Tag: cat behavior

Little Buddy Was Kung Fu Fighting!

EE1ACE8B-2A51-4432-9137-8C9012D90233
Little Buddy was kung fu fighting! That cat was fast as lightning!

D885BF68-3D0C-463D-A7B9-8CBC0F28ED04

14437069-39A1-4F05-86FD-C630369881C8

In fact it was a little bit frightening, hell yeah
But he fought with expert timing!

2D76E995-AAFC-4439-B5C5-9228471DCD1C

There were funky kung fu kitties from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up and they were chopping them down
It’s an ancient feline art and everybody knew their part
From a feint into a slip, and kicking from the hip

85F330AF-C177-4A67-8676-8BC24D1251F8

Every Buddy was kung fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning!
In fact it was a little bit frightening, hell yeah
But they fought with expert timing!

3DA976F1-D227-4F53-952B-9FAE1EE7FC56

There was funky Buddy Cat and funky Mr. Tom
He said: “Here come the tigers, let’s get it on”
We took a bow and made a stand, started swinging with the hand
The sudden motion made me skip now we’re into a brand new trip

Kung Fu Cat Photographer

Every Buddy was kung fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning!
In fact it was a little bit frightening, hell yeah
But they fought with expert timing!

506951BD-9722-4AA9-8B4A-180AD52F642AFCAD8702-4A73-4EB7-A523-56FFA4CF4659E8500736-2B1A-4AE8-B6BF-281BEC5F1AE2

1CDBB41B-2048-4956-9C97-32A89A859E7DPhotos credit Hisakata Hiroyuki, Pictures of Cats, Wikimedia Commons

“Hello! Scratch Me Right Behind My Ears Please!”

Well hello there, human!

Let me just squeeze in here and…ah, that’s better! Now I’m sitting between you and the glowing rectangle, which means you must pay attention to me.

You know, human, you really are the best. Forget all that stuff I meowed before when it looked like dinner was gonna be late. I didn’t mean it. Can you just go ahead and scratch me behind the ears?

Ah, that feels good! Now my cheeks and under my chin! Don’t be afraid to give my fur a good scratch. That’s it. This is the life! I’m so relaxed…

Hey, could you scratch just right here on my belly? No, I’m serious, I’m not just showing you my belly for poops and giggles. I really could use a good scratch right there and…wow that feels great…hey, stop it, you jerk! You had a good thing going there and then you ruined it by going half a millisecond too long.

Now scratch my head again, it’s time for Seventh Nap…

Buddy Attacks His Cat-Sitter

I’m up in the Catskills this weekend, which means a friend has been looking in on Buddy and feeding him while I’m away.

He knows her and she’s helped me out by cat-sitting in the past, but it didn’t occur to me that it’s been quite a while since the little guy saw her.

Most cats would run and hide if their humans were away and a “stranger” suddenly entered the house. Not Buddy, apparently.

My friend unlocked the door, stepped inside and was greeted by all 10 pounds of the Budster in attack mode. Little man calmed down when he recognized her and realized she was there to feed him.

I’m sure he also gave her an earful, including “Where’s my servant?! This is unacceptable!”

F35B3507-FDDC-4C81-82D6-39596D72F898

For all our progress in communicating with our pets, learning body language and other non-verbal cues, we humans still don’t have a way to help them understand what a weekend getaway is, or ease their anxiety by reassuring them we will be home in a few days.

I expect I’ll get the cold shoulder when I walk through the door. It’ll last a minute or two until Bud’s resolve breaks down and he celebrates my return by meowing happily and getting his scent all over me.

This Might Be The World’s Worst Cat Study

A Brazilian research team wanted to find out if cats experience separation anxiety when their owners aren’t home, so they visited the homes of 200 cat servants, wired them up with cameras and microphones, and conducted a rigorous study in which they first established a behavioral baseline, then compared the cats’ normal behavior with their actions when their humans weren’t home.

Just kidding.

In what might be the laziest, most assumptive attempt at conducting animal behavioral research thus far in 2020, the team from Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora handed out questionnaires to 130 cat owners that asked, among other things, about the body language and behavior of their cats when they weren’t at home to witness it.

Did these cat caretakers have Palantirs that allowed them to spy, Sauruman-style, on their kitties at home? Nah.

The information comes third-hand. I’m not joking:

“Since there weren’t any cameras observing the cats, the owners answered based on evidence from reports by other residents, neighbors or any signs the cat left in the home, such as feces, urine or broken objects, [study author Aline Cristina] Sant’Anna said.”

My neighbor’s friend’s Uber driver, who parked outside for 16 minutes, said my cat looked angry when he briefly appeared in the window, so I’m gonna go ahead and write in this here questionnaire that Mr. Socks has terrible separation anxiety. Yep.

catman2

But suppose the data was reliable, instead of fuzzy third-hand accounts from cat owners who quizzed their apparently nosy neighbors about what their cats do in their down time. How do we know a smashed vase is separation anxiety, and not the result of a cat with the zoomies just knocking stuff over?

How do we know a cat who misses the litter box doesn’t have a UTI, or refused to use a dirty box?

But it gets better, dear reader. This team of superstar scientists decided the reason some cats were supposedly depressed or destructive is because they live with male caretakers instead of women:

Cats with behavior problems also tended to live in households without any female adults or more than one female adult; households with owners ages 18 to 35 years old; single pet households; and households with no toys.

“Maybe, for different reasons, the animals raised in households with no female adults or more than one female adult were less likely to develop secure and mentally healthy types of attachments with their owners in the sampled population,” [study author Aline Cristina] Sant’Anna said.

Or maybe the authors are getting paid to make wild, unsupported assumptions and combine them with worthless data.

The CNN version of the story doubles down by quoting a self-appointed expert who expounds on the cats-and-females theory:

Additionally, female cat owners tended to be more affectionate and doting, said Ingrid Johnson, a certified cat behavior consultant for more than 20 years.

Cats might be a little more distressed in the absence of their owners if they are younger adults who are busy and not focused on the fact that they have a pet, the researchers theorized.

“They’re happy to have a pet, but they’re going out, being social, [going on] dates and having parties,” added Johnson.

Right

For those who aren’t keeping score, we now have an academic and a certified behaviorist telling us cats who live with men or adults younger than 35 are more likely to be depressed because they, like, totally heard we don’t scoop the litter boxes as frequently or something.

That’s because all men refuse to be affectionate with their cats, and people under 35 are party animals who snort cocaine off the posteriors of strippers when they should be feeding Fluffy, according to our experts.

Johnson’s credentials include working at a hospital for cats and running her own “cat behavior house call and toy business.”

It’s worth noting that there are dozens of organizations that certify people as cat behaviorists. Sometimes the difference between a certified behaviorist and one without certification is the former simply paid dues to a member group that issues the certificates.

The Rock and His Cat
“Where’s the jabroni who claimed men aren’t affectionate with their cats?”

By now my opinion on this study is abundantly clear. The methods and conclusions wouldn’t pass muster in most undergraduate classes, let alone a research paper published in an academic journal. (The researchers published their work to PLOS ONE, an open access journal.)

What I don’t understand is, why bother? According to the study, 13.5 percent of the cats demonstrated at least one behavior consistent with separation anxiety, but for reasons I elaborated on earlier, the data is worthless. I’m not a fan of questionnaire studies in the first place, let alone questionnaire studies asking people what other people told them about difficult-to-interpret animal body language.

And lastly, I’m not a fan of this idea that there’s a certain “type” of person who is the best kind of cat owner.

We should be dispelling crazy cat lady stereotypes, not perpetuating them. Maybe men are in the minority when it comes to adopting cats, but nothing other than unfounded assumption suggests we men aren’t loving and affectionate with our little buddies, just like there’s nothing but anecdotal evidence to suggest caretakers younger than 35 neglect their pets.

The past few years have seen an authentic boom in research into feline cognition, behavior and emotion, and for that I’m grateful. But we can do better than this.

Image sources: [1] [2] [3]

The Cat Who Ate The Turkey

Buddy has a new hero.

Heather Ziegler, a columnist for a local newspaper in West Virginia, recalls a Thanksgiving from her teenage years made memorable by her cat helping himself to the turkey:

My mother had taken the huge frozen turkey and placed it on top of the [freezer] to begin the thawing process several days before Thanksgiving. By the grace of God, we all survived this process over the years.

However, this particular year was a first for our family. A day or so before Thanksgiving, my mother went to retrieve the turkey. A scream was heard, peppered with a few harmless curse words. At some point, the family cat had discovered the turkey and had begun to enjoy a pre-Thanksgiving meal. The turkey was ruined and it was too late to thaw another bird.

The story has a happy ending of sorts: Heather’s mom and dad took all twelve (!) of their children out to dinner, where they were joined by their young cousins, whose police officer father had been shot a few days earlier and remained hospitalized. Thanks to the crafty cat, those kids had the comfort of their extended family on a difficult holiday.

Since then, Ziegler writes, The Turkey Incident has become a fondly-remembered bit of family lore.

As regular readers of Pain In The Bud know, turkey is Buddy’s favorite food in the universe.

Why turkey, and why not chicken, beef, salmon, duck or tuna? Who knows? He’s loved it since kittenhood and would eat turkey all the time if he could.

Thankfully he won’t be putting a damper on Thanksgiving: I don’t eat meat, and my aunt hosts Thanksgiving in her house. But maybe it’s time for a special turkey treat for the good boy in the form of Thanksgiving leftovers.

Cat and Turkey!
This silver tabby (not Buddy) can’t wait to get his paws on leftover turkey. Photo credit: Nick Strate