A rare post about cats

In the course of my strange meandering life, I have had several different cats. I tend to rescue or inherit them, and since I am known to several different pedigree rescue and rehome organisations, I am now considered worthy of cats with special needs.

My ragdoll was unusually violent and considered insane, and was a little bit like a delinquent teenager when he first came.  He has shown excellent taste in humans and is now one of the happiest and most loyal cats I have ever had.

My bengal was a failed show cat, and is the mother of two of the best show cats in the world, however her unusual temperament meant that she was unable to be a show cat herself.  She is unusually intelligent and leads from behind, and has taught me a lot about cat handling and leadership strategy.

I got my cat-cred because of a Siamese I placed with an elderly friend.  He had been a stud, and when he first arrived he was so concerned by the lack of dominance in the house that he became quite aggressive with my friend.  Several hours of therapy ensued, during which I showed my friend how to explain things to a cat.  She thought spanking him was the answer, which of course is meaningless to a cat.  The way to deal with this is very gentle dominance.

You can do this with a blanket and your hand.  Wrap your cat up in the blanket, so that he or she cannot move, hiss and flex your fingers briefly, then let your cat go.  If you do this over a few days, your cat should then be able to relax as they know that you are a bigger cat and quite scary, but mean them no harm.  Shouting at your cat or chasing them is threatening, whereas gently telling them that you are capable of defending your mutual territory makes perfect sense, especially as in your cat’s head, you are doing the hunting.

My friend has terrible difficulties with my female Bengal, as he moves and talks much the same way she does.  She is deeply suspicious of his unpredictability as a result, and is utterly convinced that he plans to eat her.  From this you can see that cats interpret your moods with some considerable accuracy, and that your anxiety is deeply troubling unless your cat is secure enough to have achieved an advanced level of understanding.

With Bengals in particular, your facial expression also means quite a lot, so it is important to be serene for a happy cat life.

What scientific studies seem to have failed to understand is that cats are primarily spatial.  The territory, surfaces, physics of their surroundings are incredibly important as they are in the middle of a food chain.  You are part of those surroundings, and so they are also testing you as they go about their day testing how best to escape difficulties, how squashy the chair is, how far the light fitting can swing etc etc.  Surfaces that cannot be tested are a source of stress, so it is in your interests as a responsible cat owner to make sure they have access to as many as possible, especially at height.

Finally, cat relationships are determined by how well they get to know those surroundings, so if you are having problems with a dominant cat, it is simply a case of moving the furniture and getting the submissive cat in first so that they have the advantage.  For this reason I introduced my delinquent ragdoll to my trade union leader bengal on her territory, and it worked perfectly.  She pretends that he is in charge most of the time, but when it comes to bursting open a new box of pouches, enlists his muscle to break the box, whereupon she will slash the packets open for him so that they can find their favourite flavours. From this you can see who really wears the claws, but you would never know most of the time.

There ends a cute post about cats.


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