Saturday, February 28, 2015

The perils of feline publicity... can I cope with stardom?

Dear George,
I am about to become a celebrity and I am very worried about my public image.  As the hero of Toby the Cross Eyed Stray, a biography of my adventures so far, I am not happy about some of the revelations in the book. At the time it was being written I trusted the writer; now I am feeling very let down, very disappointed, and very betrayed.
She says I am like Bradley Wiggins, the sports star. Fair enough. He's an attractive famous human and a ginger. Then she adds I am more "like a spotty teenager imitating Bradley Wiggins?" Is this fair? No. Can I help having acne under my chin? No.
There are other wounding comments about my liking for kitchen scraps and my ability to seek out food in unlikely places. She calls it cat burglar. I call it foraging.
Can I sue for libel? How can I cope with this unpleasant publicity.  I was thinking of lending my image to cat food companies - now I think this is out of the question. Who wants a cat with acne on their food label? She has contaminated my publicity.
Yours anxiously,
PS. I am possibly going to be in the tabloid press too - Daily Mail. Oh the angst of it all.....

Dear Toby,
Celebrity status, of whatever kind, should be embraced and enjoyed. So called "reality" TV shows with humans have made it clear that imperfections, flaws, even downright wickedness is no bar to making a living out of being famous. All publicity is good publicity.
You don't have to do anything. Just smirk if your photo is being taken. Glory in your "foraging" abilities. This is cat misery memoir.... make it work for you. I have coped with my feline agony aunt publicity by enjoying it.
I will volunteer to be your agent (10% of everything), if the offers come rolling in.
Yours hopefully,

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Puppy alert!....ready for a claw and order programme.

Dear George,

Why humans are so unstable, never happy and always wanting something more or something else? Here is my story; I was rescued many years ago; my human found me hiding in a toolbox (hence my name) - a small, frightened kitten. He took me home and we have never ever been apart since, not even for one day. Even more, recently he went on buying this big house for me (we lived in a small apartment for many years). But, right when I'm about to enjoy my new paradise....I heard him saying that he'll bring home a puppy! I suspected that something might be wrong when he started coming home late and his cloths were smelling very strange. I can smell a rat ...but I can't smell a dog! I don't know what a dog smells like. And, above all, I don't want a puppy! What is a puppy good for? How can I live with a puppy in the house? I'm having a panic attack!

For now I got my "tools" out - as you can see in the picture (attached).

George, what should I do? Shred my human or the puppy?

All confused


Dear Toolbox,
I really feel for you....  Why do humans think things like puppies will make them happy? Why can't they be contented with cats. And why, oh why, don't they get it. We cats are not here to make them happy. They are here to make us happy. Who wants a puppy anyway?
To manage the situation you need to get your human to buy the right kind of puppy - a nice gentle breed like a labrador or spaniel, rather than a terrier or a chasing breed. Then, before the puppy arrives, get a crate. Put nice things in it so it becomes the puppy's den. That is where the puppy can be, while you are in the same room. (Or if your humans can't afford a crate, they must put a house line, a lead, on the puppy whenever it is in the same room as you).
The puppy must never ever ever be allowed to chase you. It it is allowed to do this, it may start seeing you as prey, and your future will be dire. You must be the puppy's master, top alpha cat, totally in charge. You must always be free to come and go, with high up places to get out of its way, and a little tray where you cannot be harassed.  Baby gates on the stairs might be a good idea too.
Yes, get those claws ready for discipline..... and don't let your humans stop you. 
Yours with sympathy

Saturday, February 14, 2015

To Toby ....with love!

Dear George,
I'm quite disturbed by Toby's last week letter and the fact that these young kids, sorry kittens, might get the wrong message! For their sake I want to set the record straight and I need, of course, your help! What was most disturbing about the video Toby posted was the fact that these kids might get the idea that "they have to work" for food which you and I know it's a nonsense! So, I'm going to list some rules that hopefully all kittens will follow. And, you my dear friend are more then welcome to complete my list as you are the Master!
Rule # 1: Never ever sweat the small stuff! You do not need to jump over any bar to get food. It might be fun when you are young and full of energy but think about older cats that might not be able to jump over and over. Then...what? Are they going to starve? No! Here is all you need to do - see my photo # 1 (that's how I ask for food).
Rule # 2: Never show your human you liked the food! Even if you like the food and want more....don't show it. Instead, pretend that you did them a favour by eating some (make sure you leave a bit in your bowl) and then....ignore them, look away (my photo # 2). I can guarantee you they will worry about this; why you didn't finish your dinner? maybe you didn't like it? maybe you want something else? Guaranteed....they will open another can :-)
Rule # 3: Never ever follow or obey to any of their instructions! You can have infinite fun by fooling them giving them the impression that wow! they trained you! The minute they brag about ...act completely dumb! This will confuse them to no end and make them look stupid in their friends' eyes:-)
Rule # 4: Make sure YOU RUN the house! Make sure you got them wrapped around your little paws first.... before following these rules especially if you are a rescue. This way you avoid re-homing!
Now, I would let George to share his wisdom and give the young generation some solid advice!
Happy Valentine's Day to all cats (and their humble humans)
Lovely purrs

Dear Fluffy,
I cannot add to your letter. You have laid it out on the line. I have always said that every kitten should start as they mean to go on - training their humans into willing and eager obedience.
Obviously your method works. Your splendid Rubinesque figure shows that beyond doubt.
I bow to your superior sense.
Yours respectfully

Friday, February 06, 2015

Training your human to give you food - Toby shows how it is done.

Dear George,
I have trained a Japanese vet to give me food, when I jump over an obstacle. Altogether an amazing experience and one that I am very proud of. It took several days because she was so slow.
At first she failed to give me any food at all. But she did pay attention to me, so I knew there were possibilities there. When I saw her fiddling about with something that looked like a very small horse jump, I tried several different behaviours.
  • I walked up to it and paused. No food forthcoming.
  • I went for a little walk No food.
  • I walked round it and looked at her. Still no food.
  • Then inspiration struck. I leaped over it. FOOD!!
She was so excited by this, that she made little beep-beep vocalisations. Rather like Celia does after I taught her to give food when I touched her hand.  These humans! With infinite patience, they can learn quite a few amusing food tricks.

Dear Toby,
Congratulations.  It is so worthwhile to purrsist in training your human to deliver food. You are, of course, right. It takes days of effort because human are really not as bright as cats. We have to keep trying and keep our patience.
Food placed in a bowl, even food left available all the time, or stolen food - these are the agreeable aspects of living with a human. But sophisticats go for something rather more cerebral. They train their humans to deliver food on command.
The command you need is not a vocalisation. It is a piece of cute behaviour. Do it and you will be rewarded. You did it. Well done.

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