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by Dr. Leon James
This Web site is a resource page for pets psychology. This is a topic that my students and I have been interested in for many years, so I decided to bring together some of my ideas on the significance of pets in human lives, both in this world and in the afterlife of eternity. At the same time I wanted to sample some of the amazing number and variety of other sites that are devoted to pet psychology, pet loss practices, pet spirituality, and so on.
From this page one can see how extraordinarily widespread and intense the interest in this topic is. We need to understand the difference between real pets and virtual pets. The human race needs to have a deeper perspective on pet psychology and have an understanding of the pet-human relationship, which is within the context of inter-species communication and interaction. When we talk about pets and spirituality, we are discussing our relationship to pets in the afterlife of eternity.
When you begin to realize how and why pets are super-important to people, you will be able to see some of the motivation that drives the rising virtual pet practices here, in Japan, and now spreading everywhere.
As I see it, humans perceive pets as a part of themselves, thus more than just as a belonging, like they might see when looking at a hammer or a watch, objects that are ordinarily replaceable. Some people however extend this emotional link and interdependency to belongings like a car, which they view as quasi-alive and needing protection and love from the owner. In the owner's experience the object has acquired characteristics of a living organism with feelings and dignity. In the same way virtual pets can serve as psychological surrogates to the real thing, just as it occurs with virtual relationships in the digital cyber world where people interact with each other through assumed personalities and traits by which they are known to others who are regular participants. And sometimes their real traits are not discovered until later when it might be too late, as in the case of financial sharks and romantic predators who pose and pretend for ensnarement.
I've seen documentaries of women who marry jail prisoners serving a life sentence, whom they may be able to see once in a while, or never. Mostly they have letters from each other and an occasional phone call. And yet the women speak in interviews like committed spouses. This kind of virtual marriage is being extended to the cyber world where two people have an electronic wedding attended by electronic friends and then go off to an electronic honeymoon and continue a married life thereafter -- and no doubt, go through electronic divorces, electronic children, and virtual pets. I predict that not long from now people will be able to be citizens of an imaginary world populated by real people in imaginary identities.
And I can easily accept the idea that they will live these fantasy lives with real emotions, real feelings, preoccupations, and much mental involvement in time and effort. It becomes their second life. Their psychological growth depends on it. The human and the pet, or the human and the surrogate object, become attached to each other organically like a vine that grows around a ladder abandoned in a field. You can no longer disentangle the vine from the ladder without ripping it apart.
Children already live in that kind of future. Their
keen imagination and receptive sensory world, allows them to be spiritual beings
who live within the mental world of eternity. You might think of a character in
our dream. From that character's perspective, if we could place ourselves there,
the world around would appear perfectly normal, the walls perfectly solid, the
food delectable, the tango with a beloved so real and emotionally arousing. So
it is with the world of children and their imagination as they apply it to
things around them. Pets are at the very top of the attachment hierarchy of
Children enter into the world of pets. Animal and human become an integrated biological system. Pet and owner become interdependent for living. My wife and I call ourselves food gods when we are "conversing" with our three cats. We use the term human cathead for adults like us, namely, who enter into the world of our pets. Not every pet owner does this. One can own a pet, love a pet, treat a pet well, and yet not enter into the pet's world. This requires spending time together, quality time. It doesn't count when we watch TV and the pet sleeps on the couch.
There has to be contact in all the zones of animal-human
interaction. Human catheads discover that cats have a compulsive love, even an
obsession, for creating new interaction rituals with the human. Our cats
extremely involved in getting the Food Gods to walk them to the dish. The dish is the sacred worship area. One of our cats has evolved what appears to people as a "scoop obsession." He wants a new scoop from the larger container each time he succeeds in bringing the Food God to the dish. Once there, he must have a fresh scoop or he won't begin to eat. He just sits there and looks up cute. Waits. After a while he makes a pitiful sound. But to a lifelong human cathead like my wife, the expression "scoop obsession" is all wrong. "He wants to relate." she explains. "This is the way cats relate. How else do you want him to relate, by discussing the evening news?"
Human catheads, and also dog whisperers, and others who develop a symbiosis with animals, discover that the animal is elevated spiritually by the conjunction with the human.
For instance, one of our cats developed the ritual of walking with me around our backyard, stopping at specific places, doing various things like eating grass or scratching a tree limb, taking turns who is the leader, etc. This has become so hugely important in his little life that he looks forward to it starting an hour before, waiting by the window, coming around to look for me, and getting me to follow him outside. Sometimes he uses the ritual around the dish routine first, to get my attention and to interact with him. I see how this cat is elevated by my relationship with him. I feel terribly guilty on days when I deprive him of this elevation. His self-esteem as a cat is enhanced and dependent on this ritual with me. He would be devastated, totally, if I disappeared, or if we had to move and take him along. The new place will be to him frightening and he would be jumpy all the time and I would notice that he is unhappy and I will be in mental pain and emotional pain until I can fix his anxiety and disturbance. Such is the symbiotic attachment we experience with pets.
The loss of a pet is equally challenging to children and adults. Even if it is a virtual pet, the loss through theft or destruction puts an end to the rituals that the owner has evolved over the relationship. Now the owner has to face new thoughts that may not be pleasant or easily handled. Anxiety can grow, depression can ensue. Ordinary tasks become difficult to do, becoming almost impossible to motivate oneself to do them.
My wife's favorite cat comes to sit in her lap, sometimes the chest, and purrrrs furiously. She says that the vibration has a definite effect on her sensorimotor system. She notices becoming more calm. The stress and disturbance she feels from events and situations banish that calm she needs in order to feel herself, to feel happy, safe, and free. She talks about the loss she is going to experience when he is gone -- he is now 17 but does not show it in the least. Another cat will not replace him because he has been so personal with her since the beginning, and then more and more so as the years went by. She has developed an emotional dependency on her cat, depending on him to allow her to calm down in daily life. If he is gone she will lose this dependency and reliance. She will be challenged to cope with a new situation of being alone. Of course there is me, her husband, and she does not compare us or put us in a similar category, me and her cat. My cat too because he loves me also and I love him.
The grieving process is a large literature and I don't mean to comment on it at all. From my personal perspective humans are born immortal and carry their pet's relationship with them into the afterlife. Since the afterlife is the mental world of eternity we can all have our pets back. My students in theistic psychology, where we discuss such things, are intensely interested in seeing their pets in eternity. My research relies on the Swedenborg Reports -- see my Web site on it: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy/instructor/swedenborg.html
Children need help in getting through the pet loss
experience. First they need to see that parents and siblings are sympathetic for
the loss, and acknowledge it as a loss. I am not necessarily recommending this
but I see from the Web that some people go into a grieving practice that
emulates the grieving practices for human beings, like burials, prayer
ceremonies, tomb stones, inheritance, etc. This is a socio-cultural practice and
has all sorts of secondary emotions that people attach to them, like reputation,
self-enhancement, loyalty, zany humor, etc.
Continued with Human Catheads and Pet Psychology About Cats (see below)
From the Students of Dr. Leon James at the University of Hawaii
Personality And Pets:
The Existence Of Personality In Pets Shown Through The Human-Animal Bond
|MY SPECIAL INTEREST IN PETS
ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED
WHY DO PEOPLE OWN PETS
APPLYING THE PERSONALITY MODEL TO PETS
PET'S PERSONALITY vs HUMAN'S PERSONALITY
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PETS AND THEIR OWNERS
PERSONALITY OF OWNERS vs NONOWNERS
PERSONALITY FUNCTION OF PETS
SUBJECTS USED IN DATABASES
LIBRARY RESEARCH PROCEDURES
AFTERTHOUGHTS ON PETS AND PERSONALITY
Psychology and Pets:
HUMAN AND DOG INTERDEPENDENCY:
The Benefits of Dog Assisted Therapy On The Personality As Well As The Environment Of People
PET PERSONALITY AND THEIR OWNERS: PETS BRING OUT THE
BEST IN US
A Look at Dogs, Their Personalities, and Their Relationship with Humans
THE EXISTENCE OF PERSONALITY IN PETS SHOWN THROUGH THE HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND
RELATIONS BETWEEN HUMANS AND PETS
Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and
Empathy - and Why They Matter (Hardcover)
by Marc Bekoff (Author), Jane Goodall (Foreword)
More... from amazon.com
By Natalia Lukey, student
Instructor: Dr. Leon James
I. Introduction: Cat pasts that are unknown to the new owner
II. Why is the cat acting strange?
III. What do these behaviors mean?
IV. Cat rituals
V. Cat psychological recoveries
I. Introduction: Cat pasts that are unknown to the new owner
The adoption of an adult cat can be a tough challenge to the new owner. Cats like people have their past with all kinds of experiences, but unlike people they can’t talk, so it can be very hard, but not impossible, to know what is passing through the heads of our little friends. In this annotated bibliography, I will try to give you some useful information in the understanding of the past of these amazing animals, on how to communicate with them and understand what they are trying to tell you using their body language - their behavior and rituals.
But before we start talking about communication, I would like to share with you some of the reasons why people adopt adult cats. We tend to think that people adopt adult cats because they are already trained, more tranquil, and more independent. The replies that people sent me from the Cat Site forum not only mentioned some of these reasons as it also gave me many others:
“Two of my cats I adopted as adults, Fallon and Sampson. Fallon I adopted from the clinic I work at and she had spent the most part of her 1 and a half years in a little cage because no one wanted to adopt her...”,
“Kali came with her kitten, Alf (he was about 3 weeks old) and we think she was about two. Never knew what happened to her other kittens, as only Kali and Alf were found - cornered by a dog...”,
“Our 4th adult family cat passed away 2 years ago, and since then I have moved out and now live on my own. Within a month of moving out I *had* to adopt a cat. I knew I wanted an adult because of our past good experiences with them...”,
“The cat I already had was getting lonely while I was at work so I decided he needed a friend. I went to the local pet shelter and began "trying out" the older cats...”,
“Adult cats are more mellow, already house broken, only need shots once a year, are usually fixed, and aren't teething! Older cats are less likely to become ill and are less likely to be stepped on...”,
“When I adopted my cats I wasn't really in the market for a cat but I fell in love with their personality and decided that I had room for one more. Kittens are too much work than I care to bother with...”,
“Yep, it is that "feeling sorry" for the poor older cats who do get left in the shelters when all the cute kittens are adopted...”,
“The first was that I don't have the time to dedicate to raising a kitten. I spend a lot of time with my cat, but I have him adapt to my routine. I don't think that I want to go through that kitten training stuff..."
Every one had a different reason, but the same problem when it got to the interaction with the new comer. It is very frustrating when you want to do good to the animal and it reacts as if you were torturing it. Many cat owners complained that at the beginning their cat would be afraid of everything, that they wouldn’t meow, neither eat and would do their necessities all over the place. But with time, through a lot of patience, love, and trial and error they got to know each other and are now enjoying themselves. Let’s try to make this adaptation period more enjoyable and shorter so both, the new owner and the cat can be happy.
II. Why is the cat acting strange?
As I said before, each cat has a past and it is going to strongly influence its present behavior. If you are planning to adopt a cat I would like to mention the Pet Behavior Clinic web page where the author clarifies some myths about animals adopted from shelters so you don’t get mislead by one of them and will strongly consider the option of adopting your cat from a shelter. The first myth is that animals from shelter have trouble bonding to a new family. Animals from shelter actually bond strongly to their new family. The only problem is that they don’t like to be left alone what might lead them to think that you will leave them again as their previous owner did. Make sure you can check on him several times a day at least at the beginning while it is still adapting to you.
Second myth: Older animals have trouble bonding to new people. Older animals like younger animals do not lose the ability to attach to people it just might take a little bit longer to get attached. Third myth: A pet will long to be reunited with his old family. The period of time that separates the pet from its former owner lessens the pet’s attachment towards that owner. Fourth myth: Stray animals do not make good pets. “Stray animals are usually intelligent because they would not have survived very long without a family. Most are grateful for food and shelter and happy to comply with house rules.”
Fifth myth: Adopting a second hand pet is taking on someone else’s problem. “People give up pets everyday for reasons as simple as "sheds hair" or "needs exercise". Since all dogs and cats shed and require exercise, these are not problem pets. Be aware that people giving up a pet feel guilty. Guilt may prevent them from being honest about the pet's worst behavior or they may exaggerate to blame the pet for their unwillingness to meet the responsibility of caring for their pet. Information from a previous owner can be filtered through guilt.” Sixth myth: Animals from the shelter are usually abused. “Animals that actually have been mistreated are often outgoing and forgiving. Most animals in shelters were neglected, certainly lacking attention and exercise. Some lack social skills. The best remedy for these pets is a new home.” It is also important not to be tricked by the cat’s look. Meow Foundation web page can give you some advice on how to choose a cat based on your personality and on the cat’s. As you can see, there are several good reasons not to believe in misleading information.
Now let’s suppose that you took your cat from the shelter. Did the cat have an owner before or was it raised in the shelter? The new cat owner must find out as much information as possible about the cat to better understand it. If it had an owner before why did the owner rejected it? Scarlett J., Salman M., New J. and Kas P. in their article Reasons for relinquishment of companion animals in the U.S. animal shelters identified 71 reasons for rejection of their pets. The main ones were personal issues such as allergies and new baby. It is very important to make sure nobody in your family is allergic and that you are willing to spend a lot of your time taking care of your new pet if you decide to adopt a cat. Just imagine how traumatizing it can be to be rejected twice. This article also gives the former owners’ characteristics what might be helpful in finding some answers for the cat’s present behavior.
But what if your cat was raised in the shelter? Alger J. and Alger S. in their article Cat culture, human culture: An ethnographic study of a cat shelter, explains that within the cat community of the shelter, a distinctive cat culture emerges as a result of their adaptation to the shelter. The article points out the fact that because there are so many cats living in a small territory, the cats stop giving too much emphasis to territoriality and conflict and start caring more about affection and friendship. By knowing that your cat had lived in a community with other cats it might not be very happy alone, at least at the beginning. So instead of thinking that your cat is sick, just try to understand that it is now adapting to a completely different life style.
III. What do these behaviors mean?
One of the authors who write a lot about cat behavior is Pam Johson-Bennet. She wrote three books that in my opinion are relevant to our topic. In the first one “Hiss and Tell: True Stories from the Files of a Cat Shrink” Dr. Bennet gives us several examples of unusual cat behaviors and rituals based on real stories from her clients, and through them she tries to give us some explanation of what these behaviors mean and how the cat owner is supposed to respond to them. I think it was a good idea to use real stories in explaining cat behavior because it makes easier for us readers to understand the situation when we know in what context the behavior happened.
In the second book, “Twisted Whiskers: Solving Your Cat’s behavior problems” Dr. Bennet writes about felines’ communication where she gives more details about the meaning of cat’s touch, eyes, voice, purr and body language. She also gives some advice in training your cat in the first chapter called Behavior Modification. The third book, “Think like a cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss” is very useful for those who are planning to be cat owners. Here she writes about cat instincts that determine felines’ behavior whether they are good or bad, giving some basic knowledge about cats what is always useful when you are planning to have one.
The web site Feline Behavior is also very helpful in giving some explanations about some cat behavior perceived by the majority of people as weird. For example, it explains that hiding sometimes can be just a learned preference towards a specific place instead of a real hiding, that eating plants and throwing-up doesn’t exactly mean that the cat is sick, but that it is just trying to alleviate its indigestion, that sucking and kneading is a sign of happiness and it shouldn’t be punished if done in the right place, etc.
There are also times when our new cat’s behavior, or its ritual is actually inappropriate. If you are worried that your cat is expressing such behaviors, the web site Vetinfo could definitely help you. Here a veterinarian answers people’s question concerning several behavioral problems, such as excessive meowing, depression, personality changes, digging holes, destructive behavior, separation anxiety, aggression, licking, territorial problems, etc. You can ask questions to the veterinarian too. There is also the Best Friends forum if you are interested in other veterinarians’ points of view. Some kinds of behavior must be modified. The cat who cried for help: attitudes, emotions and the psychology of cats by Nicholas Dodman gives helpful advice for cat owners who want to retrain and cure their cats from undesirable behavior. It “examines aggravating cat habits and undesirable behavior, and shows how modifications in such areas as diet, exercise, and environment cause remarkable improvements in majority of problem cats.” He uses real case stories from his own practice what makes the book more entertaining and easier to understand. There is also the Cat Fanciers web page which provides several advice about how to deal with other problematic behavior such as scratching, ripping the carpet, etc. But remember, not only your cat will need to adjust to you as you’ll also need to adjust to your cat.
IV. Cat rituals
In Milani’s web site the author brings up the fact that some owners create very complex rituals with their cats and it can become a huge problem for the cat and its new owner if the previous owner can no longer stay with his/her cat “deliberately or unwittingly, some owners create relatively complex feeding rituals with their cats. Not only do these involve what they feed their pets, but how, when, and where. Although these may work very well for both owner and cat alike, what happens when that person is no longer around? Who will cut up Sergei's food into the tiniest little pieces, warm them in the microwave just so, and serve them to him on his special plate placed in that special spot on the kitchen counter? If he's lucky, his owner will have ensured that someone would do exactly that in her absence. If she didn't, it may take his new owner months to figure out that the cat's poor appetite results from how or where he's being fed rather than what. If his new owner doesn't, Sergei may never feel completely comfortable when he eats.” When I asked my friends and those from the cat forums about their cat rituals that is what they told me:
“Murka (female cat), stops eating the day before we go to the country-side (every other week). Murka knows that when she arrives there she always gets fresh fish and I guess everything else doesn’t taste as good as what she gets there. She finds out the right day by observing the fact that my dad always takes his country boots from the shelf the day before.”
“My cat Tom, comes running to me every time I take something to read. He just loves to lie on mine lap when I read.” “My mom used to have a cat called Tishka (male). He would wake up every day around 6am, lick everyone’s face, and then go to the window where he mewed until someone got up. This was one of the reasons why she gave him away to her friend. I used to have a cat called Misha. He liked when I stayed in the kitchen while he was eating his meal. If I left the room he would stop eating and would start following me around. He was the best cat I ever had. I also had a cat called Shusha. She was like a dog. I used to take her for a walk in the forest next to my house. Shusha walked right next to me without a leash. But if she saw a dog, she would jump into the first tree and it would take me forever to get her down.”
“ I have a very fat cat that can’t stand when he can see the bottom of his bowl. He comes to me and scratches my legs until I pours some more food into the bowl.”
“ My cat has several rituals, it always waits me by the stairs when I’m walking by it and when I go up stairs the cat waits until I’m almost in the second floor to chase me . He also likes to be the first to use the restroom. When I get home from work and go to the restroom, he chases me so he can pee before I get there. He likes to watch the birds every morning in one specific place. He always needs to touch my arm with one paw when he sleeps next to me. If I don’t get up when he mews (calling her), he jumps on her and touches her face.”
“I've got a nightly
ritual for you...
My three cats know exactly when it is time to go to bed. At 10 o'clock every night they lay right in front of the stairway that leads to my bedroom. When I get ready to head towards the door, I always say "Come on Kid's...lets go to bed" and they instantly jolt up the stairs. By the time I go up the stairs and walk in my bedroom, they are waiting patiently next to the bed. I've always given them a little treat when it's time to go to bed, so they are very eager to get me to go to bed. If I happen to go out on the town on a Friday or Saturday night and don't make it home by "bedtime"...Tiki (my youngest) sits on the top of the stairs and meows for me until I get home (at least that's what the rest of my family tells me!). I just thought I share this with you, -Shell”
“Feeding time - everyone ALWAYS goes to the same bowl to eat! PRIVATE "TYPE=PICT;ALT="Ripley always goes to bed with me, as well. My hubby tells me that the cats just know when I am close to coming home after work - he says that they methodically wait for me at the door. I know this is true, as I usually trip my way into the house.-Debra”
"My two also always know when I am coming home from work and try to trip me up" Corky also does the same thing each night at about 7.30pm when it's time for her to come in. All I need to do is open the back door and she will come tearing towards the house and then stop about a foot away from the door, and just sits looking at me with a look on her face saying "awww do I have to come in yet." She will then refuse to move unless I offer her some food.”
“I've posted this before, but a few months ago. Alf rattles the front-door letter-box when he wants to come in, and Ronnie has also learnt to do this. The problem is that the neighbour's cat Mittens has also cottoned onto this trick and keeps on knocking to come in.....” “When I get home from work my two cats, after a few rubs of the tummy, will go poop in the litter box. Now, this only a weekday thing. Weekends are poop when you want days. I've always wondered if they only poop when I'm home.” “My tow have a habit of always going in the litter boxes when I am trying to clean them out, even if they have only just used the box.
I think that is the only habit which does actually annoy me, but they are soon forgiven *sigh*” “Sam lets me know when he is hungry (or, to be more precise, when it is 6:00 am and I should be getting out of bed to feed him fresh wet food).First a gentle Meow. Next, a more strident Meow. Then MEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOW. Now, if those have not worked, he scratches the box spring - to make it echo - much more satisfying than just the mattress. Followed by - jumping on my chest and purring really loud in my face.
Followed by face licking, by which time he knows I am awake, because I turn my face away as he reaches my mouth - no kitty kisses on the lips, thank you very much. Now, if I still want to sleep in, I get head butts - that is, he starts trying to shove me out of bed. And if all else fails, he knows that I will give up if he lies across my chest with his tail in my face. So I feed him, he sits on his piece of paper to groom after the meal, and then he goes to his little cat bed and sleeps for the next 12 hours.” “I think I'm a full time mom to my four kitties now...I play with them all day in addition to caring for them as usual. And so they've grown jealous of me. If I go to scratch Major's head, Max will bite him on the ear and bat at me. If I switch to pet Max, Major will do a tiny little growl! They all love their bellies rubbed. Lucie is a general spazz and attaches herself to my leg, but Duke is still just a bit shy. Cats are the best- no dog would ever do this!”
“One of my cats (Nutmeg, 6 year old neutered male s.h. ginger) likes to be carried downstairs in the mornings. He stands on the end of the bed and shows by his body language (too subtle to define) that he wants a lift. When I stand in front of him he climbs onto my shoulder where he drapes himself. His hip joint acts as a pivot (hard to explain) so that most of him is hanging down over my back with his front paws extended to my waist level while his back legs dangle down over my chest. He likes to be carried like this for up to 15 minutes, completely unsupported, down two flights of stairs and through the process of making a pot of tea. He only does this in the mornings, and purrs loudly throughout the ritual. He also likes a cuddle in bed most nights. He forces his way under the duvet, flings himself sideways into the crook of my arm, sucks on a mouthful of nightdress and makes dough furiously in my armpit (very painful!) while drooling profusely. But he gazes at my face with such a look of adoration that I don't have the heart to stop him!”
“My two young cats chase me down the road every morning when I walk my dog, but stop just short of the park. They wait there mewing and when we come back run towards us, past us and then sit watching us disappear back to the house. Just before we get to the door they both come charging through the neighbouring gardens and demand a few dog biscuits. I accept that by giving them a biscuit I am rewarding them for this behaviour so in effect, I've trained it in. Not sure if that's the sort of thing you're looking for or not.” “Usually only once per day but sometimes more, she will sneak into our room (when we are not in it) and grab socks out of the closet. She then makes a particular meow as she parades into whatever room we are in and deposits the sock(s) on the floor in front of us.”
“Fitzy is usually at the door when I get home from work--if he isn't he comes running out of the bedroom to greet me. Then we go into the kitchen and I give him his wet food while I make supper (he stands on a stool with his paws on the handle to the oven while I put his food in his bowl--I make his supper on top of the stove). At night, I get ready for bed and give him a kiss. Then I go into the bedroom and put on my hand cream and turn on my sleep-mate noise-maker and go to turn the light off. By the time I get to the switch, Fitz is sitting just outside the door for his 2nd kiss. I turn off the light and go to sleep. Then Fitz goes into the kitchen and eats his dry food. When he's done eating, he comes in and sleeps between my feet. In the morning, he snuggles on my neck and after my 3rd snooze, he gets up. On weekends, he wakes me up at 7:00am by biting my arm or rattling the beads that hang on my bedpost. He also comes into the bathroom doing his squeaky noises when I turn the shower off. My baby is all rituals.” “I think that we can summarize: life is a ritual for a cat. Once we do something, the cat expects it to be done the same way, every day, over and over and over again. My apartment is dotted with pieces of cardboard - there's the "wait outside the bathroom door for mom to finish showering" cardboard, the "dinner is over grooming station" cardboard, the "wait beside the bed until mom is all settled and I can have a good night cuddle" cardboard - which is actually a pizza box, the "wait on the dining room floor for squirrels to appear in the tree outside the window" cardboard.
When I got back from a week's vacation, Sam was happy to see me, but also spent the evening checking to see that his cardboards were all in the right place. He went and meowed at each one - I think he was saying "Thank goodness nothing happened to THIS".”
“I don't know why my girls do this, but when I walk in the door to my apartment, they come and greet me and then the run to the scratching post and start scratching. I think it is adorable. As if to say: "Look Mom, we know what this is for". Every time. They are adorable.”
“Ivo waits at the door for me every weekday. She calls, and when I open the door she goes out into the hall, to make sure no bad guys have followed me home. Then, after I put my stuff down and go the restroom, she'll use her litter box at the same time (it's right outside the bathroom). Oh, and when I leave in the morning I have to tell her "Watch out for the bad guys and monsters, and don't let in any evil pigeons. I love you and I'll be back later. I'm going to work so I can buy you cat food." Well, maybe that's for me.”
“Russell waits at the door to greet my boyfriend when he comes home. And if he's late, Russell will meow as if to say, "You're late." rub Lee's leg and saunters off. Russell always announces when he's going to use the kitty litter. This one I taught him and he does it automatically now so I guess it's a ritual. Before Russell's bowl of food is placed down, he sits and wait until I've put it down before eating it.
And after anyone has had a shower, Russell has to jump in after to walk around and sometimes drink from the shower floor even though there is fresh water in his water bowl!” It is interesting that the majority of the rituals are connected with the owners’ schedule, when they come home, or when they go to bed or do a specific kind of activity.
In Fletcher’s site you can also find other examples of cat rituals. His cats also have rituals based on what he does. Another web site that contains several cat stories including cat rituals is the Cat Philes. If you are interested in sharing your own cat experiences with others and also read their stories there are several forums and chat rooms available, some of them give you a list of other cat newsgroups and chat rooms, such as Cat, Richmond Pets and Animal Forum.
V. Cat psychological recoveries
It is very important to consider the cat’s past in order to understand and modify its behavior or rituals. The Total Cat a book written by Carole C. Wilbourn mentions in some of the chapters (Your Cat and Changing Human Relationships, Senior Cat) how to deal with this kind of situation. She also talks about “caring for an abused refugee”. The Cats Exclusive web site gives some cute stories of successful adoptions, where cats were able to recover the trauma of being left by their previous owners.
There is a lot of information about cats in the internet, in journals and in books but unfortunately there isn’t much information about cats with a past and its influence in the cat’ behavior almost anywhere. By understanding the cat’s past the new owner will be able to make his/her cat a happy animal which in its turn will make the new owner happy. Animals like people develop certain habits during their lives and like us they also need time to adjust to the new situation they are put in. This report points out some necessary steps that the new owner needs to take in order to reach an understanding of their cats, like finding out information about the cat’s past, what certain behavior means, which ones are considered appropriate or inappropriate, it talks about the rituals developed between the cat and the owner and also about behavior modification. I hope this report will be useful in giving some ideas for those who are planning to have a happy relationship with their cat.
12. http://www.animal form.com/catmain.htm
15. Scarlett, J.M.: Salman, M.D.: New, J.G.: Kas, P.H (1999). Reasons for relinquishment of companion animals in U.S. animal shelters. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. Vol 2(1), 41-57.
16. Alger, J.M.;Alger, S.F. (1999). Cat culture, human culture: An ethnographic study of a cat shelter. Society & Animals. Vol 7(3), 199-218.
17. “Think like a cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat – Not a Sour Puss”
by Pam Johnson-Bennet
18. Twisted Whiskers:
Solving Your Cat's Behavior Problems
by Pam Johnson-Bennet
19. Hiss and Tell: True Stories from the Files of a Cat Shrink
by Pam Johson-Bennet
20. The Cat Who Cried for
Help: Attitudes, Emotions, and the Psychology of Cats
by Nicholas Dodman
21. The Total Cat
by Carole C. Wilbourn
Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good (Paperback)
by Jonathan Balcombe (Author)
Balcombe is an animal behavior research scientist with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. To back up his claim that all vertebrates, at least, experience pleasure, he presents hundreds of anecdotes about animals playing, eating, copulating, grooming, loving—and enjoying all of it. Most examples come from biologists observing or experimenting with an array of species from moles to whales, but Balcombe also quotes pet owners and talks about his own menagerie.
More ... from amazon.com
To send a Dear DrDriving Letter: letters@DrDriving.org See Letters and Answers
By Diane Nahl and Leon James
Every ritual has a goal and a beginning step Interacting through social rituals brings you close It elevates the cat’s life All cats learn rituals very early Discovering your new cat’s rituals
1 Bonding Rituals
Addressing your cat The Tail Hook Bumping Heads Pick Me Up Grabbing Your Attention
Let’s go the dish Let’s play I’m ready for some grooming now Door service Half-eye minimalism Causing trouble
I’m Rolling On My Back For You Come Over and Pet Me
2 Eating Rituals
Walking to the dish together Watch me eat Give me a new scoop Feed it to me one pellet at a time I need a treat now I want some catnip
3 Dominance Rituals
Cat fights Cat lickings I want that chair Marking the furniture Exploring all space Defending the turf Training another cat Training a dog
4 Grooming Rituals
Don’t’ touch me there Don’t overexcite me Touch me there again Keep going, don’t stop You’re stopping already?
5 Hunting and Playing Rituals
Bringing you a mouse
Bringing you a bird Bringing you gecko
Carry me in the box
Chase me I want to be a circus cat
(to be continued)
According to Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed. at: http://www.pet-loss.net/
Different people experience grief in different ways. Besides your sorrow and
loss, you may also experience the following emotions:
|Pet Loss and Children|
Children and Pet Loss: A Guide for Helping (Paperback)
by Marty Tousley
"This guide will help the reader understand the child's attachment to the pet and the significance of the loss..."
Key Phrases: pet loss, grieving children
"Yes, this book has been needed for more than five decades to cure an illness that has 'tolled the bell' for many thousands of Americans." --Meyer Friedman, M.D., author of Treating Type A Behavior and Your Heart
AVMA Guidelines for Pet Loss Support Services
Research has shown that the human grieving process following a pet's death is similar to that experienced by people who have lost a family member or close friend. Telephone helplines and support groups have been used for some time to address grief associated with the end of human-human interrelationships, but have only recently emerged as a means of assisting pet owners in dealing with the death of their companion animals.
Pet Loss Support Groups People often attend support groups as they attempt to address grief associated with personal crises or the end of human-human relationships, but only recently have people sought out this resource as a way to cope with the death of their pet. The AVMA believes that support groups may be of substantial benefit to animal owners in addressing the emotional aspects of attachment and loss if these groups are conducted responsibly.
From: HUMAN-ANIMAL INTERACTIONS LITERATURE
|Special Library Resources
Association Francaise d'Information et
de Recherche sur l'Animal de Compagnie (AFIRAC)
The Delta Society
Companion Animal Studies
See also: Google>Recreation>Pets>Loss>
|Coping with grief on the death of a
pet; tips on pet loss bereavement.
www.pet-loss.net/ - 25k -
|We welcome links back to the Pet
Loss Support Page. We cannot always guarantee a reciprocal link,
as we only offer links to sites that offer a significant ...
www.pet-loss.net/links.html - 31k -
[ More results from www.pet-loss.net ]
|Pet Loss Grief Support is
the first place to visit when a beloved pet passes on. Here are
personal support resources, Monday Candle Ceremony, healing
www.petloss.com/ - 25k -
can be sent to grief counselor, Director of Pet Loss Support
Services, Enid Traisman, MSW at etjournl@teleport .com. ...
Map of 29 Lyman Ave, Staten Island, NY 10305
|One of the first pet loss support
websites on the Internet, online for over 10 years. Provides help for
pet lovers with a pet loss message forum, pet loss
www.lightning-strike.com/ - 13k -
|A collection of pet loss support
sites from one of the first pet loss support, online for over
10 years. Provides help for pet lovers with a pet loss
www.lightning-strike.com/pet-loss-websites.htm - 37k -
[ More results from www.lightning-strike.com ]
|Pet Loss Support Hotline. Cat
Horse Bird. 607-253-3932 ... Pet Loss Support Hotline
College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University Ithaca, NY ...
www.vet.cornell.edu/Org/PetLoss/ - 6k -
|Pet Loss Support Hotline
Resources for Grieving. 607-253-3932 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Eastern
Time Tuesday-Thursday Dog Fish Cat ...
www.vet.cornell.edu/Org/PetLoss/Resources/ - 8k -
[ More results from www.vet.cornell.edu ]
The Spirit World: Descriptions by Early Spiritualists
Barbara N. Starr
located on the Web at: http://www.creativespirit.net/spiritworld/
Animals and Pets
No animals exist in the lower spheres, but they are found in the higher ones. There is some disagreement about whether they are actual objective existences or subjective images. Herbine (1919) states that all flowers and animals, including birds and fish, communicate. Crowell's (1879) sources say that animals are more intelligent and understand each other better than on earth. The only ones mentioned are horses, dogs, cows, deer, rabbits, domestic fowl and birds.
Tuttle (1900) feels that it is not esthetic to think that the spirits of all animal, insect and fish life will be in the spirit world. Others agree that animals do not survive the dissolution of material bodies, although they main retain their individuality for a brief period after leaving the body. They are then merged into a vast realm of elemental spirits.
Animals that have enough mental activity to gain a hold on spiritual vibrations have a place in the spirit state, so pets may be found in the spirit world (Longley, 1908). Some pets can retain their identity by the will of a spirit who can give it component spiritual elements. DeKoven (1920) believes that anything that is evolved enough to possess a semblance of a soul has a counterpart in the spirit world. A spirit can create anything that is wanted for happiness by desire, so earthly pets may be there until their purpose is served. Peebles (1902) goes on to say that there is no organic growth, or animal or vegetable life, in higher spiritual existences, but that can be the result of the immediate action of mind upon the atmosphere.
|Provides a non-judgmental outlet for
people to express their feelings and concerns. The hotline is staffed
by veterinary students trained by a professional ...
www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/petloss/ - 10k -
|California Veterinary Medical
Association--links to pet loss support resources in CA ...
UC Davis' pet loss support hotline web page--includes advice
www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/ccab/petloss.html - 20k -
|Owners appreciate being able to talk
with individuals who share their compassion for animals and who
understand the impact of their loss from a very ...
www.tufts.edu/vet/petloss/ - 4k -
|Pet Loss Support Programs.
Volunteers staff the hotline Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 6:30
p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Eastern time. (517) 432-2696 ...
cvm.msu.edu/petloss/index.htm - 4k -
|The Pet Loss Support Hotline
is a non-profit program provided by the College of Veterinary Medicine
at Michigan State University. ...
cvm.msu.edu/petloss/petloss.htm - 7k -
|Offers chat rooms, forums, a pet
memorial photo gallery, and links to other support resources.
www.petsupport.net/ - 14k -
|find resources for pet loss,
pet death, grieving the loss of a pet, pet loss
support, pet funeral, Mourning the loss of a
pet, explaining pet loss to ...
www.paws2heaven.com/Support_directory.htm - 140k -
|Pet Loss Grief Support,bereavement
support organizations, resources, library, directory, pet
cemetery,cemeteries,cemetary, beloved pet death, personal
www.paws2heaven.com/Support_directory_tem.htm - 100k -
|(888)ISU-PLSH (888-478-7574) Pet Loss
Support Hotline hosted by the Iowa State University College of
Veterinary Medicine. ...
|Concise, straightforward guidelines
include key considerations for establishing pet loss support
helplines, groups, and Internet counseling. ...
www.avma.org/products/hab/pet_loss.asp - 28k -
[ More results from www.avma.org ]
|CARE Pet Loss Helpline is the
first place to visit when a beloved pet passes on. Here are
personal support resources for you and other family members who
www.cvm.uiuc.edu/CARE/ - 13k -
|Many veterinary Schools Sponsor pet
loss support hotlines (grief counseling.) Here is a listing of
hotlines we are aware of: ...
www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/loss.html - 13k -
|When your pet is terminally
ill, your veterinarian considers psychological as well as physical
needs, and home care is usually prescribed. ...
www.rabbit.org/journal/2-1/loss-support.html - 13k -
|We provide assistance to individuals and
groups across Canada who are trying to establish a pet loss support
group in their own community. ...
www.petlosscalgary.org/ - 8k -
|The loss of a pet, cat,
dog, animal death, dealing, coping, grieving, with pets bereavement,
grief, urns & petloss comfort.
www.mypetloss.com/ - 7k -
|Pet Loss Hotline volunteers are
specifically prepared to help people cope with ... The Pet
Loss Hotline thanks for their generous support of this
www.vetmed.wsu.edu/PLHl/ - 11k -
|About the Pet Loss Hotline
About the Pet Loss Hotline · Questions to Consider Questions to
Consider · The Grieving Process The Grieving Process · Support
www.vetmed.wsu.edu/plhl/home/ - 13k -
|Pet Loss and Support
Resources - Chance's Spot provides pet loss and grief
resources, games and information to help those who have lost a pet.
www.chancesspot.org/ - 27k -
|Pet Loss and Support
Resources - Chance's Spot provides pet loss and grief
resources, an online support group, games and information to
help those who have ...
www.chancesspot.org/supportgroup.htm - 14k -
[ More results from www.chancesspot.org ]
|The San Francisco SPCA Pet Loss
Support Group meets on the first Tuesday of every ... Dr.
Carmack leads the free Pet Loss Support Group to help grieving
www.sfspca.org/special_programs/petloss.shtml - 27k -
|Pet Loss Helpline & Support
Group 630/325-1600 Wings – Pet Loss Support Group ...
The CVMA provides a Pet Loss Support Group called Wings. ...
www.chicagovma.org/petlosssupport/ - 20k -
|Pet loss tributes, memorials,
support, and candle light rose ceremony.
www.in-memory-of-pets.com/ - 19k -
|Offers information, comfort and
support needed to better understand the grief that accompanies the
loss of a pet. Inspirational stories, information on the
www.cheyennepetclinic.com/petloss.html - 30k -
|Free Pet Loss Support group
sessions are held 5 times per month: Drop-ins welcome. .... a
donation to the DoveLewis Pet Loss Support Program was made by
dovelewis.org/programs/Pet_Loss.aspx - 32k -
Lewis Emergency Animal Hospital is Portland Oregon's only nonprofit
emergency and critical care animal hospital. Pet loss support,
Portland Oregon lost ...
Map of 10564 SE Washington St # 205, Portland, OR 97216
|Default Image, Who We Are · Grieving
Resources · About PLSH · Pet Memorials · Contact Us. Supported
|The ISU Pet Loss Support
Hotline maintains printed literature to help you deal with the death
or potential loss of your pet. The support
packages are free ...
[ More results from www.vetmed.iastate.edu ]
|The Pet Loss Support Group. meets
every Thursday evening from 06:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the. Denver Area
Veterinary Medical Society Office. NE Entrance of ...
www.humananimalbondtrust.org/ - 12k -
|Pet Loss, Pet Loss Grief
Support and Sympathy, Pet loss and Death, Caring and
Sharing, Pet Loss Resources, Animal Bereavement, Stages of
www.petvets.com/petloss/ - 52k -
|Parse error: syntax error, unexpected
T_PRIVATE, expecting ']' in
/var/www/petvets/petvets-www/bbs/edmobbs.php on line 463.
www.petvets.com/bbs/edmobbs.php - 1k -
|Chance's Spot is a nonprofit
organization whose goal is to help individuals who have lost a pet.
Through this support group, we will attempt to provide a ...
groups.msn.com/ChancesSpot-PetLossSupport - 36k -
|For further information about the ASPCA
Pet Loss Support program, contact our Senior Director of
Counseling Services at (212) 876-7700, ext. 4355. ...
www.aspca.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pets_petloss - 22k -
PDF/Adobe Acrobat -
View as HTML
The ASPCA Counseling Department aids pet owners facing the death of a beloved animal companion. Pet Loss Support. For further information about the ...
|A listing of pet loss hotlines
which provide grief counseling is provided.
|Provides comfort and support to
people coping with or anticipating the death of a companion animal.
Meeting details, membership information and contact ...
www.geocities.com/heartland/bluffs/2625/ - 6k -
|The San Diego Humane Society’s Pet
Loss Support Group provides an environment where ... The
Pet Loss Support Group is open to everyone ages 12 and up and is
www.sdhumane.org/site/PageServer?pagename=prg_PetLoss - 19k -
|AOL's Animal Hubbub Pet Loss and
Support Site ... Newsgroup alt.support.grief.pet-loss
... PetSupport.net: Online Pet Loss, Grief, Illness
www-hsc.usc.edu/~rneville/loss.html - 19k -
|The Pet Loss Grief Support
Group of the greater Indianapolis area was started in October of 1987
by Linda cuff, a local pet lover who has owned pets all her
www.inpetloss.org/ - 5k -
|regular hotline hours. Please send all
written mail to:. Pet Loss Support Hotline Teaching Hospital
Ontario Veterinary College University of Guelph ...
www.ovc.uoguelph.ca/petloss/ - 10k -
|The Canadian Centre for Pet Loss
Bereavement (CCPLB) is a safe space to help you through the loss
of your animal companion. Often times when we part from a ...
www.petlosssupport.ca/ - 16k -
|Pet Loss & Bereavement Support
Hotlines/Telephone Support ... The Chicago Veterinary
Medical Association Pet Loss Support Helpline (*). ...
www.deltasociety.org/AnimalsHealthPetlossHotline.htm - 26k -
|The Service offers a 24-hour-a-day
telephone helpline, regularly scheduled support group meetings,
information, literature, and reading lists on pet loss, ...
|The Guide For Mississauga Pet
Owners. Help for Pet Loss. Support Group meetings to
help ease the pain. Pet Loss Tribute Bracelets, links, books.
www.mississaugapets.com/petloss.html - 19k -
|Pet loss support community where
you can talk to others who understand how you feel about losing a
www.immortalpetsforum.com/ - 19k -
|The award-winning audiobook 'Journey
Through Pet Loss' helps pet lovers coping with the
loss of a beloved animal.
www.petlossaudio.com/ - 14k -
|General General Veterinary Information
Food. Pet Loss Pet Loss Support ..... Pet Loss
Links:. Pet Loss Support. Cornell University Pet Loss
Support HotLine ...
www.felinecrf.com/links0.htm - 180k -
|Pet Loss Support. Hotlines.
530-752-4200 -- Staffed by University of California-Davis veterinary
students 630-603-3994 -- Staffed by Chicago VMA ...
www.rivma.org/petloss.html - 4k -
|The Pet Loss Support Line is
staffed by members of the Pacific Animal Therapy ... Why a
Pet Loss Support Line? For many people, the death of a pet
is as ...
members.shaw.ca/patspets/pet_loss.htm - 24k -
|A loving virtual cemetary for cats. May
your cats rest in peace at the rainbow bridge. Cat health information,
links and resources to help you find answers ...
www.whiskersinheaven.com/ - 3k -
|Volunteers provide 24-hour telephone
support, information, and referrals to people mourning or
anticipating the loss of a pet. Includes phone numbers
www.co.burlington.nj.us/contact/pet/index.htm - 5k -
|Anyone who has experienced the loss
of a pet, or who is anticipating the loss of a pet
is invited to attend the support groups. The support
group is run on ...
www.joyful-spirit.com/pet_loss_support_group.html - 12k -
|a free Pet Loss Support Program,
created to provide emotional support for those ... The
Pet Loss Support Group is conducted by professional group
hahf.org/programs/petloss_brochure.html - 18k -
|The work of pet loss support
groups is to create a safe environment for sharing ... Since
its establishment in 1988, the Pet Loss Support Group of the
www.ddfl.org/petloss.htm - 38k -
|Your pet is a member of your
family. Join with other pet lovers to find comfort, support,
help and advice following the loss of a pet.
pets.aol.com/memorial - 29k -
|Pet Loss Support Group meets
every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ... Our Pet Loss Support
Group frequently deals with the following concerns and situations:
www.seattlehumane.org/petloss.shtml - 14k -
|Pet Loss Support. Losing a
beloved pet is painful and leaves an enormous void in one’s
life. I know this is true as I recently lost my dog. ...
|Those who are grieving the loss
of a companion animal may find comfort in the Pet Loss Support
Group, where they can share their experience in an atmosphere ...
|A page of support resources for
grieving pet owners. Includes links, books, hotlines, and
information on cremation.
www.equineinfo.com/alison/pet.htm - 52k -
|The first Saturday of every month we
invite you to share coffee and reflection with our pet loss support
group. Theresa Freeman is a grief specialist with ...
|This is an open forum for anyone who is
seeking help dealing with the loss of a beloved pet. See
also our Pet Loss resource and Online Pet Memorials - a
www.petpeoplesplace.com/system/topiclist.php?forumid=1 - 96k -
|We're here to assist as best we can
to help you through your pet bereavement and loss with
resources created specially for your help and support.
www.petpeoplesplace.com/resources/pet_loss/index.html - 65k -
|Pet Loss Support掲示板は、それぞれの悲しみを表現する場です。議論や批判、そのほか管理者がふさわしくないと判断した書き込みは、削除される場合があります。
petloss.m78.com/ - 10k -
|Pet Loss Support Group · Please
ID Your Pets · Rabies information. Report Lost Dog / Cat ...
Coming to grips with the loss of an animal is necessary. ...
|Pet Loss Support Hotlines; Lost
Pet Hotlines; Poison Control Hotlines ... Offers pet
loss support counseling. Hours: Messages can be left anytime.
www.afn.org/~afn26752/phone.html - 14k -
|The UC Davis School of Veterinary
Medicine has a Pet Loss Support Program, offering toll-free
telephone support to those who wish to call. ...
loss and bereavement support, grief resources, animal
funerals and pet memorial services, brought to you by Animal
Map of 2080 S Quebec St, Denver, CO 80231
|Pet Loss Support. Saying good-bye
to a special pet is one of the most difficult things we have to
... ISU Pet Loss Support Hotline 888-478-7574 (Toll
|The Humane Society offers a Pet Loss
& Grieving support group the second and fourth Wed of each
month at 6:00 at 2070 Griffin Road. ...
www.superdog.com/petloss/counsel.htm - 47k -
loss directory for all fifty states. Resources for those
experiencing pet loss.
Map of 3839 Richlieu Rd, Bensalem, PA 19020
|Non-profit group offering understanding
and emotional support. Email list for pet loss and grief
support, personal tributes to bridge pets, support
www.imom.org/loss/ - 9k -
|PET LOSS SUPPORT GROUP. Are you
facing the unfortunate decision of euthanasia, dealing with the daily
reality that your companion pet is gone, ...
www.sthuberts.org/whatwedo/community/petloss.asp - 7k -
|Pet Loss Support Group. When your
companion animal dies, it's natural to feel grief and sadness, even
depression. Our free support group is designed to ...
www.peninsulahumanesociety.org/services/loss.html - 7k -
|888-ISU-PLSH Pet Loss Support
Hotline hosted by the Iowa State University ... Phone for
pet loss and grief support. - No charge except the phone
|The Pet Loss Grief Support
Center is the hub of the site. Here you will find links to the Pet
Loss Forum & Chat Room. These areas are specifically for the
rainbowsbridge.com/hello.htm - 10k -
[ More results from rainbowsbridge.com ]
|The mission of The Pet Loss Support
Hotline is to encourage the expression of compassion in veterinary
medicine. This Hotline is the first of its ...
|Pet Loss Support Marcia
periodically conducts a pet loss teleseminar as well as
provides individual or group counseling. Registration is required as
www.griefandlosshelp.com/workshops.php - 13k -
|or pet sitter; Remembering the
joy of the holiday season by ... as a society do not have a
protocol on how to support the person grieving their Forever
www.lightheartedpress.com/ - 15k -
|May 26 Pet Loss Support Meeting -
Halton/Peel Pet Loss Support 4/29/2007, 10:14 am ... Re:
Toronto area pet loss support group - Laurien 4/3/2007, 4:14 pm
www.members4.boardhost.com/PETLOSS/ - 34k -
|Obtaining Support ~
Disappointments while seeking help, pet loss as disenfranchised
grief, books and models of grief. How can we honor the memories of our
www.berkeleyhumane.org/Community/Pet_Loss.htm - 16k -
|Her work as an Internet Pet Loss
Support and Bereavement Counselor has been featured in numerous AP
wire releases, magazine articles, books and nationally ...
members.tripod.com/~Cheyene/rainbow.html - 9k -
|If you or a loved one has lost a pet
and are suffering from overwhelming grief, these hotlines can help by
offering guidance and support for coping.
|There are many pet loss support
hotlines to assist individuals with the recent loss of a pet.
Your veterinary hospital can be an excellent first source to ...
www.healthypet.com/library_view.aspx?ID=2 - 30k -
|The Animal Welfare League of Arlington
will begin offering Pet Loss Support Group meetings at the
animal shelter at 2650 South Arlington Mill Drive on the ...
www.awla.org/pet-loss-support.shtml - 15k -
|Pet Loss Support Hotline. Offers
a non judgmental outlet for people to express their feelings and
concerns when faced with difficult times regarding their ...
|Pet Loss Support. The Experience
of Pet Loss · Ways to Memorialize Your Pet · Working
Through Feelings of Guilt · Signs that you are Healing ...
www.ufvmc.com/PetLostSupport.aspx?id=Community - 11k -
|Online counseling, therapy, and
support for depression, anxiety, loss, pet loss,
grieving, phobias, eldercare and aging, cancer and chronic illness,
www.psychoptions.com/ - 16k -
|Support groups at the workplace
can even result and new friends made. Simply by standing up and
explaining you are mourning the loss of a beloved pet
www.whiterosepet.com/petloss.php - 79k -
|At Willamette Humane Society, we
understand how difficult it is to lose a beloved family pet.
That is why we offer a regular Pet Loss Support for people
Loss Support · Pets for People · Blackies Senior Friends ...
Isa Dempsey started the Santa Cruz SPCA's grief support group
in 1988; it has been meeting ...
Map of 2701 Chanticleer Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95065
|Facilitated by trained volunteers, The
Humane Society’s Pet Loss Support Group provides a safe,
supportive environment where you can share your feelings and ...
|The Pet Loss Support group will
NOT be meeting on August 7 due to a scheduling conflict, the group
will be moved to the evening of Tuesday, August 14th. ...
www.hssv.org/services_petloss.html - 5k -
Dogs Never Lie About Love : Reflections on the Emotional World of
by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Author)
|Review By||Robert A. Mauck "Her Cowboy" (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews|
More ... from amazon.com
August 28th, 2002
-Books and articles-
The Body Language and Emotion of Cats
by Myrna M., D.V.M. Milani
A thorough understanding of feline anatomy, physiology, and behavior can lead to a warm and lasting bond between cats and the people who love them. The bonds created by understanding can be used to solve the myriad problems cat owners encounter.
By knowing some fundamental information about cats, owners will be able to have a better understanding of their cats and may be able to resolve some of the behavior problems that new cats have in their new home.
The Cat Who Cried for Help: Attitudes, Emotions, and the
Psychology of Cats
by Nicholas Dodman
Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor of behavioral pharmacology at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Behavior Clinic, turns his attention to our feline friends and their mysterious minds in The Cat Who Cried for Help. Similar to Dodman's discussion of dog behavioral problems in his popular first book, The Dog Who Loved Too Much, The Cat Who Cried for Help examines aggravating cat habits and undesirable behavior, and shows how modifications in such areas as diet, exercise, and environment cause remarkable improvements in the majority of problem cats. Divided into three sections, Dodman first tackles aggressive behavior, followed by emotional behavior, and compulsive cats. With examples from his own practice, Dodman intelligently communicates symptoms, treatment options, and helpful tips for prevention. Vital to his treatment is maintaining the cat's dignified and independent nature, an objective sure to please those cat owners irritated by certain kitty traits but concerned first and foremost for the health and well-being of their cats. Praised by author Elizabeth Marshall Thomas as "a thoughtful and creative approach to changing detrimental behavior," The Cat Who Cried for Help is perfect for cat owners interested in better understanding their fascinating feline.
Dr. Dodman might give some useful advice on how to treat and prevent emotional behavior problems connected with the new environment the cat was placed in.
Hiss and Tell: True Stories from the Files of a Cat
by Pam Johson-Bennet
Meet Mambo, the cat who attacks his owner, but only on Sundays, and Bonsai, the cat whose dislike for the new boyfriend becomes very embarrassing. What secret does Freddie know about his owner's new wife? In this offbeat and illuminating book, feline behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, takes you on the wildest house calls of her career. These stories-each of which unfolds like a mystery-will help owners better understand the ever fascinating cat psyche. Following on the success of her comprehensive book, Think Like a Cat, Johnson-Bennett sheds light on the communication breakdowns between cats and their humans.
This book might give some explanations for some of the cats’ rituals and other kinds of unusual behavior.
Twisted Whiskers: Solving Your Cat's Behavior Problems
by Pam Johnson-Bennet
Johnson, a feline behavior consultant, details the causes of and suggests solutions for such common cat problems as aggression, abnormal eating habits, and litter box difficulties. Her approach is to use techniques that work in harmony with cats' natural proclivities and instincts. One section details the use of Bach flower remedies in treating feline emotional problems, although readers interested in other alternative treatments such as herbs and homeopathy may wish to consult Anitra Frazier's The New Natural Cat (LJ 11/15/90). The book is repetitive in parts (the author recommends "play therapy" as treatment for a wide variety of emotional maladies, and the use of an air ionizer is suggested many times), but it does discuss many common behavior problems with more depth than most cat care books, including Johnson's previous cat book, Cat Love (LJ 5/1/90). Not essential, but libraries with large animal care collections may wish to consider.-Stacy Pober, Manhattan Coll. Libs., New York
In this book, Johnson introduces a new way of treating cats’ emotional problems – using flowers and “play therapy.” I never heard about such treatment before, but maybe it could help some cats in their process of re-adaptation.
277 Secrets Your Cat Wants You to Know: A Cat-Alog of
Unusual and Useful Information
by Paulette Cooper, Paul Noble, Jack Fleming (Illustrator)
The authors of 277 Secrets Your Dog Wants You to Know (20,000 copies inprint) bring readers a purrfectly bewitching "cat-alog" of unusual and useful information about cats.
The author might give useful explanations about unusual cats habits.
Think Like a Cat: How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat--Not
a Sour Puss
by Pam Johnson-Bennett
Think it's impossible to train a cat? Think again! Yes, you can learn to understand your cat. No, cats are not always aloof. No, they don't ruin furniture out of spite. Most often feline "misbehavior" is the result of owners not understanding their cat's needs. In this comprehensive book that takes readers through every step of cat ownership, Pam Johnson-Bennett helps you understand the instincts that determine feline behavior, positive and negative. An authoritative resource for cat owners of all stripes, Think Like a Cat covers everything from where to get a kitten to choosing a vet; from basic health care to treating more serious medical problems; from selecting an irresistible scratching post to avoiding litter box problems. A seasoned therapist and former veterinary technician, Johnson-Bennett offers welcome advice in a straightforward manner that will help cats--and their owners--share a happy, healthy life together.
The author will help cat owners to understand cats’ nature in order to develop a good relationship with their new cat.
The Total Cat
by Carole C. Wilbourn
Wilbourn addresses specific situations that may develop with
even the best-cared-for feline. Learn how to detect the
underlying causes to your cat's problem behavior - whether
it is antisocial, self-destructive, or an overly aggressive
"attack cat" - and receive invaluable guidance on everything
from your cat's eating disorders and litter box aversion to
its phobias and depression. Also introducing a new cat or
person into your feline's environment or caring for an
The Total Cat might give some helpful advice on understanding some cat behaviors, whether it is connected with the cat’s past or just with its regular life.
"FUN FACTS ABOUT CATS"
by Richard Torregrossa
Inspiring Tales, Amazing Feats and Helpful Hints
If the cat's got your tongue when it comes to feline facts then you need
this book, a charming collection of tales and trivia that will amuse, delight
and enlighten even the most ardent cat admirer.
With more than one hundred whimsical illustrations that capture cats'
playful, surprising and endearing antics, this delightful treasury brings
feline behavior - and misbehavior - to life!
In my opinion Fun Facts About Cats might provide some interesting cat stories, including some cat rituals and other everyday cat behaviors.
Reasons for relinquishment of companion animals in U.S. animal shelters
Scarlett, J.M.: Salman, M.D.: New, J.G.: Kas, P.H
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. Vol 2(1), 1999, pp. 41-57.
In personal interviews, people surrendering their dogs and cats to 12 animal shelters in 4 regions of the country discussed their reasons for relinquishing their companion animals and answered questions about their own characteristics and those of their pet. The interviews identified 71 reasons for relinquishment. Personal issues led the class of reasons for relinquishment of cats and ranked 3rd among those given for relinquishment of dogs. The top 3 health and personal issues cited for giving up cats were allergies of a family member to cats, owner's personal problems, and a new baby. For dogs, the top 3 reasons cited were lack of time for the dog, owner's personal problems, and allergies
This article will be helpful in understanding the main reasons why people get rid of their cats. The owners describe themselves and their pets. I think this article might provide some insights about the cats’ past, how they were treated, their weaknesses and strengths.
Cat culture, human culture: An ethnographic study of a cat shelter
Alger, J.M.;Alger, S.F.
Society & Animals. Vol 7(3), 1999, pp. 199-218
Explored the value of traditional ethnographic methods in sociology for the study of human-animal and animal-animal interactions and culture. Ethnographic methods were applied to human-cat and cat-cat relationships in a no-kill cat shelter. The results show that the social structure of the shelter was the product of interaction both between humans-and-cats and cats-and-cats and that the observed structure represented, to a large degree, choices made by the cats. Within the cat community of the shelter, a distinctive cat culture had emerged, which represented the cats' adaptation to the particular conditions of shelter life. The shelter allowed for the emergence of higher order needs and goals that stressed affection, friendship, and social cohesion among the cats rather than territoriality and conflict. It is concluded that traditional animal researchers have mistaken the relative equality of cat colonies for a lack of social structure, as opposed to a different structure from that found in sharply ranked non-human animal communities
Cats that were taken from shelters not only bring with them behavior learned from their previous homes but also learned in the shelter. Alger & Alger write that shelters help cats to develop “higher order needs and goals that stress affection, friendship, and social cohesion among the cats rather than territoriality and conflict”. I think these authors bring up a very interesting and important point about cats. Knowing that a cat spent quite a long time in a shelter, it might not be happy at all if alone again.
Behavioral development in animals undergoing domestication
Applied Animal Ethology and Animal Welfare. Vol 65(3), Dec 1999, pp. 245-
Domestication is attained by some combination of genetic changes occurring over generations and development triggered by recurring environmental events or management practices in captivity. Behavioral development in animals undergoing domestication is characterized by the quantitative rather than qualitative nature of responses. The hypothesized loss of certain behavior patterns under domestication can usually be explained by the heightening of response thresholds in reaction to atypical rates of exposure to certain forms of perceptual and loco-motor stimulation. Genetic changes influencing the development of the domestic phenotype result from selection factors. Man's role as a buffer between the animal and its environment is also believed to have an important effect on the development of the domestic phenotype. Domestication has frequently reduced the sensitivity of animals to changes in their environment, perhaps the single-most important change in domestication, as well as modified behavioral and physical development. The capacity of domestic animals to survive in nature may depend on the extent to which the gene pool of the population has been altered during domestication.
This author gives a more physiological explanation of what happens with animals during the process of domestication. In my opinion, this article might be useful in explaining some specific behaviors exhibited by feral cats
- CAT STORIES –
One of my friends told me that her cat, Murka (female), stops eating the day before they go to the country-side (every other week). Murka knows that when she arrives there she always gets fresh fish and I guess everything else doesn’t taste as good as what she gets there. She finds out the right day by observing the fact that my friend’s dad always takes his country boots from the shelf the day before.
Another friend of mine told me that her cat, Tom, comes running to her every time she takes something to read. He just loves to lie on her lap when she reads.
My mom used to have a cat called Tishka (male). He would wake up every day around 6am, lick everyone’s face, and then go to the window where he mewed until someone got up. This was one of the reasons why she gave him away to her friend.
I used to have a cat called Misha. He liked it when I stayed in the kitchen while he was eating his meal. If I left the room he would stop eating and would start following me around. He was the best cat I ever had. I also had a cat called Shusha. She was like a dog. I used to take her for a walk in the forest next to my house. Shusha walked right next to me without a leash. But if she saw a dog, she would jump into the first tree and it would take me forever to get her down.
A friend of mine has a very fat cat that can’t stand it when he can see the bottom of his bowl. He comes to her and scratches her legs until she pours some more food into the bowl.
- STORIES FROM THE INTERNET FORUM-
1)I've got a nightly ritual for you...
My three cats know exactly when it is time to go to bed. At 10 o'clock every night they lay right in front of the stairway that leads to my bedroom. When I get ready to head towards the door, I always say "Come on Kid's...lets go to bed" and they instantly jolt up the stairs. By the time I go up the stairs and walk in my bedroom, they are waiting patiently next to the bed. I've always given them a little treat when it's time to go to bed, so they are very eager to get me to go to bed. If I happen to go out on the town on a Friday or Saturday night and don't make it home by "bedtime"...Tiki (my youngest) sits on the top of the stairs and meows for me until I get home (at least that's what the rest of my family tells me!).
I just thought I share this with you,
2)Feeding time - everyone ALWAYS goes to the same bowl to
Ripley always goes to bed with me, as well.
My hubby tells me that the cats just know when I am close to coming home after work - he says that they methodically wait for me at the door. I know this is true, as I usually trip my way into the house.
3)My two also always know when I am coming home from work
and try to trip me up PRIVATE "TYPE=PICT;ALT="
Corky also does the same thing each night at about 7.30pm when it's time for her to come in. All I need to do is open the back door and she will come tearing towards the house and then stop about a foot away from the door, and just sits looking at me with a look on her face saying "awww do I have to come in yet." She will then refuse to move unless I offer her some food.
4)I've posted this before, but a few months ago. Alf rattles the front-door letter-box when he wants to come in, and Ronnie has also learnt to do this. The problem is that the ighbour's cat Mittens has also cottoned onto this trick and keeps on knocking to come in.....
5)When I get home from work my two cats, after a few rubs of the tummy, will go poop in the litter box. Now, this only a weekday thing. Weekends are poop when you want days. I've always wondered if they only poop when I'm home.
6)My tow have a habit of always going in the litter boxes
when I am trying to clean them out, even if they have only just used the box.
I think that is the only habit which does acually annoy me, but they are soon forgiven *sigh*
7)Sam lets me know when he is hungry (or, to be more
precise, when it is 6:00 am and I should be getting out of bed to feed him fresh
8)First a gentle Meow.
Next, a more strident Meow.
Now, if those have not worked, he scratches the box spring - to make it echo - much more satisfying than just the mattress.
Followed by - jumping on my chest and purring really loud in my face.
Followed by face licking, by which time he knows I am awake, because I turn my face away as he reaches my mouth - no kitty kisses on the lips, thank you very much.
Now, if I still want to sleep in, I get head butts - that is, he starts trying to shove me out of bed. And if all else fails, he knows that I will give up if he lies across my chest with his tail in my face.
So I feed him, he sits on his piece of paper to groom after the meal, and then he goes to his little cat bed and sleeps for the next 12 hours.
- WEB PAGES –
Here we can find very good advice for understanding what the cat is passing through with a new owner. It gives examples of what kind of rituals cats usually develop with their first owner.
This web page contains some cute cat stories about adopted cats. The owners tell us about how their cats adapted to their new homes.
Here we can find explanations about cats’ body language, aggression, social behavior, etc. This web site can help new cat owners understand their cats and, if needed, to modify their cats’ behavior.
This site gives a good example of cat rituals.
Here we can find several cat stories. It is kind of a list serve.
Here you can find advice for all sorts of behavior problems that a cat might have.
This web page connects you with the cat forum and chat room. The problem is that I couldn’t figure out how to do it.
Here you can find a list of addresses of cat newsgroups, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to connect with them. Please let me know if you find out.
This web also gives you a list of cat newsgroups.
This web page gives good advice for those cat owners who know they won’t live long enough to take care of their cats. It brings up some information that is important for the new cat owner to know about the previous cat owner.
In this cat behavior forum we can find some interesting cat stories, ask questions and get some useful advice from other cat owners.
In these two web pages, Dr. Mike Richards answers cat owners’ questions about their cats’ behavioral problems. It might be useful in understanding what the cat wants or what he is feeling.
This web page provides good information for those who have adopted an old cat.
This web tries to explain the reason for some cats’ aggressive behavior and gives some advice on how to deal with it.
Messengers: What Animals Teach Us About the Divine (Paperback)
by Linda Anderson (Author), Allen Anderson (Author), Allen Schoen (Foreword)
Combining spiritual questions with heartwarming animal tales, God’s Messengers will appeal to anyone who seeks the mystical in the everyday. The authors have gathered these accounts from a wide variety of people and divided them into four sections: Love, Wisdom, Courage, and Comfort. Each story answers a question, for example: Is there a God? Are prayers answered? and Is there a heaven? Throughout, wild and domesticated creatures teach humans about health, compassion, and unconditional love — birds, coyotes, dolphins, and iguanas, as well as cats, dogs, and horses. Readers will learn about a ferret who helped an autistic boy play baseball, a dolphin who was saved by a concerned community, and a dog who pulled hair from her tail in sympathy with a chemo patient. 50 black-and-white photographs accompany these amazing stories.
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by Dr. Leon James
The life of a cat is made of few things: smelling, tasting, seeing, moving, grooming, monitoring, dreaming, and ritualizing. People don't know that it's the last three that are the most important. But you can realize the truth of this by considering a few facts that all loving cat owners know well-the distant owner may not know these facts. First consider what you know about your cat's monitoring. What is it doing when it lies quietly beside you and hasn't fallen asleep? It is monitoring. Watch the ears-scanning around, moving towards the direction of the sound, opening wider, alert. Not at all like the rest of the body which is tucked and motionless. If there is a car passing by, your cat follows the sound until it disappears. Unexpected footsteps in the house? The cat immediately looks in that direction. Some funny smell in the air, the cat looks around trying to locate the source. Another proof of their monitoring: What happens when you open a can? All of a sudden your cat is around. With our three cats we have plenty of occasions to observe their constant monitoring of their territorial environment. Even if I try to be very quiet about giving Keo his twice-a-day-special-treats-just-for-Keo, Manna shows up from nowhere. Maybe it's the way I pamper Keo with my voice or maybe it's the treat packet I have to open. Whatever it is it proves again that cats do a lot of monitoring. It's the way they exist and have their being.
Next consider what you know about your cat: it sleeps a lot! If you say the hours out loud to someone it sounds shocking. "Minsky and Manna sleep eighteen hours every day." The answer has got to be: "Wow, that's a lot!" Observe your cat when it is asleep. What is it doing? The monitoring stops when it reaches blissful unconsciousness. They love monitoring no doubt, and yet they love dreaming more. They are not just lying there, unconscious to this world. They are dreaming! This is the highest delight a cat can experience. Why does a cat sleep so much? It doesn't need to sleep more than we do-about eight hours a day. Yet it chooses to sleep more than double that. This choice makes sense only if you see it as the expression of a preference. They prefer to go into dreaming mode than to monitor, ritualize, eat, or groom.
We think that cats love dreaming so much because they are free to do what they please and to be super-cats. In this mode of living there are no obstacles they cannot surmount, no battles they cannot win, no prey they cannot catch, and no dish they cannot open. Super-cats are in cat-heaven. No surprise therefore that cats choose to spend three-quarters of their life dreaming and only one quarter in this life with you and the house.
Cats love to eat, of course. But there I something they love far more: to get you to the dish with them. The reason is that they love ritualizing with the owner more than they love the dish and its contents. Distant cat owners call it "nagging for food" or "begging" or "wanting services." But Loving cat owners call it ritualizing. Maybe you don't use this word, but something equivalent that has to do with interaction rituals. You laugh out loud or to yourself as you recognize it when the cat is trying to get your attention. This is the cat's first phase, and the most iffy and difficult. It takes a lot of effort on the part of the cat to get the owner's attention as often as the cat would like it. But once the cat has got your attention, phase two begins.
Cats don't think like humans because they do not have language and rational understanding. They do recognize things so obviously they have a memory, and a very good one if not perfect. But since they do not engage in language and reasoning, they do not communicate as such. Instead they memorize and run off interaction rituals. This is not communication but ritual interaction. It's important to understand the difference so we can understand our pet better, and consequently can love it better. When your cat is trying to get you to the dish it's not because it needs food. When you get to the dish, you find it open and half full. It would be much easier for the cat to go to the dish and eat than try to get your attention first, and then find a way of getting you to the dish. Clearly it's not about eating but about ritualizing. A cat loves and needs ritualizing with you.
After dreaming, cats choose ritualizing as a preferred activity because it raises their self-esteem as a cat. Cats try to invent new interaction rituals all the time, and they try to run off all their old ones from prior owners. An interaction ritual has several sequenced phases or steps-some at the beginning like the things they do to get your attention, and some in the middle, and some at the end. Each sub-step of an interaction ritual is most delightful to the cat. For instance, when they try to get your attention, they are lovingly cute and clever. Rubbing, roar-purring, looking you in the eye, circling around, entangling your legs, hooking with the tail, lying on your book or the chair you're going to sit on, and sometimes scratching the couch or knocking over something. The repertoire of attention getting behaviors is rich and inventive. They modify the approach with different members of the household since they remember what works best with each food-god.
Manna uses one ritual to get you into another ritual. Take for instance door-service rituals. Our cats come and go when they are awake using the cat door on the screen in the living room. But at certain times which we still do not completely understand, each cat will decide to have us open one of our four exit doors. Minsky chooses the front door. Manna likes the door to the garage-we leave space under the garage door for the cats to come and go. Keo likes the screen door to the pool. A common ritual step is for them to sit in front of the door. They sit up smart, and when we are around they face the door knob. They do not turn around to look at us. So this gets us to open the door for them. They are so delighted that two or three minutes later they come back through their cat door and try to repeat the whole thing. Manna has invented more circuitous interaction rituals.
One of his "tricks" is to lure us into the bathroom where he wants us to turn on the faucet for drips that he then partakes of. He always jumps on the toilet seat on his way to the sink. He invented this ritual and trained us for it. Part of the ritual is that we do not walk away while he drinks. If we do he jumps off the sink and leaves. Sometimes he will actually do some drinking, but at other times he would not. As soon as he's got one of turning on the faucet in the bathroom sink he vigorously jumps off and races with great fanfare to the front door. There he faces the doorknob. He sometimes sits, like Keo, but sometimes just stands in ready to take off pose while looking up at the door knob. We open the door for him and he stalks off to his self-imposed territorial guard duty. Five minutes later, he's back trying to get you to the front door by way of the bathroom sink.
Sometimes cat owners see these "demands" as "nagging" and annoying. They complain about it when they tell cat stories. But they would change their mind if they understood that this is not nagging but loving. Cats love you but not in the same way as we love them. They love to ritualize with us. We are the food-gods and the house guardians that insures their home and existence. We are important to them. They need to feel that they've got us under control. Inventing interactions rituals with us and constantly running them off is their security. It is proof to them that they've got things under control, that they are succeeding in life, that they are safe and happy and rich.
Cats like to dominate food-gods because to dominate is a way they exist. They have well worked out rituals of dominating with each other. We need to understand that for cats to dominate = to interact. But they do no interact by communicating, but by ritualizing. It's the ritual that gives quality to their experience, whether negative and damaging or positive and self-enhancing. Cats have a fragile self we call "the cat-person" in them. This self exists in them because they interact with humans. It is an elevated self that lifts cats above their lower animal existence. They cannot sustain this cat-person existence on their own. Ritualizing with humans keeps it going and gives it life. When cats are cut off from constant human contact and interaction, they quickly lose their cat-person level of existence and become like a wild beast that is not domesticated, not caring or trusting humans.
Cats with a past have all sorts of rituals they've picked up along the way to getting to your home. Even your won cat may have another home you don't know about and picks up new ways of ritualizing with humans. What they acquire with those other people the cats will try with you. So all cats have a past that they want you discover. They cannot communicate with you by words or signals. Sometimes it may appear that way, though. But mostly they want to ritualize with you, not to communicate.
When Minsky first started coming around our house ten years ago he had extremely bad manners in ritualizing. He was a bully with cats and with humans. At first we would not allow him to come inside (we had no cats at the time and Leon was allergic to flea bites). We would feed him on the lanai or back porch. After filling the dish we would watch him eat for awhile then we would walk away to go back inside. Minsky would then attack our foot, scratching and biting. We were horrified at this but didn't know how to cope with it. We started learning tricks to distract him with an object as we quickly disappeared behind the safety of the screen door. One thing that worked for me was to bring a towel with me when feeding him. Then I would let the towel hang in his face, blocking his view. This allowed me to back away.
Eventually Minsky got inside the house and stayed. An adjustment period of several years was required for us to learn his rituals so that we could participate in them without having him pull out his big guns. We had to be very observant of his reactions and very slow and cautious. This worked for him and for us. He had his special ways for the usual interaction rituals. He would not tolerate sitting in our lap. He would not tolerate being touched below his collar. If we were very gentle and slow we might get to touch him on the chest, but never never on his belly, and never never on his rump, for the response was instant attack by him. Many many times we needed to put antiseptic ointments on our hands, arms, legs, and feet. Leon's untrained first reactions were brutal. His idea was to hit Minsky over the head or box his ears, yell at him that he was a bad bad cat, and usher him out, sometimes with the forceful help of a foot. Awful, isn't it. Yes quite common among cat owners. But Leon quickly modified his attitude, thanks to Diane.
She was more experienced and more compassionate. Also, more intelligent and rational about it. When she was in high school she worked on week ends for a dog breeder and learned a lot about pets and how to handle them. She also had a cat before getting married. Her way was rational because she did not blame the cat for aggressive behavior. She got the painful scratches as much as Leon but she understood the cat and didn't make up something bad about his personality. She saw it for what it was: Minsky's rules of ritualizing that were not appropriate in his new relationship with us. She heard from neighbors that he was a street cat and that he had the reputation of being aggressive. So she saw the issue of how to let Minsky invent new rituals with us that would be more friendly and gentle.
She had to learn Minsky's body language. She observed that Minsky's tip of the tail constantly moved. It had a rhythm. When he was at rest and monitoring as usual, his tail would reflect his reactions. While petting him on the neck and side of the face, his tail would have a slow steady rhythm. As soon as he was touched in other areas the tail started booming violently. If she then stopped her advances and went back to the neck and face, his tail would quiet down. If not, and she continued touching him in the forbidden zones, an attack ensued. So we both learned to watch Minsky's taill. This was one of his many early successes in training us for new ways of ritualizing with him.
Anther success for him was to train Leon to bump heads with him. Wherever he learned that ritual, he wanted it again. He would bring his face very close to Leon's face and his wide open eyes looked wild. Leon was scared to let him close closer. What could Minsky do to Leon's eyes was a frightening prospect. One day however Minsky managed to come close enough and bump his head. Leon was shocked at first, fearing for an attack. But Minsky just started purring loudly and lowering his head again. Leon bumped heads with him and Minsky roared louder. Breakthrough! He was pleased. He had just successfully completed a new interaction ritual with Leon: From then on Leon and Minsky bump heads almost daily.
"Cat person" is the elevated humanized state of the cat when we participate in their rituals. They can become elevated cats, above their normal level of being when left alone. We are their "food gods" and every ritual interaction becomes a food issue. All rituals lead to the dish, except when narcolepsy trumps the issue. When left alone cats turn into their beastly nature-combative, wild, suspicious, lacking the ability to relax and be calm except when taken over by narcolepsy.
Discovering a cat's past legitimizes the cat, giving him a personal identity, thus elevating him to the level of a cat person existence. It's part of their self-worth as a cat. It's what they need to be happy as a cat person.
Keo will play brinkmanship with food, risking to lose the opportunity to eat because the dish will be closed. He wants to eat like it is a treat, one by one. If we just leave him at the dish, he will walk away, not eating, then try a few minutes later to get you to the dish again.
Minsky has a standing policy: Do not close the dish. His Haiku:
Dish is open. Do not eat.
Dish is being closed. Eat.
Keo monitors, watches, and waits till you close the dish. Then he immediately starts to get you to open the dish, hoping to get you involved in a treat feeding ritual. If you think he is just being weird, it is annoying. If you see it as his ritual for treats, it's easy to accept it. He will try to get you to the dish in all sorts of "hooking rituals" and "attention getting rituals"-lying in your way, waiting till you walk by, then jump up, sound off, look you in the eye, circle, and slowly head to the dish, waiting for you to follow. Minsky does this type of thing. Manna's specialty is to get into trouble-jumping on keyboard, top of cabinet, before your walking feet, using couch as scratch post. Minsky also does some of these.
Rituals are natural but interiorly are spiritual. The outward behavioral interaction is the natural, but its guiding syntax is spiritual, thus rationale: Cats are rational by instinct; humans are rational by conscious mental effort. Cats do not have conscious awareness because this takes higher mental processes, but they have unconscious rationality within the ritual interaction.
By discovering or uncovering what from the past is in them now, we can understand what routines they want with us that make them feel elevated and good. Normal cats have that with their food gods since their infancy, but strays and adopted cats need to start all over as adults. This restart consists in the cat trying to communicate with the new food gods, trying to teach them the rituals they want. (to be continued)
and the Afterlife: True Stories of Our Best Friends' Journey Beyond Death
by Kim Sheridan (Author)
"My journey into this realm has been eye opening, mind expanding, and very healing. It is my intention that others will be comforted by the overwhelming evidence of life after death for animals; the highly substantiated notion that our loved ones never really die, no matter their species, no matter their size.
I have put my heart and soul into this project, and I sincerely hope you will find it comforting. This book was written for you, my fellow animal lovers... and for the animals themselves.
With blessings, Kim Sheridan"
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The tell tale signs:
He is oriented towards treats. He likes to be fed one pellet at a time. He likes his pellets spread out, so they simulate "one treat at a time" in his routine. He likes to be watched when he eats and told he's a good cat for it. He jumps on the counter, spends time there, sits on our stuff (papers, books, towels), gets up and circles when you touch him. He prefers treats to food. He wants to be fed many times (as treats). He wants to demonstrate his tricks and be praised.
Once I know this and interpret what he does in this way, I stop thinking that he is weird, stop being annoyed, and feel motivated to engage in his ritual. One pellet at a time.
Diane discovers he doesn't like so much to eat form the hand, but he wants them one at a time-just like it were a treat.
You can talk Keo or Minsky out of their compulsions from the past. You have to be patient and talk to them in soothing voice, acting with small firm movements on them, then touching them in a way that calms them down. E.g. the dish routines and uses. Apply this to all areas of the cat's behavior rituals. This moderating effect from the human helps the animal to overcome the harshness of their life and to make them happier. This is the use of the human contact. This is what we can do for them in return for the love and delight we have from them.
Someone we know told us that she went to a cat show to buy a cat. We didn't even know that you can go to cat shows to buy a cat. She bought a cat from a breeder who was selling cats from the litter who didn't make the grade-weren't good enough to be show cats. She said that when she brought the five-month old kitten home she felt he was depressed because he had lost his litter mates. He didn't have anybody to play with. She felt guilty about it but she didn't want to get another cat.
Our friend Sterling's cat Max is a pure bred Abyssinian, Second Best in the United States-but he has a lifelong intestinal tract irritation problem and has to take psyllium (husk powder) to improve his eliminations. She sprinkles it on his dish and it's fine. Before the psyllium Sterling had a big problem on her hand with Max's diarrhea and stuff all over the house all the time. You must really love a pet to go through with all that she went through with Max. But not since psyllium. Now his bowel movements are solid and the house problem is solved.
We rescued our cat Minsky from starvation and infection starting one day eight years ago when he popped himself into our quiet life. Diane was in the kitchen when she heard the call from the window near the backdoor outside where we keep the garbage pail. It was a persistent distress call that you can't ignore even you're on the phone. She opened the kitchen door and there he was, the cat who was to become our Minsky. In he marches into our life.
We were catless people at the time, recovering from the years of a noisy household of children and their friends who were now doing their thing in their own places as beginning adults. In fact we couldn't have had a pet in that house we had been renting for years because the landlord was strictly against it. He used to come around twice a month inspecting to make sure there are no pets of any kind. We didn't like his attitude but we liked the house and so we just put up with it. We weren't thinking about pets having pets anyway. So when we started a relationship with Minsky we weren't thinking of adopting him but only be friends. He could be one of those shared cats that cleverly know how to manipulate two or more sets of food gods.
Minsky came around every day at the same time and it took us two or three weeks before we became bold enough to buy some cat food on our weekly trip to the supermarket. Until then we had been giving him milk in a dish outside near the garbage pail. Can you believe it? The poor cat was hungry for food. He didn't look like he was starving, just hungry. So we figured he must have a regular place to eat and we were his extra food gods on the side. But when we placed the cat food pellets before him, he devoured it. Then we realized-We should have been feeding him all along!
Minsky didn't get to actually enter the house for another three or four weeks. Partly because we don't as a rule allow stray pets into our house. Leon is allergic to flea bites, and besides, he hasn't lived with pets since his father's pigeons decades ago. Pigeons don't come inside either. Partly also because of the landlord whose reaction we worried about. Will he actually evict us if he finds a pet in our house? One day we noticed that Minsky was injured. His face was all swollen, he could hardly open his eye on one side of the face. Minsky had a reputation on our street. People called him "blue balls" and considered him a fighter. Not a bully but a samurai type. He got along well with the cats around him but he would take strolls into other-cat territory and they would attack him, and he would stand his ground. Hence his negative reputation.
We made a place for him on the lanai, in a carton lined with fluffy rags. He sat in it throughout the weeks he was recuperating. Leon thought about putting a heating pad under the towels and the cat seemed to like it. He would lie on it for hours without hardly moving. We used to bring fresh water often, dip our finger in it, and put it to his mouth. He would then lick the finger. He didn't seem bad enough for the bells in our head to go off---Maybe we need to take him to the vet! Leon was raised with the idea that pets sort of recover on their own and its' the children you have to take to the doctor. Today we take him to the vet when we notice an infection or wound, but then we didn't think of it.
Minsky did get better after awhile and now he spent most of his time on our lanai. Once in a while Leon would carry him around in his box and Minsky seemed to like that. Then one day Diane was truly amazed to see Leon carry the box around in the house with Minsky in it! Leon started doing this more and more, and he would allow Minsky to spend time with us inside the house, as long as he stayed in the box. He was so good about it, so grateful of being inside that he would be very obedient and not try any shenanigans-except once in a while. He would leap out of the box and race furiously around the carpet ending somewhere we couldn't easily reach him, behind the couch or under the bed. This would take a few minutes while we excitedly tried to get him back in the box.
But all this posing and hesitating couldn't last for very long. Within a few weeks Minsky had become a regular, normal in-and-out house cat. That's when his recovery program really had to begin in earnest. There were so many things he had to learn in order to be a normal cat. The smallest and easiest things for normal cats was a difficult skill he had to acquire. Minsky had to learn to be petted and touched. He had to learn to sit in the lap. He had to learn not to bite your feet, hand, or arm to get you to do what he wanted. He had to learn not to scratch and act rough or frenzied. He had to learn how to ask to be let out and to be let in. His recovery back to normalcy was gradual, slow, and took several years. Now eight years later he is almost normal and very friendly with us and visitors.
It was a few months after Minsky got used to the lanai, that he brought Keo one day.
How to pet the cat. How to be patient and what to notice. Respecting the cat.
You have to discover their boundaries, then respect them.
Minsky used to bite our feet when going inside after feeding him for he wanted to socialize and for us to stay. Bit Diane’s student when house sitting.
Doesn’t want to be touched on the belly either.
Keo gets over stimulated when brushed or combed. So he needs to be given freedom to move. Stop when he moves, start again when he calms down. Do not hold him down or do anything forcibly. Keep talking the way he likes, being praised. He loves the combing but gets over stimulated, so you need to adjust to his pace and intensity.
The two-point touching approach of extreme grooming consists of combing with one hand while grooming or scratching with the other hand. This allows the cat to tolerate the combing which otherwise would be too stimulating for some cats like Keo who are super-sensitive. We call him "Keo Ecstatipus!
Minsky loves to show off his spots on the driveway--when it's sunny.
Minsky loves his car. He feels safe under the car from where he can survey the territory without being seen.
Introducing Keo. He considers it his car too.
Leon: Keo has class.
Diane: What do you mean?
Leon: The way he begs for something. Look at him. He goes precisely to that spot in front of the garbage pail. He sits up real straight. He doesn't just sit and look around-Hey, when are you going to get to me-like Manna and Minsky. They just sit informally. But Keo sits up real smart with his nose one inch from the garbage pail and maintaining pose.
Diane: Like a soldier.
Leon: Remember he was trained. You always say-Keo must have been a circus cat.
Diane: He likes treats. Someone trained him for something. Cats have a past.
Leon: Absolutely. And what's amazing how this past is with them now! I mean the way they act and feel and what they know is all from their past and this is what they are now.
Diane: That's why we need to reconstruct their past. Keo always jumps on the kitchen counter and sits on my papers or folders. He puts his butt right on them and waits for me to walk by. Then he sort of stiffens and looks at me right in the eyes. He's monitoring carefully to see if I'm going to stop. He doesn't do anything as long as I just look at him. But if I speak to him or stop he sits up and starts being animated trying to capture me in his sphere of influence.
Leon: And then he takes you to the dish. It's always the dish, right?
Diane: He wants special attention. That's what makes him feel self-confident as a cat.
Leon: It's weird how he rather not eat from the dish. He wants you to sprinkle the pellets on the paper towel.
Diane: He wants one by one and he watches your feet to see if you're still there. Then after each bite he wants you to praise him-Good Keo. That's right. Good kitty. Then he wants the whole thing to start again. One pellet at a time.
Leon: It's fantastic how much patience you have to have to satisfy him. I think many people don't give their cats the attention they want. And need.
Diane: They thrive on it. It's part of their self-esteem as a cat. Feral cats must be so deprived because they don't have the closeness to a human. They need the contact, the human hand grooming, the human voice praising and comforting.
Leon: I know it's heart wrenching. I almost cry every time I see a stray cat on campus. They look so pitiful and hunted.
Diane: Someone feeds them, you know. Some people have complained.
Leon: Yeah, I've been reading about it for years. Yesterday it almost freaked me out. As I was walking back to the car there was Manna sitting under the bumper. My heart jumped. What was Manna doing here? How could he get here? He was so pitiful looking. Totally black, thin, miserable looking, I couldn't see his eyes in his black face. He looked so frail I couldn't stand it. Then I realized it must be one of those feral cats that live on campus. I started calling him--Manna, Manna, you sweet little thing. What are you doing here? You found my car!. He bolted away as soon I was three feet away.
Diane: Look there is Manna. What's he doing up at this time. He's about two hours early from shaking off his grogginess.
Leon: Manna, come here little Manna. What's on your mind? Come.
Diane: It's the dish on his mind. He woke up for a little bite before he gets back into the serious business of sleeping.
Leon: Isn't amazing how many hour cats sleep! Minsky sleeps about 18 hours a day. Manna is active as soon as it's dark and he sleeps 12 hours.
Diane: Manna takes naps at night. I see him on the couch when I happen to wake up and walk by. That's when he wants some serious petting, when he is sleepy but not groggy.
Leon: Keo sleeps all day and all night.
Diane: He, he, he. Sometimes he spends the entire night on my bed. Hardly ever moves. Once in a while he rearranges himself but mostly he is very quiet. But then at other times he doesn't want to stay.
Leon: It's really amazing how they each have a past that makes them who they are now. And we don't know anything about it. How old was Minsky when we adopted him?
Diane: When he adopted us. He must have been about five then. That was almost nine years ago. So he must be around thirteen or fourteen I guess.
Leon: So Keo must be the same.
Diane: I suppose. I should have asked Karen how old he was when she told me we can take Keo and Minsky to our new home.
Leon: She got them at the Humane Society?
Diane: She got Keo there. Minsky was one of the strays in the neighborhood that she was taking care of along with her cats.
Leon: Manna is by far the youngest. We got him from the Vets when he was just a year old, though we never got to find out just how old he was.
Diane: You got him. It was a total surprise when we were waiting for the bill and you were playing with him in the wire cage and you said-Let's taking him home!
Leon: I did for you. I thought it would cheer you up to have a nice little kitty cat to play with and cuddle.
Diane: Thank you. We already had two cats and I just didn't think you wanted a third one.
Leon: O.K. I confess. I got him because I couldn't resist. He looked so lonely and cold. Remember how he was just shivering? But he was so cute and eager. He was desperate for us to take him home.
Diane: So desperate he printed his own bill.
Leon: Oh, yeah, I remember. He, he, he. I put him on the counter and he jumped on nurse's keyboard as she was typing. Out comes the bill-Looks like Manna can give the right print command.
Diane: He wanted to be out of that cage, and he wanted to be warm. That's why he was so eager for us to take him. On the trip home he sat in my lap and wanted to be cuddled. He was happy and quiet. I thought that was his personality. But after he got warm and we got home he just wanted to go out romping. He didn't want to be indoors and he was too anxious to tolerate sitting in your lap or being petted. Leon: The nurse said she thought the owners that were getting rid of him had a big dog. Imagine that poor little cat being chased by a big do all day. No wonder he is such a frantic mess. He is afraid of his own shadow and jumps at every noise. He hardly can take a drink without having to bounce off. Diane: And he's learned to drink like a dog. Have you noticed how he drinks-very loud and he curls his tongue outward like a dog.
Leon: I didn't know that. He almost never drinks from the dish. He always wants a drink from the bathroom faucet. Good thing he doesn't go into the toilet to drink? Why won't he drink from the dish?
Diane: It's part of his ritual. Every cat invents some kind of ritual to have with you. The enjoy that. It's part of what they do. Cat head, you know?
There was a long silence, each absorbed in their thoughts about their cats with a past. How ironic, Leon was thinking, that we have this intimate and loving relationship with these three cat "people" yet we know nothing about their years before we become their food "gods." Our entire relationship seems to be centered in feeding. The invented many rituals they want us to do with them, and the majority have to do with the dish. They come and get us where we work or sit, and they make the move on. First they act like we should notice them because they have entered our territory. They are no longer free to be themselves as usual. When they enter our sphere of attention they know and feel different. Suddenly the food gods are with them, and they are in the presence of the food gods. Another episode of interracial communication has started.
Then, second, when they feel that they've got our attention, they make the move on to gather us. They desire to collect us, to bunch us together so they can control us simultaneously and from one vantage point. This is the most efficient and powerful way of getting us away from where we are, to the dish. Since we love them and can refuse nothing to them, we interrupt whatever is we're into, and turn our attention to them. O.K., I admit that there are times when I fight it.
I don't like to ignore them when they desire my attention. It just hurts me not to respond when I see they want my presence in their life. I don't like myself doing that. So I watch the cat, sometimes Minsky or Keo, rarely Manna. They give me about a minute or two, Minsky one minute, Keo two. Manna sits at the doorway-he's afraid to commit himself too much. After the requisite number of seconds have ticked off, they make the next move: coming closer and making contact. Physical touching contact. Keo rubs and whirls, looks up, then repeats. Minsky bumps your leg hard, hard enough to make it move, almost like a shove from his twenty-seven-pound American Short Hair gray muscular torso. Or else with the top bone of his head-he actually lowers his head like a bull, puts his ears back tight, and lunges forward aiming for your body part.
Keo never bumps. He's got class and looks it-pure White Siamese with pure peach markings (to be continued...)
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