Saturday, July 02, 2022

My scratch-post is too small


This is how I like to scratch most of the time -- standing at full length and pulling my spine upwards with my claws before a good downward stroke.. A lovely pilates stretch as well as an important way to leave a scent mark.

What do humans do?

They give us a tiny scratching post that wobbles. We can't get a proper stretch on it. We can't get a strong downward stroke with the claws. It's rubbish.

So what do we do?

We use the furniture, stupid. What else. Sometimes there's a door in soft wood to scratch on, but  usually it has to be the sofa or an armchair. At the back it is high enough to get a good stretch and a firm downward stroke. L-o-v-e-l-y.

Then our humans have the cheek to object.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Why lions can't purr but we can.

 




Lions can't purr.

They can roar because they are big animals with no real enemies except humans. They can make all the noise they like - to see off rivals or attract a mate - without having to worry that a bigger animal will hear them and hunt them.

But they can't purr. 

So we are superior to lions in purring.

We can purr like a contented universe humming to itself. It's a long low sound that mother cats and kittens make together in the safety of the nest, knowing that quiet hum won't arouse any predators. It's the sound of safety, of happiness, and of love in that blissful nest.

Why can't lions purr? It's a bit of a mystery. It's not just size. Cheetahs can purr, for example: so can snow leopards.

It used to be thought this was something to do with small hyoid bone in the throat and whether it was rigid enough to make a roar but too rigid for a purr. Now scientists have started to argue against this, saying it might be something to do with the folds of the vocal tract.

Purrng is still a wonderful mystery. 

We purr without pausing for breath because we purr continuously on the in-breath and on the out-breath. Not many animals can do this. 

Humans can't purr. We are their superior in purring.


Friday, June 17, 2022

How we see the world

What a human sees - sharp and coloured
We see the world as we are, not as the world is. That's because no creature sees the whole world. Each creature, whether animal or human, sees what is important to it.

What a cat sees - less colour slightly blurred
So we don't need to see colour like you humans do. You need to tell if the corn is yellow and therefore ripe. We just need to see if there are any mice moving around among the corn.

The other reason why we don't see colour like you do, is because we are designed to be twilight hunters. Our eyes specialise in low light, where there isn't much colour anyway. They also specialise in motion. If something moves, we notice it. If it stays very very still, like a mouse freezing, it's more difficult for us to see it.

Our vision is a bit narrower and more blurry too. 

Twilight is our world. 

 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

It's the family scent, stupid human!

 


We cats live in a world of scent which you humans can never fully understand. You are nose blind to our smellscape! No wonder we are a bit of a mystery to you.

We can smell home. It smells of every human in the house (each with an individual scent signature), of every other cat or dog in the house, the regular cleaning fluids used, the regular food eaten - and our own scent. 

We apply our body perfume by rubbing against corners, skirting boards, human legs, other cats or dogs, and furniture. That mixture is important. It makes up the family scent and reassures us that we are in a safe place, our core home.

So when you humans ruin it, no wonder we get stressed. Strangers coming into the house to service the boiler: new cats plonked inside the home: new smells you bring home after being in hospital (yukk smells like vet surgery!), spring cleaning (oh no!), or a new boyfriend/girlfriend with a strong perfume habit, or you add a floral plug in (purrlease....).

It smells wrong. The mixture is wrong, wrong, wrong.... to sensitive cat. 

Try not to disrupt our important family scent mixture. It's our home, stupid.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

Sensitive ears in the shelter


 We cats can hear far more and far better than humans. We can hear the tiny ultrasonic squeak of a mouse behind the skirting boards. We can hear the ultrasonic whirring noises of machine, which you humans cannot hear at all. Yet for us it is screaming in our ears.

So no wonder we don't like it, if the litter tray is placed near the washing machine in the utility room. Would you like to have to sit on the lavatory right by the noise of men drilling through the tarmac? That's what the machine sounds like to us!

We learn to ignore the TV noises most of the time - even though they are far louder in our ears than in yours. We can hear the  faint scrabble of a rat or the tiny hum of a very small grasshopper. They are clear as a church bell to us.

When we are put into a cat shelter, one of the awful stresses are the noises. We can sometimes hear the barking of frightening dogs in the kennels nearby. We hear the clash of the food bowls being washed and the noise of the grass outside being mown -- and we can't get away from the din.

We nervous cats suffer most. Please put us as far away as possible from noisy machinery or the rattle of food dishes. Cats in pens need as much silence as they can get!

 


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Kittens need human love - a pen is not enough.



Kittens need loving and gentle human contact otherwise it will not grow up to be a happy pet from the age of two to eight weeks. Yet many humans do not realise this.
They rescue a mum and kittens, then keep them in a pen where they get only a moderate amount of human contact usually when the pen is being cleaned or food is being supplied.
That's not enough.
They rescue us - and think that just giving food and shelter is adequate. It's not. Without loving human contact we will grow up to be nervous adults. Kittens need human love and handling, and they need it at the right age.
Educate the cat rescuers to socialise kittens properly!

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Humans feed us in the wrong wayl

 

 
Boomer has to search for his food - and it's fun

  • Humans give us food in a bowl. It's boring. Why don't they give us fun hunting out food hidden round the house?
  • Humans sometimes make us share a single food bowl with another cat. It's stressful. We cats prefer to eat alone.
  • Humans think it is cute if we have to eat our food in a line of bowls close to each other. It's unnatural for us and stressful. 
  • Humans often feed us twice a day with large portions. That's unnatural for us too. We would like 5-20 little nibbles a day.
  • Humans think fat cats are funny. We suffer from arthritis and diabetes if we get too fat. 
Humans should wise up about what cats want.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Why don't I show when I am in pain?

Elderly Sam

Humans are not good at recognizing when I am in physical pain, let alone emotional pain. I do not whimper or whine like a dog. I might shriek from sudden fear, but most of the time I endure pain silently and stoically. 

If I have arthritis and moving is painful, I just spend more time in my bed. I usually don't limp or show that I am stiff. I may also bite you when you pick me up, if it hurts. 

Why do I behave like this?

I am a small animal with big enemies like dogs, coyotes and wolves. These predators are always on the lookout for an easy meal, so they will single out any cat that looks as if it is sick and will not be able to run away or fight back. Therefore evolution has programmed me not to show pain.

I get scruffy because I can't turn round to groom myself properly. I may lose weight because my teeth are bad. But my carers often say "It's just old age."

Please don't do this. I need painkillers from a vet.


Friday, May 06, 2022

Do they know I'm stressed?

STRESSED


 

 If I'm stressed  but my human doesn't seem to care maybe she just doesn't recognise what I am feeling. This is the dilemma us cats face. Humans cannot recognise the signs of feline stress.

Take our body position. If we are stressed we are likely to be hunched up, paws under the body ready for flight, the body stiff and tense. Our pupils will be enlarged. Our ears may be lowered out of fear, or lowered and swivelled back because we are both fearful and frustrated. We may blink rapidly.

RELAXED
If we are relaxed, our bodies will be spread out, our bellies may be visible, and our legs and paws are stretched out too. Our ears are usually forward, eyes almond shaped. If we see our human, we give a slow blink. We may purr at a familiar human.

But how many humans can read us properly? Their ignorance is at its worst if we are in a rescue shelter. They may not realise how unhappy we are.....


 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Are you worse off after rescue?



If you are a feral cat or a street cat, cat lovers will want to rescue you, to keep you safe and happy. But are they always doing the right thing? 

Life on the streets is a natural life for cats that have always lived on the street, even if it is dangerous. Life in a cat pen is like solitary confinement. Even life in a "sanctuary" is a diminished life - rather like a human life in an old people's home rather than their own home.

Unowned cats will be happier if they are trapped, neutered and then returned to their own territory - with a regular feeder if possible. After neutering they are protected from male fights and endless kitten bearing - and they still have the rich and interesting life they enjoyed before being trapped.

No cat should be worse off after human intervention. Get your human to read about unowned cats....


Saturday, April 16, 2022

I know your name, human!

 

We aren't dumb, you know. I can recognise my own name when my human calls me. And, it seems, some of us can match a name of a fellow cat to their photo, even match the name of a human to a photo.

If we can be bothered, that is.

Japanese researchers named a fellow resident cat, and then showed us either the right photo or the wrong photo of that cat. We spent more time looking, if it was the wrong photo because that was unexpected. They did the same with a photo of our owner.

O, these human obsessives....  I notice that one of the cats refused to take part in this waste-of-my-time behaviour by the researchers! He had better things to do - like a nap or a bowl refill.

I think I would have had better things to do. I know I am purrfectly intelligent. I don't need to take part in clumsy human experiments to show off.

I purr, therefore I am.

 

 

Saturday, April 09, 2022

What's the meaning of a chin rub?


 My humans are not always happy when I go round the living room, rubbing my chin against the door frame, the chair leg and various other places. I also rub against any new item placed in the room.

What they dislike - if they notice it - is a tiny smear in the places which I have rubbed repeatedly. Sometimes they clear it up using water and soap. 

That absolutely ruins all my hard work. And it's very stressful for me.

I am rubbing my cheek against the furniture and walls in order to mark this place as my safe home. It's important to me that I do this. It's like a post-it note to myself, reassuring me that all is well and I can relax.

Each time some interfering human wipes it off, I have to put it back on. And I have to keep it topped up with frequent cheek rubs, so that the whole place smells RIGHT to me.

Take your horrible human hands off my skirting boards!


Saturday, April 02, 2022

How water should I drink?


How much should I drink? Well it's complicated but it's been estimated I need 50-60 ml of water for each kilogram of body weight. And while dogs are always filling up with water, I don't always drink as much as I need.

Obviously if I am fed wet food I will need less water than if I am fed dried food. Tap water is just as acceptable as filtered water - and rain water outside may be preferred anyway. It all depends on my personal preferences.

The bowl makes a difference too. I prefer to drink from a bowl that is NOT next to my food bowl. I am not a human being drinking as I eat. I drink separately.

Best of all would be a choice. A bowl in the kitchen, perhaps and one in the  bedroom for a night time sip. And, for cats allowed out into the garden, a bowl of rainwater would be lovely.

Cheers. Help me drink more.


Saturday, March 26, 2022

A cat's guide to human separation

 

This is the right kind of cat loving partner - blanked for privacy
Humans pride themselves on being sexually more continent than cats - but the briefest look at human sex shows that this is far from true. They get together but when they separate there is caterwauling, ill feeling and a lot of resentment.


For us cats it is much simpler. We get in the mood, we go out and find others, and we get it all over with lots of caterwauling, lots of partners, and lots of sex. Then we come home and wait for kittens. We do not worry about what happened on the roof that night.

Separation is not always bad for cats. When one human leaves, there is more room on the bed for us. There is usually more human attention, even if the tears and would-be hugs (which most of us hate) are an embarrassment.

Sometimes we need to rehome a new partner that is ruining our lives. Of course we can put up with less space on the bed, and we can put up with more interruption from the two humans. But occasionally there is a partner that does not like cats.

These are people, usually male humans, that keep us out of the bedroom. The cheek of it. I don't mind sharing my bed with a human but being pushed off it altogether is too much. 

How to deal with this? Show very obvious terror every time the bloke is around. Mew piteously and give that helpless look to the female. Shiver - yes, I know that cats don't shiver from fear but most humans don't realise that. 

If she loves you enough, she will get the message and rehome him. If she doesn't start visiting neighbours to see if you can rehome yourself.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Cats are taking over....

 


We have always been in children's books but now we are slinking our way into adult literature. As detectives.The latest detector cat is Yowl, hero of TAILs: The Animal Investigators of London. You will notice that Yowl is out front on the cover, though he has a little help from the other animals.

Another small step for Yowl but a giant leap for catkind.  We've more or less conquered the internet: now it is time to conquer in print.

We are well suited for detection. I can hear the tiniest ultrasonic squeak from behind the skirting board - humans cannot. I can also detect a small insect moving across the floor that evades the attention of the human eye.

I can smell who was last inside or on top of the bed - whether iindividual cat or individual human. I can see in the dark. And, most of all, I notice what humans don't.

More detector cats, purrlease.




Friday, March 11, 2022

Tips for sleeping on the bed.


 Why sleep on the bed, when your human takes up so much room? 

There are three reasons  
  • The bed is large enough for both of you - just. 
  • Although they take up a lot of room, humans give out a lot of heat during the night. They make a good hot water bottle. 
  • It reminds them that we can sleep anywhere we choose and they will just have to get used to it.

And how do you manage that great lump of humanity during the night?

Here are my tips for a good night's sleep. 

  • Start modestly. Put yourself in a position where the human thinks there is enough room..... 
  • Only when they are asleep, move into the most comfortable position. 
  • Edge them slowly out of the way. Slow and steady is the correct way to do it and if you do it this way it is remarkable what you can achieve.
  • Resist the temptation to throw them off the bed completely. They will wake up and might take action against you. Keep them from falling off  - just. 
Be aware that the deluded fools think it is their bed.

Saturday, March 05, 2022

Stressed mother, stressed kittens


Why do some of us grow up more nervous than others? It is just that we haven't had enough human contact in our kittenhood? 

There are there are other reasons. It may be the fault of our parents. A nervous feline Dad sires kittens with a nervous temperament and, though a proper kitten upbringing with loads of gentle socialisation by humans can make a difference, it will not change that basic temperament.

It may be Mummy's fault. Studies of other animals like guinea pigs and rats have shown that if the mother is stressed, the stress hormones in her blood will be passed to the babies she is carrying. This will affect their brains, so that they too grow up to be prone to stress.

This is Nature's way of ensuring that as a kitten we are ready to face the worrying world ahead of us. A nervous kitten may better placed to cope with a dangerous world and less likely to take over-confident risks.

What should humans learn from this? Kittens in rescue, that come from mothers in the wild, should have extra and very gentle handling by expert humans. Adopters should be told about our temperament. Help give us what we need to fit us for a human home.



Saturday, February 26, 2022

Why I peed on the sofa


Human beings are so dumb. My human shrieked saying: "How could he have done this to me. He must hate me after I shut him out of the kitchen."

She couldn't be more wrong.

There are a couple of reasons why I might have peed on the sofa.

  • I might be suffering from cystitis. It makes you want to pee urgently and immediately.
  • I might be anxious about the cat next door - the sofa is just underneath the window and he leaped on to the window sill and peered in. He has been peering in through the French windows too and I don't like it.

The idiot woman hadn't checked whether I was leaving little drops of urine in the litter tray instead of a good sized proper elimination. If so, I need a vet visit. Cystitis can be exacerbated by general stress.

That cat next door really winds me up. I am scared stiff of him and when he peers in the windows, I feel a lot of social anxiety. So I comforted myself by spraying a little bit of urine there on the sofa below the window mixing my smell with her smell where she sits.  That's what I do when I feel my safe home might be intruded into by other cats. It makes me feel better.

My behaviour was nothing to do with her shutting me out of the kitchen or any hate I felt towards her. Honestly, I don't know why she took it personally. And I wish she wouldn't.

She needs help - from a vet or a good cat behaviour counsellor. 

 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Life before birth for a kitten

 

We all depend on our mothers, when we are young, whether we are kittens or human babies. She influences us by her mothering after birth but she also influences us before birth.

Feline mothers that are half starved produce small, sometimes slow developer kittens - that isn't unknown. But what you may not know is that our feline mother's eating habits can influence us as kittens in her womb. If she eats a cheese-flavoured diet, as in one study, we will prefer cheese flavoured food when we start eating solid food.


There are other sadder influences too. A highly stressed mother produces highly kittens that will grow up with the same stressy attitude to life. The stress hormones in her maternal blood will be passed on to the kittens in her womb and influence their prenatal brain development.

In a way it's nature's method of preparing us kittens for life ahead. If our mother cat lives in a world where there are many dangers, we need to be prepared for the same world. If a pregnant cat eats a particular diet, then this diet will be around for her kittens to eat safely too. 

And there is also the influence of genetics. If we have a fearful father cat we kittens will have a fearful temperament - even though most tom cats have nothing to do with us kittens. So it must be in the genes.

"They f... you up, your Mum and Dad," wrote a human poet. The same can hold true for kittens....

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Give me a kitten before 7 weeks....


Give me a kitten before the age of seven weeks, and I will show you the adult cat. This is adapted from the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, who said  - "Give me a child before the age of seven and I will show you the man."

It's true. What happens to a kitten before the age of about eight weeks, defines much of its future life. 

  • If it grows up in the wild for the first two months of its life, without any human contact, it will become a wild animal rather than a pet.
  •  If it grows up as a single bottle-fed kitten for the first two months of its life, it may be socially awkward around other cats in later life.
  • If it is born to and brought up with a highly stressed mother cat, it is likely to grow up to become a stressed cat.
  • If it grows up with a good mother cat, lots of play with its siblings and lots of gentle interaction with humans (and maybe a friendly family dog) it will become a confident and loving pet.

Yes, feral kittens can be rehabilitated in the next three months of their lives so that they are suitable as pets. But they need careful and intensive rehabilitation. Yes, feral cats can be tamed - over a number of years.

But kittens should be born into a home, not a pen, wherever possible. Or fostered in a home as soon as possible.

Cat rescuers take note....

Saturday, January 29, 2022

At last.... the new First Cat


 
At last there is feline representation in the White House. The new First Cat has arrived - and she looks rather like me. Maybe my continuous blogging has an influence that I never realised. Maybe Dr Jill Biden is a fan. Well, a cat's gotta dream

This is Willow. She is a farm cat, not a posh pedigree - though she has my pedigree looks, I think. So she can help spread the message - Adopt Don't Buy.

She chose her new owner.  “Willow made quite an impression on Dr. Biden in 2020 when she jumped up on the stage and interrupted her remarks during a campaign stop,” said Michael LaRosa, the first lady’s spokesman to The New York Times.

“Seeing their immediate bond, the owner of the farm knew that Willow belonged with Dr. Biden.” It's taken a bit of time for Willow to arrive, because Major, the second First Dog, now retired after biting staff, wasn't a good companion for any cat.

The new First Dog, a puppy called Commander, will be OK.  Or so we all hope... If not, he will have to go.

Felines of the world, rejoice. The White House now has a new administrator.

 


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Purrlease do not clean away my marks


 Rubbing the scent of my face is how I make myself feel secure and comfortable. I spread my scent to remind that I am safe and that this is my home.

That is why you will see cats in rescue pens rubbing their face against the pen. Without their own scent there, they will feel they are in a frightening place. 

In a house, I make a home scent profile. I rub against my human (and against the family dog if I get on with him) and put my scent on them. At the same time I pick up their scent on me.

So when I rub against the doorpost I am anointing it with my own scent and their scent. Like humans decorate a house with wallpaper to make them feel happy, I decorate the house with the home scent to make me feel happy.

If you clean it all off, I am disturbed and I have to start scent marking all over again.

If I feel really really frightened, then I might have to scent mark with urine. 

You have been warned. Do not clean up my facial scent marks.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Why I bit you.....

Dear Human, 

Yes, I normally like being stroked by you. Indeed, I choose to sleep on your lap sometimes. But yesterday I bit you. Want to know why? There are several possible reasons. 

  •  I bit you, because I am frightened of you.
  • I bit you because you went on petting me too long. I mean I like to be petted and stroked for a few minutes but not seemed like hours. So I gave you a little warning.
  • I bit you because you touched my tummy. You know I don't like my tummy being touched.
  • I bit you because you touched my shoulder, where there is a hidden abcess that HURTS. Do something.
  • I bit you, because you interfered with a cat fight. That was not a good idea.
  • I bit you because I was furious with the neighbour cat that I could see out of the window, and then you picked me up from the window sill. So I bit you instead of that cat.
  • I bit you because I am in pain. I am old, cranky and got awful arthritis. No it is not just old age. I need painkillers.
  • I bit you because I want to hunt mice and you are the next best thing. I was hunting you and it was good fun. For me.
  • I gave you just a teeny weeny nip to remind you that it is time I was fed. See to it.

Sunday, January 09, 2022

What's in a roll....

This is the affectionate roll for a human

Human beings are illiterate. They read body language so badly that they do not realise the many meanings of the feline roll. They call it the "social roll", but it can be unsocial and even threatening.

OK, so sometimes I roll in order to greet my human. It doesn't mean I want a belly rub but it is a way of showing some affection. I guess that is the social roll.

Being friendly to another cat.
Sometimes I roll in front of another cat to show that I am trying to be friendly. Maybe that is the social roll too.

And sometimes I roll for fun during a play fight. I guess that is being social

The defensive roll ready to attack
But sometimes I roll in order to defend myself against another aggressive cat. It means I have all four paws, each with four dagger sharp claws, ready to rip out bits of his fur.  That is hardly being social in a kind sense.

And sometimes I roll around when I am playing with a dead mouse or a toy. That isn't social at all.

Playing with a mouse

So, humans, somehow you have got to factor in all these complications and not make easy (and false) categorisations.

As I said, humans are illiterate in body language.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

Mew Year resolution - save a difficult cat

Brody: www.sunshinecatrescue.org.uk

Now is the time when we cats make resolutions for our humans. Purrlease do something..... and this year I want to ask humans to adopt difficult cats.

Brody is one of the cats waiting for a home who may have to wait a long time. He is a hands-off cat, because he both bites and scratches humans who get too close.

Quite a few cats will let a human pet them for a few seconds, then scratch. But Brody has decided to get in early and do it before he is touched. 

He has been in a home and enjoyed the warmth and comfort, though not the human contact. So it seems a bit hard to just give him a home in a barn or stables even with regular meals.

Yet he cannot go into a home with young children or with any adults that are elderly, ill or have immunity issues. His biting and scratching might mean that they become seriously hurt.

Keep safe at Christmas


Humans go mad at Christmas. We cats know this only too well. They fill the house with strange relatives (bad), put up a pine tree in the living room (good and bad), cook and serve a lot of food (good), make weird singing noises called carols, and get drunk on alcohol, their equivalent of catnip.

What does this mean for us cats?

  • Relatives... they take up space in the spare room where we usually sleep. Some of them bring horrible dogs with them. They bring strange smells with them. Some of them bring young human kittens that try to cuddle us. Uggh.
  • Christmas tree. It's fun to play with the glittery things dangling from the Christmas tree. It's fun to climb up it. But sometimes the tree comes with the smell of dog pee. It's been sitting outside on the pavement and a passing dog has urinated on it. What can we do with the upsetting smell? Spray on it, of course. And the pine needles can get in our feet and be very painful.
  • Food. Turkey is good - but beware the bones which can stick in your gut. The gravy may have onions in it - another danger to our digestion. Christmas pudding may also be poisonous but some of us eat it anyway. Cake with all those raisins in it is also bad for us.
  • Carols - just like caterwauling.
  • Alcohol. Don't be tempted. What makes a human silly can be a fatal overdose for a cat.

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, www.celiahaddon.com This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online VetTechprogramms.org