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Showing posts with label tail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tail. Show all posts

Saturday, July 07, 2018

The tail... what does it mean/ Can humans read it?

Dear George, 
I need your help in finding a common language with my human.
She is pretty smart and she did learn fast cat language but, for whatever reason she is quite stubborn when comes to “tail language”.  She doesn’t understand that we are way more sophisticated than dogs and we also “communicate” with our eyes, face, tail, body, etc. She takes the simplistic approach just like a dog!
At times she makes me think I’m training a dog not a human! I’m sure you’ll agree with me that cat tail wagging can mean so many different things! For example: when she calls me, unlike a dog who would be happy to come when called, I like to take my time and analyze “the call” – is it worth my time getting up? Is it about food? Or she just wants company? But, she doesn’t understand that because she doesn’t speak cat tail language!
So, she comes running throughout the house looking for me everywhere and disturbing my quietude! 
George, can you help?

Dear Katho,
Humans don't understand tails at all. Why should they? They don't even have one, poor mutilated things. So reading a tail, by which we can express so much, is beyond most of them.
Tail language, of course, is obvious to us. There is TAIL UP, a sign that we like the person we are approaching. We're flagging it up, as we walk towards them, as a sign of greeting and liking. 
Then there is BUSHY TAIL. That's just the opposite. Our hair is literally standing up with rage.  At about the same time, our tails are usually going up, then sort of drooping down to cover our backside if we get in a fight.
There's LASHING TAIL.  This is clear too. It says, "I do not like this. Stop it. Or I may bite you." LASHING TAIL is also part of our hunting procedure. We stop, eye the mouse, stalk and then lash the tail as a kind of balancing movement before the pounce.
What else? Well there is just TAIL MIDMAST.  That's the relaxed tail just hanging out more or less in line with our bodies, when we are just relaxed about about life in general.
But how are you going to get this across to her? Most humans can't red their at all. Write to me again if you have found a way.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Cats can talk.... but I don't bother.

Dear George,
Do you bother to speak with your human? I don't. I communicate in the proper feline way - rubbing, up-tail greeting, belly flop and body postures.
But I don't miaow...
It isn't really natural for me to make that particular noise. I mean, other than Siamese breeds, we don't do a lot of noisy talk between ourselves when we are adults. We are silent most of the time.
Humans yatter to us all the time - blah, blah, blah. I have wondered if they actually have some kind of language or whether these are just meaningless noises to get our attention. 
What's your view on this?
Silent Sid.

Dear Sid,
I strongly believe that there is some kind of language used by humans in their noisy vocalisations. They must mean something, otherwise they wouldn't go on so much. But feline research, even by experts like me, has so far drawn a blank. 
They can't use body language properly. They have no tails or movable whiskers, for one thing. They are nose blind, so they cannot use scent. Therefore it makes sense that they vocalise instead. I have noticed that my human pet, Celia, responds quite well if I miaow. So I use it to get her attention when I want feeding. Might be worth your while to try it. 
Or perhaps you have trained her silently so long that it's not worth the effort.
PS. Celia did a video on this which can be seen here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I'm handsome and affectionate - so why can't I find a home?

Dear George,
My name is Chilli - but I am gentle not peppery. I'm loving. I'm handsome with wonderful white whiskers but here I am stuck in a cattery without a human pet. 
Can you give me any advice on how to get out of here.  And how to purrsuade a human to be adopted.
I want to get back into the real world again.

Dear Chilli,
The first step is to get noticed. As people pass your pen, you must make them stop to take a look at you. This requires you either to walk to the front of the pen and miaow. Or  if you are sitting on a ledge nearer human eyesight (which is uncomfortably high) as well as the miaow you must do something unusual. Sitting back on your haunches might work. Or better still standing up on your hind legs.  Putting a paw to your eye, as if wiping off a tear, might also work.
Once you get their attention, you can begin purr very loudly indeed. You already have your tail in the correct tail-up position - the position which tells them that you like them. If you are near the wire of the pen, go right up to it and rub. 
If possible roll over and expose your tummy to them, always giving them eye contact at the same time. 
Miaow some more. And some more. In between the purring. Humans do a lot of vocalisation so this is likely to appeal to them.
Yours cheerfully

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Crochet versus knitting... knit your own human!

Dear George,
I'm a young kitty rescued by my "mommy" which I love very, very much (as you can see in the pic attached)
We do lots of things together like cuddling, purring, playing, sleeping, eating!
Lately she is insisting in teaching me how to crochet! By the way....she does crochet a lot!
Well, I'm a bit worried now as this age-old hobby, relevant even today as you can see, makes a comeback
with pre-teens, teens, grandmas and everyone in between (where my mommy will fit).
Why am I worried? Because I love to knit and I think knitting is what we should do together. Plus, as you may know crochet is using a single curved hook (my claws fit the description perfectly)
but, in knitting we use knitting needles (not harmful).
I don't think she realizes that if I start crocheting....I'll shred everything to pieces.
George, how can I make her change her hobby and switch to knitting?
Knitting comes so naturally to us, the cats!
By the way, why do you think we are knitting and love it so much?
Maybe if you'll explain ...she'll change her hobby
With knitting purrs

Dear Sophie,
Do your claws get stuck in the crocheting? I guess they might do. Sounds a bit tricky for a cat. If you show her how they get stuck, perhaps she will change her habits. Knitting would be safer - and there are those nice balls of wool to play with too.
If you do start knitting, would you knit me a nice human to play with? I'd like one small enough to bat about and perhaps with some catnip inside. It must be female, of course, and it would be lovely if it looked like Celia - mature (!), wearing trousers not a skirt, and with knobbly knees! Pink face and yellow hair on the head.
AND.... I know this is controversial but I would like you to add a tail.   I feel pity for them as they are disabled without a tail. So I would be grateful if you could add a tail to my toy Celia.
Yours in grateful anticipation,
PS. Have you seen this book?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Individuality, fat cats and judgemental humans

Hello George
I’m Rakishi (photo attached), a woolly black cat with a famously large tail. ( My male human says my father must have been a squirrel – that’s his idea of a joke).
I used to hang out with my friend Woody. We’d potter about the garden and sometimes have a nice lie-down near each other in the flowerbed outside my humans’ flat. I was sorry when he died. My humans said it was because he was so fat. He was only 10 kg.
I turned my attention to his flatmate Squawk, hoping he would be my pal instead. But I didn’t realise he’s a really awkward customer. No matter how hard I try he just won’t socialise with me, and sometimes he’s quite aggressive. When he’s angry and does his slow motion avoidance walk, I wait a minute and then go after him. I don’t like to give up, you see.
My humans are a cynical pair, and say he’s trying to take over my territory as he did with Woody’s, and that I don’t know the meaning of rejection (which is gobbledegook to me). They say that normal cats mostly keep themselves to themselves.

George, do you think I’m odd?
Happy mousing,

Dear Rakishi,
I don't think you are odd. I just think you are you. We cats are all raging individuals. We have different personalities (even human scientists, poor limited souls, admit that). Much of what we do in later life is affected by what happened in our kittenhoods. (If Freud had only studied cats and been less obsessed with sex, he might have had better insight into humans.)
Yes, cats can be very solitary by nature. Some really are the cats that walk by themselves. Others are quite sociable, particularly if they grew up in a home with lots of other cats.
I am a natural loner but my companion cat, William, now alas passed away, liked other cats. He would hang out with next door's Siamese, Miss Ruby Fou. She was probably attracted by his beautiful long hair and elegant tabby and white colouring.
Squawk seems to be one of those natural loners. He may even be aggressive about his territory so I advise you to give him a wide birth. Even your elegant bushy tail may not be enough to make him change his mind. As I said, some cats are just like that and nothing much will change them.
You will have to make do with socialising with your humans. I admit that this isn't as good as the company of other cats. The poor dumb creatures have no idea of how to behave in a proper feline manner. I noticed in a photo that Celia showed me that it looked as if your female human had been influenced by your hair style - hers looked dark and sleek too. The male, alas, hasn't got enough hair to keep up with you.
But they do value you, Rakishi. They do. Put up with their faults and defects.
Remember that kindness to humans pays off, usually with a bigger helping of cat food.
Happy mousing indeed.

PS. Your humans seem rather judgemental about fat cats.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tale of a tail

My tail is particularly beautiful. It is a 37 centimeters long - black all the way down without any vulgar white tip to it, sleek and shining. You can learn a lot from my tail. My main way of greeting Celia from afar - sort of "Hello there" - is to put my tail upright with the tip turned over and towards my head. Human beings with cats usually recognise this signal and some scientist theorize that we cats developed it specially to communicate with them. The idea is that the poor saps couldn't read feline body language easily. So when Felis silvestris Lybica, the African wild cat, decided to domesticate them, my ancestor concluded he needed a better way of saying hello. So he ran up the tail flag, so to speak. Even a really stupid human notices this as a cat steps towards him. I use Tail Up a lot as I like most human beings and most of them, naturally, are impressed and delighted when they see 37 centimetres of tail, with a neat little twist forward, coming towards them. They see it before they see my black whiskers and dazzling golden-green eyes.
Celia, as a good servant should be, pays a lot of attention to my tail. If it starts to lash, she keeps her distance knowing that a disciplinary claw may be next. She also notices it when I am going to pounce on William like a mouse - something he does not appreciate. So she will call out to him to get his attention so that he can lie on his side and protect himself with the lie-on-side claws at the ready posture. Lying down isn't submission. It just clears all four paws for action in this case.
William's tail is much fluffier than mine and some people might think it is prettier. But mine is much longer and snakier.
Tail up!

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