Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why am I clawing visitors?

Dear George,
 My name is Golab and I’m a rescue. I was adopted from a shelter by this wonderful family, my new human parents.  I don’t know how old I am but I can’t be too old as I still remember the abuse I suffered before I was rescued. All is too fresh in my memory. 
I love my humans and they love me. I’m happy and at peace as you can see in the photo attached. I’m treated like royalty. I take pride in my humans and my home.  But, I have an issue; for whatever reasons I claw everybody else visiting my humans.
I know my humans are worried and perhaps upset. I don’t know how to tell them that I’m afraid of other people, I don’t trust other people and each time they have company I panic that the company will take them away from me and I’ll be abandoned and abused again. I’m not possessive or jealous, I’m just scared.
George, the problem is that they will have family from overseas visiting soon and they are thinking of renting a flat just for me so they will come daily to visit me and spend time together. This is very generous of them but I don’t want to live in a flat for three months. George, this is a very serious matter and I need your expertise.
Firstly, why do you think I act like this….clawing everybody visiting them?
Secondly, what should I do? Is there anything I can do or they can do so?
How can we all live in peace (visitors included)?
In distress

Dear Golab,
Some of us are one-human cats. We love our human pets, but we don't love or even much like any other human. Well, it's natural, isn't it? Those of us who were in animal shelters have often seen the worst side of human nature - humans throwing things at us, humans shouting, and sometimes cats have even been tortured in the microwave by sick human beings. Feral humans can be vile,much more evil than any animals.
I expect it took you time to learn to trust again. Now you do trust your new human pets, which is wonderful. I am sure that they have responded to your growing confidence and love.
Now it is time for them to look after you. Renting a special flat for you isn't exactly what you want. You'd prefer if they rented the flat for these visiting humans! However, that might not happen. Perhaps they would think of a cattery - not much fun for you, but if you have been in a rescue shelter you probably at least know the score.
If none of this happens, find a safe area in your home - under your humans' bed, on a high cupboard in the spare room, in a box cut to make a hidey hole or perhaps on a bookshelf somewhere. Settle in there. If you can, purrsuade your humans to keep the visitors away from your space. Maybe they could even give you a room of your own for a bit with your own litter tray, food and water, and a familiar bed. A Feliway diffuser would help too.
Tell them to tell the visitors to ignore you. If they are staying a long time, you may feel confident enough to come out and take a look at them. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It takes two to tango - a cat and a human!

Dear George, 
I got so encouraged and inspired by your answer and, of course by the comments made by other feline friends in reference to my last letter that I felt it was my duty to up-date you on the latest development of training my humans.
Between your advice to train them without them “knowing” and CAT Victoria’s mentioning of “Dance me to the end of love” (which, by the way…it is a Leonard Cohen’s song) I came up with this brilliant idea…I’ll teach them “tango”!
Why tango? Because it’s passionate! It’s dramatic! It has the “wow”…the “joie de vivre”! I’ll teach my female human how to tango! She’ll love the passion. She’ll love the rose between my teeth (as you can see in the picture). I’ll make my male human jealous! I’ll make him forget about Bach! I’ll make him change the “tune”. I’ll make him love tango! Good plan? What do you think George?

Dear Lenny,
 After a bad week, having lost my cool with Toby's boast about his whiskers, your letter came like an inspiration. What a caring cat you are. And what a truly wild idea - teaching your human to tango. And that photo! So romantic!
Do you in Canada by any chance have a TV programme called Strictly Dancing? We do and it shows human celebrities competing for a dancing trophy. If your idea catches on we could have cat celebrities teaching humans to dance? Here in the UK we could start with Larry the Downing St cat teaching David Cameron to dance human cheek to feline cheek. 
Over the pond it's probably too late to get Socks, the former White House cat, involved. He retired from politics altogether, though I always thought that President Clinton would have avoided a lot of trouble if he had spent more time with Socks and less with interns.
But there is one problem. Are humans capable of learning a pas de deux with cats? I have my gravest doubts about President Clinton or David Cameron. Nor do I think your Canadian mayor Rob Ford would manage too well: he'd probably fall over.
Keep us informed on our progress, Lenny. This could be the beginning of something big.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Whiskers - size matters.

Dear George,
If you look at my photo, you will see that I now have magnificent whiskers. They are about 6 inches long and white, apart from two little ones furthest from my mouth which are darker.
I am particularly proud of them because I used to be whisker-challenged when I lived as a street cat. I had whiskers, of course. But they were small and not at all attractive.
Now I consider these big ones one of my most attractive features.Their size is wonderful but I also like the discreet way they are white rather than ginger. This gentle contrast suits me. It is not as blatant as the white whiskers on a black and white cat or black whiskers on a black whiskerpad like yours. Personally I consider those just a little bit vulgar.
Mine are long, white and (I think) a sign that I have put my past behind me and have taken my place among gentlecats.
Yours proudly

Dear Toby,
 What on earth is wrong with white whiskers on a black and white cat? Or black whiskers on a black cat like me? Your cattitude smacks of social climbing. I can only remind you that while you can take the cat off the street, you can't take the street out of the cat.
Who is the cat that steals food out of the bread bin and even out of the food recycling bin? Which cat is it, that will shamelessly eat crumbs put out for the birds? And has even been spotted eating a stolen cold potato? I have never been a thief.
I take particular offence at your prejudiced remarks about black whiskers. My whiskers may not be as long as yours, but I came from a privileged background, a private boarding pen not far from Witney, where I was brought up by a human Nanny. No question in my case of living on the street.
We cats, who came from a correct social background, do not make unhelpful comparisons of whisker size or whisker colour. Personal remarks like this are not the mark of a true gentlecat.
Yours in disgust.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Can I train my human to stop playing that loud music?

Dear George,
I’m Lenny, named of course after the great Leonard Cohen. I’m six years old now but when I was much younger I adopted a human family.
I don’t recall all the details as I was quite busy training them from day one, especially the male human who wasn’t that much into cats I think. I never had an issue with my female human – she’s well trained; she is the perfect mom.
But, between you and me George, I must admit I adore my human kitten; she is pretty, she’s fun and she is a good friend. We play together, we eat together, we listen to music together – we spend lots of time together. My problem is my male human, her daddy!
Yes, he warmed up to me lately but I don’t think he really understands that “cats rule”.
If I’m listening to Lenny Cohen with my human kitty - he plays Bach….loud! Very loud!
I’m very playful by nature but how long can a cat have fun on Bach? I gave him plenty of signals to change the tune but he won’t get it. Do you think I failed in training him?
What should I do to make it clear that I make the rules, I run the house?
Waiting for the miracle

Dear Lenny, 
It is my impression that the human females are more easily trained than the males. Many human females find this to be true too!  But let me congratulate you on being a responsible owner, and starting a training regime from day one.  If only all cats did this, we would have a population of much better behaved and happier humans.
A human can be trained without knowing he is being trained. So the fact that your human male doesn't understand that "Cats Rule" is not in itself important. Dumb creatures without much understanding can nevertheless be trained by us. Indeed, I would go further. Most human pets don't even realise that their cat is training them!
As for Bach? This is a tricky training problem and I am not sure it is worth the effort. Leaving the room when this music is loud may be helpful. You will be spared the assault on your hearing: your human will lose the delight of your presence. In theory this is punishment. But here's the difficulty. If your human has not been properly socialised to cats, he may not care that you withdraw your presence. 
So it may be that it is not worth your effort to train out this particularly irritating bit of behaviour. Sometimes we have to accept the things we cannot (or do not care to) change. 
PS.  It could be worse. My late human used to play military band music very loud.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

If only World Spay Day had applied to humans as well as cats....

Dear George,
I am increasingly worried. I overheard the human carer talking about "getting her spayed." Here I am, stuck in a rescue pen, and it looks as if somebody is going to deprive me of the chance of kittens.
Is this right? Humans seem to glory in doing this too us. I am told that last Wednesday was World Spay Day, as if to celebrate depriving us cats of a chance to reproduce.
Humans seem to have an odd attitude. The male cats in Sunshine Cat Rescue have all had their bits taken away. Now it looks as if it will be my turn.
I am told you have been through the same ordeal. Help me. Should I try to escape back to the streets of Witney?
Yours with apprehension

Dear Henrietta,
Theoretically I am on your side. It seems obvious that humans are interfering with our natural rights to have kittens. They don't go around neutering and spaying other humans, do they? They just do it to us cats.
However, I can assure you that it is not too bad - if you discount the horror of the veterinary clinic with its smells and noises. After they did it to me, I thought I should die of shame. But, after a while, I really didn't care. There was something liberating about not having to chase females all the time. I could be friends at last with the other sex. As the feline philosopher SoCATes said,"I have been freed from the embrace of a troublesome god."
Reflecting, as I often do, on the condition of the human race, I wonder why they don't do it themselves. Most of the men would be happier without their intimate bits. They would find a new calmness and serenity. And many of the women would no longer have the anxieties of birth and caring for their little ones.
Besides there is gross human overpopulation. If we could give a new meaning to World Spay Day, so that it applies to humans as well as felines, the world would be a happier place.
PS. This post is late, due to Celia's computer being in hospital with a broken hard drive.

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