Tag: feline behavior

The Very Reverend Buddy: ‘Let Us Pray’

I managed to film a brief clip of Buddy enthusiastically “praying.”

This gesture is also called cat pleading or begging in various corners of the interwebs, but as far as I can tell it really doesn’t have anything to do with asking or pleading. I’ve seen my cat do the same motion while he doesn’t think anyone else is around, while he’s at the window looking at birds, and at other random times.

The gesture is so random that this is the first time I’ve managed to get a decent clip of it. Usually by the time I’ve got my phone pointed at His Grace and begun recording, he’s finished his “prayers.”

I have no clue what it means or why some cats do it. All I know is that it’s a fairly rare thing. Perhaps a cat behaviorist somewhere could offer some insight.

Reverend Bud
“Dear Lord, provide me with turkey.”

Also: Happy Adoptaversary to Holly B, Retro Dee’s cute furball. Holly is named after Buddy Holly, so she’s a little buddy too, and she’s been with Dee for two years now. We wish Holly good health and many more years with her loving human, Dee.

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Holly getting some Z’s in a uniquely feline way. Credit: RetroDee

Study: Cats Will Happily Accept Food From Jerks

Taking studies designed for children and dogs and applying them to cats has been all the rage lately after a series of studies yielded new insights about the way cats bond with their humans.

Earlier studies showed cats, like kids and dogs, look to their humans for reassurance in strange situations and derive comfort from the latter’s presence. Likewise, they’re less confident if they’re forced to face unknown situations without the “security blanket” of their big buddies nearby.

Now a research team in Kyoto has taken another study designed for dogs — known as the “helpful stranger” study — and placed cats in the same situation to find out how they react.

Sure, I'll Take A Treat!
A new study shows cats don’t discriminate when it comes to who’s giving them food.

Both humans and dogs show a preference for what researchers call “prosocial individuals.” In plain language, it means they pay attention to the way strangers treat the people they care about. A dog who sees a stranger respond negatively to its caretaker will avoid the stranger, even if the latter is waving a delicious treat.

In the study, cats watch their owners try to open a box while two strangers are present:

“[C]ats watched as their owner first tried unsuccessfully to open a transparent container to take out an object, and then requested help from a person sitting nearby. In the Helper condition, this second person (helper) helped the owner to open the container, whereas in the Non-Helper condition the actor refused to help, turning away instead. A third, passive (neutral) person sat on the other side of the owner in both conditions.

After the interaction, the actor and the neutral person each offered a piece of food to the cat, and we recorded which person the cat took food from. Cats completed four trials and showed neither a preference for the helper nor avoidance of the non-helper.”

At first glance it looks like cats really don’t care if a person is helpful or friendly toward their “owners.” If a person is offering them yums, why shouldn’t they take them?

That sounds like exactly the sort of thing cats would do, but the research team says we should hold off on judging our food-loving feline friends. It may be that cats simply don’t understand that the stranger(s) aren’t being helpful. After all, if your cat sees you struggling with a package, does she offer to help?

If it is true, it’s not necessarily cats’ fault: We’ve long known they aren’t as well-attuned to human social cues as dogs are, a fact that can be attributed to their route to domestication. There simply wasn’t any reason to carefully breed cats to pick up on those cues, as we did historically with dogs, because cats were already wildly successful at their primary job, which was rodent extermination. Taking on cuddle and companionship duties didn’t happen until later when people began to value the little ones for more than their sharp claws and teeth.

“We consider that cats might not possess the same social evaluation abilities as dogs, at least in this situation, because unlike the latter, they have not been selected to cooperate with humans,” the scientists wrote.

The research team says the results are suggestive, but more studies should be done before drawing any real conclusions about our furry friends. Knowing cats often get a bad rep due to stereotypes and misunderstandings, we agree.

Mom Cat Dies In Fire Protecting Kittens With Her Own Body

One of the most compelling cat stories I’ve ever heard involved a reader of this blog, a woman who took in a white stray she named Snowy.

Snowy was a street cat who was always with a male cat, and the woman fed them both whenever they came by. Soon it became clear Snowy was pregnant, and her trusting tom — the father of her babies — nuzzled her goodbye as Snowy accepted the woman’s invitation to move inside at least temporarily so she’d have a safe place to give birth to her kittens.

In the three weeks that followed, Snowy raised her kittens in the woman’s home, and the tomcat would come by daily to see her and their little ones.

Snowy died when a pair of dogs climbed the porch steps, snapping at her kittens. Snowy fought the dogs off while her babies escaped, but she died from her injuries.

The poor tom who had been her constant companion came by the next night and meowed for her. He showed up again and again, meowing mournfully each night, distraught at her disappearance.

The story shows cats are capable of extraordinary empathy and love: The love between Snowy and her mate, who was protective of Snowy and loving with their babies, an unusual trait in toms. The love Snowy had for her babies, sacrificing her life for theirs. And the love the crestfallen woman had for those kittens when she returned home and found Snowy dead and the kittens hiding.

Another story of a mother who gave her life for her kittens reinforces the idea that cats are capable of great love and empathy.

When a mobile home in Pasco County, Florida, caught fire this week, the man who lived there was able to escape but his cats were trapped and firefighters couldn’t reach them.

Molly the kitten
Molly’s mom sacrificed her life to save the 2 1/2-week-old kitten.

The mother cat covered her kittens with her body, laying on top of them and remaining there even as the fire scorched her.

When firefighters poked through the debris, they found the cat and her kittens. The mom and one of her babies died at the veterinary hospital, but one kitten survived.

“It seemed as if mom did everything possible to protect her kittens, even risking her own life in their defense, but the flames and the smoke were too much,” said Rick Chaboudy, executive director of the Suncoast Animal League. “But mom managed to protect one of her kittens from the blaze, enough to give that kitty a chance at life. Other than her whiskers being burned completely off and a slight odor of smoke, she is doing well with her bottle feeding and her cuddling.”

Staff at the shelter named the kitten Molly after Molly Williams, a former slave who became the first black female firefighter in the US. Molly the kitten is expected to make a full recovery.

What’s that? A tear, you say? Absurd! Buddy and I do not cry. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to toss a football around, talk about trucks and fix some things around the house with power tools.

Buddy the Manly
“In addition to being handsome, I am very meowscular and I know kung fu!”

‘New York’s Fattest Cat’ Relinquishes His Title

Remember Barsik, the cat who was so extra-chonk he had to be wheeled around in a baby carriage because he couldn’t fit in a cat carrier?

The former “Fattest cat in New York” has melted the pounds off in the year since he was surrendered to NYC’s Anjellicle Cats rescue and adopted by 35-year-old Meredith Adams.

When he was surrendered, Barisk tipped the scales at 41 pounds — dangerously close to the Guinness record 46 pounds for a house cat. He was so big, the sight of him getting wheeled into the shelter prompted an amused visitor to snap a smartphone pic and quip: “Did he eat another cat?”

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Slow news day: Barsik made the cover of the Post’s late edition back in April of 2019.

Barsik’s having the last laugh, as he’s down to 22 pounds and enjoying life in his new home.

He’s well on his way to his ideal weight of 16 pounds according to Adams, who says she’s been controlling Barsik’s dry food intake while feeding him wet food.

“He does pretty much everything regular cats do — jumping around, at night he gets the zoomies,” Adams told the New York Post. “He is a regular cat now.”

The Post notes Guinness stopped taking new entries for heaviest cat out of concern that misguided owners would over feed their chonksters to pursue the crown. Himmy, the Australian kitty who set the record, died at just 10 years old from complications associated with his obesity.

Barsik has settled into his new life, diet and all.

“He has a big personality. He is very demanding, he is very vocal, but he is also really friendly,” Adams said. “When I come home from work and get into the building, I hear his meowing all the way down the hall. He wants his food, but he also wants to say ‘hi’ to me.”

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Barsik shortly after he was surrendered in 2019 and was living in a foster home.

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Adams and the newly-slim Barsik.

Cat Unimpressed With Huge Alligator At Its Door

A house cat in Florida looked decidedly unimpressed by a massive alligator that tried to force its way into the cat’s home earlier this month, sitting calmly just a few feet away as the alligator pressed against the front door.

”Hey!” we imagine the cat saying. “This home is taken! This is my house and these are my humans, and if you think you can just break into my territory, you got another thing coming!”

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The photo was taken in Sarasota, Florida, where it’s not unusual to see the predatory reptiles waddle their way through developed areas, particularly during storms. In the viral photo — which has been shared more than 104,000 times on Facebook — the alligator’s belly is pressed up against the glass door, which itself is reinforced by wrought iron in a floral motif.

We asked Buddy the Cat whether the sort of bravery exhibited by the Tuxedo in the photo is typical of all felines.

“Ahhhh! What the hell is that?!?” Buddy said, jumping back six feet. “I mean, uh, of course I’m not scared. Us cats eat alligators for breakfast!”

Photo credit Ed Werdell/Facebook.