Do you and your feline get along?
Or are you mystified by the way your cat looks at you — then darts from the room as if her tail’s on fire?
Do you receive highly uncomfortable claw treatments when you’re trying to show your feline a bit of affection?
Do you even get a hiss or a growl from your adorable pet when you least expect it?
Hint: It may not be the cat!
If you’re responsible for an animal’s life, it’s worth knowing a bit about how your charge sees the world. Understanding your pet’s perspective will help you provide opportunities for your feline to flourish and give her reasons to like you, even love you. (Yes, the latest research suggests cats do experience emotions.)
Learning to understand how cats see their owners involves knowing how they’ve evolved — or haven’t — to coexist, adapt, and even thrive side by side with human beings.
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A mere 4,000 years ago, cats were completely wild. That’s peanuts on the evolutionary scale. They’ve gone from living in jungles and open plains to living with people in houses and very small apartments. And in this short time, they’ve figured out how to get what they need from the humans in control of their environment.
That’s pretty impressive.
But the very basic traits of a cat — the instinct for hunting, keen sense of smell, the ability to see in low light — haven’t quite caught up with its domesticated reality.
Basically, a cat still operates as if it were in the wild. To get the best out of your cat, make sure its wild needs are met, so it can focus on its relationship with you.
How? Here are a few suggestions plucked from the book “97 Ways to Make a Cat Like You.”
1.) Squish and rattle. Push in the ends of an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll, then cut out holes just big enough for bits of kibble to fall out. Fill with dry cat food and rattle to pique Kitty’s interest, encouraging her to figure out how to retrieve her reward. This game is good for her mind as well as her hunger pangs. (Bath soap boxes with taped flaps can also be recycled accordingly.)
2.) Sweet ‘meowsic.’ Pay attention to your cat’s calls. She works up a slew of inflections just for you (cats don’t meow to other cats). One meow may mean, “Hi, I’m here!” Another might be, “Feed me.” Another: “Pet me, you fool.”
If you really want to take your relationship with your cat to the next level, let her spend serious time on a screened porch.
3.) Embraceable me. Pick up your cat with both hands, one arm encircling her chest and shoulders, the other supporting her hind legs and torso. The second you feel the cat stiffen or twitch, put her down gently. Your embrace should always be a safe, comfortable place for your cat.
4.) Nirvana is a screened porch. If you really want to take your relationship with your cat to the next level, let her spend serious time on a screened porch. It doesn’t get any better for an indoor cat. She can be part of the outdoors in a completely safe environment. And if you don’t have a screened porch, consider building one.
5.) Brown-bag it. Take a plain brown grocery bag, remove the handles (so that they could hook around Kitty’s neck), and cut off the bottom to make a fabulous tunnel. Cats love to explore potential hiding places.
6.) It’s Christmas every day. Save big cardboard boxes and turn them into your cat’s new hideout and jungle gym. Throw in a soft blanket and a treat, and you’ve just created a cat haven.
This article appeared earlier in LifeZette and has been updated.