Sunday, November 18, 2007

How's Your Cat Relationship?

This past week, Liz and I celebrated three years since we adopted Arthur and Beowulf. Not a day goes by when we do not realize how lucky we are to have them in our lives. They are a constant source of love and support for us.

They comfort us on our worst days and amuse us on our best days. Sure, sometimes they do things which try our patience, but don't all of our loved ones?

When I talk to people who don't have cats, I find that I've become a cat advocate. I tend to think that other people would be a lot happier if they had cats to come home to. The other day, a friend was telling me about how her daughter keeps dating the wrong kind of man, because she's looking for acceptance. I said "can't she just get a pair of cats? They'll boost her self confidence and she won't need to rush into a bad relationship."

I could be totally wrong here, but I wonder if certain tough periods in my life might have been a little easier if I had had cats at the time. Maybe being an awkward teen would have been a little better if I came home to purrs. Maybe going through some tough breakups with girlfriends would have been easier. Maybe there are times in my life when I would have had more confidence if I knew I was getting the kind of unconditional love you can only get from an animal companion.

On the other hand, millions of people have cats and it looks like many of them are not experiencing the same kind of relationshp with their cats that I have with mine.

Just yesterday, I was talking to a friend who adopted a cat a few months ago. I asked him how it's going and he said "my cat is just not friendly. She keeps to herself and only interacts with us when she needs something." If I had that kind of cold relationship with my boys, I would not be a cat advocate at all. I'd probably feel like the whole relationship was a waste.

To be fair, I don't have all the facts. My friend lives far away and I've never seen him interact with a cat nor have I met his "cold" cat. But what I wonder is this. Is his cat non-social, because he isn't raising her right, because she was born that way, or maybe because she's the only cat in the household?

Perhaps it is better to ask "why is my cat relationship such a good one?" Is it because:

  • Arthur and Beowulf are just special guys who are particularly friendly and sweet?

  • They were born in a shelter and I adopted them at an early age (10 weeks) so they've always known human kindness and never wanted for anything?

  • They have each other so they are never lonely?

  • Liz and I have put a fair amount of effort into building the relationship?

What makes one person's cat relationship a life-altering experience and another person's cat relationship cold and distant? Why are my cats important, active members of the family while other people's cats become part of the house, like pieces of furniture? Is it the cats or the people?





32 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK so I wrote a whole long entry and got the run-around AGAIN about "you don't have the right password blah blah blah" so I have now somehow managed to sign into the blogosphere once again I think. *P.S.* update... even though I am CURRENTLY SIGNED IN I cannot post with my real name ... 'socidoc'... so I'm anonymous now.

Anyway... as I typed but could not post... I remember being a teenager and coming home from school feeling like nobody could possibly understand me, and burying my face into our black part-Siamese cat Corkie, complete with corkscrew tail, and crying while she purred. This saved me many troubles growing up... I am convinced every child should be raised with a cat, dog, or several of each. I am also convinced that, as a single woman, my two cats provide me with much better company than most of the men I have dated. Yes, they relax us, and yes, they are so soft and furry and comforting. They are good for our mental health~ (even when the internet isn't LOL!~)

Anonymous said...

Just the other day I have had a car accident where some ran into me and have pain constantly and m two kitties curl up, one in front and one in back and purr and "heal" me I truly believe it.

I just recently helped my parents adopt a cat and he is really a strange cat. He loves my parents, and is always demanding attention. However I guess he associates me as the one who brought him and could possibly take him away. I thought he'd be nice to me and I got him to come over and let me pet him and he went to sniff me right to my nose and that little bugger hissed right in my face. I think the cat is nuts, but my parents are happy and that's all that matters. I got him specifically to be a companion cat for my father, but he loves my mother. Go figure. He does give them both attention though.

I do think animals make a difference and always have in making me a better person.

Riley & Tiki said...

One of my cats, Riley, is always in everyone's face (including the dog's). The other one, Tiki, COULD have grown up to be aloof. I first noticed her hanging back and watching when she was still just a kitten. If Riley demands too much attention, Tiki will not compete and just sits there looking sad. We realized that we would have to make extra effort to interact with her. It has been well worth it. She is a very loving cat, but I still have to make sure I carry her up to bed, and pick her up and cuddle with her at various times or Riley will hog all the attention. I find that the more often I approach her first, the more often she will come up to me on her own. She is now a very good snuggler.

R&T Mom

Magoo, Smudge, Bella & Dolce said...

A couple of things...

Just like people, to a certain extent, cats have individual personalities. We have four cats and they each have and completely different outlook on thier life in our household. Magoo is somewhat standoffish, and only really cuddles at night. I think he just wants the warmth. Bella is similar to Magoo, and only comes for attention on her terms. Dolce is far too busy playing, but she loves to be picked up and carried around. Baci is a cuddle monster pure and simple.

As for Anonymous@12:32am, I read that a study was done on the harmonic frequency of a cat's purr and found that it actually stimulated bone growth.

nadia said...

I used to like dogs better than cats before i met Mafalda 2 months ago. She was only 2 months old and the minute I took her she looked deeply in my eyes and i understood something like " are you my new mom ? Are you going to hurt me ?". At this time I felt my heart melt and took an entire week vacation just sitting with her in my lap.

Today she is 8 months old and she is still with me. At this time exactly she is in my lap slepping but sometimes she wants to be in my arms and being petted. She sleepes with my husband and I.
And what's strange is the human traits she has. She drinks only in glasses, loves to play with water when I'm in the bathroom, wants to taste everything eat (only taste, she doesn't eat a lot but she loves to eat one macaroni, a little slice of cheese etc.... then go playing while I'm dining) and calls me when she can't find me.
How can somebody live without a cat is just too puzzling for me :-)

Nadia

Anonymous said...

Sure, part of it is just the cat. I have four cats. 3 females. 1 male. Males, in my experience, just tend to be more outgoing than females, particulary to strangers. Each of my cats is loving in his/her own way.

It is mainly how they are raised. Cats give what they are given. If they are simply fed and ignored they won't need their humans as much. I read that cats are naturally quite animals, but if humans reinforce their vocalizations, they become very vocal. My cats won't shut up. I love it. ^^

-Autumn

Jesper said...

I think it's the upbringing. I have a 17 year old cat that I got when I was 8. I have always pampered him and he's the friendliest cat I've met.

We had another cat though that camew to us when she was four. She had been abused by her previous owner and she never got as friendly as the other cat.


By the way, I've made a little cat quiz at http://www.royalquiz.com/quiz/jesper/the_cat_quiz/

Feel fre to try it out and use it.

Maggy & Zoey said...

Hi... we see you haven't posted in quite awhile, so heaven knows when you might see this comment... we are Maggy & Zoey, and we live at a blog called ZOOLATRY. We make lots of "kitty pictures" for other bloggers, and have made one of Arthur and Beowulf. If you would email us at -- zoolatry@gmail.com we can send the picture back to you. We also want to add you as a link on our site if that's OK...
our site is
http://zoolatry.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

A new Cat forum has been created!

Good news! A new forum, Catz r Fun, has been created. This forum was

created so that those who wanted to continue the cat posts would still

have the opportunity to do so. Thus, the Catz r Fun forum was born.

Please take time to visit the new forum and chat away!his is the link:

http://www.catzrfun.com/

Thank you! dj

cassandal said...

It's the time of year for giving, and that's exactly what we're doing around the Showcase: giving back to the community.

The kitty community.

One sunny day in the Spring four great minds came together and devised a plan to save the sweet kitty babies. To keep 'em off the streets, keep 'em clean, to eradicate cat-on-cat violence, and rehabilitate the messed-up kitties in little messed-up kitty rehabilitation centers.

Those minds? S. Finch, Jon B, Keith Greiman and Keith Shore.

Fifty thousand emails and as many drunken stupors later, Please Save The Cats was born.

Check it: http://www.pleasesavethecats.com

Tonight's TS release consists of one LETTERPRESS print and STICKERS designed together by the Keiths Shore & Greiman and published in an edition of 100.

K. Shorester: http://www.keithshore.com

K. Greimanator: http://altpick.com/members.php?id=11148

ALL OF THE PROCEEDS of this pack will be donated to Alley Cat Allies - an organization dedicated to saving little kitty lives by advocating nonlethal methods to reduce outdoor cat populations.

Read the literature: http://www.alleycat.org/

Please post!

Kimo & Sabi said...

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Friendliness of cats: cats,which did not have enough human company before eight weeks, never become really friendly. We have one cat from the pound, three years old, who will never snuggle up to anybody. I can not touch her, when she is outside and even coming back into the house is difficult for her, especially with visitors around. At the moment, we are raising a few rescue kittens. We had them and their mum from the day, when they were born. They are so cute, cuddly and trusting. The people adopting them, will be very lucky. If you want a cuddly cat, choose one, that was socialised properly at a young age.
We love our "wild" little rescue cay anyway, but she cannot change her ways.

Anonymous said...

I think every cat has its own personality..some are more independant, some like playing and some are like couches (like mine!)...

Of course how we treat our cat is very important though...I would say a combination of environment + genetics...like for humans :)
Lyza

WereBear said...

The biggest mistake people make is waiting for the cat to come to them.

Even the friendliest kitten will get tired of doing all the work in a relationship.

Of course, cats have their own personalities, and some might have a troubled background. But every cat has the potential to be friendly.

If their overtures are returned, they can max out their potential.

On Labor Day weekend we adopted a 4 1/2 month old kitten who had been so deprived and neglected he didn't even know how to play. He's still a little "off," but he's also the sweetest little fellow you'd ever hope to meet.

How he did it, with zero socialization, I don't know. Innate? Maybe.

But we are working to max out his potential, too.

jancola said...

Avram, have you seen Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf yet? Should be easier for people to recognize your cat's name now (maybe)

January Cat said...

I have adopted many cats over the years, some feral. My experience is that the first three months are critical. If cats are not with people then, it is very hard to overcome that lack of contact. Some cats are more aloof than others. The trick is to find out how the cat likes to interact:play, petting or catnip.
I have a blog,too. karnakstreetkats@blogspot.com

January Cat

The Scratching Post Vandal said...

I think it's partly upbringing (which can acclimatise and endear cats to human company), partly experience (bad experiences can have a lasting effect) but mostly it's about how they're approached.

Obviously some cats are friendlier than others, and some just aren't cuddly, but I've never met a cat that (given enough time and the right approach) refused to become friends with me.

I think a lot of people find it difficult to understand how cats view the world, which is totally reasonable, but if you can get on their level then making friends with cats is usually just a matter of introducing yourself properly.

The books by Vicky Halls are brilliant for gaining an insight into how cats see things.

at 12:43 PM, Blogger Magoo, Smudge, Bella & Dolce said...

"I read that a study was done on the harmonic frequency of a cat's purr and found that it actually stimulated bone growth."

There's an article about why cats purr at http://thepurrcompany.com/cat-articles/why-do-cats-purr.php which talks about this very theory.

Filmtime said...

Hi nice blog you have!
If you whant check out my blog about two cats.

http://www.cats-cat.blogspot.com/

Annie said...

Just found your blog while searching "World's Best Cat Litter". I'm trying it for the first time today. Are you still using it? My Lily has been having a terrible kitty cold and runny eye, and I'm thinking maybe it's from the dust in the cheap cat litter I've been using. She's been a chronic sneezer too, so I'm hoping all three cats like the new litter and the troubles go away.

I loved your current post about cat relationships. Just this weekend I was thinking about my relationship with my three cats. Because I wear a uniform to work, they seem to understand the difference between work days and weekend days, and even the difference between Saturday and Sunday.

We have our own vocabulary, and I talk to them constantly. Certain phrases illicit specific responses. All three have their own distinct personalities, and interact with me in their own way. Sometimes I feel like I study their behavior as intently as Dian Fosse and her simians.

Look forward to reading more of your blog, and getting to know you and the cats! My blog is http://kittiesknitting.blogspot.com

Tom said...

Hello! Would you be up for exchanging links with http://littlecatdiaries.blogspot.com/? From a fellow catman...

FUNNY CAT PICTURES said...

There is nothing like coming home to a warm, fluffy, purring kitty. Raising cats has been rewarding through the years even with cats who have not had a sunny disposition.

Artsy Catsy said...

Arthur, Beowulf & Avram, we haven't seen you all this year. We hope everything is okay with you and this finds you well and happy.

Artsy Catsy

felinesopher said...

hi Avram & the two boyz,
I came across to your blog from another cat blog, are you all doing fine? All your posting is great here, I'm eager to read your next post? because I rarely find men who love cats so much

ms. pixie riot said...

Hi to you and your kitties! I hope all is well, I see you haven't posted yet this year.

How are your allergies treating you, after three years with the boys? I've heard that after a while, even people with allergies can become accustomed to their own cats and not have problems anymore.

I'm hoping to get cats this summer, and as an allergy sufferer, your blog is particularly interesting to me!

pictures of cats said...

I have two cats and I love them. I think human-cat relationships really do exist and I don't know what I'd do without them!

ricky,

Tom said...

Hello! Wondered if, as a member of the littlecatdiaries blogroll, you would like to see my new vid:

http://littlecatdiaries.blogspot.com

Discount Cat Supplies said...

Hi. My cat that just passed was VERY affectionate. I always said if i was laying on a bed a nails she would come lay next to me. I also have a 2 yr old cat who hates affection. She will only let me pet her when she feels like it. She won't sleep anywhere near me, rarely ever purrs and it is just the way she is. I don't treat her like furniture and thats how she is! haha I think all cats are very different.

Anonymous said...

Found a pretty great cat video... good for a laugh

Cheers.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=lEBIb15p3fw

Mr Wise Guy said...

Hey hey, great to find another cat blogger. I've been blogging for quite some time and have just adopted a pet named Coco from the SPCA. She's a siamese mixed (i think, i'm not too sure!)and I find having her around is a pleasure especially if she starts behaving like a dog and all, running from the living room to my bedroom as I call her name. haha. Cute girl.

I have kind of a love hate relationship with Coco. At times, she'll purr lovingly while I blog. And at times, she'll jump in front of the monitor and hiss at me. She could be quite a pain in the butt at times, but most of the time, she's a pleasure to have. heheh.

Wanna see coco? I've got pics of her on my blog at http://www.mrwiseguyblog.com. Do visit! We'll link up aite!

Anonymous said...

I have had the pleasure of being owned by several cats in my life (yes that's right, the cats own us, not the other way around ;) ) All my cats have been rescues, of 12weeks old or less...

I agree that cats have their individual likes and dislikes and personalities. The fella I have now was 7months when I managed to find him in the cats home, and his whole personality is different from my other rescues. When i first got him, it took him about a week to build up the courage to come from under the bed and come to me, and I would NEVER have pushed this part of the relationship with this him.. it would have been the wrong thing for this cat and from that day on, he is my shadow.... My partner at the time tried to force the relationship with the cat, and the cat never liked him... He used to walk around the house looking for his shoes then put food inside them... revenge i guess lol. He knows when I'm coming home and waits at the door for me, he has to sit on the toilet seat while i shower, and he hates doors being closed to separate us... All my other cats have been loving, but they just didn't need humans as much as this one does.. When I moved back in to the family home with him, he took an instant disliking to my father, and after 12months, he has finally accepted my mum and sister. Cats do things at their own speed, in their own ways. I usually find that when they reach 4-5 years old, a lot of "pet" cats turn in to affection craving machines, so if you have a cat who never seems to want attention or human company, don't give up on it... But at the same time, some cat's just simply do not need humans, nothing wrong with that though.

Adding to an earlier comment made about cat's purring..... A friend of mine said the best noise in the world is the sound of your purring cat as it fills your head with thoughts of home, comfort, and love. I think i need to agree that this is one of the best sounds ever (maybe not at 3am lol)

And just remember.... If your cat ever snubs you, or they never seems to listen to you, don't take it personally.... It's a cat's world and we're only here to open the tins for them! ;)

The MSILF said...

I sooooo agree. I put off getting a kitty for a long time (allergies, money, time etc) and finally did and I SO wish I had done it sooner, during med school when life sucked. Namerovsky is such a good friend and comfort. I went from so-so on animals to heartily recommending them for life improvement.

He came from a shelter. I have no idea what his early life was like, but from the vet's opinion, rough. He wasn't around people or anything, but he is so loving, never does anything wrong or makes a mess, never scratches or anything. That's why I vote on dumb luck. Everything said this guy should be scared, mean, shy, distrusting...but he's the sweetest in the world.

Rebecca said...

I think it is a combination of factors. Cats are very complex and they like to choose their own friends. I usually get on with all animals but when I was younger, still living at home we got a cat that was always cold with me. She decided my father was going to be 'her person'. My father was not even much of a cat lover until the flattery of her constant attention wore him down. Now I look after a group of cats that were born feral, most are very friendly but one or two never became tame. They are individuals as people are. I do agree though that the friendship of a cat is very therapeutic.