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2018-04-25T20:19:15.413Z
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I am asking for your help. That is what has been keeping Way of Cats on the web for all this time, and believe me, it is vital. This goes toward all the expenses that keep the blog on the air. There are more costs than I ever realized as the Web becomes more complicated, and the blog keeps growing in popularity.

Here’s five ways to keep us going.

1. Buy my new book

It is currently available for pre-sale in the Kindle edition. Please, if you plan to buy it, and can do so now, it will help greatly with Amazon recognizing it as a book that is generating high interest. I just got a notice on my Kindle: See the hottest new releases. It would help a lot if my book was on it

I have made it available for my top four countries for blog traffic.

Available on Amazon for: United States – Canada – United Kingdom – Australia

Get it on pre-sale and the book will magically appear in your Kindle or Kindle app on May 31st. Shortly...

A recent comment requested:

Really hope we can get more examples of Beta cat breeds.

Sure. I love Betas! (And Alphas and Gammas, of course. I’m like that.) But since Beta Cat Types are two thirds of the cat population, as discussed in Cat Type Distribution, we should familiarize ourselves with some classic Beta attributes, so we can find them in their wide range of packages.

Reverend Jim, Master of Magnificence

Reverend Jim, Maine Coon mix, is as Beta as a cat can be, with that unflappable Beta equanimity. RJ has the wry and friendly Maine Coon personality.

His solid bone structure, muscular body, and long fur are usually pointers to a Gamma Cat Type, but not in the Northern Breeds, which are the Maine Coon Cat, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Siberian. I am linking to these breeds on the Cat Fancy of America site, so we can look at their features, find out about their personality characteristics, and know this genetic contribution when we see it in the shelter.

Here’s ways to tell a Beta:

moderation

The basic Beta body type is the American Shorthair, expressed in both American...

We might not be aware of all the little ways cats extend themselves for us.

As seen here, Tristan likes to sleep with his front paws extended in front of him. A cat who does this is relaxed and happy. In Tristan’s case, he likes to lie on my lap with paws towards me, all the better for me to hug them with my hand.

Our cat might be sending affectionate signals more than we realize. We should notice.

gratitude

It was something I picked up early on. I would do something for my cat, and they would come around later to make some gesture that added up to “Thanks!” They loved it when I noticed that was what they were doing. I did it more. They did it more. It’s a great feeling to both give and get.

I realized I was missing a lot because I wasn’t tuning my Cat Radio to pick up the subtler signs of cat affection. Cat enthusiasm is not measured by expended external energy, the way dogs’ are. With cats, the smallest look or gesture is all the more powerful by its quietness. Cats use such seemingly small signals to say big things.

Much like the Shoulder Bump can look accidental, many of these affectionate gestures...

One of the great things about seeing fear recede from a cat’s mind is how confidence moves in to take up that empty space.

We put up a set of heavy drapes over a doorway for draft-stopping purposes. Tristan watched the whole operation and amused himself for a while by testing how this new thing worked. He learned he could get through it if he went slow, fast, in different places, and even if he talked the whole time.

But Mithy came in late to the party. All he saw was Tristan disappearing into a wall of purple. And did not return.

Use the arrows to tell the story.

When I was born, my grandparents gifted me with an engraved glass with my name and birthday on it. Nothing particularly valuable, except to me. I thought it was safe on top of my giant armoire.

Until two cat brothers I was fostering (Alphas with a touch of Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil) chased each other across the ceiling and my special glass got in the way.

The glass was safer in my sock drawer. It should have stayed there. That’s the key to getting over cat-involved broken items.

We’re the humans. We are the ones who really should know better.

inadequate precautions

Losing my glass was a lesson in cat energy and cat-environment-proofing. I moved towards bookcases with glass doors and gave up on knicknacks, which was not a big challenge to my lifestyle or decorating preferences. I leaned towards streamlined and easy maintenance, anyway.

In the years since I have had beverages toppled, learned the restrictions of solid foundations (the thing didn’t get knocked over, but it broke anyway), and lost a laptop to the sudden collision of Tristan and a wineglass. For the most part, this has...

It is probably my most controversial cat advice. I listen to people coping with an overstressed cat, and often they are doing a lot of the right things. Then, at the end, I have to ask, “Have you tried explaining things to the cat?”

I can hear the side-eye. On a phone call.


But then they bring themselves to try it… and report that it works. I’m all about whatever works.

But how? And why?

speaking volumes

I am still astonished at the ways cats communicate what looks like complicated things. I’ve seen cats caution each other they should leave things alone, announce that those grocery bags did contain treats, and impose behavior standards regarding new kittens. Like the time James Bond damaged a fly for little Olwyn, and placed a paw on the head of impetuous RJ. It was clear to both myself and RJ; let the baby play.

When Olwyn got older, she would get frustrated with me because I didn’t know how to interpret her messages. She would summon James to translate for her. Now, Tristan has that role. Since Olwyn doesn’t communicate so much as she commands, this is another Multiple Cat Advantage. Olwyn expects me to understand what she wants as...

One of the things that made me an “animal lover” as a child was how I recognized my own emotions in both people and animals. I clearly saw curiosity, fright, worry, and love.

I decided that, when it came to emotions, I was not that different from my childhood dogs.

I still feel that way, even though current science does not recognize this point of view. Which also puzzles me, because evolutionary theory says our emotions would come from the same place as other mammals, with the same structure; just as our DNA does.

Which leads to our usefulness in modeling emotions for our cats. So much of our world is puzzling to them, and can become frightening if we do not help them understand. We can use Shaping the Response if we are in the moment with them.

But what if we weren’t there to guide them? What if they have a lot of emotions bubbling in their brain that we can’t go back in time to fix, or even know what caused them?

This leads to a de-stressing program I call be the channel for their river.

sympathy

Cats are highly emotional creatures who often feel overwhelmed by their feelings. If they are distressed and...

A commenter on my Facebook page shared a message about their cat, M–:

the problem

A few weeks ago, I bought a new toy for my M– because I still hadn’t found any toy that she’s really going wild for. It was a kind of wand toy, consisting of a wand with a bunch of different ribbons attached to it, some were made of synthetic leather or some glittering fabric, but most of them were just simple gift wrapping ribbons, the kind that can be curled up with a knife and scissors.

Here’s the ribbons! With a ruler for scale.

And really, M– was absolutely wild for that toy, because of the rustling noise it made and its sparkles. However, during our very first play session with that toy, M– managed to bite off and swallow some of the ribbons!! Which meant that we ended up in emergency vet care (it was a Saturday night of course) and they had to give her emetic agents to make her throw up. Luckily that worked (which it only does in about 1 out of 20 cats, while most of them simply get sleepy), and she threw up both bands.

Otherwise she would have had to undergo surgery immediately to remove the ribbons from her stomach...

It’s ready for pre-order, delivering May 31st.

I am so excited.

Yes! Let me pre-order The Way of Cats The UK: Pre-order The Way of Cats Canada: Pre-order The Way of Cats Australia: Pre-order The Way of Cats

Of course, that’s Reverend Jim on the cover. His adoption jump-started the blog, so he gets the honor. We couldn’t come up with a better symbolic touch, either. RJ nearly died of neglect, had somewhat of a struggle into maturity, and is still dealing with the aftereffects. Way of Cats principles are what got him rescued, got him better, and keep him going today.

RJ shows what can be possible.

This work was ten years in the making. I could not get any publishers or agents to look at it back in the day, but this turned out to make the book better. I started a blog, instead. We’ve been talking about cats all this time, and I have learned so much.

Please help spread the word. Pre-order has a great advantage about helping people know about the book. If there are enough pre-orders, it can show up on some Amazon lists, showing people are interested. Plus, it still...

What can we ask of our cats?

Anything. As long as we take “no” for an answer.

I often get asked if it is “wrong” for people to put clothes on their cats, or train them to do tricks, or otherwise get them to do things they wouldn’t normally do. But such things can be fun for our cats.

If we make such things suggestions. Not orders.

wearing clothes

Online cat fans continually encounter videos and pictures of cats wearing clothes. But this rarely bothers me. Because if they got the clothes on the cat and the cat hung around for a photo opportunity, the cat is not that upset about the situation.

Some cats enjoy the attention, some cats know they will get a treat at the end (and they should) and some cats just don’t mind much of anything. I saw a recent video showing how the people dressing and posing the cats made it fun for them. They kneaded their paws gently, massaged their bodies, and generally made the video session into mutual enjoyment.

If our cats see this as a game, they are getting something out of it. They enjoy it. Cat who exhibit their displeasure will make unhappy sounds and try to leave.

That is where this game...

When we successfully teach our cats human language, we “create a visual.”

So when I say “hungry,” my cats visualize their food.

If we make this a deliberate communications strategy, we advance our understanding and speed up our training.

learn their ways

In my post, Any Cat, Two Training Categories, I explain that cats fall into two training categories; those who are environmentally cued, and those who are symbolically cued. One way of telling is to figure out what the cat is asking for, or what need is being fulfilled, by whatever they are doing.

Tristan is all about concepts. If he comes into the room and says something, he wants me to say something back, or give him a Cat Kiss, or otherwise enjoy transfers of affection. Because if Tristan wants something, he tends to get it himself, or make a fuss over the door he wants opened or the toy he wants me to play with. Tristan directly asking for interaction is how he asks for interaction.

But if RJ comes into the room, sits near, and stares into my eyes, he is making a request. I need to get up and let him Show...

A blog commenter writes:

I’m grateful that one of my three cats is a routine-enforcer like Olwyn – one of the steps in our morning routine is that I take my pills, so if I get distracted by the computer or something, he will pester me until I “complete the circuit,” as you said.

I think the other two appreciate the routine, as well. They just aren’t management types. Not everyone can be management material

My reply:

What a delightful way for him to take care of you … This is like the third time in the last couple of weeks I have heard mention of people using their cats as “reminders.”

Does this mean cats have a concept of time?

Yes, certainly.

anticipation and participation

After all, without clocks, we humans would be all “oh the sun is high in the sky” and not “it’s twelve forty seven.” So it’s likely that cats are at least as good at time as we are; adjusted for cat concerns.

Fortunately, cats and humans have routines in common.

I see cats getting their “time sense” from watching, and anticipating, the actions of their prey. But this also extends to what their friends tend...

I ran across this interview with an actor I admire, Christoph Waltz. He expressed an important concept well (he is discussing working with Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds):

And when we worked together, I learned something from Brad, something that I really admire in him, how generous he is. And I really learned how generosity on a set, how it can actually change… how generosity has an influence on everyone who is there and working on the film. Everyone who is around him. And he has a professional calmness and he’s just such a cool guy. He’s not impersonal, and he’s immensely generous. And this generosity allowed me to rise to the occasion, I feel.

Interview: Christoph Waltz on Playing Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, Working With Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt, and the Legendary Strudel Scene

That is the incredible multiplying power of generosity. Of giving back to get more in return.

It is also the key to unlocking the armored cat’s heart.

One of the daunting tasks of coaxing a feral or traumatized cat back into trusting is that we aren’t going to get much encouragement at first. Engaging their Social Operating System is a process...

A reader writes:

I´ve noticed that my cat does the same thing every morning and every night. Every morning I wake up with her sleeping in my bed (she sometimes sleeps in her cat tree, but always ends up in my bed in the morning), She wants to play (catch small flying objects that I throw), eat her breakfast and then after my breakfast sleep on my chest for at least 45 minutes.

When I get back home after work I always greet her by scooping her up, kissing her head, rubbing her chest, and she licks my hand and nose. When I forget to do that she demands that I do that. It is obviously an important part of our greeting.

Is it only she that needs these routines, or is it common for cats?

Dear Readers,

It’s true. Cats love routines.

Part of the care we supply is as much about creating these routines as it is about furnishing actual physical needs. It is to our mutual benefit to see how all of this meshes inside of our cat’s head.

anticipation

In nature, the ability to predict prey behavior is key to getting fed. The cat’s ambush hunting strategy...

There are times when I share a funny story about my cats, and someone takes offense at how I treat them.

How well I treat them.

I like to spoil the beings I love. Despite the scorn of Cat Skeptics, this is good for the cats, and their gratitude is paid in affection.

So it winds up being good for me, too.

resource allocation

Yes, my cats have “their own Chromebook.” But it is also still my Chromebook, a relatively inexpensive adjunct device which was my replacement laptop when Tristan ruined my old used one. This sufficed until I was in a position to get my present laptop, and is a great backup way for the humans to access the Internet in case of equipment repair.

But these days, yes, it is the Cats’ Chromebook, where they watch cat videos. It has seen reduced use this winter, usually a prime time for such amusement, since we have downstairs windows now. The squirrels and birds are bigger and easier to monitor. We placed RJ’s favorite snooze spot (the back of the couch) with a great view of the new windows, and RJ has been a fixture since.

The opening up of the internal stairway for running games...

Even when I was a child myself, I was puzzled when someone would ignore someone else with, “They just want attention.”

So? Attention is something they want. Give them some.

The more our cats love us, the more our cats will feel a lack of attention. So, a great cat relationship comes with corresponding maintenance issues.

right amount, right time

Each cat might have a different version of “enough” when it comes to the kind and amount of attention they need to feel happy and secure.

Just in our current cat boys, there’s quite a range. It might be intensity at spaced intervals, like Reverend Jim. It might be quick check-ins, more often, like Mithrandir. It might be high intensity fairly often, like Tristan.

One complication with a devoted and attentive cat like Tristan is that when I don’t feel well, he wants to take care of me. So I get doted on with a lot of headwalking and cow noises. It might not be what I would choose, but after a certain amount of this Tristan then bestows a lot of cuddling, which does make me feel better. In any case, we have to take the total Cat Care Package.

RJ carefully monitors his human’s availability before he...

Helping our kitten grow up healthy and happy means understanding the demands of the Kitten Energy Cycle.

Kittens need to play hard and sleep hard. Here’s how to guide that process:

supervised play

The tiny kitten attention span means everything looks like a toy. The more Alpha in our kitten, the more we need to kittenproof. I manage this tendency by leaving out a lot of toys when we have a kitten in residence. I would rather the urge to play light upon an actual toy.

While kittens are highly self-amusing, the downside is that we can neglect playing with them. But we should not. Making ourselves a part of their expanding world is always a good idea, and we can start the gentle guidance and patient repetition which is “kitten training.”

By being there to distract them with a thrown toy or guide them away from trouble areas, they can have fun while being trained. We can look for signs they are getting tired, though they will not make this easy to tell.

wearing out

It usually appears suddenly. The kitten starts blinking, or yawns, and while like all babies they don’t want to go to sleep, they will slow down. Stubborn kittens will sit...

Dreams are a function of higher brain functions. Since cats have higher brain functions, they do dream.

When scientists have offered a number of possible reasons for why humans dream, with no real consensus or evidence, it’s even harder to pin down what might be in it for cats. But it turns out they do, in fact, dream.

REM sleep

Rapid Eye Movement is when dreams happen. We have it, and so do cats.

Sleeping cats have been studied with electroencephalograms (EEG), which read their brain activity. Cats were found to be in REM sleep or deep sleep for 30 percent of their sleeping time. The REM sleep or deep sleep periods were accompanied by changes in body posture, paw and claw movements, whisker twitching, ear flicking, and, in some cases, vocalization. It is therefore assumed that cats dream or at least have semiconscious experiences that are similar to human dreams.

Science Fact Finder

That’s interesting, because REM sleep comprises 20-25 percent of sleep in adult humans. So not only do cats dream, it would appear they actually dream more of the time than humans do. Human infants experience more than 50% of their sleep as dreaming sleep. It...

It can seem like magic: that moment a troubled cat accepts our love.

Once that first gesture is made, things speed up.

This cat reacted with such panic when she was adopted at eight months old she had to be dragged out of the ceiling at the shelter. Just look at her now!

In a previous post, Dear Pammy, THANK YOU, I shared a reader’s success in a very challenging situation. This cat’s person checked in with me to report even more progress since then.

Hi there! I just wanted to thank you again and show you how far K– has come! After she came out from under the bed, I waited a long time to touch her. But the second I did, she realized how wonderful petting is and has been an absolute snuggle bug. She’s lying in my lap belly-up as I write this. She still regresses when there are strangers in the house, or I have to take her somewhere, but she’s very happy and secure at home with me.

She’s a super weird cat at this point, she asks to be picked up off the ground, likes belly rubs, makes faces...

Why do I take so many pictures of my cat Tristan when I have three other cats who are just as cute?

He lets me.

Tristan happily supplies what every cat photographer needs; proximity (he’s always around,) trust (Tristan initiates hand-holding and welcomes belly-kissing,) and acceptance (of whatever strange device I am pushing close to his face.) This sequence of events has always been problem-free in our many prior encounters, and he knows that when he lets me do this thing, it makes me happy.

So, Tristan puts up with it. Here’s some reasons our cat may not:

Cat Type

Our Gamma cats are extremely sensitive to what we might want them to do. They can have an exaggerated response to the basic cat challenge when we take their picture: What is it that we want them to do?

What we want: nothing, is so puzzling that any cat can made uncomfortable by our photo-taking actions. Two of our Beta cats, Olwyn and Mithrandir, have tortitude and ferality working against them. Olwyn interprets it as a “critical gaze,” where I must want her to do something and she doesn’t know what it is. While Mithy can become uncomfortable with any gaze, though he is steadily...