Tag: human servants

Why Does My Cat Sleep On Me?

As readers of this blog know, Bud’s favorite “place” to sleep is on top of his Big Bud.

Why do cats like sleeping on their humans? A new article from Treehugger provides some possible answers to that question. For accuracy purposes, we asked Buddy to weigh in on the reasons mentioned in the article.

1.To Mark Their Territory

Cats have scent glands that release pheromones all over their body. Marking humans with these pheromones means that they are part of the cat’s in-group, a behavior learned in groups of cats in the wild to distinguish members of the pack from non-members.1 When a cat sleeps on you, it marks you with its scent so it can be reassured that you smell familiar and safe. Even cats who enjoy solitude may rub and head-butt their owners as part of the same scent-marking process.

Buddy says: This is true. My scent says “this is my human,” so other cats don’t get any ideas when Big Bud is traveling in The Outside.

2.To Stay Warm

Many cat owners are familiar with the sight of their cat sleeping in a sunny patch on the bed, or even knocking over plants and whatever else is in the way in an attempt to get an ideal window napping position. Warmth induces relaxation and sleep in cats, and few spots in the house are warmer than being directly on top of a person. Warmth may also contribute to the initiation or maintenance of restorative sleep in cats, meaning that seeking out warm spots for sleep can help them stay healthy.2

Also true. Humans are nice and warm, and on really cold winter nights, nothing’s toastier than burrowing under the blanket with your human and sleeping against their body. Just make sure you don’t get squished!

3.To Feel Safe

Animals are more vulnerable to attack while they’re sleeping, and cats are no exception. As a result, cats who see their owners as a sign of safety and security may enjoy sleeping on or near them. This behavior can also be traced back to kittenhood. When young cats are growing, they are typically in large litters with other cats, nursing from their mother, and sleeping together in a group, sometimes stacked on top of one another. Particularly without other cats in the house, humans may have a substitute role in this situation.

Wrong! Erroneous! Absurd! My human sleeps next to me to feel safe, not the other way around. When he’s woken up in the middle of the night by a scary sound and his fur’s on edge, I say “Don’t worry, Big Buddy, I will protect you with my razor claws, my tiger fangs and my really big muscles!” When he got up one night, picked up a baseball bat and went looking for an intruder, I took point by hiding behind his legs. Not because I was scared, but because BAM! The burglar’d never know what hit him if I suddenly sprang out.
 
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4.To Bond With You

In experiments to stop cats from destructive scratching and urine-marking behaviors, scent-marking was proven to be a powerful way to preserve cat-human bonds. When your cat sleeps on you and marks you with their scent, it’s creating a powerful olfactory reminder that you both belong to the same group. Being close to humans also allows cats to hear and feel familiar and comforting sounds, like a beating heart or rhythmic breaths during sleep, which are reminiscent of safe sleeping spaces with a mother cat and siblings.

See number one! It’s also about comfort. Humans are great mattresses!

5.To Show Affection

As demonstrated by a recent study on cat-human bonding, cats are not the solitary creatures they are often portrayed to be. In the wild, cats comfortably live in matriarchal societies and are known to exhibit a variety of group bonding behaviors including mutual grooming, allorubbing, and sleeping together. Sleeping with their owner is one way cats can show affection and caring.

You can interpret it as affection, yes, but the important thing is that Big Buddy cannot go anywhere without me knowing about it. Say he gets up in the middle of the night to use the human litter box room. By sleeping on top of him, I know the second he starts to shift, and I can not only follow him to the litter box room before he shuts the door, I can also howl at him on the way back so he gives me a snack just to shut me up before going to bed. No snack, no peace!

The Battle of the Buddies!

Back in August there was a story about a bored animal behaviorist and fellow New Yorker who built a talking board for her cat, a la Koko the Gorilla.

Kristiina Wilson told People magazine she was inspired to start the project during the initial Coronavirus lockdown, fashioning a makeshift talking board for her beloved foster fail.

Wilson used large buttons, coded by color and symbol, with each button triggering a recording of a different word when pressed: “Lady” for her, “Snuggle,” “Outside,” “Kittynip” and, of course, “Eat.”

She taught the little guy to use the board using “associative concept learning,” which in this case means pressing a particular button when she has the cat’s attention, and then performing the related action and pressing the button again.

Screenshot_2020-12-16 The Daily Steve B on Instagram “Outside 4eva #cat #cats #igcats #instacats #catsofinstagram #tuxedoca[...]
Wilson’s DIY cat talking board.

“Whenever you’re responding to them, you also repeat the modeling,” Wilson said. “So if he asks for catnip and then I give him catnip, I hit ‘catnip’ again while I’m giving it to him to reinforce what that button is for.”

Her cat is a quick learner, Wilson told People. “He’s like a person dressed in a cat’s body. He’s been screaming at me since he was born and being very clear about his needs and wants.”

Hmmm. Sounds like someone else I know, someone who never hesitates to loudly inform me when he considers the service subpar or the meals tardy.

I decided to give it a try with Buddy, modifying the system to his most frequent demands. When pressed, the buttons say “Big Buddy,” “Food,” “Snack,” “Mattress,” “Nip” and “Mighty Hunter!” (Mattress, as regular readers of this blog have probably already figured out, means Bud wants to take a nap on top of me. Mighty Hunter is his favorite wand toy game. It should be called Inept Hunter, but we must keep up appearances so as not to offend delicate egos.)

I began training Buddy on his new talking board. On the first day he had great fun with it, slapping the buttons randomly and jumping on them to see how many he could activate at once.

On the second day, he understood that pushing the “Big Buddy” button would draw a response from me.

On the third day, I woke up to find three of the buttons relabeled and reset with new digital voice recordings: “Servant,” “TURKEY NOW,” and “SNACK NOW.”

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THE PERPETRATOR: Although he may appear cute, behind that angelic face is a devious, scheming mind that will stop at nothing to obtain more turkey.

Perhaps most frighteningly, Bud was learning to combine the commands: “Servant…TURKEY NOW! TURKEY NOW! … Servant,” the speakers intoned as he hammered on the buttons with his paws.

But by the fourth day things had become truly horrifying. I walked into the living room and saw the humble talking board replaced by a complex ad hoc apparatus, with more than 150 symbols and a developing syntax.

“Good morning… servant… breakfast… immediately… then… massage… mattress…nap!” a synthesized Stephen Hawking said.

Buddy had tapped the message out with the speed and skill of a court stenographer, then sat there silently, looking up at me with his big green eyes.

“Little shit…is too clever…for…his own…good,” I said, mimicking the sound board.

“Big Buddy…better…watch…when asleep,” Buddy responded, pawing each button. “Sometimes…dark … I … can’t tell… where … is …litter box.”

He made a “mrrrrphh!” sound as if for emphasis, then tapped a single key three times: “Breakfast. Breakfast. Breakfast.”

I have now realized my most grievous error: Within two days Bud had wired his apparatus into the fiber optic router, and a few days after that he’d completed work on a prosthetic opposable thumb.

The arms race was escalating, and my lead was evaporating.

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I considered bringing in a dog, but Buddy would just outsmart it: The little terrorist probably has an automated missile launcher at this point, and if not, dogs can be easily bribed with food.

No, I needed something nuclear. Something that would inspire cold terror in my cat and prompt him to think about further escalating the cold war between us.

I needed a vacuum.

The next morning I awoke again to find Buddy tapping out a message for me, ordering breakfast and providing me with a list of tasks and errands.

His smug smile melted like plastic in a fire when I pulled the hand vacuum from behind my back and brandished it.

vacuum
The nuclear option.

“No…you…wouldn’t,” Buddy tapped, keeping one nervous eye on the orange plastic terror.

I held up the power plug.

“Watch me.”

“No…No…No…Big Buddy…servant…No…” he typed furiously. “No…no…nooooooo!!!”

“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…

Broken-Hearted After Losing His Cat, Man Goes To Shelter And Finds His Lost Feline

Theron wasn’t exuberant like most people who walk through the door of the Bangor Humane Society looking to adopt a new pet.

The Maine man told shelter staff he’d resigned himself to adopting a new cat after his Cutie Pie, a gray-and-white medium hair kitty, went missing. He told the staff he hoped bringing home a new feline friend would help “heal his heart.”

Staffers showed him to the section where they housed the adoptable cats so he could browse at his leisure.

“As he perused the kennels, he stopped to examine one of our friends a little more closely and when the cat turned to face him, Theron erupted with joy. THIS WAS HIS CUTIE PIE!!” the shelter’s staff wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.

The staff had no reason to doubt him, but even if they did, Theron had ample proof: Like any human who loves his or her cat, Theron’s smartphone was a virtual gallery of photos of the little guy.

“Theron’s camera roll was full of pictures of Cutie Pie,” shelter staff wrote, “leaving no question that this reunion was the real deal!”

For his part, Cutie Pie must have had quite the ordeal and couldn’t wait to go back to his real home with his human.

“Let me just say I’ve honestly never seen a cat so eager to be in a cat carrier!” shelter staff wrote on Facebook. “He was SO ready to go home!”

I really don’t like to think of the possibility of Bud going missing, but if he did and we found ourselves in a situation similar to the one Theron and Cutie Pie found themselves in, the reunion wouldn’t be nearly as happy or tear-inducing.

“Oh my God! It’s Buddy! Buddy, it’s really you! I’m so glad I found you!”

“Get me out of this cage this very instant! These people are crazy! Do you realize they have not fed me turkey once since I’ve been here?!? Not once! And these accommodations! A bathroom and a food bowl within five feet of each other. Unthinkable! They’ve put me in with the riff-raff, as if I’m a common cat and not a king! I demand to speak with the manager! Actually, nevermind…I demand you take me home this very instant, feed me turkey, give me a massage, and then summon the manager so I can give her a piece of my mind! You’re going to have to make this up to me, you know. I expect the treat cabinet to be restocked with all manner of yums, including Temptations. I had to sleep on a pad. A pad! I tried to tell them, I said ‘I only sleep on top of my Big Buddy!’ And they wouldn’t listen. These people are torturous! I swear, when I get home…”

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Cat Is ‘Rehomed,’ Escapes and Walks 40 Miles Back To His People

I have a lot of questions and feelings about this story. Oh, the feels!

First of all, why did this UK couple, Neil and Leasa Payne, decide to rehome their three-year-old orange tabby named Garfield? The story doesn’t give a reason, saying only that they decided to “give” the cat to “new owners” on June 20 after their kids moved out.

If the cat was for their kids, why didn’t one of them take the little guy? And if he was a family pet, who just gives away a cat they’ve had for three years?

Garfield understandably didn’t like what was happening and left his would-be new home to travel 40 miles — over seven weeks — from North London to Bedfordshire.

That’s a serious hike over dangerous territory for cats, with lots of traffic and potential hazards from humans and other animals alike. Garfield wouldn’t have made it if he wasn’t resourceful, finding food and water during the long journey.

Neil Payne told the UK’s Daily Star he came home one day and was “gobsmacked” when he found Garfield sitting on the front doorstep.

“It’s unbelievable. He was staring at me, crying,” Payne said. “I didn’t think it was him at first. Leasa came to the door and called his name and he jumped up on her.”

Yeah, dude: Garfield was crying because he couldn’t believe you gave him away!

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Garfield and the Paynes.

Payne told the newspaper he’s “going to give [Garfield] a second chance.”

“We can’t get rid of him now — he has proven that this is his forever home,” he said.

Garfield’s return is even more impressive since the Paynes claim he’s been an indoor-only cat. Not only did the brave feline have to make some serious adjustments to survive on the street, he must have some exceptional senses to make his way back over entirely unfamiliar territory.

The ginger furball’s story is yet more proof that cats have strong emotions and genuinely bond with their people, despite the persistent stereotype of feline aloofness and indifference to humans.

There are clearly details missing from this story, and I hope there were mitigating circumstances. If this incredible cat, who risked life and limb to get back to his humans, is stuck for the rest of his life with people who don’t appreciate him, that’s a shame.

I hope Garfield does indeed have a warm and comfortable forever home, and I hope the Paynes give him the love and affection he obviously wants and deserves. Good job, little dude.