Cats Shouldn’t Eat… first published earlier this year

I am an animal lover.  I admit it unashamedly.  Anyone and everyone who knows me, even slightly, will know that. My first, as yet, unpublished, book is about my cats.  So, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I am signed up to a number of blogs, etc, about animals.

I received an e-mail today that told me about a number of common foodstuffs that cause cats a problem if they eat it.  That got me thinking.

Four cats, all with different tastes in food.  All with different eating habits.

Rhea, for example, loves a spider plant.   She’ll have a little chew whenever she can.  I tell you, I can put a Sergeant Major to shame now, for my shouting abilities.  I’m sure that isn’t good for her,
“You ‘orrible little cat, get off that plant!”

Artemis: Pretty much anything that is edible goes where she is concerned.

Oceana: she is convinced that she’s human, except of course, when she is bringing mice home.  And is very keen to take food off of my plate (or anyone else’s, come to that).  Even the bones of sprats, which was one occurrence.

Telesto: I think she comfort eats.  For a cat that doesn’t much like humans, she certainly finds enough humans to feed her.  Anyone who puts food out for stray cats or the foxes, Telesto finds her way to their homes and then comes back her for seconds.  I seriously thought she was suffering from bulimia when she vomited over my freshly changed bed linen on Monday morning.

And Dreamies.  They will do almost anything for Dreamies.  Or the supermarket home brand equivalent.  Rattle a bag of Dreamies and I can do anything.  Actually, I’m a bit surprised that they still fall for that one, but they do.  Polythene bags.  What is the fascination for polythene bags?  Rhea loves a little chew of them; Artemis tries to sit in them.  (I know, I know…)

Cats are curious.  Whatever it is, they want to know all about it.  This morning, Artemis was standing like a meerkat, sniffing the bottom of my coat.  (That will be the dogs I stroke on the way to work.)  They even go through the waste bins, just in case I have inadvertently thrown away some food that might be essential for their survival.  I can’t have a glass of wine without them checking that it’s not something they might like.

Telesto knows that she doesn’t like peanut butter, but it doesn’t stop her from holding a full inspection of my breakfast every morning.  Just in case something might have changed.
So I’m not surprised that cats often eat things that they shouldn’t. I’m only surprised that they stop where they do.

©Susan Shirley 2014

Guard Cat Rhea and Cat Language

Regular readers know that I have four cats and love them dearly. Sometimes they do things that really confuse me, other times, they just make me laugh. Rhea’s behaviour when someone comes to the front door is an example of this.
I first noticed it a few weeks ago. Someone knocked on the door and she ran to door growling. I’d never seen this in a cat before.
“Does she think she’s a dog?” I wondered.
Nothing else in her behaviour changed, she’s a very loving little thing, so I thought no more about it. Until it happened again. And again. It now happens every time someone knocks on the door. Wherever she is in the house, she runs to the front door, growling.
One of the reasons that cats growl is that they feel insecure or threatened, and it is actually not as an uncommon as I thought for cats to growl when someone comes to the door. It’s their way of saying,
“Go away, you’re not welcome here.”
Cats also growl when they are angry. And if they start hissing and spitting, leave them well alone.
Why has she just recently started this behaviour? I don’t know for sure, but I think it is because she is predominately a house cat. She will occasionally go outside, if the weather is nice and I leave the back door open, she’ll stay out for a while. But the moment that door closes, she is like a little Meerkat, standing on her hind legs at the door, until I let her back in. She has never stayed out over night and shows no signs of wanting to do so. (Which is just as well, I don’t like my girls being out overnight.)
So, because she is in the house most of the time, it’s her domain, her territory. And she’s very fussy about who comes in. The funny thing is, if someone comes in, she will usually hide. As I said, she can be a little timid.
Rhea is a great talker. If I pick her up, she says “yes” or “no.” Seriously. That’s exactly what the noises she makes sound like. In fact, all of my girls like a little chat. Particularly when they see birds in the garden. I’ve always called the noise they make when they see birds chattering, but it’s also known as chirruping or chirping. It’s a very distinctive sound, and only ever use this when they are watching birds.
I’m pleased to say that they all purr. My Titan had the loudest purr. I even recorded it and used it as my ‘phone ring tone, it was so loud. Most times it’s a good sound, but did you know that cats sometimes purr when they are distressed or in pain. It seems that it is the cat equivalent of sucking a thumb or some other similar comfort gesture.
Then there’s the meow. I think cats must be Italian, because, in the same way that in Italian, the same word can have several meanings, cats do this with meow. It can mean,
“Hurry up and feed me,” or
“I’m not in the mood for you to stroke me, I’m annoyed with you,” or
“Cuddle me.”
And then there is the yowl. Usually, this means the cat is in some sort of distress. However, quite often, male cats will make this noise when they are engaged in a turf war. Two of the male cats around here sit in my garden making this noise for hours. It’s also, apparently, a noise they make in mating behaviour. Obviously, I wouldn’t know about that, my cats are just not those type of girls.
Cats also use body language to communicate, but that’s the subject of another post. So, for now,
“Miaow.”

©Susan Shirley 2014

 

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The Secret Life of Cats

The BBC is screening “The Secret Life of Cats” tonight on BBC2.  The scientists doing the research say that we know more about the big cats than we do our domestic cats, although it seems, from the trailers, that some of the cat owners don’t agree with that.  One owner says he can tell what his cat wants from the purr.

I have four cats and I think I know a bit about them, so it comes as no surprise to me to learn that they are opportunistic, manipulative, devious thieves.  And adorable.   Don’t forget adorable.  I’ve owned dogs as well as cats, and I love them both, but they are very, very different.  Cats aren’t necessarily less loving, they just don’t need the same kind of approbation that dogs do.  (But they do need love and attention, and my four are testament to that.  More jealousy than in a sophomore’s dorm.)  They are far more self-sufficient than dogs, and don’t ever want anyone to think they make a mistake.

Only today, my little Telesto was playing Mad Hatters (that’s the game when she chases some imaginary creature and then kills it), and then caught herself up in the duvet as I was trying to change the bed linen.  She ended up falling off the bed, still caught up in the duvet and scared herself half to death because she struggled to get out.  She ran and hid for hours after that little turn out.

Then, because my friend Kate had come to stay, she and her sister showed off and wouldn’t come into the house for several hours – and several treats.  Well, why not manipulate the situation a bit more?  Funny how once the food came out, they were over us like a rash.

They all have their own little characters, and their own funny little ways, but never doubt that they want love and affection because they do, and it isn’t all cupboard love.  I’m sure they do line up a second home in case they need to move out – actually, I don’t blame them for that.  I’ve done the same myself in the past.  They are special little creatures who have their own particular needs, and if we humans can’t fulfil them, they’ll go elsewhere.

I’d love to get my girls wearing those mice-cams, but I know they’d only last a couple of hours.  I might not be able to follow them everywhere, but I do know a bit about the way they live their lives, and how they know exactly which side their bread is buttered.

©Susan Shirley 2013