Sunday, 30 December 2007

30th December – Accidents happen: Part 2

Apparently damaging part of the tail or limb in this fashion is a rather common accident for many cats and dogs, but unfortunately for Ripley because of the nature of the accident and the severe way the tail was injured an inch and a half of the tail had to be amputated. To perform that simple operation the vet said that he would had to use anaesthetic for the operation, and due to the fact that Ripley is one of those cats that it is almost impossible to give medication in the form of pills he had to give her instead a two's week injection to avoid infection, and of course she will had to have stitches (which they would have to come off in 2 weeks time which of course this will also mean another visit to the vet for the removal but at least this could be done in our local vet, which is only a couple doors away but opens at strange hours and for a very limited period only on week days) and finally and worst of all she would also have to wear an Elizabethan collar for a week.
Unfortunately when such accidents happen (because your partner was careless and didn't check whether there was a cat near by when he tried to close the bath door despite regular warnings about and particular Ripley's habit of following any human when going to the bathroom) the result is discomfort and pain for the cat or human who has the accident but also stress for everybody who lives in the same house (cats and humans), but at least after the wound has being treated, you then know that there is no immediate danger for the health of the cat anymore and you can relax a bit. At least now you know for certain what kind of injury your pet has suffered and what you need to do and how long it will take for your pet to fully recover. Losing a bit of a tail it is quite bad but at least it was only a small part which hopefully will not make a lot of difference to her behaviour. And of course it is also that kind of relief then that also helps us recover pretty quickly from the shock of the bill that the nurse presents you with. A bill of £150 for cutting a bit and shaving a lot of the tail and for a stupid and uncomfortable collar which could have probably made it yourself pretty easily and even made it to look a bit more comfortable and better looking than it is but then again at least your cat is insured and hopefully you'll get some of that money back. The important thing is that your cat has being treated and the injury wasn't that bad as you thought it was or was it?
So after a couple of hours of worrying while the operation is being taking place after all they are cutting off part of your cat's body and she is under anaesthetic, which can be dangerous in some cases, your vet tells you that everything is fine and your cat is ready to be taken back home. She looks a bit dopey but of course this is an expected effect of the medication.
So the journey back is not that bad either as the cat is still asleep and she hasn't realised yet that she is wearing a stupid and uncomfortable collar or that she is missing part of her tail while the rest is being shaved and stitches are hanging where the end of the tail used to be.
Finally you arrive home, you get her out of the basket and you then sign with relief. 'The worst is 'over', you think.
But of course you seem to have forgotten in the mist of worrying and stressing about the other cats who are waiting rather perplexed and a bit freaked out at home that the new appearance of till now familiar and friendly cat, the new smells that she brings with her of medication and strange place and people and of course the missing part of the tail with the stitches, the shaved rest and of course that funny looking and probably smelling collar will definitely freak them out and make them worry of Ripley and at first of you too. So to add to your already built up stress you have also to deal with Ripley's reactions when she finally realises that something is missing, something is different and something has being added to her neck and head.... So the first reaction as it was expected was that of panic when she got of the basket and struggled to stand to her own feet and then she attempted to free herself of what it looked and probably felt like a very uncomfortable neck wear...
Of course it is expected to take some time to get used wearing that horrible collar, to avoid pumping into things and miscalculating distances and spaces where her head now can fit in and of course to eat, drink, move, sleep, use the tray, etc while at the same time I will try to help her adjust with providing wider bowls for feeding and drinking and give her more attention and help her scratch in places where she can't reach any more while at the same time I need to try to help the other two cats realise that she is still the same cat they knew before the vet visit. It is going to be a very stressful week for humans and pets, but at least for now the stress of the day and the effect of the anaesthetic which hasn't worn off yet have helped her to finally go to sleep in her familiar, favourite spot which gives everybody else a feel for normality for a while at least.
(to be continued...)

Saturday, 29 December 2007

29th December - Accidents do happen!!

No matter how much doted and careful cat carers might be by keeping for example our cats your cats indoors to keep them safe and healthy and to avoid serious accidents and illnesses that they can be caused when venturing outside from other pets, humans, cars and wild animals, still not always, seem to be able from preventing some accidents from happening. You might keep your wires hidden, having in the house only cat friendly plants, keep away or locked poisoned substances but even so you can't always avoid some accidents from happening, stupid accidents, like having for example the tip of the cat's tail being caught by the door because you didn't see the cat before you've tried to close the door.
The worst case scenario is when such an accident does occur then you don't seem to really know how bad your cat might have being injured until the moment when you've seen the amount of fur that has come off from the tail or the state of the tip of the tail when you have finally managed to coax your cat to come out from hiding since she has freaked out and she is now terrified of you. Unfortunately cats are very good in hiding till at same cases is really late, any form of pain and physical discomfort that they might be feeling so in some cases you can't tell how much they have being injured or how serious that injury might be and of course vet's emergency calling numbers are not that useful in many cases with their conflicted diagnosis and advice. 'Yes you should put some form of natural antiseptic cream on it and the cat would be fine', or 'Do not put anything, just let her be as the stress will make the bleeding worse, the bleeding will stop eventually'. So you are usually left confused, feeling really guilty because your cat got injured mainly because you were careless and decided to close the bathroom door, while you've already known that cats don't like closed doors and you will always find one where there was a shut door...and worried that your cat is seriously injured and you are not doing anything to actually help her.
So first thing in the morning you ask a closed relative who has a car (and who, poor soul, was working night shift) to take you to the near town before 9 o' clock in the morning as it is Saturday and the vet's only opens between 9 and 10 for emergencies on Saturdays. So you get up early in the morning after you've have spent the entire previous night checking on the cat every half an hour because the tail looked bad and the bleeding didn't really stop and you dig out the cat basket and then you will spend the next hour or so trying to put her in the basket without further stressing her and make the bleeding worse. Of course it doesn't help with the situation the fact that the injured cat is the most timid of the three who doesn't like going outside or even sniffing the air outside when the window is open for that matter, or she likes people and other pets in general. So after an hour of trying to catch her and get her into the basket without causing her too much stress and provoking defensive attacks from the cat and obtaining yourself unnecessary scratches and bites she is finally inside and ready to go to the vet. Of course by now you are worrying sick because she looks that she is in distress as well as in pain, while at the same time you are in pain yourself as well as your hands are now covered in scratches and bites and have turned a red colour, but at least she is in her basket.
At least the journey to the vet's is not that stressful and the cat seems quite relaxed and not as stressed as you thought she will be (of course natural remedies and Feliway have helped too) and even the waiting in the vet's is not as bad despite the consider number of dogs and cats in the waiting room.
Finally you see the vet and the diagnosis is not that good... (to be continued).

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

December 12th – Cat Carers mistakes

It is true that the behaviour of a cat would be at least 50 per cent down to the influences of the environment she grew up and the one she now lives in. A timid born cat if she is living among other pets and people she will eventually become a lot more confident than she would have been if she was living on her own with only one human carer. The same applies to cats that they might have shown traits of exploratory behaviour and were also shown to be in general rather extrovert and although in their home environment they might appear to be brave, curious and in some cases a bit of a bully when strangers are visiting their house or when for an example an opportunity appears for them to explore unfamiliar territory they will quite possibly show an unexpected timid behaviour and they will more likely go into hiding or they will simply refuse to explore. These are behaviours which the cats have learned under their current living environment. But of course these types of cats that they have already the traits of being rather fearless are much easier to train to overcome their fears than cats who are timid by nature as they are going to be rather conscious when it comes to any kind of changes.
Of course fear and weariness of anything new and unfamiliar it is a natural trait for predators small as the cats and vulnerable to other larger and more dangerous ones, a trait which they need if they are to survive. This is why quite often cats that they are rather scared of people and other pets and who spend considerable time outside tend to survive longer than the ones that they are very friendly and trustworthy. In which cases it might be better if the cat is going to spend time outdoors then not to be trained to lose all her fears if possible. A bit of aggression and defensiveness might be required for survival.
As cats are generally weary of changes and other pets invading their territory it isn't also unusual to have regular confrontations with the new member cat and often to take a long time for one cat to get used to another. Cases of cats that they finally learn to tolerate the presences of other cats vary from one month to two years plus. Cats that they grew up in an environment in which only humans were around find it really hard to accept another pet in their territory as quite often have a difficulty to understand the other pet's body language. So while the other cat might be inviting the older cat to play, the older cat then wouldn't find really difficult to understand the younger's cat body language and as a result she will more likely interpret it as an imminent threat and she will then try to defence herself. Those cats that they have not grown up among other cats are more likely to understand better humans' body postures and even human voice tones than other cats. So this is why introductions and acceptances in such cases take a long time, the cat needs not only to protect her territory from a new unknown cat but also to make sense and communicate with that cat, she has to learn more or less a new body language.
Unfortunately in many cases humans seem to run out of patience and to expect things to settle down in a few days and the two cats to become the best of friends in a very short period of time. But of course this doesn't happen with many cats as some cats are more trustworthy, friendlier and have perhaps lived with other cats and have learned the important body language while others are the totally opposite and therefore they will as a result require a longer period to trust and understand.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

November 27th - Where is my mouse?

Watching a cat playing can be really entertaining and very insightful. Cats is believed they use play as a way to practice and improve their hunting skills as predators. This is why it is believed that kittens play a lot, through play they learn. But of course play in cats doesn't stop when the cats have grown and have mastered or not their hunting skills. As many cat carers will tell you cats like playing and pretending, well into their adult life and even in their senior years. For cats that they do have the opportunity to actual hunt and catch prey, playing and pretending or even treating a fake toy mouse as a real one, not and quite clearly knowing that it is not a real one and it is not going to move or try to escape, is a behaviour that often has us puzzled. What is the purpose of that behaviour if not for just having fun? If out and about hunting what is the need to pretend chasing a furry toy that it doesn't even look like a real mouse after all or more important smell like one (and not all toys have catnip)?
Sheng Chi, my youngest and very playful cat has a little play 'ritual' which she does on a regular basis and includes hiding her little black mouse toy under the box, which she uses for rolling, skating and sleeping, on purpose and then she pretends that she doesn't know where that toy mouse has gone and she looks around trying to find it. She plays a form of hide and seek with the little toy mouse and she spends some days a lot of time engaging in this activity like she would have done in a real situation with a real mouse (something that my other cat used to do – he passed away last year and he is still very missed – as well although when he was faced with a real mouse he has actually afraid of it). The fact that she hides the mouse, the fact that she knows that it's not a real mouse and the whole engagement in playing seems to show that she is doing it because she wants to entertain her self and have some fun. Another regular play activity for Sheng Chi and Ripley is to pretend that they are being chased by another 'invisible cat' and then to run in the house on their own or even playing hide and seek with an imaginary other cat. This behaviour is more commonly observed on my two female cats who never learned to play and interact with other cats but only with us despite the fact that they were never only cats in our house. Even Choo Choo who was used to interact and play with other cats, now after two year he has finally learned that if he wants to play he can play only on his own, either by chasing himself in the staircase or upstairs or by getting us involved in his playing as the other two do not want to play with him. But for all our cats play is a chosen activity and there is full awareness that this is just that, playing and not real, an activity for having some fun and to entertain themselves, something very similar to human activity, despite the fact that their after all a different species!!

Monday, 19 November 2007

November 19th – Cats and us

Some times it is really difficult, well at least most of the times, to know for certain which is the best way to behave and communicate with your pets. People normally consider their pets as members of the family and in some cases when there are no children in the household become the 'replacement' children. We normally care, pamper and quite often spoil our pets and we are at the same time convinced that they understand us and return, in their own way, the love and care they get from us.
There are many examples from cat/pet owners in which they describe situations when their pets have comfort them when they were unwell, or under stress, unhappy, etc. There are even examples of pets that they have even saved their human carers when their lives were in danger. Our cats seem to know when we are coming home, when we want to play and be entertained and when we just want some company. They never complain or get annoy with us and they are always there when we need them.
But sometimes we are told that we seem to forget one simple fact of life. That our pets are not humans, they are of a different species and that perhaps their behaviour might not be what we think that it actually is. Questions often have being raised (and answered for us) on whether our pets see things the way we do and whether we are just perhaps too 'enthusiastic' and we just put too much 'meaning' on our pets' behaviour. There seems to be a lot of disagreement on whether pets and other animals have similar cognitive capabilities and emotions with us and whether our pets can have a 'theory of mind' or self consciousness. A subject which is really hard to prove or disapprove since animals do not have the capability of language as humans so they can answer our questions about them.
But beliefs of simple 'natural' or innate and just evolutionary behaviour from our pets are just too hard to be easily accepted from most of pet carers since we strongly believe that our pets know and understand us and even in some occasions 'talk' to us as we are too attach to them and we have stopped long ago to just see them as 'stupid animals' and instead we see them as our bets friends, children, companions, etc.
Our domesticated pets have spent far too many years in our social environment to have not being influenced by the human behaviour and way of thinking.
No matter what scientists have found there is no way that they can convince me that when I'm ill and stay in bed and my cat decides to stay next to me all the time, and not even wants to eat till I finally I'm well enough to get up myself, that this is a natural cat behaviour wired to his brain from birth. Cats and of course dogs will often do things because they simply want and not always because there is something for them to gain. My cat knows that the little black mouse that she plays with is a toy and not a real one but still decides that she wants to play with it and have some fun when she feels like. My other cat also knows when my partner is coming downstairs as he can recognise him from the sound his footsteps make on the stairs so he can rush and sit on my partner's chair first. He also knows too well that my partner is the one that he will give in to his begging for food when it isn't dinner time and he will look for him instead of me when he wants a snack.
If all these actions do not show a self consciousness and awareness and a capability of mental representations and symbolic interaction then perhaps we need to redefine all these concepts. And if pets do not use language why cats always use different meows with their humans and not with each other, if this doesn't mean that they are aware that humans use and understand better sounds than body language and therefore we seem to be able to understand the meaning of their different meows? Who is to say that all these meows are not words and that our cats are capable of using a simple form of cat language with no syntax and grammatical rules perhaps that they just use to communicate with us?
The fact is that we don't a lot about our brains and we are in most cases assuming how it it possible might work and how it might affect our behaviour and that we know a lot less about other species brains to even assuming anything.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

November 14th - Responsible cat owners or not!

Having recently seen in a local newspaper an article about the rehoming of a cat that was not looked after properly by his owner as he was left for three weeks with a broken leg because the cat owner couldn't afford the vet's fee (we should have a NHS for pets to avoid such situations as vets can be really expensive without necessary providing the required care for the pets) and then after I saw on BBC South news and read on the website also about Sgt Podge, the cat that is being left to roam all night and then he is being picked by the 'proud' owner at the same spot and at the same time every morning after he has wondered for nearly 2 miles away from home, it kinda made me feel very sorry for the apparently very stressed cats and also wondering whether these people should have allowed to have pets in the first place.
Particularly the 'baffled owner' of Sgt Podge (what kind of name is this for any living creature anyway?) who can't seem to be able to figure out why her cat got into this habit.
Maybe because she has allowed it to become a habit (cats can be trained to follow routine and schedule)? Or perhaps because the cat shouldn't be outside at night in the first place or even simply because Sg Podge is not really happy with his current 'owner' and home? Since the lady has already another 5 cats it is quite possible that Sgt Podge doesn't like living under the same roof with so many cats and has found another more suitable home where he doesn't have to compete over territorial and hierarchical issues?
Cats that are being neutered and they are happy with their home environment and particularly cats of that age do not wonder that far away, it isn't a normal behaviour for a domesticated cat (my own ex-stray cat doesn't even bother to look at the door when it is open let alone wanting to venture outside and wander...)...and I speak from experience as I advise on cat behavioural issues.
The lady instead of phoning the BBC to have her story told and filmed she should acted like a responsible pet owner and she should have instead asked an expert for some advice on her cat's behaviour and have tried to keep her cats indoors at night and not allow them to roam at night time, a time when many cats are known to face many dangers in not only in big cities and towns but also rural areas as they are frequently seriously injured or die from traffic accidents animal attacks and human cruelty during the dark hours. Cat owners should be responsible for their pets' actions and behaviour and they should not just behind common beliefs of independent and hard to train or control cats as cats like dogs are domesticated animals who live in our environment whether we like it or not.

Monday, 12 November 2007

November 12th – Night cat visits

I'm one of the many cat carers who prefers to keep her cats indoors and in particular at night time since domesticated cats are most vulnerable and in danger at night time, independently from whether they live, in towns and cities or countryside. Cats are not safe outside at night time!
People often believe that it is cruel to keep cats indoors as they need to be free to wonder any time they like. No, that is not true. Cats can learn to live to any environment they find themselves into and the fact that they have adapted to all our living conditions all these years is a good example of this statement. Cats that they were born indoors and lived all their lives indoors they don't miss the life outdoors because they don't know what is to live outdoors and they have adapted to an indoor life. For these cats outside noises and smells are overwhelming and extremely stressful. Just imagine a human that had lived all his life in a city and all of the sudden he/she finds him/herself in the middle of a jungle with all the scary noises and wild life to cope with.
My cats do not feel the urge or the need to go outside when the window or patio door is open and if they accidentally put their head outside to sniff the air they get scared and start growling and hissing at the strange smells and noises and go to hiding till the window or the door has being closed. The same behaviour exhibits my ex-stray cat who doesn't show the slight interest to go outside when the door is open. They are all quite happy living indoors as they get all the attention, food and stimulation they need (our house is a cat friendly environment with more cat toys and furniture that human accessories and furniture).
But my cats do get upset when neighbouring cats are visiting our garden in the middle of the night and in particular when the neighbour's un-neutered tom cat visits the garden and sprays everywhere and even scratches at the door outside and hisses at my cats inside. Which behaviour quite understandable upsets my cats. Of course I could easily just pull the curtains and block the outside view to my cats but that would not be fair to them as they enjoy watching the life outside and in particular all the birds or small mammals that they are frequently visiting.
No, I don't think that blocking their view outside is the best solution. I think the ideal solution would have being if the visiting cat(s) was kept indoors at night for his own good and that his carer took responsibility and have him neutered which could make him less aggressive, not keen on roaming far and not wanting to spray all the time and to mark territory.
When cat carers would finally learn that they need to take responsibility for their cats actions like dog carers? They are responsible for the well being of their cats which means neutering them and keeping them indoors at night time to avoid get them injured and even dying from traffic accidents, other pets and wild animals attacks and even human cruelty. Cats are not wild animals, they are domesticated and as such they need to looked after appropriately by humans, they need to spend more time indoors for their own sake and for the wellbeing of the wild life that is visiting our gardens which includes small birds and other animals.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

4th November – Sudden aggressive behaviour

For some people and of course cat owners/carers it is difficult to simply accept the fact that cats like people, can easily get stressed particularly when they are not feeling well themselves and as result to start behaving differently than normally. Although most cat owners seem to understand and accept that some situations such as for example when there have been significant changes in their cat's environment can lead to changes in the normal behaviour of the cat, such as sudden toilet habit changes, spraying, scratching, etc. But when the behaviour suddenly changes and a friendly cat starts behaving aggressively towards the other cats in the household and in some cases towards the human and even their playing behaviour becomes a bit 'rougher' than normal then it is often quite hard to accept and believe that this behaviour can simply be the result of an illness and often the cat is being accused of being 'unreasonable', crazy or vicious.
But this sudden change in the behaviour could simply be the result of something quite understandable and normal, a possible illness such as earache, paw or some other part of the body itchiness or discomfort, or even something more serious...
We seem to forget that when we do not feel well ourselves and some part of our body aches we more than often change to very grumpy and easy irritable persons and we can be quite rude and sometimes aggressive towards other members of the family who might happen to be around. Therefore it is quite understandable when our cats start behaving in the same way when they are not feeling a hundred per cent well. As they don't have the opportunity and knowledge to know or even being able to ask us to give them some form of medication to relieve the pain they will then do what they can themselves to relieve the discomfort they feel which means quite often just trying to find a quiet place to hide till they are feeling better or in some other cases and when they are other cats/pets/humans around by being aggressive towards some other member of the family who is close by, normally at another cat, someone that they can easily pick on without fear of repercussions, a displacement activity. So quite often when two cats who until now they were seemingly OK with each one's presence start having rather rough fights and one seems to chase the other for no apparent reason it is quite easily be that he is either annoyed with somebody else, another cat/pet/human to whom he cant get to direct or also quite possible simply because he is not feeling that well himself. Sudden aggression therefore should be treated not only as a behavioural problem but also as a result of physical discomfort and it should always this factor taken into consideration and the cat if required should be checked by the vet as soon as possible.
Of course on the other hand consideration should also be taken for the other cat, the 'victim' as this form of sudden aggressive behaviour from the other cat can easily end up creating a very uncomfortable and stressful situation for her which could quite possibly might end up to a physical and psychological discomfort situation. The cat who is being chased therefore it is quite possible to begin showing sighs of such a physical and psychological discomfort (for example she might end up start spraying, visiting the litter tray frequently, scratching and overgrooming, etc as well of developing a sudden fear and refusing to come out of the hiding place or even wanting to come downstairs to eat, etc.)
So it is imperative that any forms of such sudden and unexpected aggressive behaviours are not allowed to become a common thing, or a habit and the cats are wherever possible kept away from each other and prevent the fights or chasing from happening by distracting the bullying cat while at the same time a relaxed environment is being provided for both cats and the cause of that sudden aggression is found and treated as soon as possible.

Friday, 26 October 2007

October 26th – The same old play thing!

After all these years of learning, observing and getting educating all the time about cats and their behaviour I still found some black holes in my knowledge as all that experience and learning can't seem to help me figure out their playing or rather their toys preferences.
As a dedicated cat carer who wants only what is best for the physical and psychological well being of my cats I'm not only trying to find them things which they can use to play but also things that they can keep them entertain and stimulate them. After all you want your cats to be happy and entertained and at the same time to save the birds and some of the small mammals they are visiting your garden. As two of my cats they were born and stayed permanently indoors cats (while the third has shown his own a preference for the indoor life) they were always have being happy to play with toy mice and birds and they've never showed any incline to chase the real thing (although they like watching them from the window and some times they do get a bit excited, they are not that much bothered though as chasing a real bird would actually involved a lot of energy which my cats can't be asked to use for something that small...). But it is a hard and in some cases expensive work trying to find toys that your cats would like and they will play with them for a few days. As every cat carer would know cats do get bored with their toys very quickly and they tend to lose interest after a few days even if the toy is still in one piece. But that would have being fine if at least they showed some interest for the toy you've just got them and you spent hours on the internet trying to find and spend double the actual toy's price in delivery charges and charged 'accidentally' twice for the same silly thing.
But of course your cats (and it is even worse when you have more than one with different and peculiar preferences) don't see things the same way as you do and their preferences in toys always seems to be totally different to your own. Even when you think that after all these years you know what they like they seem somehow to be able to surprise you!
So you look for something interactive and more expensive of course that it will move and therefore will provoke some interest from your cats or something that other cat owners are raving about that their cats can't stop playing with or something that it has good reviews. So when you finally pick something and it eventually arrives (after a week of delays in getting to you the just out of stock item because of its popularity and the failed efforts from the delivery company in finding your house) you discover that it looks totally different to what you were expecting it to be and that your cats either don't seem to be interested in it or for some strange reason (smell perhaps?) they are scared of it. What a disappointment once again!
Then when you finally start accepting the idea that once again you wasted your money (twice) in something that your cat is never going to play with and you are getting ready to stack it up in the attic or spare room, or in the cupboard, in the box with the many other cat toys that your cats don't like or want to play with (even when you are showing them occasionally hoping for some small interest perhaps and not wanting to give up that easily or accepting the fact that these toys where not really tested on real cats, perhaps on their owners only) you find out that your cat loves the box that the toy came in instead and she can't stop chewing or sitting in it or that she has just discovered the freebie that came along and loves it ( a very cheap plastic horribly blue ball)!!!
If only you knew what they would have liked instead you would have saved all that money and time trying to find them something that you thought they would like to play with...but then again even if you did know you would still have spent that money after all as you want to keep your cats' happy and you'd rather deep down seem to enjoy spending money on your cats, makes you feel better, and it shows that you do care a lot about your fur babies and you don't mind spending a lot of money as they worth every penny! Now of course this could easily lead to another subject of how we actually see our pets, as a different species than us or as small humans and treat them as such...??

Monday, 22 October 2007

October 22nd – The 'hard to get me' game

OK, it is true, very true. Cats are clever and some might even say perhaps too clever! Sometimes I just wonder if they like and enjoy wind us up! They probably think: 'Those stupid humans, who think they are, believing that they know everything, well, we'll show them then, who is the intelligent species here!'
It is true though. After years and years of looking after your cats and thinking after you have observed them day after day and nights that you know them pretty well, they do something completely new and unfamiliar and they will shatter all your theories of how cats usually behave in certain circumstances.
The worst case scenario is when they pretend to hate each other and then to unexpectedly find out that when you are not really watching they are not really the worst enemies after all, on the contrary the best of friends more likely. They simply do not follow their own rules.
My two females cats always acted with pure dislike and contempt towards our male one, who used to be a stray and they only tolerate him and they never wanted to get too close, play or sit and sleep next to him.
Their attitude always has been: 'You sit over there while I sit over here and you won't come near me!' But at the same time they do love to tease him by exposing their belly (especially Sheng Chi) who will sitting really close to him, almost at a touching distance but who at the same time will not allow him to come closer despite the fact that she will be exposing blatantly her belly and she will allow me to rub her belly but not allowing Choo Choo to come a bit closer. If then Choo Choo tries to be friendly too and comes a bit closer while he is exposing his belly too he will then more than likely get 'biffed' on the head for not sticking to the rules of keeping a certain distance between them. Yeah right!
Not fooled anymore as all these are just a good act, just for the shake of us humans as when they are on their own they tend to sit a lot more closer to each other, even touch and sniff noses and even share the same bed for sleeping and showing exposed bellies to each other! It is only when they know that we are watching that they start 'behaving aggressively' towards each other.
Well, if they think that they are fooling us then they are very much mistaken. Now we know that they are only acting after all!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

October 11th – It is a sleeping thing!

One of the things that cats know to do well and at the same to seemingly annoy humans is finding strange places to sleep and hide. Of course cats are not really doing things to annoy us but simply they do what their logic tells them to do.
But it can be annoying and sometimes really dangerous if you don't see the cat and then trip over, particularly when they decide to sleep in areas in the house that you would not normally accept them to do so.
A very good example is one of my cats, Choo Choo who was a habit almost to obsession, of insanely liking the staircase which he uses to play (it is really fun when he chased his paper ball on the steps and watches it bounce all the way down and then will bring it back up again to push it down again!!!), to sit and wait for the next victim to come down (human or cat) to attack and grab tails or legs and of course as a sleeping area. I mean the steps on the narrow staircase are not the most comfortable place to sleep but as you can see from the photo, Choo Choo thinks otherwise. Of course I had found them, all three of them in the past, sleeping in really obscure places, e.g Ripley on the top of the door! How could she balanced let alone sleep up there it is a totally mystery to me. Of course everybody knows how flexible cats can be and that they are having a good 'sense of balance' but sleeping on such a narrow space like the top of the door it is a bit extreme for my understanding...
The other thing that it can be annoying is their tendency to find secret places or hard to find for us, to hide and snooze. The times, both me and my partner, have spent wondering around the house, searching every possible corner to find a missing cat there have been plenty and even now they still manage to find such places, even when we think that we know all their hiding places. It could be anywhere; among your 'black' clothes on a shelf, inside the wardrobe, in the washing machine because it is cool then, on the top of a wardrobe or cupboard, inside the cardboard, inside a box, in the bath tub, sink, etc...the places are endless.
The other thing of course is that like with their toys they can get easily bored with their favourite sleeping areas and then they would look of course for new ones which means or us going around the house looking for them again...
Oh well I guess it is part of their charm and what makes them unique and adorable....well maybe, most of the times!

Monday, 1 October 2007

October 1st - Play behaviour and a little toy mouse

It is often suggested that kittens learn social behaviours from their mother and other siblings. This is why it is recommended that they are weaned and taken away from their cat families at least when they are eight weeks or even older for some breeds

My two female cats Sheng Chi and Ripley they were both adopted when they were very young and although I was told then that they were 7 seven weeks, they both seemed far too young physical and emotional to be away from their mother. This of course resulted as it was expected to become very attached to me as they will quickly saw me as a replacement for their mother and although this has some disadvantages as it makes them prone to separation anxiety behaviour when I'm not around at the same time it has also made them accepted me as the top cat, the one in charge who they obey and listen to.

Cats might not seem to need like dogs do an obvious and in charge alpha human to obey and follow but when they live with other cats and humans they will still soon learn that there is somebody else higher above in the hierarchy ladder if that somebody makes certain that he/she is in control and do not allow the cat to be in charge. With other words cats still need to learn discipline and to obey the rules in the house they live and that the humans are in charge in the home territory so there are no future behavioural problems developing.

But of course cats also can learn through observation, trial and error, imitation and instinct. Despite of what some seem to believe, cats often learn by imitating our own behaviour but more amazingly they also seem to learn on their own as well.
A good example, very interesting and of course entertaining to watch is my cats' behaviour and in particular Sheng Chi's play antics.
Funny enough and perhaps for their own not yet fully understood reasons cats seem to prefer some toys than others. Often we humans think that the size or smell and texture might make a cat to prefer one toy over another but more than often our judgements prove to be very wrong. The amount of money that it has been spent and the vast amount of toys that they have being passed through our home is remarkable and scary to even think about it but at the same time it seems quite necessary for the physical and psychological health of our cats.

You're experimenting with different sizes and shapes of mice looking toys but still you can't understand your cat's preferences. Some times it is a big mouse and sometimes it's a tiny mouse, none of which seems to actual resembles a real mouse.

In my case I can always justify my cats' preferences as they haven't ever seen a real mouse or play and even catch one so their preferences in they toy mice is....understandable?

Sheng Chi has found a tiny little black mouse which I picked up from a pet shop in town when I was buying cat food and which I saw and only got because it was only 35p and I thought that it looked cute (in human terms) and if they didn't like it the price was insignificant to make me feel bad about it or make my partner whinge. I really didn't have much of a hope for that mouse that any of the cats will show an interest as it was too small and 'insignificant' but of course my cats soon proved me wrong. Both the 'girls' they found it really interesting and exciting and three weeks after I brought it home they both still spend quite a lot of time playing with it.

In particular Sheng Chi seems to make the most of it by carrying it around in her mouth, throwing it away and then running (yes Sheng Chi is running...) to catch it and even hiding it (like a real mouse would perhaps do) and then trying to find it (her best hiding place is inside the what it once was a cardboard box and now it is half eaten and very flat cardboard box...)

But what I find really intriguing is the fact that she plays with that little toy mice like she would have played with a real mouse. So how did she knows how to chase a mouse? She has never seen a real one let alone catch one and she was weaned pretty young, too young to have been taught how to catch a mouse. Her behaviour becomes even more playful after she had a little catnip roll around on the carpet which it seems to

Friday, 28 September 2007

September 28th - Play Cat Behaviour and Human woes

Cats are strange creatures and no matter how hard we try to study their behaviour they will always do things that they will break the ground rules that us humans might have established as general rules to explain their behaviour.

One of these 'grey' areas that they seem to be really difficult to undestand why they behave in certain ways is their playing habits.

The fact that they actually know that they are playing and not for example that they are hunting is one of the things that for me can be seen as proof of the fact that they are really intelligent. They are using play to amuse themselves and to keep themselves busy so they don't get bored.

The fact that they can catch real mice or birds but still decide to play with toy mice and treat them like they were alive it is a sign of a similar behaviour that children exhibit, using playing to entertain themselves and to learn about the world they are living.

Also cats can easily adapt to their humans' environment and routine with very little training and effort required from the human part.

My cats will get up when I get up in the morning and they will be willing to play with me or on their own in the middle of the day when we are moving about. They are very prompt on the daily schedules and they have certain times during the day when they do things.

For example Choo Choo's playing time is between 11 and 12.30 in the morning, when he will use the staircase as his base for his playing behaviour, chasing balls and mice up and down or chasing the light from the laser light if me and my partner can provide it. After he had his playing in the staircase he will start playing hide and seek in the paper bag and boxes he will find around. After his play time he will be ready for his lunch and after that he will find a quiet and depending on the weather sunny or warm spot where he will go to sleep making sure that he will not be disturbed for a few hours.

Sheng Chi on the other hand she will wait till Choo Choo has gone to sleep before she goes into playing mode herself usually starting carrying around and playing with her little toy mouse and then moving into paper and other balls which she will hide into the tunnel or paper bag or cardboard box. After her playing she will climb on her box by the patio door and she will wait patiently for me to brush her fur before she have her afternoon snooze.

As for Ripley being the oldest and the one that she can't be asked to do a lot of running and chasing she will be at the top of the staircase around 7 o clock in the evenings waiting for one of us to bring upstairs the feather toy so she can chase it downstairs. This s is the only toy that she likes playing with and of course she also likes finding catnips spots on the carpet so she can roll around or she will just use her catnip cushion.

But what it is really puzzling is the things that they find interesting and want to play with. As a responsible and caring cat 'owner' you do feel obliged to buy them toys that you see either being advertised or you see them on pet shops (like buying gadgets for yourself but instead you feel less selfish by buying gadgets for your cats...).

And of course pet shops know how you feel about your cats and that you want to make sure that you buy them the latest and more entertaining toys available which of course is not what your cats more than likely think.

So you end up spending an arm and a leg so you can buy a nice cat entertaining centre for them to play and they chose the box it came in instead. They give a very weary and puzzled look to your expensive entertainment area and then they just jump inside the cardboard box in which their new toys has just arrived to spend hours of having fun while you are spending hours regretting the money you've just spent on another never going to be played again toy. Of course this doesn't mean that you've learned your lesson and that you've never going to buy them another expensive toy, no, no of course not. You will stay away from expensive cat toys at least till you see again something new and fun for them to do (while at the back of the room your cat is chewing the new box she has just found....)

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Previous Postings

September 21st - Form of aggressive behaviour...

Quite often it seems that cats are accused of showing of what might simply be incorrect identified as aggressive behaviour towards other cats under the same roof. For humans sometimes it is really difficult to distinguish between a real aggressive behaviour and what it might just be simply rough playing or even just trying to engage another cat in a playful situation.
People who care for cats often they don't seem to realise that when cats have left their mother, brothers and sisters at a very young age they didn't have the opportunity to learn the social skills that young cats will normally learn from their mother and the other kittens. One of which would have been to be able to read another cat's body language and therefore to know when that cat wants to play or fight.
My two female cats joined our family at a very young age (I expect that it actually was much younger of what I was then told due to the size and behaviour they were exhibiting at the time) and they found themselves in an new environment with other cats around none of them of a young age, who would have amde them willing to engage in the play activities the kittens normally do.
With other words my other two male cats when each kitten arrived were far too old to want to play with them and although they were very understanding and tolerant (as Sheng Chi used to ride Flouffy - one of the males- like a horse), they couldn't be asked to be chased and play with any of the kittens. As a result each kitten got all the attention and play time from us, the humans, as well as at the same time through self exploring and finding on her own things to do and play with.
Therefore when they grew up they both felt closer to the humans than to other cats that they were living in the household. They seem more capable to be able to understand our own body language than they can read Choo Choo's or each other's.
This became quite obvious when Choo Choo joined our family, who had quite obvious being around cats from a very early stage. When I first met him he used to follow around our neighbours' female cat and who unfortunately died in a traffic accident and whose lost seemed to left him with no playmate and friend). So when he joined our family and saw the other cats he believed that he'd found new playmates but unfortunately that was not the case as our other two cats didn't know how to play with him. They simply can't understand his body language when he is in a playing mood and they think he is about to attack them and of course this result in them getting defensive.
The first few months therefore there was a lot of noise; hissing, growling and the occasional 'biffing' of Choo Choo which sounded and looked really bad but it wasn't really what it seemed to be. It wasn't an aggressive behaviour but what in human terms we'd have called as a 'lack of communication' between the cats. One wanted to play and the other didn't understand or knew how to get involve in a play activity with another cat.
Of course after a while these noisy 'encounters' became less frequent as eventually the two cats accepted Choo Choo as another member of the family and Choo Choo himself learned by now that he couldn't engage the other two cats in play and he could only play with the humans or himself (of course occasionally he would still try to get either Ripley or Sheng Chi to play with him but he will soon give up and look for a willing human instead).
So it is possible that in some occasions cats are not really fighting over territorial or hierarchical issues but the whole thing it might simply be a misunderstanding as one cat might not be able to read the other's body language. In which case time and human involvement might be required.

September 20th - Playing Behaviour

Many books and experts will tell you that cats are normally active in the early morning hours and evening as when in the wild they would normally hunt and chase their prey. So cats are expected to be playful and active early in the morning at first light....Perhaps!

This is where I think that our cats today seem to have adapted to their current environments. My cats are a very good example of how their behaviour has changed of what is considered as 'normal' for cat behaviour.
They do get their moments when they are playful and to compare them with children they will look for someone else to play with, being a human or cat, they will show their willingness to play and if there is no positive reaction they will simply find something to play on their own.
They don't have certain specific times when they want to play, it could be anytime during the day (never at night or early in the morning at which time they are usually too sleepy to be bothered and they will just stare at you with sleepy eyes if your disturb them which in human terms it will probably translate to something like:'What do you want? Can't you see I'm sleeping?') or in some cases in the evening, probably at a time when you want to watch something on TV or preparing dinner!
Choo Choo will be in his play mood normally after 11 o clock in the morning after he had his elevenish in which time he would climb up and down the staircase, he will sit promptly on the step in front of me when I'm trying to get downstairs normally when I'm holding something and he will look at me expectantly with his ears pin back and his tail constantly moving in anticipation. If I'm lucky and manage to get down without tripping as he tries to grab my feet while I'm trying to jump over him, he will then go upstairs looking for other playmates; often more than likely the other two cats (who they will be hiding from him at this stage) and quite possible for Ripley who prefers to snooze on the bed at that time.
He first will make sure that he manages to wake her up so he can get her in the mood for playing but as his efforts will more than likely fail and he would only manage to annoy her and force her to go into hiding intead. Eventually he will give up on his efforts to get Ripley to play with him and he will come downstairs still trying to find somebody else to play with, usually my partner who will be in most cases more than willing to get involved (as this will be good opportunity and excuse to stop working for a while keeping the cat happy and stopping him from disturbing the others too - his excuse!).
In the situations where my partner might be too busy to play with him (not that often) then he will finally resign to playing with himself, often by running up and down the stairs, playing with the bannister or hiding in boxes and paper bags hoping that someone would join him in his play and seek game.Some hidden toys then will magically appear to keep him busy for a while or himself would discover lost and hidden toys and balls.
Although his regular playtime is in the evening when we try to engage all the cats to some active play he has set his own time for his own playtime in which time he will find ways to get himself busy. And normally after he has finished and he is ready for his snooze, while he is zooping (the word I use for the kneading that cats do with their paws) the sofa cover or the chair pillow, it will be time for Sheng Chi to start her running and chasing in the house with normally her little toy mouse hanging from her mouth, which she will move from one room to the next and play with it like it is a real mouse. At which point of course Choo Choo will be too tired to join in although he will keep looking with interest at Sheng Chi's activities while he will be still zooping.
As for Ripley she is happy to just have some fun in the evening when we get involved as well, as she is a bit too 'serious' to play silly games on her own.
Sometimes I do find really fascinating how cats can show a remarkable capability of adapting to their environment and to their humans' habits and routines and how often being quite more than happy to do so. They only need a bit of time to adapt to our environment and us.

September 19th - Blackmailing

Sometimes it is really difficult to ignore your cat's demands. Particularly if he used to get his own way because of certain circumstances in the past (e.g cat was ill for a certain time, is a new member of the family and he was before abused or neglected, etc).Especially if it is the latest you often feel that you need to make up for the hard times he might had before and of course you should, but at the sometime you need to think how your over-attention and satisfying his ever need will affect his behaviour in the near future.
It isn't unheard for cats that before they were adopted by their current humans to have had and needed very little food or attention and afterwards, after a few months of human pampering to become almost impossible to live with because of their constant demands for attention, good food and treats.
The problem often can escalate out of proportion when one or more of the humans in the household will ignore all the warning signs and advice. I've often came across cases of cats that they will even wake up in the middle of the night their human carer so they can feed them,they will constantly meow till they are fed or got the attention they want, they will attack or bother the other cats till they get what they want and they will even attack their humans and start bite feet, hands, etc till their demands are met.These cats have already learned how to blackmail.
As I have mentioned before my partner is the weakest human in our household, the one that normally Choo Choo will go when he wants more food or attention. And although I have warned him in many cases that by giving in to Choo Choo's demands he makes things worse he tends to ignore my warnings and to use as an excuse the fact that Choo Choo was neglected and abandoned (more than two years ago!).
But of course as all cat carers know cats are very clever and they will soon learn through trial and error what works on humans and what it doesn't. So today after a lot of meowing and following around Choo Choo found another way to get his own! He got inside the cereal cupboard and refused to come out. The logical solution would have been of course to just let him there with the door open till he got bored and came out on his own and to simply ignore him but of course my partner being the trained humans he is, he quickly gave in and put some food for Choo Choo on his feeding table. Of course as soon as Choo saw the food, which he wanted in the first place he quickly came out to eat it, having succeeded to get what he wanted in the first place. Of course my partner saw this as a success story from his part as he thought he succeeded where according to him I failed; to get the cat out from the cupboard. To what cause I wonder....I guess tomorrow we will found out!

September 17th

On the subject of cats imitating their humans (the more time they spend with them)I have also found that it is also possible particular if they were adopted by the humans quite young, 7 to 8 weeks old (and therefore became attached to the humans since they would quite naturally see them as a replacement for their motherand there were no other kittens around) that this will eventually have a major affect in their future behaviour towards other cats.

My two female cats were adopted as young kittens and because they were no other cats of their age around (they were older ones) they spent most of the time near us (me and my partner) getting not only food and care but also playing and getting trained by us.This training is perhaps one of the reasons that now, in some ways, they feel that they are more like us than normal cats.
Of course what is a normal cat these days it is very debatable as cats of today are very different from the cats from the past not so much in the physical sense but mainly in the way they are being treated by us and in the way themselves are behaving.They have evolved and adapted to the human environment they live.
A good example of what I'm trying to say could be the different way my two female cats are behaving towards Choo Choo who used to be a stray/abandoned cat and who we took in.Choo Choo is a good example of those cats that they are better off living permanently indoors. He has always being a very friendly and trusting cat, who used to live in an area with a lot of fast and very dangerous traffic and not with that many pet friendly humans around and he was also physically in a very poor condition (suffering from skin conditions, ear ticks and fleas as well as having a very thin and dull coat and he was also suffering from malnutrition). After he moved in with us and he was treated for his ears, skin, fleas, etc in a short period of time he became a completely different cat, healthier and happier (our neighbours who used to feed him before thought he was a different cat).
Now after 2 years of living permanently indoors he doesn't care to go outside even when windows and doors are wide open. A good example of how easily he has adapted and accepted his new easy and care free life.
But because he was used to be around other cats he is very playful and extremely friendly and always willing to play with cats and humans. But unfortunately my two female cats although they don't mind his presence and have accepted him as a member of the family they won't play or interact with him although they will share sleeping and resting areas with him. Those two when they want attention and they are in the mood to play they will either come to us to get entertained or they will play on their own and they will stay out of Choo Choo's path when he wants to play. Choo Choo on the other hand he has finally figured out that when he wants to play he either will have to get us involved or that he should try and entertain himself.
And of course cats when they do feel like playing or want to entertain themselves they would always find ways to keep them selves busy, even if that means by simply chasing invisible cats or discovering hidden and thought to be lost for ever toys. Of course playing with them always help and it is advisable as both sides can gain something, exercise and entertainment at the same time.
The other thing that I want to emphasise very strongly here is the importance of when deciding on getting a kitten to think it over very carefully before hand and if possible to get some good advice on the matter as cats and in particularly kittens require a lot of care and responsibilities. Also that is always better if the option of two kittens is chosen instead of the just the one as this will help to avoid further future behavioural problems from developing and if this is not possible then the human carer should try despite how of cute and adorable the new kitten might look to try and prevent him/her from becoming too dependable on them. If the human is to take the role of the kitten's mother it is important to always keep in mind that kittens are not small human babies but small cats who they need to be treated as such. It is important therefore for the human carer to make certain that the young cat learns the appropriate social skills and behaviour that a cat will need for a happy and healthy long life.

September 15th

It is bizarre how all three of the cats are less active over the weekends, as they seem to know that it is the weekend and despite the weather they will always spent most of the day and night sleeping, they are becoming lazier than normal.
The more I observe my now three cats the more I found that they adapt and show more human characteristics in their behaviour as each day passes by (What others think? Please feel free to email me with your thoughts and ideas). It seems that the more time they spend with us the more they show signs of copying human behaviour and now that both me and my partner are working from home they spend a lot more time with us which at times can be not a good thing as they become more attached and more likely to show signs of separation anxiety if we spend a long period time away from home.
Good example is Choo Choo who always looks for the best and more comfortable spot in the house to sleep and when he wants to go there he wont let anything stop him from doing so, cat or human. Even when my partner is working during the day he will still demand to sit on his office chair and he will get his way without making any kind of effort by simply just starring at him and standing next to the chair. He has trained my partner to give him his chair when he wants it and my human partner although he will moan about it he will still do it (see photo opposite) despite my warnings that Choo Choo has trained him.

Another example was earlier today when both my other half and Choo Choo were sitting on the sofa watching TV (couch potatoes) and Choo Choo decided that he wanted more space to stretch his legs and paws and he gradually (by gently scratching at my partner's back and pushing) got his own way.When I came downstairs pussycat was stretched on the sofa and male human was sitting on the floor, looking very uncomfortable. Of course I refused to play their game and listen to his moaning about how my cat (he emphasised that he was 'my' cat of course) 'kicked' him off the sofa again. He never listens or believes me when I tell him that Choo Choo has trained him and he should not give in that easily to the cat's demands so he suffers the consequences.Strange that, how Choo Choo never 'pushes' me off the sofa!

September 14th

Today it started very quiet and all the cats seem to be really lazy, lying around the house wherever they can find sunny spots on the carpet.Of course Sheng Chi being the 'Top Cat' sits in the most prominent spot in the house, on the top of the box in the living room by the patio door. This way not only she can sunbath but she can also keep an eye on what is going around, mainly keeping an eye on Choo Choo.
Choo Choo on the other hand because of some catnip that it has been rubbed on the carpet from last night feels a bit braver and keeps on rolling on the carpet and getting closer and closer to Sheng Chi who at the moment she doesn't seem to mind.
Sheng Chi is the only one that Choo Choo doesn't seem to understand or know how to behave and even fears at times, as she can be at one time very friendly and show her belly while the next she won't even let him go upstairs.She is in charge and he knows it now, the hierarchy has been established.
But at least we found something that all three of them seem to enjoy at the same time, a feathered toy (the one that I've got yesterday) that is being hanging from a very long like fishing pole stick.Yesterday Sheng Chi spent quite a while chasing it around and even doing little jumps and today all three of them they were chasing it at the same time without arguing and hissing at each other. A very good toy which it seems to help in the process of cats becoming friendlier to each other (the only small side effect we had was when Sheng Chi jumped accidentally on the water bowl....) while at the same time manages to keep my other half also busy and amused as well. Well at least this toy seems to worth its money....Anybody has anything else that works with their cats? Let us know!

September 13th

Today with the plumber coming around to sort out the bathroom sink Ripley showed an unexpected brave behaviouras she was more than willing to get out from the bedroom and to investigate even when the plumber was still around.

On the other hand Sheng Chi despite the fact that she is acting like the Top Cat in the house and wants to know everything that is happeningdid not show any signs of wanting to investigate what was happening in the bathroom and she spent quite a lot of time hidden under the bed even after the man had long gone.
She is therefore the boss only when we are around.
Finally today the two toys I bought for the cats online arrived and as I was expected it to be the cats showed no interest whatsoever!
The only one that both Sheng Chi and Choo seemed to like was the feather toy but that interest lasted a couple of minutes only! As for the flashing ball well, Sheng Chi got scared and Choo Choo ignored!Back to the paper balls again I think!
Who on earth comes with such ideas for cat toys? Does he/she have cats? Do they try them first on cats before they put them for sale. They should give them to my three and I will then tell them if they worth their money or not! Please email me with ideas and toys that work for your cats. Maybe we can then tell these pet shops what our cats really want. Email me at with your cat(s)' favourite toys and where you got them from!

September 12th

The Bach Flower Remedies had a great effect on Ripley's really timid personality and they helped her to particularly adapt and accept the new environment she found herself very quickly. At first she was refusing to come downstairs but after I've started adding the Rock Rose into her favourite water bowl she started coming downstairs more often. Last evening she spent all evening downstairs, although the catnip on the carpet might have also helped too!
Her way of getting attention and food, is loud meowing when she is upstairs, or she will come down a few steps and then she will make sure that she can be seen looking downstairs in the living room or she will simply stand at the top of the staircase and then she will wait till she sees a human passing by to get the attention she wants.And as a last resort she will finally come downstairs and she will then start meowing or she will just stand there staring you in the eyes and she won't leave till she has being fed. Now she has learnt to stand her ground more against Choo Choo and Sheng Chi and not to get scared that easily.

Stubborn & Human Ignorance

Cats are known for being in some cases really stubborn and so do humans. So quite often the case is of who is being more stubborn, the cat or the human?

I bet the answer in most cases will be 'my cat of course' as you will normally give to her demands more easily, being more cute and having a slight edge over the partner.

This could be of course anything from getting up at insane early hours to feed her because her meowing would have you worrying at first that something is wrong with him/her and then when you are up there is no real reason then not to feed him/her; to let her have your favourite chair or spot on the sofa because she is looking at you expectantly with these big but very cute eyes and because she looks really cute when she is begging, etc.

The fact that in 9 out of 10 cases you will give in to your cat's demands but not that often in your partner's (unless he is really ill...) because you think that your cat deserves the attention she wants while your partner doesn't (besides he has hands and can make his own cup of tea/coffee...).

It is true, today we are more tolerant towards our pets than we are towards our partners, other relatives, friends and in some cases even children and it is really difficult to explain why. There have quite a few attempts to explain our extreme tolerance and devotion towards our pets starting from similarities to human babies and therefore based on natural parental instincts, to healthy and psychological benefits that they can offer in exchange as well as the social role that they play today, taking up social roles that today humans can't fill up anymore as the society keeps changing not always for the better, etc.

The truth is that we don't really know or can explain with certainty; for some humans, pets have a different and more important meaning than others and each and every one of us has his/her own reasons for living with and looking after pets. But whatever these reasons might be, it is very important to always remember that they are not humans, they shouldn't be treated like small people while at the same time that they still have their own rights as they have now establish their role in our society and they deserve to be treated as equal to humans - at least when it comes to respecting their rights to live without mental and physical suffering.

On the other hand as I have said so many times it is important for cat carers to realise that they need to look after their cats properly, not only provided them with just food and sleeping accommodation but also to take responsibility for their behaviour outside their homes. It is not fair when cats are named as 'killing machines' and they are published as such on TV and media because some cat carers can't look after their cats properly!

As each responsible parent would like to know what their child is up to when it is outside the same it should apply for our cat's behaviour not only for her/his own safety but for the safety for other pets and animals in the area. Cat carers who simply let their cats roam outside 24 hours a day and they don't care or know when they are and they only start worrying after they have not seen their cat for days are not responsible enough and they shouldn't allowed to keep pets.
Humans who decide to adopt a cat or a dog or any other pet they should always keep in mind that they will have to look after them for life and to make sure that they will train them to behave accordingly outside as well as inside their homes. Before the decision is made to whether they really want to adopt a pet they need to think long and hard whether they will be able to look after them and offer the care and attention they will need for their rest of their lives and whether they will be able to look after them when new members might join the family (partners, babies, etc) and whether they would be able to take responsibility for their pet's actions. Pets are not toys but living creatures who will need a lot of attention and care for a long time. It is not fair one the pet when a pet carer after 10 years or more living with that pet decides that he/she can't keep that pet anymore because he/she now has a baby or a new partner who doesn't like cats or dogs. You wouldn't consider giving your child for adoption if your got a new pet? Then why should it be the either way round? Pets are members of the family and they should always treated as such.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

A nice day - 22nd July

You see one of my favourite things is sleeping in high above the ground places, something that many of us cats like doing it, not only because we feel safer but because this way we can have a better view of everything that is happening and know if everything else is going to happen. This is why I like sleeping on window sills (if I can fit as I'm a bit 'wider' these days than I used to be, as sometimes can't help myself and say no to biscuits or to a bit of food that the other too might have left hanging around...well you see I do enjoy eating, one of the pleasures of a cat's life), tables, desks, shelves and everything that it is above ground and it can take my weight, which sometimes means things like computer towers which I call cat towers.

Humans seem to have this silly habit of buying new things, things that often don't really need and to replace things that they don't need replacing. A good example is computers and mobile phones. People change them all the day with what they call 'upgrading', which basically means getting something that it does something that the previous gadget wouldn't do and that they don't really need. Like phones that can play music and take pictures or surf the net while at the same time they have separate MP3 players, digi cameras and computers....There are of course other occasions when upgrading is necessary when computers break down (we had that experience quite recently) or become too old to cope with modern technology or simple had their day. Nevertheless the fact remains that we end up with many gadgets that they have no use any more but they still take a lot of space at home and this is where we cats come and make at least some use of these gadgets. For example a computer tower makes a nice resting place for a few days that is till we find something else, new.

But of course since today it is a really nice sunny day the race is on to find the most sunny spot in the house and claim it first. Choo Choo has his own sunny place, a run down cardboard box and I have mine, the table which is quite high, wide and mine, all mine. Plus with the window next by I also get some fresh air too. It is the best place there in the house and it is mine and I don't have to share. Well, I let the humans use it occasionally e.g. to have their dinner providing of course that they clean their mess afterwards.

Anyway I waste a lot of time typing and it is time to go back to my sunny spot before the sun disappears for the day. Now that both my humans are finally home I can relax and enjoy the rest of my Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

A very quiet day - Friday 20th July

I mentioned in my previous post that one of my two humans has being away for a couple of days for business matters leaving me with the other two cats and my other human (in a sense I'm glad that it was the male one and not the female that had to go as I'm more fond of her since she is the one that she feeds us and generally looks after us without getting annoyed that easily...well accidents do happen when sometimes I move casually around!). I've also mentioned that it felt really strange in the house as it was much more quieter and unsettling at times wonderingaround. You will be surprised how much space a human can take, not that they are physically that huge, they are of course much more bigger than us cats and at times they can look rather intimidating, when they are standing in front of you, which explains why I prefer my female human because she is not only much smaller but also quite often when she is talking or playing with or when she is 'grooming' me she bends down and she speaks in a quieter voice that doesn't sound too loud and deafening either....

Anyway the human presence in general feels quite overpowering and it feels that it takes too much space simply because humans like to be noticed by other humans or other species and don't like to be secretive or to be ignored when they move about because that can make them feel insignificant and unimportant. Oh, the human vanity, it is well known among all other species that they have encountered humans on this planet and....Anyway humans simply can't bear the thought that they could be considered not as important as they think that they are masters of the world and they foolishly elieve that they can control and know everything....Oh well, they do have their good points I guess, I do get good food, a lot of pampering and often I can get away with murder if I look cute enough and make silly pathetic noises that humans call 'meowing'. What else can a cat ask for?

Back to my story now and to my own humans, who might not be perfect but at least they are mine and I'm quite happy with them. As I was saying the day went really slowly and felt very strange, having only one human in the house. Everything was as normal as she is the one that feeds us and generally looks after us so she got up pretty early, fed us as normal, put the telly on (she normally tells him off because he keeps the telly on all the time without necessarily watching anything, for 'noise and company' as he says) so the house wasn't that quiet (although she soon got fed up with the Golf and she put a Tom & Jerry DVD on...I can't blame her, golf is a boring sport - as I can't see where the little ball on the screen is to chase it with my paw...)

Then she went back to her work and spend most of the day working on her computer till dinner time when she got up to feed us again. The break in the normality was early in the evening when she played some music as she normally won't do it as he is the one who plays his own music which she really hates. You see, he has a passion for what he calls '80s music' and she thinks that it is generally rubbish - I do share her opinion as that music can easily drive any healthy pussycat to a nervous breakdown.

So afterwards she was back to working, then having a little break to play with me and the other two, than some late dinner for her (she normally likes eating late as she goes to bed rather late or very early in the she likes working or studying at night when it is much quieter and easier for her to concentrate with few distractions - again I totally sympathise with her, it is better at night for play, work, prey and study...

So although nothing out of the ordinary happened all day, yet it felt strange and my other human's absence was noticed. It is so much better when he is around too, not only because I can get attention and also help him with his work on the computer (you can see I can type with my paws and click the mouse - although I could never understood why that plastic thing with buttons and the little red light is called a mouse, as clearly doesn't look anything at all like a mouse) but also because I like him too.

So I'm glad that the day has gone and that he is coming home today, so everything can go back to normal as I definitely like both my humans to be home.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Thursday 19th July - A rather strange day

I don't know if I've mentioned it before or not (probably I didn't as I was in a hurry yesterday) but I live in a house with two humans (a couple as they called themselves ) and two other cats (a female, 4 years older than me - I'm 3 - and a male, two years older). Before I give a quick description of my two humans I'll say a few words about the other cats who share the same roof with me. The female is a black one, a rather easily scared cat although she has improved a lot the last few months, and who I know how to put in her place. You see she knows that I'm the top cat, the one in charge and she will do whatever I tell her to do. She has her own hiding and sleeping places and I have mine, which she respects (by the way in case that you didn't know we, cats, have our own hierarchy system so we can live in perfect harmony in shared environments). The male one is white with, you won't believe this, ginger patches (yeap you read correctly, ginger) and he used to be a stray cat and was adopted and brought to our little family almost two years ago. Despite his history and the fact that he is a recent 'addition' he has some attitude problems and instead of being grateful and respectful he wants to be the top cat and occasionally he even tries to get his own way with the humans (poor thing, sometimes he can be soooo stupid and naive, you have to feel sorry for him...well I don't, as he is a pain in the ... tail!)

Anyway back to my humans now who they are at home all the time (well, almost) as they work from home, since we moved here and therefore they can give me attention, food and play with them when I feel like. You see we moved here into this small sea town about 8 months ago and there hasn't been a night that my humans haven't being around. Of course they go out occasionally for what they call 'choruses' and work related matters but they have always returned on the same day. Except from today that is.

My male human earlier today left the house with a small backpack and he hasn't being back yet. This is very strange and unusual but apparently he had to go back to London (where we used to live) for work matters and he won't be back till late on Saturday (I heard my other human saying on the phone). I mean this isn't something totally strange for human behaviour as he works for a London company but it feels really weird. For starters the house is really quiet. My other human is being working all day on her computer and although the TV is on, it still feels strange as there is hardly any human talking (except from her talking to me and the others) disagreeing or complaining about the mess one of us did in the litter tray (another subject which I will like to bring at some other time) or the amount of food we cats eat, etc.

To be honest I've never thought that I will miss the human noise they call talking, discussing and that the lack of it will make me feel really uncomfortable. Even the house feels really empty as the other two cats are sleeping (as usual) and my human is downstairs working so there is nobody upstairs although there is plenty of light.

I've never realised how much I have got used to my humans and how much their presence affects our lives till now. Scary, we are too dependent on these humans.

I can just hope that my remaining human doesn't have to go out tomorrow for a lengthy period as I don't think I will be able to cope with a totally empty of humans house!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

July 18th - A sunny day

It has been a really really bad summer. Not because of the rain and the not so warm weather but also because of the limited number of birds that are visiting our garden. You see I'm a cat that likes spending a lot of time sitting on the window sill or on the shelf and picking up sun rays while I observe the world outside, mostly the birds that are coming to eat and drink in our modest garden as well as that daring devil, mouse that occasionaly appears so he can steal some seeds from the birds without worrying about any predators. Although I'm an indoor cat and I don't consider myself as a predator as such, there are other cats that occasionally are visiting our garden (the nerve!) as well as the occasional sparrowhawk or other birds of prey as we live in small town with a lot of wildlife around us.

But in general our garden is pretty safe, this is why we have many bird visitors on a daily basis. Their main enemy at the moment is the notorious English summer...But today after almost a month and a half finally we have some sun and it is hot enough so I can sunbath next to the window. Normally my day is pretty busy, despite the general conception of us cats being lazy, I always find something to do and to be helpful but today I decided to make the most of the weather as sunny and warm days they have become this summer a rarity!

I was planning to give a better picture of my daily life but today I feel a bit lazy so I will do this at another time as now it is getting a bit late and I'm off to have my lunch and to make the most of this wonderful life.