Dare you look at a king? Would you sit on his throne?

28 02 2013

This is wrong. WRONG.

WRONGWRONGWRONGWRONGWRONG!!!

Cats do not do tricks. Cats are not “trained” the way dogs are trained.

Cats are, at most, restrained.

As in: get your face out of my yogurt, stop whapping the print on the wall, get off the stereo, quit biting the plant, oh for fuck’s sake would you fucking stop grabbing the fucking computer cord, fucking hell?!

Cats will not stop trying to eat the yogurt, whapping the print, leaping on to the stereo, biting the plant, or fucking grabbing the fucking computer cord, for fucking hell’s sake.

They will, at best, pause.

No, cats train us: to leave the water dribbling out of the bathroom sink because it is apparently so much more delicious than the water I refrigerated overnight and just poured into the bowl; to pry off from the milk jug the plastic ring and toss it onto the floor rather than just recycling the whole damned thing; to wake up and withdraw my legs from around a sleeping cat and rearrange on the sliver of bed they’ve somehow managed not to occupy rather than just roll over and let them deal with it; and, of course, to clean up after their shit. Literally.

If you have a dog and you die, your dog will lie down next to you and whimper and lick your face and try to revive you.

If you have a cat and you die, your cat will bite you to make sure you’re really dead, then will feast on your corpse.

Such creatures are not meant to be trained, and I can only guess what revenge the cat in that video has planned for the human who thought it would be “cute” to get the kitty to shake.

Remember, lady, while you’re snorfling over your “dead” kitty, she’s wondering which part of you to eat first.

h/t Cute Overload





Qu’est-ce que c’est?

9 08 2009

Are kittens psychopaths?

They show up in your house—from the street, under the porch, a shelter, a feline improvement society—and proceed to make themselves at home.

Locate the litter box? Check. Stick face in water bowl? Check. Bounce around the apartment as if she built the joint herself? Check.

Oh, and purr purr purr as you sweep him into your lap. Purr purr purr as you nuzzle your face into his electrified fur. Purr purr purr as he stretches his skinny body across the chair.

Purr purr purr just before he pounces and tries to eat your face.

psycho kitty?

psycho kitty?

No, this is not another plaint about Jasper. He still likes to chew on my ankles, but he’s now disciplined enough that he can—sometimes—lounge in bed near my feet without  treating them as prey.

Still, I do wonder about a creature about whom I know nothing, and who knows nothing of me, insinuating himself into my household.

What about the whole  ‘getting to know you’ dance? If a person immediately confides something intimate about herself to me—sober—I wonder about boundaries. If what she tells me raises the hair on the back of my neck, I wonder why she’s telling me rather than, say, a therapist.

An example: When in Albuquerque, I lived for a time with an apparently sweet woman, K.,  who, it turned out, was nuts. First few clues? Within a week of my settling in, I learned about her abortion, her time as a lesbian, her suicide attempts, her alcoholism, her conversion to evangelical Christianity, and her tortured relationship to her family (also nuts).

I’m thinkin’, jeez, I’m just tryin’ to eat my breakfast, here.

She told me that she wasn’t sure if she’d be returning to her previous job, working with troubled kids at one of the nearby pueblos. Turns out she’d been accused of hitting a kid, an accusation she relayed with a kind of resigned bewilderment. He didn’t like her, she’d concluded in her soft, sing-song voice, and wanted to get her into trouble.

That sounded plausible to me. A few friends of mine had worked in group homes and juvenile mental health units, and the kids could get rough. And that a kid was mentally ill didn’t mean he wasn’t also clever enough to accuse them of battery—or worse.

So, bummer for K.

Then there was the story about the cop at the airport. He’d pulled her over for, I don’t know, idling in a no-parking zone, and asked her to roll down her window. K. didn’t see why that was necessary. He pushed the window down, she told me, I mean, he just pushed it down.

So she took off, speeding in her white minivan toward the airport’s exit, trailed by a cop, until some other car blocked her escape. I would have made it, she said in her soft, sing-song voice.

I’m not one generally to side with the police, and have my own underage-drinking-tales of dodging cops. Still, when you’re pulled over by a cop and you haven’t done much of anything wrong, doesn’t it make sense to, oh, stayed pulled over?

No, she was right and he was wrong so she took off, and ended up with a huge fine—which she proceeded to protest in court. And lost. And was given community service on top of the fine.

Huh, I thought, K. might just have some issues.

Huh, I thought again, it’s just possible that K. did, in fact, hit that kid.

And, of course, after I moved out she accused me (in a not-soft, sing-song voice) of breaking into her house. Nothing was missing, but a door was left unlocked. Her conclusion: It had to be me.

I made sure never to walk, run, bike, or drive anywhere near her place.

Okay, so it’s a long stretch from psycho kitties to K., but isn’t one of the things about psychopaths that they can attach themselves to you in a very short period of time, and that they are generally untroubled by any aspects of their own behavior?

No, I don’t think K. was a psychopath. I think she needed serious, serious help, but to state that she was without conscience is, I think, unsupported by the evidence. (Tho’ there was plenty of evidence of severe passive-aggression, ADHD, and general disordered thinking. But I’m not a shrink, so I’ll just stick to the layperson’s diagnosis of ‘nuts’.) Still, in wondering about the psychopathology of kitties, I couldn’t help but think of K., as well.

But back to the question: what is it about the kitties? Puppies, as everyone knows, are dumb. Their motives are also transparent as hell: Feed me! Rub my tummy! I’ll love you forever! How could a creature without any apparent psyche have a pathology?

This is not an anti-dog slam. I love dogs, and take great joy in puppies. And I don’t think dogs are dumb: I simply think a dog has to grow into his personality—which is why training is so important with pups.

But kitties, kitties are sly. They have agendas and will deal with you only insofar as you help them advance that agenda. And, unlike the ids of puppies, which are oriented around pleasure—Feed me! Rub my tummy!—kitty ids are all about control: Entertain me—or else.

That they are canny critters makes them uncanny to us.

Thus, feline training  is also important, albeit in a different way: Whereas the puppy owner wants to encourage her dog’s personality to emerge, the kitten owner is more interested in curbing certain expressions of his psychology, such that by the time the cute wears off (and the cute is, of course, why would put with all this in the first place), we actually enjoy who these animals have become.

Is it a matter that poorly-trained (and likely poorly treated) dogs become psychopaths, while poorly-trained & -treated cats simply remain so? That the menace must be inculcated into the canine, and drawn out of the feline?

Perhaps. Perhaps it’s simply that puppies trust too much and kittens too little, and each has to be taught the hows and whos of trusting well. And as we human companions of these critters teach, so too are we taught.

Jasper and me? We’re learning. Slowly, slowly, we’re learning.

*Update*

I forgot, of course, that the folks at I Can Has Cheezburger have already asked—and answered—this question.

In the affirmative, of course.





Down to me, the change has come

29 07 2009

My new best friend:

Because of him/her/it, I am now able to sleep (mostly) in peace, and Jasper has been downgraded from Vampire Kitty to Hyperactive Kitty.

And no, this teddy bear is not stuffed full of catnip or some other contraband. He is simply soft and floppy and about Jasper’s size.

Backstory: Jasper bit, as all kitties do, and I did the whole withdraw-attention thing to get him to stop. He did not.

I’d lift him off the desk or bed, place him close to the ground, and drop him. He’d jump back on and resume biting.

I advanced to the water bottle. He didn’t like the squirt, but it provided only a temporary deterrent. At times, it only meant that I’d have a damp cat leaping toward my face. Repeatedly. In the middle of the night.

What to do, what to do. He’s a kitten, kittens bite. But, shees, so much? Every moment he’s awake?

So I did what any semi-sane and extremely tired kitty-owner would do: I searched online for solutions.

Many opinions: Just say No! Tap his nose. Don’t tap his nose. Blow in his face. Don’t blow in his face. Squirt him. Don’t squirt him. Confine him. Wait it out. Put your finger in his mouth and hold his tongue down [honest!]. Distract him.

Ah. I’d been trying aversive operant conditioning, trying to get him to associate bad things (shouts of No! physical removal from the bed and desk, water squirts) with biting, but all it was doing was pissing him off.

And, of course, pissing me off, because while I would never ever ever throw the kitty across the room, when said kitty is raking his tiny and sharp incisors across my skull at 4 in the morning, I am sorely tempted to do so.

But, distraction. I could give that a whirl.

I had held off from doing so, not wanting Jasper to associate something benign (play, a toy) with biting, but, as numerous commentators pointed out, this is what kittens do.

They’re also not the brightest of creatures, so any concerns I might have about Jasper associating biting with positive feedback is, well, overestimating the intellectual capacities of a months-old id.

That night, then, when Jasper launched his attack, I removed him from whatever appendage he was gnawing on and stuffed the teddy bear into him. He immediately transferred all his tooth-and-claw energy into teddy, and left me alone.

Sweet honey on the rock, he left me alone.

Granted, he still wakes me up, and sometimes I have to push the teddy toward him a couple of times, but thus far he’s more than willing to beat the shit out of the stuffed animal rather than me.

(Bean still prefers to beat the shit out of him if he dares even to paw at her tail. I figure that’s for the two of them to work out.)

During the day, I distract him with various toys (mice, plastic rings, wine corks, etc.), and while he still jumps all over my keyboard and likes to chew on books, his taste for my flesh has waned.

He’s more relaxed, I’m more relaxed, and, most importantly, I can actually enjoy him.

A gentle, positive approach. Thanks be to teddy, it works.

Who knew?