Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dispelling Some Old Cat Myths

I don't know why but people attribute all sorts of things to cats that simply aren't true. They're "Old Wives' Tales" (or should we say "tails?") and I'd love to know who started them and why! It's all patently unfair.
The biggest myth about cats, across the board, is that they're solitary creatures who can take care of themselves and don't need much attention if any at all.  To which I can only respond: HUH?!  Are you kidding??!  Let's get this straight right now: Cats are solitary hunters but they are very social. Observing feral cats it has been found that they group together in what is called a "clowder." Yes, dogs form a "pack,' cats form a "clowder." When we bring them into our home we become their family, part of their clowder.  
Cats love attention and affection but they're not exactly like dogs which is where people make a huge mistake. Cats don't want to be stared at or approached first. They want to observe and make the first move. Look away.  Put one finger out and down at the cat's level and let the cat sniff it. This is polite behavior to a cat. 
Cats need attention, affection and interaction. Use an interactive toy to play with your cat and be sure to put it away between play sessions so your cat won't get into trouble with the string or any feathers or wires.
Another myth is that cats need to be outdoors. That's one of the most dangerous myths because your cat can be attacked by another animal, hit by a car, or otherwise be endangered. Your cat belongs in the house with you with lots of vertical space to go up, a nice view from at least one window, a scratching post and a cat tree, each with a sturdy base that won't tip over, fresh water and fresh food and clean litterboxes. Experiment with a variety of toys to see what your cat likes best. Some like balls, some like pipecleaner toys, trackball toys, soft toys to carry around, etc. Most like a variety from which to choose.
Leaving your cat alone for the weekend is not a good idea from a safety standpoint as well as the fact that he will be lonely. Just because you don't have to take him out for a walk doesn't mean that he doesn't need attention! And, yes, some cats enjoy being walked on a harness and leash.
You can train a cat. They can do just about anything a dog can do and respond very well to operant conditioning (clicker training).  This is also a way to keep your cat's mind engaged as well as exercise his body.  There is also cat agility and, perhaps, your cat would enjoy doing that. 
Frankly, you will get out of a cat what you put into it, just like any other relationship. A little love and attention will be returned more times than you can count. To quote an old TV commercial: try it, you'll like it! 


Jeane said...

So true! I've taught my cats to sit on command.

Darlene said...

Thank you for sharing! It's so much fun, isn't it? And there are so many more things you can teach your cat. Your cat will love it and so will you! :-)