10 Steps for Starting a Relationship with a Cat
[Guest blog: From the creator of Meowspace, one of our special sponsors on CAT CHAT®, comes a few words of wisdom on bonding with your kitty. —Tracie Hotchner]
Most of my life has been spent with dogs. I never needed nor wanted a cat until the last few years, and I probably would not have made the choice to get one had I not been tricked…er…convinced…that I actually needed one to function effectively in this world.
The main problem I ran into was finding an easy manual. I mean, why can’t instructions for controlling a cat be as simple as the one you get when you buy a GPS for the first time? It might look something like this:
Welcome, and congratulations on your recent feline acquisition. Our limited warranty is virtually worthless so get over your silly human expectations, and get on with the business of trial and error. Especially the error.
- YOUR CAT OWNS YOU, not the other way around. He put out his invisible, magical claws one day and hooked you. You might have been bathing, eating, working or sleeping at the time. No matter, once selected, you were reeled in, and eventually the two of you were brought together. You probably were too entranced to hear your cat’s relatively inaudible victory chant – “GOTCHA!”
- INTRODUCING YOUR NEW CAT TO YOUR HOME: When you first enter your home with your cat, don’t say things like, “This is YOUR room, Fluffy!” You will only convince your cat that she’s right about you being a total idiot. Simply let her loose and she will tell YOU which rooms are hers. Be prepared to find out that YOUR room is now shared quarters. Give in quickly and save yourself much aggravation.
- 1ST (AND EVERY) VETERINARIAN VISIT: Make the cat carrier a home away from home: Blanket, food, catnip, water, mousies. He needs to believe he is simply going on a comfy vacation. Do not, under any circumstances, change your tone of voice when you put him in the carrier. He will make your life a living hell for the time it takes you to finally get him inside. In the car ride over, he will change his usual voice to something you never heard from him. If his usual sound is a high pitched “Meh,” it will become a baritone “Me-yowooooo.” This is to make you feel horrendously guilty. You should.
- TEACHING HER TO GET ALONG with other beings in the household: Your first error is the word “Teaching.” She’ll teach THEM how to get along with HER (you are included in “them”). There is no reward great enough to manipulate her around this issue, so once again, acceptance will be key to your sense of well-being.
- SHOWING YOUR CAT LOVE: He will show you how to love him. This is where trial and error comes in. You may have to try things out because he just sits there and looks at you. If you end up with a scratch or bite, probably don’t do that one again. He may be more demonstrative, but don’t make assumptions. Sitting on your lap does not necessarily mean “pet me.” Head butting does not necessarily mean “kiss me.”
- ASK NOT WHAT YOUR CAT CAN DO FOR YOU. Ask what you can do for your cat.
- REMEMBER THAT YOUR CAT CHOSE YOU: Try daily to understand WHY your cat chose you. You will very likely learn that it was always in your interest, and your life will only get better.
- PRACTICE GRATITUDE: Enjoy the benefits of having a cat in your family. You will smile and laugh more, be comforted when you are anxious, be warm when you are cold, and have a strong companion and ally.
- BE PREPARED: Make sure your phone has a good camera, and that you know how to use it, quickly!
- MAKE NEW FRIENDS: Don’t expect that your friends who are not attached to a cat will understand your new obsession. They won’t. They will just shake their heads and find ways to avoid you. From here on out, be on the lookout for crazy cat people with whom to fill your social calendar. They will understand you, and will make you feel like you belong.
Should you find yourself having regrets, remember, the cat is working fine, so there are no refunds. There are no defective cats, just ineffective humans. Reach out for counseling and training. Classes are for changing people behavior, not cat behavior. (Hint…the one will automatically change the other.) Cats get this.
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