Cats are NOT DogsI don't know how many times I've cringed at reading or hearing "my cat thinks he's a dog." This statement is always meant as a compliment. My dear step-father, who was a Texan and a dog man through and through, found himself falling for a Manx cat named Bobby. The only way he could justify this relationship was to proclaim, "Bobby is just like a dog."
While cats may sometimes deign to play fetch, their motivation may be different than a dog's. A cat thinks he's training you to throw the ball or toy. He is practicing his hunting skills and returning his "kill" to you.
Cats do not enjoy the rough and tumble kind of play that dogs do. Men often make this mistake with cats. While it may be fun "roughing up" a kitten with your hands , it is teaching very bad habits to a future cat. I'd warn any man who might have a cat the size of my Jaspurr, that to try to wrestle with him on the floor is to invite serious scratches. The cat is not playing, he is honing his skills for killing prey. While he may not go for the jugular, those "rabbit kicks" can hurt.
Cats do not offer us the mindless devotion that dogs usually do. A cat that has been beaten or abused will not cuddle up against his abuser, asking for forgiveness. It is up to us to earn their respect, and their devotion will follow. That devotion will take the form of unconditional love, and is well worth the attention we give them.
A Cat is NOT a Small, Furry HumanAs much as many of us like to anthropomorphize our cats, they have distinctly different cultural and physical backgrounds.
- Cats Have No Morals
A female cat in heat will breed indiscriminately, as will male tom cats. Two tom cats may fight to the death over that queen in estrus. Given her desires, she would mate with them both.
Cats left to roam outdoors will kill mice, rabbits, and songbirds. Cats are obligate carnivores, and their instinct is to catch and kill prey, whenever available. True, if fed a nutritious, well-balanced diet at home, they may not eat their kill. Instead, a cat might deliver the dead bird at his human's feet, much as a mother cat would bring dinner home to her kittens.
In both of the areas mentioned above, part of the responsible care package involves spaying and neutering our cats, and helping them lead a happy indoors-only life.
- Cats Were Designed Different Than Humans
During the Pet Food Recalls of 2007, I saw many people post comments such as, "I just feed my cat the same food I eat, so I know he'll be healthy." This is false security.
You see, cats' digestive system was not designed for processing the large quantities of carbohydrates we humans consume regularly. Cats require larger amounts of taurine than humans do; as obligate carnivores, cats require muscle meat, and certain organ meats such as hearts and liver, to fulfill their nutritional requirements.
Cats' claws are a vital part of their anatomy. They use their claws for protection, and as a means of bringing down prey. A declawed cat is a deformed cat.
- Cats Are Stoics
Cats do not always let us know immediately if they are sick or in pain. It's fairly common knowledge that a cat in pain may still purr. While a limp or a bloody gash will be a visual red flag that a cat needs to go to the vet, other symptoms may be so subtle that we don't notice right away. For that reason, I counsel my readers to know your cat intimately. Know her habits, her normal demeanor, the condition of her coat. Part of your plan should be a ritual physical examination of your cat at regular intervals. In this way, you'll be able to spot those red flags so you'll know when to call the vet .
- Cats Do NOT Enjoy Playing Dress-Up
While we may sometimes think it's fun to put cute little caps, coats, and boots on our cats, the rare cat will barely tolerate it. I assure you that all cats hate it. Save your money and enjoy your cat's innate beauty the way it was meant to be enjoyed: au naturel.
No Two Cats Are AlikeWouldn't it be a sad, boring life if we were all the same? I'd hate to live in a world of clones; the sameness would bore me to death. One of the mistakes some cat caregivers make is to treat all their cats the same, and to expect the same kind of behavior from each cat. I'm sure most of my readers do recognize the differences among their cats and treat them accordingly. The first thing is to recognize the hierarchy among a family of cats. As an example for others, here are some of the differences between my own cats:
Jaspurr: This big red guy is the epitome of an alpha male cat. If allowed outside, he would hold reign over our whole court and fight any cat that dared enter our territory. (Yes, neutered males will still fight.) Having said all this, Jaspurr was taken from his mother at a tender age and still needs cuddling.
Jaspurr's litter-mate, Joey is usually content to play second-fiddle to his brother. He is physically different, more slender and lithe. Joey is usually shy, but will come around seeking attention when no one else is around. He'll circle my chair, rub his face up against my purse on the floor, and after much coaxing, jump to my lap for some togetherness.
Billy is a one-man cat and will tolerate physical attention from no one but my son, Lance. I respect that, and admire him from afar, as he apparently does me. But I keep my distance and treasure those rare moments when he will allow me to pet him. Strangely enough, Billy loves to tease Jaspurr, and will nip at his feet until Big J has had enough and gives him what-for.
Jenny is my little waifling rescue, and craves my attention. She distrusts our male cats, as she suffered abuse at the hands of toms when she was a stray. It will take time, but I love her dearly and am willing to work with her.
I hope this article has given you the resources to appreciate your cats' differences. They are after all, just Cats Being Cats.