News Puppy Dog Tails — 28 February 2011
A dog persons guide to cat conduct

If you know anything about cats, you know that they are aloof. They live to please themselves, not their owners. They are independent, know what they want, and are not easily persuaded into doing anything that doesnt ultimately benefit them. 

Unlike most self-proclaimed dog people, I find it incredibly refreshing that cats dont make any pretenses about their selfish nature and I appreciate them for the reluctantly domesticated creatures they are. 

In my experience, initial cat interactions tend to go one of three ways and, sadly, many humans completely misinterpret these greetings.

The first type of feline welcoming appears warm and fuzzy to the untrained eye, but dont be fooled by the seemingly sweet fur ball at your feet. The cat, displaying a friendly disposition, purrs and blissfully rubs up all over you. This is not genuine affection, people. Its actually quite domineering. 

Cats have scent glands on their faces. The felines affection is actually the dispersion of pheromones, which cats rub on anything they want to own. By lathering you up with what you think is love, the cat is actually claiming you. Youre thinking, sweet kitty! and hes thinking my human!

The second type of greeting is not so welcoming and, for some odd reason is often misinterpreted by humans. Im referring to the skittish cat that runs up the stairs to hide the second you walk in the door. Feel rejected? You should. 

The cat in this situation is not playing hard to get; he wants nothing to do with you and has made it perfectly clear. Now leave him alone. Following him, calling his name, and trying to entice him with a treat is just annoying human behavior. If he decides to give you a chance, hell come to you. And then its your turn to play coy; cats love a feisty human.

The third type of greeting is the trickiest. It starts very similarly to the first interaction I described, but in this sneaky scenario, the cat draws you in with the promise of a tender moment only to grab your petting hand and hold it hostage as his four paws and sharp little claws dig violently into your skin. Most humans find this behavior completely undesirable as well as painful. But its one of the most genuinely loving interactions you will ever share with a cat.

Cats display affection in ways that uninformed humans (dog people) might interpret as mean. While you probably dont slap your significant other across the face in hopes of seducing him or her, the cats mating rituals include head butting, swatting and biting, all of which are considered very sexy to courting cats. Kittens display affection with their littermates in very much the same way. Pouncing, scratching, clawing, snapping you name it, kittens love it. 

The beauty of interacting with cats is that, if you pay close enough attention, you always know where you stand with them. It may hurt the ego a little, but at least you know. Feline friendships are not for everyone. Those who prefer more predictability and less defiance should stick to dogs. Cats cant be bothered with your insecurities anyway.

Aside from being the Alexandria Times’ pet columnist, Isabel Alvarez is a pet services professional and owner of  The Wag Pack.

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