Sometimes I wonder how all cats seem to have the same approach for interacting with their humans.
Sometimes I wonder how all cats seem to have the same approach for interacting with their humans. Are they born with this secret knowledge imprinted in their brains or do generations pass it on? I did a little research and read several articles written by cats with advice on people- pleasing strategies. In their arrogance, they do not seem to realize that some are not necessarily pleasing. In my own experiences with the cats who have allowed me to be their caretaker, I see these same behaviors.
Bathroom behavior is one topic all cats know. This is not about use of the litter box. Most important is that the cat must be there anytime their person is. A closed door is no excuse…cats know how to open doors. If they cannot get in, they stretch their paws under the door while plaintively crying louder and louder. Once inside, they twine themselves between the person's feet and try to jump on the person's lap. Curling up in the sink and watching is another option.
Toilet paper is a completely new world of fun for felines. To a cat, the roll is unprepared kitty confetti. Tearing up the last roll is especially good so that the cat can sit back and watch their victim attempt to make use of the shreds. Multiple yards of paper unrolled are another goal to achieve. People who hang their toilet paper "backwards" are no fun and not held in high regard.
If the person is in the tub or shower, the cat knows to balance precariously on the edge, swatting at the shower curtain playing peek-a-boo. They are responsible for checking that the water is at the right temperature by dipping a paw in. If a cat is really brave and dexterous, they can attempt to climb the shower curtain with the goal of making it to the shower rod so they can show off their balancing skills.
When humans are sleeping, cats, being nocturnal creatures, have learned many ways to give them attention. Their intentions are always good but not necessarily well received. They believe that it is important to check to see if the person is alive. One method is to stay close to their face to make sure they are breathing. Jumping on them is another way to check their reactions. Nipping at their ears also works.
Cats know so many ways to play at night and believe it is their responsibility to involve the human. Fingers hanging over the bedside must be attacked. This is helpful so that the person will bring their arms back up under the warm covers. Toes are bitten to ensure good circulation. Bald heads can be a temptation for practicing drumming skills but hair grooming is a fun job. Since people come to bed with messed up and scraggly hair, cats know to lie on top of the head and use their teeth to fix it. They believe that they are actually styling the hair.
Bringing in "gifts" from outdoors is something that all cats learn. They believe it is the best way to show how much they love their people and want to entertain them. A deceased animal is OK but not as much fun as a live, wriggling, bouncing, flapping critter. The entertainment aspect, at least for the cat, is in watching the attempts to capture the unwanted visitor.
I have seen other ingrained cat rituals in my own pets. It is necessary to help with ironing clothes by sitting on the board or playing with the strings hanging from the cover. A glass of water is tested for purity by dipping a paw or drinking some.
When a cat needs attention and all else has not worked, a flying leap onto the person's back and shoulders always works. Readers: I have to tell you, just now my cat Mystic jumped on my shoulders, apparently thinking it was time to take a break from the computer. I guess it is time to finish. She has me wrapped around her four paws!
Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.