A cat that can’t get to or doesn’t feel comfortable using his litter box is liable to leave you an unwelcome present on your one-of-a-kind Oriental rug. If she doesn’t have enough scratching posts and pads around, she will enjoy clawing on your leather sofa. This is your cat teaching you about her needs. And if you neglect to listen, your life could become quite nightmarish.
Some cats teach themselves tricks such as, opening the cupboard where the kibbles bag is kept, knocking the phone off the stand whenever it rings, becoming a feline alarm clock or traveling long distances back home when displaced.
A cat in Britain taught himself how to ride the bus. And he is the only passenger that doesn’t have to pay for the privilege. Every day he waits on the curb near a regular bus stop. When the driver pulls over and opens the door, the pure white shorthair cat jumps aboard. He rides only a few miles either on the front seat or under it. When the bus stops again, he hops off and, according to the bus driver, seems to head toward a nearby fish and chips place. How does he get back home? No one seems to know. But the next day, there’s the cat on the same corner waiting for the bus to take him to the restaurant.
Did you know there are cat trials where participating cats are asked to run an obstacle course? I watched one of these on TV once. That day, the cat who was expected to clock the best time, flat out refused to run.
Now, if this had been a horse or dog race, there would have been some heck to pay. Heavy betters would be enraged. Owners would fire their trainers and put the animals up for sale. But this event involved cats—you know, those furry little critters with minds of their own? And when the favored kitty didn’t run, no one got upset. No one blamed the cat or the handler. Everyone knows that, no matter how well-trained he is, a cat will perform only if he thinks it’s his idea.
You can not invite a cat into your home and heart and then tell her to stop behaving like a cat. You can’t effectively set strict rules and boundaries for a cat—not without her permission. In order to achieve harmony in a home with cats, you must listen to your cats and truly understand their needs and desires.
If they love to claw on things, provide them plenty of opportunity. If they prefer the fabric on your sofa to that on the cat scratcher, reupholster the cat scratcher with similar material. Maybe your cat really, really, really wants to be outside, but you have deemed him an indoor cat. Rather than stand by while he tears at your window screens and dashes for the door every time it’s open, why not build him an area where he can enjoy the out of doors in a safe environment.
Dinah was not an indoor kitty. From the moment I adopted the 8 month old long-haired tortie from the Humane Society, she let me know that, while she loved being inside the cozy house and lap-sitting was one of her favorite activities, she also needed—I mean desperately NEEDED—to be outdoors. The scrappy little cat and I battled about this issue for days. And guess who won? While all of our other cats were contended to be inside kitties, Dinah gained the privilege of going outside whenever she wanted to. Our only compromise was that she slept inside at night. She could go outside after dark only under supervision.
And it was a good thing we caved in, too, because she absolutely refused to use a litter box. Even during periods of torrential rain, she insisted upon going outside to potty.
As far as I know, this cat never ever used the litter box. Neither did she ever have an accident. From Dinah, I learned persistence and, again, being true to oneself.
What else can we learn from our cats?
- Cats teach us to be real. They don’t put on pretenses. They are who they are every minute of their existence.
- They know where they belong. Like the refrigerator magnet at my mom’s house says, “If you want the best seat in the house, move the cat.”
- They demonstrate the importance of taking care of their own needs first and foremost. You may need to take a nap, but you’d better feed a hungry cat, first, or you won’t get any rest.
- And they show us how to get what we need whether it is food or affection, for example. How? Ask for it. In fact, insist upon it.
We’ve all observed the patience of a cat when she’s stalking her prey or simply practicing her prowess with an elusive butterfly. Would that we could all be that patient while waiting in line at the grocery store, for example, or when stuck in gridlock.
Not everyone finds cats captivating and not every cat will tolerate those people who don’t. Maybe you’ve noticed this: A cat can walk into a room full of people and pick out the ailurophobes (those who fear or dislike cats). You’ll recognize them, too. Just watch to see who your cat gravitates toward. I don’t think it’s that the cat wants to scare or anger the person, rather, perhaps he hopes to change them.
Many a cat has wormed her way into what was once a closed heart. Unsuspecting cat haters, throughout the centuries, have been taken in by the allure of calculating cats. And most of them say in their own defense, “This cat isn’t like all the others. This cat is different.” In reality, these people just never bothered to acquaint themselves with a cat before. That’s all. To know one is to love him, right?
For more kitty cat fun, read Catnapped and Cat-Eye Witness–the first two books in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. Both are available for your Kindle. Order yours at Amazon now.