No! No, no, no, no, no! Do not stop! Bring those magic fingers back over here, right above my ears and…yeah!
That’s the good stuff!
Oh man. Down a little. Right there. That hits the spot! In fact, I bet it’ll feel even better when I help you out and lean into the scratches. Oh. I was right, that does feel good!
Hey, where are you…HEY!Who told you we’re done here?
Sheesh, you’d think I nip at you if you pet me too long or something.
You didn’t spend an adequate enough time on my chin yet, and you know I like it when you swing back around for a sort of “greatest hits” and go through the whole rotation again. Now I’m going to assume you don’t need additional instruction, so I’ll just close my eyes and purr away. Don’t stop until the precise moment you should. That’s a good human.
“Don’t You Humans Know When Enough Is Enough?”
All right already, sheesh! The petting was good for like 3.275 seconds, but it got really played out after that, and you just kept going!
Well whose fault is it that I delivered a warning bite? Me, or the person who couldn’t tell when it was clearly time to stop rubbing my head?
What is it with you humans, huh? Learn to read the room. If I want more scritches, I’ll ask for them.
But no. When I was tired of it, you allowed another two tenths of a second to elapse before ceasing all massaging activities. TWO TENTHS OF A SECOND! I should have you flogged for your insolence!
You’ve had years to improve at this, human. That’s thousands of scritches and massages delivered to my chin, my cheeks, the top of my head and behind the ears. What can account for your complete failure to anticipate the exact millisecond the petting should stop?
You disappoint me.
Point-Counterpoint presents two essays taking opposing positions on a topic. Join us again next week, when Buddy the Cat will debate Buddy the Cat on another important topic.
This is why we always say it’s better for cat servants to regulate themselves than allow the government to get involved.
A Karen in Australia issued a $280 fine to a homeowner for allegedly allowing his cats to roam — after she lured the kitties onto the street herself.
The entire bizarre spectacle was captured on security cameras at the home of Julie and Steven Stephens, a couple in Toowoomba, about 80 miles west of Brisbane. The uniformed Karen, who is employed by the Queensland council, totes a clipboard in one hand as she walks up the Stephens’ driveway in broad daylight.
As one of the curious cats approaches, Karen reaches for a pen in her pocket and starts scribbling on her clipboard, apparently eager to get started on the paperwork, before slowly backpeddling so the kitty will continue to follow her. When the cat reaches the sidewalk, the unnamed woman scoops it up and walks to her government-issued vehicle parked in front of the Stephens’ home.
Steven Stephens was watching the episode unfold via his camera system and bolted outside to stop the government employee from taking his cat, he told Yahoo News Australia.
The Karen wasn’t able to “impound” the cat, but she wrote Stephens a hefty fine for “allowing his cat to roam,” and promised she’d be back to inflict more misery.
“She said she would be back in two weeks with the police to take all but two of our dogs,” Mr Stephens said.
We’re unable to embed the video, but you can watch it at Yahoo News Australia.
Unbelievably, Toowoomba Regional Council “CEO” Brian Pidgeon doubled down and quoted the relevant section of law on pet roaming when a local newspaper asked him about the incident. Pidgeon did acknowledge his employee was accused of luring the Stephens’ cat, but said he couldn’t talk about that because he’s conducting an “internal investigation,” which is bureaucrat-speak for figuring a way to worm his way out of the situation. There is, after all, clear video showing the Karen luring the cat away. There is nothing ambiguous about what happened.
Stephens admitted he and his wife have “too many” dogs according to local law, which has set arbitrary limits on animal custodianship, but said there are good reasons for that. The dogs sooth his wife, he said.
“A few years ago she had a severe car accident, her partner at the time died, she has a metal plate in her head and now has severe depression and anxiety,” Stephens said. “The dogs help with her anxiety.”
The family has been so rattled by the incident, and apparently has so little faith in their local government to treat them fairly, that they told Yahoo News they’re looking to sell their home and move to “a larger parcel of land in the bush.”
That in itself is an extraordinary admission, indicating they don’t expect basic courtesy, honesty or professionalism from the local authorities.
Now imagine how this would have played out if the Stephens family did not have security cameras. The council worker would have said their cats wandered off the family’s property of their own accord, and that would have been it. The Stephens would be forced to pay the fines, have a legal battle on their hands to get their cats back, and would be fretting over the impending confiscation of their dogs.
I know I sound like a broken record with regard to how local governments, guided by bunk “research” studies, impose themselves on pet caretakers, especially those of us who have cats. That’s why it’s important not to give them any reason to interfere — and to make sure everything is recorded, as the Stephens family wisely did.
Who knows what the government Karen’s motivations were. Was she trying to meet a quota? Does she dislike animals? Does she enjoy flexing the little bit of power she has, or inflicting misery on others? By preempting legislation on cat ownership and roaming, we can avoid putting ourselves at the mercy of such people in the first place, which is in the best interest of cat caretakers, and most importantly cats themselves.
Feline fact fail
I’m sure Nigel Barber, PhD., is a nice guy. I don’t mean to give him any grief. But when you present yourself as an expert on a topic and you write an authoritative column on a trusted site that has millions of readers, you really should make sure you’re not spreading misinformation or providing a picture of a situation that is decades behind the current science.
In a column for Psychology Today titled “Does Your Cat Love You?“, Barber rattles off a list of cliches, half-truths and outright falsehoods about cats, the kind of thing you might have expected 20 or 30 years ago before a wealth of research helped us dispel incorrect assumptions about felis catus.
After mucking up the domestication timeline, Barber says cats are “fearful of people,” “tend to withdraw from strangers,” and paints an outdated picture of aloof animals who technically don’t need human care to thrive. He also says cats attack people, including their caretakers, without warning or provocation.
Then there’s this nugget:
“As essentially wild predators, cats can be quite unpredictable. Many owners who are devoted to their cats complain that the cat often scratches them unexpectedly. One acquaintance had the cat declawed and found that the pet reverted to using its teeth on her!”
Can you believe it?!?! A woman had her cat declawed, and the cat bit her!
It’s not just that we know cats give off plenty of nonverbal warnings when they’re uncomfortable, or that declawing makes a cat much more likely to bite. Organizations like the Humane Society, SPCA, The Paw Project and others have been saying that for years.
It goes well beyond that — studies, including the most comprehensive study to date on the effects of declawing, have proven without a doubt that cats are much more likely to bite when they’re subjected to the cruel and painful declawing procedure. (See “Pain and adverse behavior in declawed cats,” a 2017 paper in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.)
That’s because declawing a cat not only inflicts a lifetime of physical pain and psychological trauma, it robs felines of their primary defense mechanism, making them feel much more vulnerable. Without claws with which to warn off unwanted handling, the poor declawed cats have only one defensive weapon available to them — their teeth.
An evolutionary psychologist should understand that, and should also understand that scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats. It’s not right or wrong, it’s cats being cats. Mutilating innocent animals to protect inanimate objects like furniture is objectively wrong and cruel. When you adopt a cat, scratching comes as part of the package along with all the positives like unconditional love, amusing antics and calming purring.
There are ways to dissuade and train your cats to mostly avoid scratching furniture, but no one should expect their cats will never put a claw on their couches. If you don’t want your furniture scratched, don’t get a cat. End of.
The Guardian’s Tim Dowling thought he was writing a column about his dumb cat when he inadvertently described how the cat’s got him trained.
The short of it’s that Dowling and his family have a cat and a dog who thankfully get on really well and have become best pals. The dog was in desperate need of a grooming session recently, and when Dowling’s wife brought the pup home after getting a trim, their cat regarded the dog warily and bounced. He returned from the family’s yard only to eat and kept a watchful eye on the dog each time.
In Dowling’s estimation, the cat didn’t recognize the dog after grooming, which makes him stupid.
Yet cats can tell when their humans are coming home long before the key turns in the lock, probably due to their incredible hearing (detecting footfalls), their remarkable olfactory abilities, or both. They know where we are in the home at all times because they can track our movements several different ways, and they can even tell where we’re headed in a completely pitch black room thanks to their whiskers, which can pick up micro-changes in air density — but Dowling thinks they can’t recognize a groomed dog.
The more likely explanation is the dog smelled different, which upset the cat, or the haircut itself offended kitty. Felines are, after all, notoriously averse to change.
If your cat starts acting weird after you’ve rearranged your furniture, it’s not because the cat is an idiot who can’t navigate the room. It’s because felids of all kinds don’t like changes to their territory or their belongings, especially when those changes happen without warning. (And make no mistake, if your cat rubs up against something, whether it’s a couch, your dog or even you, you are included in that tally of his or her “belongings.” A cat is marking you with scent glands when she rubs against you, and what do you think scent-marking is for?)
Dowling disses feline smarts and praises them for their perseverance in the same sentence, but hilariously doesn’t realize his cat’s been conditioning him to provide treats on demand:
But cats are actually pretty stupid – their approach to problem-solving is only notable for bottomless persistence. As I sit at the kitchen table in the morning pretending to answer emails, I can hear the cat behind me, methodically clawing at the door of the cupboard where the cat food is kept.
I say: “Don’t be insane – I fed you half an hour ago.” But I think: I really don’t want to repaint that cupboard door. After about 10 minutes, I give in.
Later, he describes the same sequence of events:
The next day while the dog is at its appointment, I sit with my laptop in the kitchen, waiting for the driving rain to stop before I cross the garden to my office shed. Behind me the cat is sitting on its hind legs, working on the cupboard door with both paws, like a boxer hitting a speed bag.
“I can’t feed you three times in the same morning,” I say. “Imagine how weak that would make me look.” Ten minutes later, I give in.
Without taking the column too seriously, it’s obvious Dowling is a man who doesn’t know when he’s being played by his furry overlord.
The “stupid” cat has trained Dowling to feed him snacks on cue: Sit in front of the cupboard and do annoying things for a while, and the human will relent and dispense the good stuff.
Give in once and a cat will return to the same method again. Give in twice and it’s pretty much over. If you thought kitty was persistent before, now you’re going to see a whole new level of patience exhibited by your feline master if you get ideas about changing the routine.
It happens to the best of us, especially when in our human arrogance we underestimate our little friends.
When Buddy was still pretty much a kitten, I thought I was training him to come in from the balcony by shaking a treat bag. In reality he was training me, as evidenced by the fact that when I called him to come in and didn’t have a bag of treats at the ready, he would stop right at the threshold of the door and refuse to move until I bribed him with a snack.
It’s a cat’s world, and we just live in it.
Feline humor, news and stories about the ongoing adventures of Buddy the Cat.