Why cats hate you
My column this week is about cat-sitting and how cats hate me. I had to turn to a cat expert for some answers about this. Who better than Catherine English? She’s the superintendent of animal welfare for Oklahoma City. She knows cats. She’s also pretty funny.
Do all cats hate strangers?
No, but they do seem oddly attracted to people who don’t like cats. There is actually a factual behavior reason for this. Like dogs, cats don’t like to be stared at—they think it’s a sign of aggression. When people don’t like cats they try to ignore them; hence, they not only don’t stare at the cats, they barely look at them. Cats love that, because they’re hardwired to insist that everyone like THEM, even if they don’t like everyone else.
What can you do to make cats like you?
Nothing. Capitulate, don’t negotiate. They’re probably going to get their way anyway, so why waste energy pretending you’re in charge. Just give in. Alternately, keeping pouches of some slimy, stinky cat food within reach will guarantee that cats will love you….for as long as it takes them to eat.
Talk about petting. Are cats willing to let most people pet them or just their owners?
Carrie, you made this one too easy. Cats are willing to let most people just pet their owners, but that is just asking for trouble. Try to stick with petting the cats.
Do cats (or dogs or other pets) suffer stress or separation anxiety when their owners are away?
Yes, some pets feel anxiety when their people leave. There are medical journals devoted to this topic. They could be fearful their owners are leaving and won’t come back, or it could just be that they’re fearful their pet sitter won’t indulge them as much as the owners. However, there is another source of stress: what if their people return? Some pets are stuck with people they don’t want to live with. Not all loose pets are lost. Some are actually running away. In that case, that creates stress for the owners, not for the pets.
How can you ease stress for cats when their owners are away?
TV turned to “Nature”, preferably when they’re running shows about lions and gazelles, so the kitties can pretend they’re all big-tough. Leave plenty of those slimy, stinky foods mentioned above with instructions to feed the cats all they can consume. Fluff the couch pillows—they’re going to want the extra plushness while they sleep away your absence. And, as long as this is going to happen anyway…mess up the house like the cats have already done it so they don’t feel the need to knock over your favorite Lladro figurine, shred the curtains, or leave piles of surprises for you in your newest shoes.
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