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What I know about Cats: 


Not much, it turns out. lol

Oh, I know a lot about MY cats... but cats in general?  No.  First, there's not nearly as much known about cat behavior as there is about dog behavior... on the one hand, they're predatory animals: they only become snuggly with smaller beings when those beings stop breathing (yes, I've chased down cats to retrieve more than 1 dead mouse when it's been snuggled longer than I felt was warranted).  On the other hand, cats often FREAK OUT and act like prey (like when the dog is chasing them), then when you try to pick them up to offer safety, they turn their freaked-out-ness on you.

I have 3 cats (I am not what I'd consider to be 'a cat person', so I don't even know how I ended up with 3 of them!).  I'm a dog person.  I know what to do with a dog.  I know I can hug my dog without greasing the way with a smelly treat, and she will just wag and look at me like I created all the smelly treats just for her.  If I hug a cat unexpectedly, chances are good that I'll come away bleeding, at the very least.  I have 3 cats, each with a different 'tolerance level' where touching is concerned.

  • Achmed is a blue/white geriatric Persian, neutered, about 10 yrs old.  He's relatively easy to groom, but only because I've had him his whole life, and I've taught him the value of his cooperation.  And, he's taught me the value of the Reward for this cooperation... in the form of Squeeze Cheese.  I can do any grooming, so long as Hubby is present and uses the Squeeze Cheese.  I often remind Hubby that Achmed loves him AND his food.  And, if you have a long-haired cat, then you understand how important the grooming  is... there is absolutely nothing so gross as a long-haired cat with diarrhea. The diarrhea is bad enough, but chances are good that you won't know there's a digestive issue until he's caked with cat litter in addition to the diarrhea. {shudder}  If this cat doesn't cooperate with grooming, life can get pretty miserable.  The other end can get pretty gross too (his face).  Long hair all around his mouth tends to collect wet food like an old man gets food in his grizzled old beard... yeah, exactly like that.  Here's the thing: Achmed is more 'touchy' than either of the others... he rubs his gross face and butt on me all the time.  And Achmed is a complainer.  He doesn't just talk to me... he follows me from room to room, and complains about all the crap he's had to deal with while I've been at work.  I swear, his tone ends every sentence with a cuss word. lol



                                                                                                   Jezebel is a 7 yr old female tortoiseshell, spayed.  Poor Jez has lived here for her whole life, but she came to us right before I had a stroke, so she didn't get a lot of the training and the association that goes along with that training.  So, she lived her first couple of years exclusively in the laundry room (she chose to be there, not leaving because there was a DOG in the rest of the house, and I was concerned with learning to use my body parts again, rather than teaching her to like the dog).  It took another couple of years to teach her to feel safe in the rest of the house, even with the DOG there, and even nail-trimming puts both myself and my Hubby in harm's way. Good thing she has short hair,


because I don't think there's enough Squeeze Cheese in the world to make Jez not want to go into Buzz Saw mode if I even look like iI might be thinking about brushing her (I have a 1" scar on the palm of my left hand from learning this lesson)... I don't want to even think about what it would be like to give her a bath.  And too, Jez has issues with the litter box.  Coupled with her willingness to use her claws at the slightest provocation (which means that I can't just pick her up and put her in the litterbox), I spend a lot of time luring her to the closest one, and trying to convince her that the litter box is her F-R-I-E-N-D.


    As an aside, I've done some reading, and it seems that the genes that give tortoiseshell-coated cats their cool colors also tend to make them NUTS.  So, Jez's natural NUTS-ness and her unfortunate beginnings (sans trainig/socialization) have made her pretty psychotic.  Jez isn't as snuggly as the 2 boys are... she'll often sit 10 feet away from all of us on the couch, and just watch us.  The 2 boys are very vocal with me and Hubby, Jez is 

only vocal with the boys... she doesn't talk to either of us humans.  She is also the one most likely to kill someone in their sleep, whether human or animal.  She tends to be snarly in her dealings with all living beings.

Muhammed is a biter.  Actually, he’s kind of on the fence between being a cuddler and a biter… he acts snuggly, like he really hopes you’ll *try* to snuggle him.  He comes up on the couch, gets as close as he can without actually touching… but if any of his body parts actually TOUCH any of yours as he’s making biscuits beside you on the couch, he’ll reach over sneakily and take the tiniest piece of nerve-laden flesh (usually on my arm,

while I’m trying to knit or sew) between his teeth… then he’ll put more and more and more pressure behind his teeth… he’s never drawn blood.  But he stares into my eyes the entire time (sometimes h-o-u-r-s) until I say “uncle”.  Or a really bad word.  Then he’ll lay down, like that’s what he intended from the first.


 I know that cats are WAY different from dogs... they aren't as domesticated, for one.  There is a difference, in my mind, between the words 'tamed' and 'domesticated'.  Cats and cows are 'tame' animals... they've been bred to be in relatively close proximity to humans over a few centuries.   Dogs are different... they've been honed for it's been estimated over 10,000 years to the point where it's necessary to 'train' them like children to live with us as family members.   What I mean by this is that dogs have been bred and taught and culled and groomed and bred and then culled some more to be the awesome companions that they are... cats started later, and have been valued more for their 'independent natures', so they've been allowed to retain their aloof personalities more than dogs have.  Cats can learn, just like dogs can learn... but their learning depends a lot more on how the results might benefit THEM individually.  And they don't care if you like it or not.  'Willingness to please' is not even considered in describing a cat's personality, like it is with dogs... you might see 'Willlingness to consider it', but not 'Willingness to please'.  An independent dog just isn't as valued as a companion, and that was the point of all that careful breeding and culling of litters.  When someone tells me that they want a dog that won't demand attention, I advise them to get a cat.


The difference between cats and dogs, as pets.  See above.

Cats in the litter box.  I have 3 cats.  I have 3 large litter boxes in different areas of the house, to try to please everyone.  2 litter boxes are in rooms that are baby-gated so that the dog can't get to them... the third box is in the living room, away from most traffic so that Jez feels like she's a part of everything (because she wouldn't use the other 2), but far enough away to feel safe.  I use unscented litter... if I mess up and buy the scented stuff, you can see the cats circling for a good while around the boxes, trying to decide whether to chance it.  The cats don't care for the 'fresh' scent, and the point is to get them to use them.

By the way, the litter boxes here aren't covered... my cats don't seem to like that.  They are positioned so that one end is under a shelf or table, so that they feel sequestered, which they seem to like.  I also don't use 'litter' boxes designed for cats, because I think they're too shallow.  I use those big plastic RubberMaid-type storage boxes, because they're a lot deeper than the litter boxes that I've seen.  My cats tend to THROW cat litter as they're scratching, and it often ends up all around the litter box.  Then, I've caught my cats acting like they might be thinking about using that discarded cat litter AROUND the box... the deeper boxes help with that.  In addition (this is just weird), one of the litter boxes is in the laundry room  After using it, Achmed will move all around the room, scratching lightly at several different items... the outside of the litter box, then the throw rug, then the dryer, then the garbage can... who knows what that's about.  I don't really care, so long as he's using the litter box for it's intended purpose.

I'll help you as much as I can... but it's a cat.  You might have to cut me some slack.

Brenda Rushman, CCBC




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