Did you ever see cats looking like this? Cats love living in an ordered world, including how they arrange themselves spacially as they eat, sleep, meditate, and play. Oftentimes, two of my cats will perch themselves on the same living room window sill, facing each other in an identical pose, looking perfectly content with their arrangement and with the world in general.
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It’s 11:00PM. You’re up against a deadline to finish a report for work. You’ve just belted down a strong cup of coffee and you’re on the home stretch. One more section to go and you’re done! Hmmm, you think to yourself, the cats have been amazingly quiet.
Just as you touch your keypad, something distracts you out of the corner of your eye. You glance over your shoulder. There they are – both of them – perched atop your side desk, staring at you. Their stare isn’t just any casual gaze. Their eyes are large, round, intense and compelling, their stare unwavering. You know what they want – your undivided attention!
What is it about cats that drive you to stop whatever you’re doing, and attend to their every whim?
Cats are intelligent creatures. Once they figure you out (which doesn’t take very long), you’re putty in their little paws. They know exactly what to do and they do it. If you make the fatal mistake of catering to them the first time, they will repeat the process again and again, and you’re hooked.
Here are just a few of the many techniques employed by the cats in my household (or, should I say, theirs).
- The Stare Down. It works every time. It elicits a response something like, “Hey cutie, what is it? What do you want?” Bingo!
- The Wait. They wait patiently in the kitchen until they see a human approach. From that point forward, it’s a steady litany of me-owwws, some extremely lengthy and desperate. They don’t let up until you put the food bowls down, with their dinner just the way they like it. Success!
- The Hit and Run. You’re reading a magazine on the couch, your collection of magazines neatly stacked in front of you on the coffee table. Out of the blue streaks a wild cat, leaping onto the stack, scattering them halfway across the room. You slap down the magazine and get up to fix the mess. The me-owwws start, with longing looks towards the kitchen. Mission accomplished!
- The Toy Closet Vigil. My cats know where I stash their wand and laser toys. If I am within an ear shot of “the” closet, they assemble like soldiers in front of it. If I start to walk past them, they begin lightly scratching on the closet door, elevating to full, obnoxious scratching, however long it takes. Fifteen minutes later, after a decent play session, they nonchalantly saunter away while I’m still waving the toy, collapse on the floor, and casually survey the room as if to say, “You can put that thing away now…I’ll let you know when I’m ready to play again.”
- The Heart Stopper. This works something like the Hit and Run, only you’re lucky to survive. In the middle of the night, you’re experiencing a deep REM sleep. Your feline 757 lands with a thundering thud on the bed, skipping to the end of the runway, heading directly into your face. Not only do you wake up with heart palpitations, you wake up to a set of wild, black pupils staring into yours. After convincing yourself it’s not a nightmare, you desperately try to fall back asleep. That’s when they repeat. You get up. They me-owww, you follow them, tripping down the stairs into the kitchen. This is a win-win (for the cat, not for the two of you)!
If you haven’t yet experienced any of the above, it’s probably because you have cats that have employed other techniques that have proven successful, or else you’ve just adopted a cat today who hasn’t yet figured you out. Don’t worry – he’ll have you “trained” by the end of the week, and you won’t even know it!
AOL.com recently posted an article about dog people who prefer a cat who has their canine’s “extroverted playfulness”, compared to a cat who displays “quiet affection.” They like cats who will fetch; go swimming; come to you when called by name. They then proceed to list all of the purebreed cats whom they say act like dogs, like the Maine Coon, Burmese; Ragdoll; Burmese; Manx and others.
While I understand the point, it somehow doesn’t sit quite right with me.
I don’t believe the notion that only certain breeds of cats are extroverted or playful, to the exclusion of all other cats.
First, just like you and me, and the dogs in our lives, each cat has a distinctly unique temperment. There may be characteristics we think are common to some types of purebred cats. And, not just in the case of purebreds but in the case of mixes – you’ve heard of a calico cat’s “catitude” or an orange tabby’s easy going temperment. However, in the final analysis, their background, upbringing and interactions with humans have significant bearing how they act as adult cats, forming their unique personality traits.
Having said that, from observing and interacting with many types of cats over my lifetime, it’s very obvious to me that far more (socialized) cats have a playful, receptive personality than not. Interestingly enough, the regular garden variety of cats, like tortoiseshells or tuxedos especially follow this pattern. They, like their canine counterparts, co-habitate well with other household pets; are energetic and playful; and like interaction with humans. However, just because cats are “quietly affectionate”, doesn’t mean there isn’t a perfect human match for them out there as well!
The long and short of it is…let’s not stereotype our feline friends! Finally, let’s celebrate their uniqueness and realize there is a place in our lives for the adventurous Tigers as there is for the quiet, affectionate Lilies.