|Posted on 11 August, 2017 at 8:10|
I love all animals but it is with cats that I feel the strongest connection. I was brought up with cats and am comfortable with every nuance and quirk of their nature. Cats and I experience a merging of energy that is beautiful and sacred. There is something about cats that draws me in and connects to my soul. The way they look, the way they move and the way they are so self-assured and well-equipped to do what their species was intended to do has a magical and mysterious quality to it. There is nothing quite like a cat.
Whilst it is possible for a human to train a cat in the same way as a dog, it is much more likely to occur the other way around. Cats are notoriously adept at getting humans to do their bidding.
My cat, Monty owns my heart and soul, which means that I obey his silent commands without hesitation, not realising what I am doing until it is too late.
It is no wonder that these stunningly beautiful, adaptable and highly intelligent creatures have been both the subject of worship and objects of fear and persecution since they decided to live within the vicinity of humans thousands of years ago.
Cats even have a special repertoire of vocalisations purely set aside for communicating with their humans. Most adult cats do not communicate vocally with one another unless is it related to mating, rearing kittens or territorial disputes, whereas kittens soon learn that humans are very responsive to the sounds that they make and use meows, chirrups, purrs and various other sounds to their advantage.
The power of a cat’s purr can be quite phenomenal. Scientists have been struggling to locate the source of the purr for decades. It seems to have many purposes. A queen will purr to comfort her kittens and let them know she is close by. A purr can also be a sign of happiness and contentment but cats also purr when they are in pain or feeling stressed as a way of comforting themselves.
Monty has a few different kinds of purr. He has a light purr to show his delight at finding a comfortable spot to sleep; a stronger purr for when he is enjoying some fuss or a good brush and also a persuasive, deep guttural purr for those moments when he is staring at you, trying to persuade you to feed him.
Felines also have a special language that is sometimes missed on humans. Slow blinking, head boops and nudges all form part of feline communication and are usually affectionate in nature. A cat who is pleased to see you will usually trot towards you with a raised tail and wind around your legs. A lot of feline communication is in the form of body language and territorial marking with scent and visual markers such as scratching with their claws.
Cats do not like to be stared at, although it seems to be perfectly acceptable for them to stare at humans when they want something. Offering a nervous cat a few slow blinks will often reassure them that you are not a threat. Cats like to know who they are dealing with and prefer to have the option to approach someone to greet them, rather than have a person charge up to them, pick them up and force their affections upon them. This will often result in the well-meaning person being scratched to pieces or bitten by a disgruntled kitty.
Approaching a cat should begin with the person crouching down low and offering a few slow blinks. When these blinks are returned by the cat, a hand should slowly be offered from a sideways angle for the cat to sniff. Always ensure that the cat has an escape route should it choose to run away.
If the cat finds the hand acceptable, it may offer a cheek to be rubbed. Softly rub the cheek and perhaps behind an ear, closely monitoring the cat’s facial expression and tail movements. If the cat’s face looks relaxed and the tail is still, you are in with a good chance of making a feline friend. If the cat has its ears back, even slightly and the tail is flicking, beware! Terminate the fuss and allow the cat to carry on its way. Cats command respect and more fool the human who does not adhere to this protocol.
Part of the appeal of cats is their interdependent nature and the fact that they like to keep themselves fastidiously clean, unless they are in poor health. They are usually solitary creatures in the wild, relying on their hunting skills and tenacity to stay alive but some wild cats, such as the lion, form social groups to increase their chances of successful hunting and reproduction.
Feral cats are domestic cats without a home. Some may be terrified of people because they were not socialised as kittens. They tend to live in large groups if there is an abundant supply of food and often get along well, spending time grooming one another and curling up together for a snooze. In locations where there are large populations of feral cats, charities often operate trap, neuter and return schemes to ensure that the place is not overrun with cats.
The same goes for domestic cats who do have a home. It is essential to get them neutered because numbers of cats can escalate so quickly, resulting in a wide variety of problems. Responsible cat guardians should ensure that their cats are neutered as soon as they reach breeding age at around four months.
Domestic cats get a bad reputation as being anti-social and aloof yet there are many domestic cats who form deep and affectionate bonds with members of all species, especially if they were brought up together. Anyone who has ever spent their life with a cat will know how strong this bond can be. Cats are unique creatures and make wonderful companions. It’s a shame that some people do not like cats. They are missing out!