Living with cats in a responsible way


The human/feline relationship

Nine lives - really?

Do I have to vaccinate my cat?

Indoors or outdoors?

Sources of danger in the house

Cat = loner?

She's gotta have kittens once?

Litter box problems

Cats need to be punished?

Milk - the one and only drink for cats?

Human/feline communication

From a cat's point of view

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The human/feline relationship

First of all...

When you plan to bring a cat to your home, you should be aware of the fact that your life will change! As in any relationship you have, patience, compromise and tolerance will be required. There's no patent remedy - Just like humans, each cat is an individual with its very own strengths and weaknesses - and its very own personal experiences which formed its character. You cannot tar all cats with the same brush. Something that worked well with one cat, won't necessarily work with the next one.

I would define "living with cats" as a cooperation. I try to avoid calling myself their "owner". Cats are living creatures and no living creature should be "owned". Sometimes I would jokingly say that the cats own me, but of course this isn't correct either. I prefer to call myself a "cat mom" because from the moment I have adopted them, I accepted all responsibility for these creatures. I'm aware of the fact that I am the one who has to support them and care for them in the future, for the rest of their lives. I'm the one who has to make sure that their lives will be good.

By the way, some cat behaviorists explain the playful behavior of many cats with the theory that cats in human company keep their childlike attitude as long as they live. Therefore, the term "cat parent" is a very adequate one for humans with cats, isn't it?

A cat in the house!

Well, once the cats have moved into your house, your home becomes their home as well! This means nothing else that you have to accept the fact that you have to share your very own place - and everything in it - with your new room mates. To a cat - especially to a kitten - the entire environment looks like one huge playground - which needs to be conquered! At this point, tolerance is required - on both sides, of course. Humans have to learn to do without some things - at least temporarily. It's also crucial to make the house safe for cats (please read Sources of danger in the house also). Humans also have to take compromises when it comes to the interior decoration: When the bunch of dry flowers is way too attractive to kitty, you can either remove the mess ten times a day, or put the entire thing away and set it up in a place the cat can't reach. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about! But also kitty has to learn that there are some rules to follow to make the human/feline relationship work: No human appreciates scratching on wallpapers and furniture, but usually cats will learn quickly that a scratching post can be fun as well - provided that there is one in the house (read more in the chapter Cats need to be disciplined?).

A cat living with humans - in a human's house, to be exact - has to do without many things which are part of the feline nature; and this requires a lot of adjustment! Since adaptability is one of the cats' greatest talents, it's usually no problem for them, but you can support your cat by making their natural likings work for you: For example by conducting an extended playing session!

Human/feline communication

Cats and humans can build up very strong friendships and sometimes they develop a very special bond. Often the cat would watch "its" human closely and know his feelings and emotional state better than the human himself! It's amazing how many words of the human language a cat is able to understand and how it is capable to associate the correct meaning. I made some good experiences by always using the same words/terms in similar situations; the cats seem to feel comfortable with this; and they'll know exactly what's going on.

It's said that they have even developed the "meowing" only to communicate with humans (learn more in Human/feline communication). All their adaptability deserves some accommodation, don't you think so? We, the humans, can also learn to understand our feline friends! Meanwhile, there are many good books that help you to understand the cat's body language. With a little practise, it's not too complicated to read their moods or to understand their reactions: The humans' and the cats' limbic system, the part of the brain that's responsible for emotions, are very similar. So most likely the feline emotions are very much like ours - and that is an encouraging thought, isn't it?