Saturday, October 27, 2012

Human kittens and how to react to them.....

Dear George,

I’m completely confused! This morning I woke-up in a little quirky noise or maybe it was giggling? I don’t know! All I know is that I woke up suddenly and what did I see? This little human kitten staring at me and trying to reach me (as you can see in the picture)! Hm! Who WAS he in the first place? And how did he get into my house?
Groggy and confused I looked around to make sure that I was still in my house and yes, my humans were around. So, who could he be and how did he get into my house? Definitely he wasn’t a rescue – too well dressed and fed! I heard my humans saying something about a plane! George, I don’t know what a plane is or if it can bring babies, but I was under the impression that it was the stork that brings the babies! But, we live in the 21st Century and maybe the planes (whatever they are) are bringing babies now.
Anyway, my dilemma is: should I adopt the human kitten and make him one of my own or just ignore him? I have to admit that I like him – he’s soft and smells good. I rubbed against him and I rubbed his belly – he was giggling and giving me big kisses. George, what do I do?

Dear Zoe,
Don't panic!  You just have to make allowances for their clumsiness  and the way they lag behind feline kittens. Our kittens grow up in about 8-12 weeks. They can manage their own toilets, wash themselves and feed themselves well within that period. Human kittens remain helpless much longer. They are - I have to say it - very slow compared with our feline kittens.
That doesn't mean they can't be trained. I can see from the photo that you have made a good start in teaching him that he must ask permission before he touches you. Your paw is ready for a quick pain-free swat and your ears are back. Yes, the sheer size of these slow developers is worrying as is their pathetic clumsiness and lack of gracefulness compared with a true kitten. But it is not their fault.
Just put the normal training programme into being. Calm gentle behaviour is rewarded by rubbing and closeness. Excited or rough behaviour earns either a tap from the paw or (better still) you remove yourself altogether. Getting high up, where the human kitten cannot reach you, will ensure some peace and quiet during the day.
And yes they do smell good!


Friday, October 19, 2012

How to make guilt work for you... colour the house ME.

Dear George

I thought you'd be interested to hear how I've re-oriented my humans' home decoration plans to have a proper focus upon my needs. Tiresomely, they decided to extend the house last month. Cue builders, dust, banging and fearful smells. As you can imagine, I have gone out of my way to express my disgust. I have hidden in the wardrobe every day and refused to come out – even ignoring my male human's most earnest wheedling entreaties and proffered treats.  I know this hurts his feelings. 

I have also insisted upon being fed at the most inconvenient times, and have gone out of my way to get under their feet in the small room that now serves as a kitchen/diner/living room (half of the house is temporarily 'missing'). I have been sniffy, 'absent', difficult and aloof – all designed to impress upon them how deeply offended I am by these absurd Works.
Regrettably, I have been unable to stop the extension, which my people hopefully insist will be finished by Christmas (yet more proof – if more were needed – of how stupid human beings can be). On the upside, though, I've won an unusual victory in an unexpected quarter.
My people are hopeless with colours and decoration: everything's painted cream and white, because they haven't a clue about what looks good. After what felt like years of debate and argument, they finally saw what should have been obvious from the very start: that using ME as their colour palette is the perfect solution. My own rather attractive markings make clear that white and bluey-grey go frightfully well together. So now they're modelling the entire room on me. 
My female human keeps pretending it's so that my discarded fur won't be visible against the blue-grey kitchen tiles, but from the looks He keeps casting my way it's obvious we all know the Truth: That they're so deeply guilty about putting me through all the agonies of the build that they're doing me the honour of immortalising me in the kitchen d├ęcor.
My view? Well, I'm vaguely flattered of course. But only vaguely. In truth, as you'll agree, it's the least they can bloody do.


Dear Herbie,
I must congratulate you on a splendid campaign of positive punishment (as we training theorists call it) towards your humans. You instigated a truly impressive series of tactics. Why did were they not effective? One possibility is that the punishment was too subtle. Had you been a large felid, you could simply have attacked them and produced serious injury. Alas, that tactic is not available to small felids.
Another less likely possibility is that the campaign failed to work due to the limited mental capacity of Homo sapiens. They may have failed to make the connection between the punishment and the Works. On the other hand their colour choice of British blue throughout suggests that they did have a glimmer of intelligence about your reaction. Perhaps they were simply in denial of the obvious, a frequent human failing.
I wish you well in the new kitchen. The fact that your humans feel guilt about it is a good sign for the future. Make 'em guilty, keep' em guilty, and eat all the extra food they give you "to make up".

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cats on the terrace of my home..where will it end?

Dear George:
 Ever since I came to this house -- in a pigfood bag, but I'm not complaining, not for the moment, although I'm not forgetting -- I've quite liked it here. For a while there was a much older cat and he was kind but he wouldn't wrestle. Then he was blind, and then after a year he wasn't here any more. So when this old yellow cat arrived, bits of fur missing, one ear not really attached, I thought he would be a new friend and for a while he was. We used to butt heads and lie in the sun together. But it couldn't last...
The next door neighbour acquired a Siamese kitten and called him Fiel which means faithful which he isn't. This Fiel sat on the roof opposite and screamed, but Siamese do that. Eventually he found his way up the wisteria and came to the terrace and he hasn't really left since then. My staff were feeding the yellow cat out of kindness when they saw that I liked him, even though he only barks or hisses when they bring him food, and they went on feeding him and this Fiel. Now Fiel may be Siamese and Siamese are supposed to like human beings but Fiel just runs away or bounces off the walls or hisses like the yellow cat taught him. He won't leave the yellow cat and the yellow cat won't leave him and now they've moved into the cat house the staff made for the yellow cat and the old cat uses the young cat as a kind of draught excluder - at least I think that's what is going on. I sometimes have to rough up Fiel a bit when he gets in the way, because they're living between the terrace and my catdoor. At least neither one of them knows how to use the catdoor although they've been watching it for ages.
The staff are very clear that I am the owner of this house, the star and the beauty, but they put up with these two on the terrace who are not always respectful and I wonder how it will all end. What should I do and what should they do and how will it end? I know you know, but please tell me...

Your admirer,


Dear Arabella,
It is thoughtless of your staff not to buy you a microchip-activated cat flap which will ensure you can come and go but neither of the other two are able. If they can't buy one in Portugal, where you live, tell them that they can get one sent from the UK - Sureflap (which works off a battery) or Pet Porte (plugged into the mains) are the brands to go for. My secretary will post one for them if there are any problems with delivery. A gal like you, photographed for Vogue I am told in this photo, needs her own safe front door. 
Your humans are obviously very cat friendly but in that lies the danger. When will it stop? First the yellow cat, now Fiel (why isn't his humans feeding him?). Goodness knows what will happen next. More starving strays? Then kittens. They will have to call in SNIP, the Society for Neutering Islington's Pussies.
My advice to you is to start being more vigilant. Humans often slip into cat addiction and it may just be that your humans are in danger of this. Moderate recreational feeding of cats is one thing: cat addiction is another. It is an illness which can lead to the horror of 25 cats in the house.
Make your position clear, Arabella. And, should more cats turn up, co-operate with the yellow cat and Fiel to see them off. Enough's enough.
PS. I am none too keen on Siamese. Miss Ruby Fou, who wrote me a letter made it clear she thought I was just an alley cat. Very nose-in-air,I thought.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Why does my human take up so much space in my bed?

Dear George,
I have a problem for which I would like your advice - space on the bed. My human takes up too much space. Worse still, she is a restless sleeper, often turning over, changing position or moving her legs. No matter where I start the night, I find she is pushing me towards the edge of the bed. And I have to get up and move several times a night in order to resettle myself away from her thrashing body.
I mean, a cat just can't get a good night's sleep with this kind of human. It is most irritating. Any ideas?

Dear Beauty,
Proper control of the bed is one of the fundamentals of training your human. You have to take charge firmly and decisively and create a routine so that your human sleeps soundly in the area you have assigned her. A human that is moving around the bed cannot  be a welcome bedmate.
First establish the bedroom routine. Some cats prefer to take up their position before the human arrives in the bedroom. Others maintain that it is more effective to spring on to the bed at roughly the same time as your human. Still others claim that getting on the bed, after the human has started to snore, is the best strategy.
Whatever your choice, you will need to move your human into a position that suits you. This can often be done while she sleeps. Put yourself as close as you can to the area you wish to claim and lean on her steadily and consistently. A properly devoted human will usually respond by infinitesimally moving away. Inch by inch, its' a cinch.
The human that does not move - and there are a few, often those sunk in alcoholic slumber - needs more vigorous methods. You will have to wake them up. For this I suggest the purr-and-rub tactic applied to the face. Few humans will sleep if a cat is rubbing against their cheeks and purring loudly. Dumb humans think this is just affection and cannot see the strategy behind it.
Once woken, most humans will shift position. Nip into the area you want and settle down. After such a show of love, even a hung over human is unlikely to be unkind enough to shift you.
PS. This blog is late because my human is exhausted.

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