by Suzanne Fisher
Being owned by a cat takes some getting used to. You have probably heard the saying, “You own a dog, but you feed a cat.” Roughly speaking, this means the ownership part of a relationship with a cat always resides with the cat. Here are some ways you can adjust to your new cat-owned status.
Learn to understand Cat Talk
Acquiring a thorough understanding of Cat Talk requires studying a cat’s body language, as demonstrated by its tail, and becoming familiar with the cat’s facial expressions.
Here are some important things to learn about tail talk:
- When the tip of the tail is moving, it means that the cat is aware of what you are saying and is relaxed with the fact that it can ignore you for as long as you can talk.
- When the cat’s tail movement has taken over one half of the tail, it means that you have just said something disagreeable to the cat.
- If this is followed by the whole tail moving back and forth, it means you would do well to shut up soon.
- If the tail switches back and forth fast, bumping against things with a loud thump, it means it is time for you to not only shut up, but to think about leaving fast.
- When the tail thrashes around and the eyes turn to glare at you, you may as well get your Nikes on and run for your life as you have just offended your feline friend.
Cats have a wide range of facial expressions.
- Mouth open and neck extended means a hair ball is imminent.
- Mouth open and teeth bared often means something stinks and the cat is trying to determine the origin of the stench – better hope it isn’t you.
- The intent stare is a pre-pounce mechanism to mesmerize and disarm prey. This is often seen when your toes move under the bed covers.
- Forehead furrowed means you have said something not quite believable to the cat.
- Once in a great while, the sides of the mouth curve upward in a smile.
Teaching your cat to play Fetch
First, find the cat. Then get you, your cat, and your cat’s favorite wand toy into the same room. Tell the cat that you want it to learn to play Fetch. Ignore comments from the cat such as “Are you possessed?”
Engage your cat in active play with the wand toy. Then throw the toy across the room. Your cat will look at you and then at the toy.
Encourage your cat to go get the toy and bring it to you. Tell the cat that play time is over unless it gets the toy. Direct the cat’s attention to the toy by pointing to it and saying things like, “Go get the toy. Fetch the toy.” Ignore the cat’s unsettling stare which, roughly translated, means “You silly human, what IS your problem?”
Continue to encourage your cat to fetch the toy. Promise your cat treats for getting the toy and bringing it to you. Promise to scratch or rub a favorite spot on the cat if the cat complies. Then go get the toy yourself.
How to Give a Cat a Pill
Successfully giving a cat a pill requires determination and a little advance preparation.
- Fill an eye dropper with water.
- First find the cat. Since cats read our minds, they usually evaporate before we convert the ‘give the cat a pill’ thought to action.
- Place the cat on a chair or bed. Open the cat’s mouth and pop the pill in, getting it on the back of the throat. Ignore the growl coming from the cat.
- Empty the eyedropper filled with water into the cat’s mouth. Ignore the louder growl coming from the cat.
- Hold the cat’s mouth closed and massage the throat until you feel a swallow. Ignore the thrashing around by the cat and the louder growl.
- Pick up the pill from the bed, mash it together and try again, beginning with finding the cat.
- When the pill is ptuied a second time, take the pill yourself. If the pill is an antibiotic, you probably need it at this point to counteract all the cat scratches you have gotten giving your cat a pill.
These simple suggestions will hopefully make your life with your feline friend go more smoothly.