Mindful Monday – Does Your Cat Beg Like a Dog?

We’ve established many times on this blog that a cat is not a dog and vice versa. But it’s hard to deny that a cat will sometimes take on traditional, typical dog-like behaviors, whether they’ve been exposed to dogs or not. A cat might not look at you with adoration like a dog will or sit and stay on command, ride in the car with his head out the window, chase a Frisbee, or bring you a beer from the cooler. But she might greet you when you come home, take a walk with you, follow you around the house, bring you your slippers (if they aren’t too heavy, but usually not on command), ride in the car with you… And some cats will beg like a dog.

Lily is one of those. If there’s food, she will beg, and it doesn’t matter if she’s just eaten. In fact, she’s a three-meal-a-day cat. She and Sophie get lunch as well as breakfast and dinner. I always feed the cats before I get my own lunch. But, as soon as Lily finishes her meal, she starts stalking me until I fix my own lunch. If my lunch involves chicken or cheese or avocado or anything else she thinks she might like, she sits with me while I eat hoping for a handout. (I don’t give her any avocado—that’s a no-no for cats. And she’s on a strict diet, so if I cave and share some of my protein, it’s only a tiny token amount.)

How do cats beg? Lily simply sits near me as I eat at my desk or in front of the TV and stares. Even if I act more civilized and eat at the table, she stares at me and at the food—just stares. Occasionally, she’ll reach out with a paw and touch me as if to say, “I’m still here in case you want to feed me.” If I linger too long over my meal or seem not to be paying attention to Lily, she’ll put her paw in my plate and try to scoop someone off of it.

And why do you think she does this as often as she does? Well, yeah, because I usually reward her cuteness with a tiny morsel of whatever is safe for her to eat. And she knows that I will. When she sees the food disappearing from my plate, she moves a little closer and she might mew. The emptier my plate becomes, the more interested she gets. And when there’s only a few tiny bites left, she might even become so brazen as to lean over and try to take one of them. I can’t be too hard on her for doing that. Partly because she’s so dang cute! And partly because I often offer her that last tiny morsel. I scoot it to the edge of the plate and let her have it.

I guess every cat parent has rituals with their cats. I mean, how else do you get any of their attention? Right? These are sweet moments for me.

Does your cat beg? What other “rituals” do you and your cat share?

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Frivolous Friday – Cats in Boxes

What’s up with a cat’s fascination with boxes? Does your cat get excited when the UPS truck shows up and a box appears on the porch? It seems that she’s eager to see what’s inside the box, but no. As soon as you open it and remove the contents, what happens? In our household, Lily chews on the tape until I remove it and throw it away. She has a fascination for tape. In the meantime, Sophie walks around the empty box, sniffing it, looking it over, examining it. Then both of them (or one, if the box is small) will jump into the box and sit there for a while. Sometimes we’ll cut windows and doors in a large box and turn it upside down for the cats to go in and out of. They often engage in a game of patty-cake through the openings in the box—one on the inside and one on the outside. Cute.

Have you ever laid pieces of tape in a square on the carpet or bare floor and watched what your cats do? Here, Lily will try to chew on the tape, but eventually she step inside the square. Sophie will take her turn in the square—often lying down in there and taking a bath. You can actually create a square or circle from any object. Here, I did so with some of my books. As soon as Lily saw it, she stepped inside.

A couple of days ago I decided to see if my mother’s cat, Smokey (aka Rags in my Klepto Cat Mysteries) would do what most cats do when there’s the outline of a box on the floor. That is, to get inside the square or circle. First, I made a circle out of pieces of chalk–well, that’s what was handy. He ignored it for as long as he could–acting cool. Then he ambled over to the intriguing circle and began playing with the chalk, finally sitting down in the center of the chalk. When he walked away, I picked up the chalk and made a larger circle on the floor with his toys. This really got his attention. He rushed to the circle of toys and began picking a toy up and shaking it, then he’d drop it and pick up another toy, until he’d completely misshapen the circle. He seemed rather agitated until I returned his toys to the basket. Then he left the room. I don’t think he appreciates being laughed at. But we

When your cat sits or sprawls in a box you probably do what we do and take a picture. There’s just something amusing about a cat in a box. Here’s a site with a gallery of photos showing cats in boxes. Enjoy!  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cats-boxes-simons-cat-logic_us_5740653be4b00e09e89f3975

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Thoughts for Thursday – Update From the Klepto Cat Mystery Factory

It’s been a month since I brought out Book 30—Revenge at its Felinest and two months since the Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat debuted. And I’m hard at work on the next Klepto Cat Mystery, tentative title—Cats Don’t Squeal. Like it?

I’m happy to see that both Books 29 and 30 have garnered all 5-star reviews—so far. Yay!

So where am I with the book in progress? Let’s see if I can break my process down for you. First I come up with a basic story idea—whether it’s Rags’s humans and friends taking him camping, using Rags to flush out a kidnapper, a theme based in an eerie old mansion which conceals many secrets that Rags will reveal, or maybe initiating a drama around Rags’s friendship with Savannah’s horse, Peaches. So first, I determine where the story will take place, with which characters, and I start exploring plot ideas. Sometimes I do a simple outline, but generally, I just start writing and the story lines begin to emerge. That’s phase one.

Secondly I take the best ideas and start running with them—writing dialog and action into the developing story.

Once I have the shell of the story, which might involve sixty pages or even a hundred, I go back and begin the organization—making sure facts fit and match—so that the story line continues to have relativity, interest, and suspense. Facts are extremely important in fiction. If you write about a certain time period or automobile or weapon or fashion, it had better include correct information. I continually check facts—when did they stop making the Jeep Liberty, for example, what time period was a certain style furniture or fashion popular, what is a certain coat pattern on a cat called? (Sure I take time out to play with kittens every chance I get.)

Once the story is in place, I often make one full sweep through the manuscript to make sure the timeline is correct—that Thursday always follows Wednesday, for example, or if something is supposed to happen on Saturday that the countdown to that day is correct. Don’t want to confuse readers.

Next comes the massaging. I might decide there’s not enough Rags in a story, so I’ll give him something more to do. I may feel there’s too much dialog in one section that sort of makes the story drag rather than move it forward, so I’ll adjust that. Sometimes I create a new twist or turn just because I can and it sounds fun.

After that, it is pure editing—numerous reads for editing. When I can read through the manuscript without making too many changes, I turn it over to one or more readers. This gives me a chance to distance myself from the story. By the time the readers report back to me, I’m ready to edit again, considering some of their suggestions and impressions. At the end of that process, the manuscript is ready for the editor.

I get it back from her in about two weeks and I go through the editing process again as few as two more times and as many as five or six.

When I feel it’s ready, I turn the manuscript over to a formatter who prepares it for Kindle publication and a page layout person who prepares it for print. The layout person prints out the book as it will look when published and I go through that with a fine-tooth comb—yes, reading it word for word, scene by scene again once and sometimes more than once.

In the meantime, I’ve been working with the cover designer to develop the purrfect cover. And once all of the elements are in place, we publish. That’s when I start spreading the word to all of you who enjoy reading my stories…thank you, very much!!!

By then, I’ve pretty much outlined or at least have thought about a theme or destination for my next Klepto Cat Mystery. You keep reading them and I’ll keep producing them.

Klepto Cat Mystery website: http://KleptoCatMysteries.com

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Outdoor Adventures for the Indoor Cat

I’ve written before about how to offer the indoor cat the wonders of the out of doors. You can leash train your cat and take her for walks in the neighborhood or into the wilderness when traveling, for example. You can build a catio—a screened in room with a grass floor and some of your cat’s favorite plants inside. Or you can fence your yard and string an electric wire across the top of it to keep the cats inside. In any of these cases, be aware that you’re exposing your cat to fleas and ticks (in certain areas) and diseases that any free-range cats might bring around.

Most who keep their cats indoors simply make sure their cat has a wide view of the out-of-doors and fresh air coming in for them to feel and breathe. Here, we have a window perch for our cats where they can sit and look out the window comfortably. We open the windows when the weather allows, making sure the screens are secure. And we provide birdbaths, bird feeders, plants that attract birds, etc. to entertain the cats (and us). We also keep curtains and blinds open during daylight hours because I like a well-lighted room and so do the cats. If you have a particularly curious and maybe gregarious cat, you might look into cat-proof screens or grates to discourage cats from escaping through an open window.

Here are a couple of sites that help you to leash train your cat.

https://happycatshaven.org/knowledgebase/how-to-leash-train-your-cat/

https://www.adventurecats.org/backcountry-basics/train-your-cat-to-walk-on-a-leash/

 

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Newsday Tuesday – What’s Your Cat’s IQ?

Is your cat smarter than my cat? Could be. But I guess it depends on how cat intelligence is measured. Are cats that do tricks on command smarter? Maybe they’re simply calmer, can more easily focus on training prompts, and/or are more interested in treats as a reward.

Is Lily smart because she brings me her stuffed toys and sometimes my slippers? I guess this would be considered pretty clever behavior if it was prompted—if I said, “Lily, bring me your baby lamb or go get my slippers.” But Lily simply brings these things as she sees fit. It could be that she has a purpose in all this and I’m too dense to understand it.

Is a cat smart when she comes when called? I’ve never known a cat who would do that all the time. But yes, I think it shows intelligence when the cat comes if even only occasionally. Any discerning cat who recognizes her name when it’s called or who understands when she’s being summoned, will appear when offered something she wants—like a meal or a treat or petting.

What about cats that can tell time? Does your cat wake you up at the same time every day? Ours do and they let us know loud and clear when it’s time for a meal or a treat. And if we’re getting ready to go someplace, Lily will attempt to block our exit or distract us from the door especially if it’s coming up on a meal time. Her eyes and posture scream, “Don’t leave until you feed me!”

Is it conditioning based on habit and routine or is the cat actually planning, thinking, contemplating? Sometimes it seems they’re scheming.

Experts say a cat has the intelligence of a two or three-year-old child and a better memory than a dog or a monkey. They can learn words. No, they aren’t going to say anything to you, but a cat might respond (when they want to) when make a suggestion—“Treat, Eat, Toy, Go Out.” Our cats get excited when I say, “Bird.” Maybe it’s my tone of voice.

Lily seems to understand that the doorknob is the way in and out of a room. She joins me in the bathroom every morning and evening. And when she’s ready to leave, she stares at the doorknob until I turn it and release her from the bathroom.

Here’s an IQ test you can try with your cat. https://www.petcha.com/cat-intelligence-quiz/ I took it and learned that Lily and Sophie are average kitty-cats. Good to know.

 

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Mindful Monday – Never Shush Your Cat (and other Feline no-nos)

There are some things that experts say you should never do with, to, or around your cat and most of us have probably done them. For example, it’s thought that the shushing sound you make when trying to calm a nervous cat might actually make her more tense. It never occurred to me, but while we consider the “shhhhh” sound to be comforting, to your cat, some experts say it might sound like you’re hissing at her. Hissing, in cat language, is threatening not soothing.

Speaking of threatening, what about the stare? Some say you should not stare into a cat’s eyes. Why is that? Some cats are rather aggressive and will respond to a challenge. Yes, a stare can be considered a challenge. If you’ve ever watched two cats challenge each other, you’ll see them stare at each other until one drops his eyes and turns away or one of them attacks. Most docile domestic cats will stare into their beloved person’s eyes—sometimes for long periods. Maybe the cat’s waiting for that slow blink of affection. If you’re fortunate, she’ll return the blink. It’s oh, such a beautiful moment.

Never push a cat off a counter of other high perch (where she’s not supposed to be, for example). It won’t teach her anything and it could, in fact, harm her. People who depend on a cat always falling on their feet and who try to test this “fact” are asking for trouble (for the poor cat). Sure a cat, when jumping or even falling, can twist into position and most often land on his feet. But he can also end up injured. If you push a cat from a countertop, for example, he may not have time to rebound. Instead, encourage the cat to jump down or better yet, lift him down. If you want to keep your cat off the counter, good luck with that. One idea might be to bring in or build a great cat tree—you know, a climbing apparatus to keep your cat happy, entertained, and healthy. Tin foil can also be a determent for a cat who wants to be on the counter or claw the furniture.

What about the laser pointer? Sure it’s fun to watch a cat dart around the room after the little red dot. But think about it, is it really fun for her? What are we taught about cats early on during our relationship with them and by studying cat behavior? They love to chase, but, in order to keep them interested in chasing a feather on the end of a wand, for example, they must be allowed to catch it sometimes. There’s no way they can gain this level of satisfaction when chasing a laser pointer. Those things are for the amusement of people, not cats. Sure, you can offer a little exercise opportunity with a laser pointer if you want—but don’t torture and frustrate your cat by playing endlessly with that thing.

Don’t over-pet your cat. Is that possible? For some cats, yes. Sure, some cats love any and all petting they can get from anyone and everyone. Other cats have their limits. Sophie pretty much comes under the first scenario—she’ll accept petting anytime it’s offered and asks for it frequently—well, except from strangers. Lily loves being with us and sometimes she adores being petted. But she restricts us from enjoying sweet petting sessions with her. Sometimes she dips her back to avoid being petted. She’ll roll over and give you a play-bite when the petting or brushing has become too vigorous. I think she easily becomes over-stimulated and she’s not shy about letting us know. Some cats can become quite aggressive when they’ve had enough. While most will walk away at that point, others will bite and claw aggressively.

We take in cats as pets—care for them, buy them things, adjust our lives around their comfort and safety, isn’t that enough? No. It’s also important to understand and respect a cat, especially your particular cat.

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Frivolous Friday – Fan Felines

I love getting photos of cats from readers. You may notice I use them in my blogs occasionally. Here are some I’ve received over the years.

This is Fran’s cat, Zeppo. You might not be surprised that he has three brothers named Groucho, Harpo, and Chico living with him in Pennsylvania

Kali Blanca is only a kitten, but she’s already a seasoned traveler. She just went on tour with her person, Constance.

Kat has been following this blog from Arizona for several years. This is her cat, Tucker.

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Thoughts for Thursday – Dog Days of Summer for Lazy Cats

I feel sorry for cats in summer. It seems as though they’d get awfully hot under that thick coat of fur. I ask Lily, every once in a while, if she’d like to take off her coat. However, I guess the hot weather isn’t as hard on cats as it would seem—well, except for those who live out of doors or in pens without any cooling relief. And removing their coat is one of the worst things we could do. (More about that in a minute.) When I mention my own two cats, we’re talking cats kept inside with various cooling methods in place.

Here are a few facts with regard to cats and hot weather. While, of course, they can be overcome by heat, just as we can (we discussed this a few weeks ago), they are also engineered to handle the heat to some degree. Licking their fur, for example, is a method they use to cool down. They also seek out cool places to spend their days. A cat knows to conserve energy in the heat. So you might see your cats—especially those who live outside—sleeping more.

Are you thinking of shaving your cat in the summer so she’ll be cooler? Don’t do it! Cats’ fur is designed to keep them warm in the winter and provide insulation from the heat of the summer. This is not to say that cats are completely self-contained and the heat won’t harm them. It will. And it is up to us to make sure they have plenty of water to drink and to play in, if they’re so inclined. You may recall my post about water features you can provide for your cat on a hot day—ice cubes or ping pong balls floating in a pool of water, for example. Some cats will bat them around and stay cooler in the process.

What are some of your cat’s cooling habits? Have you used a cooling pad? Does she allow you to spray water on her to cool her down? Lily loves to drink from a spigot and generally gets sprinkled in the process. Katy used to lay inches from the swamp cooler or a fan. Winfield liked to poke his paw in a bowl of water. Most cats will simply sleep a hot  day away and become more active when the sun goes down.

 

 

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Let Your Cat Be Your Purrsonal Life Trainer

Do you marvel at how beautiful, energetic, relaxed, HAPPY, and healthy your cat is? Have you ever considered how he got that way? Sure, genes are involved, but what else do you think might contribute to your cat’s ability to rest completely, wake up refreshed, move freely, feel a sense of great satisfaction, and enjoy every moment of every day?

Just what do you think would happen if you took cues from your cat more often? Maybe if you stretched every morning before getting out of bed, you’d have less pain and stiffness. Maybe if you moved more like a cat does, you’d feel more energetic. What if you approached all of life with the energy, enthusiasm, curiosity, and wit of a cat? It would sure make your world more fun and interesting, wouldn’t it?

We’re told that ideally, we should live in the moment. It seems to me that cats take that bit of advice to heart. Try it throughout the day today. Just for today, turn off your worry button. Don’t think about what’s coming. Don’t fret about something you have to do later. Stop planning and scheduling every minute of the day. And don’t manufacture potential problems in your head. Just be in the moment. Invite your cat to join you and watch how he does it. It’s actually a very peaceful and healthy way of being. When you feel tired, curl up or stretch out and take a little nap. When you awaken, don’t grumble and complain, face the next moments head on with gusto and joy.

Cats know what they want and how to get it, whether it’s a lap to curl up in, your favorite chair, a treat, petting, or just some company. It’s not as difficult as you might think to get what you want like your cat does. Watch and learn.

What are his tactics? He makes himself available—not scarce. He’s where he needs to be in order to get what he wants. He engages you. He might let out a few chirps—or a loud meow, depending on his purrsonality. But that’s just one of his ways of asking for what he wants–his way of sweet-talking you–or expressing his opinion. You’ve already learned in life that you catch more flies with honey.

Your cat has a great sense of humor. We know how good laughter is for our health. While cats don’t laugh on the outside, who’s to say they don’t chuckle and even giggle on the inside? Cats take joy to a whole new level—I mean, when is the last time you marveled at a piece of string dangling from your scarf, a stream of sunlight coming through a window, or a wad of paper hurled through the air?

There, now you have it. If you want what your cat seems to have naturally—a svelte figure, a natural beauty, agility, the ability to relax and be at peace, tons of energy, the gift of laughter, and a knack for getting what you want, you just might want to be more cat-like. After all, if you’re like many of us you’ve said at least once or twice, “In my next life, I want to be a cat.”

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Newsday Tuesday – How You Feed Your Cat Can Also Affect Her Health

What do you feed your cat in? A tray left from last night’s frozen meal, a paper plate, a saucer from your grandmother’s favorite China set, or a cute designer cat food bowl? You might be surprised that it does matter how you feed your cat.

I had to chuckle when I wrote that last sentence because we have to use a strategy to feed around here. We just have the two cats now—but Lily is on a special diet and lusts after Sophie’s food. She will eat her food, but not if Sophie’s food is within sniffing range. If Lily happens to approach Sophie’s dish, Sophie will stop eating and leave. She won’t fight for the right to eat. I don’t know how she survived for 10 weeks on the streets. Lily has no problem sharing her meals, but Sophie is too sophisticated to try taking food from Lily. So here, we have to get Lily situated with her meal first—out of sight of Sophie. Then we watch Lily to make sure she doesn’t decide that the grass is greener around the corner.

Believe it or not, I can actually lure Lily back to her meal when she wanders, if I get down on the floor and pretend I’m going to eat with her. She loves an audience, even when eating. (The things we do for our cats!)

Ever hear of whisker stress? We discussed it here once. Some cats are particularly sensitive to having their whiskers rub on the sides of a bowl while they’re eating or drinking. Flat surface plates or shallow bowls are more comfortable for cats to eat and drink out of.

Some cats get chin acne from plastic bowls. We had this happen to one of our cats. We switched from plastic to metal and pottery and his feline acne cleared up. After further study on this issue, they now believe that it isn’t the plastic that creates the acne problem for cats, it’s the fact that plastic can’t always be cleaned as thoroughly as other types of eating vessels and the bacteria left on the plastic surface is actually the culprit, not the material.

A few years ago, I got tired of washing and re-washing the saucers I was using to feed the cats on, so I went shopping at a thrift store. I bought ten more saucers. I no longer had to wash the saucers after just a few meals. I could simply scrape and rinse the saucers and put them in the dishwasher. I had enough to last for several days. After visiting a cat café, however, and watching the host feed their array of cats using cardboard food trays—such as you would get when ordering a hotdog or French fries—I’ve started using these. You can buy them in bulk at big box stores. I ordered some online. So far that’s working for us.

However, then the question is raised: which way of feeding is more beneficial to the environment? How do you weigh the amount of water used in cleaning dishes against the waste entering landfills when using paper products?

How do you feed your cat? If he’s a flat-face Persian, he might require a wide, shallow bowl. A munchkin would have trouble eating from a deep bowl, too. We had a cat with an enlarged heart. When he started having issues, our veterinarian suggested elevating his food and water bowls. So we placed Max’s meals on a six-inch high stool so he was more comfortable while eating. This big-hearted guy lived to be well over seventeen years old.

One benefit of using paper products in which to feed your cat is for sanitary reasons. I think we’ve all seen horribly crusted-over feeding dishes in industrial districts where feral cats are being fed and in backyards where the resident cats run free. Sometimes the ants beat the cats to the meal. Not very appealing or sanitary. Whatever type of feeding container you and your cat decide upon, make sure it is clean at each feeding. Feed freshly opened cat food or food that’s been kept in the refrigerator for not more than a day. Always provide one (preferably more) bowl of fresh, clean water. Keep in mind that if the water is outside or if you have a pet door to your house or garage, wild animals and other neighborhood pets could be eating and drinking from your cats’ plates. When this happens, the remaining food and water could be contaminated.

If your cat isn’t eating as much or as eagerly as you think she should or if she seems to struggle at mealtime, consider the issues we touched on here and try to remedy the problem with, perhaps, a different type of vessel for her food and/or water.

Posted in About Cats, Cat Health | 2 Comments