter who adopted Celia and helped her recover from breast cancer. Admittedly Tilly is so totally without glamour, being brown and scruffy (see photo), that she would have no chance of winning but she might like a nomination.
I don't think we will allow dogs to be entered. Like you I get tired of the attention paid to an ugly Jack Russell. He may be the star of a movie but he has let himself be trained by a human. That is hardly something to be admired.
Dogs just don't have a clue. They actually look up to humans. Dumb.
Send your cats photo, as an Oscar nomination, to me via my website, www.celiahaddon.com, and I will post it in this blog.