Basic rules for cats who have a house to run
The following is a manual of guidelines for the busy Cat(s) who will have a house to manage after adopting one or more humans. It is, of course, impossible to cover all possible situations, as those humans are always up to some sort of mischief, but the compiler and contributors to this guide have endeavoured to cover as wide a variety of topics as possible. It is important that this document be kept out of the hands of humans, who will undoubtedly find a way to use it to their advantage.
In order to get the energy to sleep, play, and Hamper, a Cat must eat. Eating, however, is only half the fun. The other half is getting the food. Cats have two ways to obtain food: convincing a human you are starving to death and must be fed *NOW*; and hunting for it oneself. Obviously the latter should be pursued whenever possible. The following are some guidelines for getting fed.
When the humans are eating, make sure you leave the tip of your tail in their dishes when they are not looking. Never eat food from your own bowl if you can steal some from the table.
Never drink from your own water bowl if a human's glass is full enough to drink from. If a human catches you at it and chases you away, run back as soon as his back is turned and drink some more (unless he tossed the water into the sink, of course). See also WATER.
The best times to inform humans of your dish's emptiness are when they are unable to ignore you, such as when they are sleeping or on the toilet, or you are in one's lap. If you insist on waking a human at what it considers a "ridiculously early hour" for breakfast (as with the Early Breakfast CAT CLUB), be warned that the human may be as likely to throw you outside or in the basement as to feed you. See WAKING THEM UP. If you are installed in a lap, be extra friendly with purring and head-butting. As soon as you have the human's attention, leap off and run to your dish, meowing to make sure you are noticed.
Should you catch something of your own outside, it is only polite to attempt to get to know it. Be insistent--your food will usually not be so polite and will try to leave. If you can't be bothered to eat the food you've just caught, be considerate and don't waste it; it makes a perfect gift for humans! Carefully pick it up and carry it to the human's house and, if the door is closed, leave it on the doorstep. If the door is open, or there is a Cat-door, take it inside and leave it somewhere highly visible. The gift will be even more welcome if it is still alive! Live birds and mice make the best gifts as humans love a good game of chase just as much as you do, although be careful not to help them; it's their gift after all.
Table scraps are delicacies with which the humans are unfortunately unwilling to readily part. It is beneath the Dignity of a Cat to beg outright for food as lower forms of life such as dogs will, but several techniques exist for ensuring that the humans don't forget you exist. These include, but are not limited to: jumping onto the lap of the "softest" human and purring loudly; lying down in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen, the Direct Stare, twining around people's legs as they sit and eat while meowing plaintively, and resting your paws on the human's leg and meowing to remind them you're still interested.
Coffee is known to be rejuvenating for both Cats and humans. Whenever a human sets a cup of coffee on the floor within your reach, s/he is showing you great respect and worship. Softly blow the divine liquid until cool (you may even put your paw in it to make sure the temperature is just right) and then daintily drink it.
Occasionally there will be disagreements over what you and the humans will deem as edible. The appropriate action, should the stuff in question be too repulsive to ignore, is to bury it. Scratch at the floor and try to drag over objects to cover the offending item. This informs the ignorant human that it really belongs in the litterbox.
If you steal something from the trash that you are not supposed to have (the greasier the better), remember to drag it onto the carpet, where the smell can be detected and enjoyed for several days even if cleaned. Be sure to growl at your human when she tries to take your prize away.
Some humans have one or more large glass tanks filled with water, called "aquariums". Inside these aquariums are delicate morsels called fish, which are much prized by Cats as snacks. If possible, leap on top of the tank, flip up the lid that the humans use to put food into the tank, and stare down until you think you can snag one. Unfortunately, this action will require getting your paw wet, since the fish will not cooperative by jumping out for you, but the result will be worth it. If you can swipe a fish onto the floor, it becomes an amusing toy as it flops around helplessly. Once it is no longer entertaining, you may eat it. Be warned that the humans will not appreciate your efforts, so try not to get caught in the same room as the aquarium so they won't blame you for the mysterious fish population depletion. If access is denied by the wicked humans, watching the fish swim around is a good way to relax.
If humans are preparing a meal or some other food (like cake or cookies) for themselves in the kitchen, and you feel that you absolutely must sample some of the raw ingredients (especially if they are shrimp, fish, or chicken), there are a number of ways you can try to help yourself. The first is the most direct, simply leaping onto the counter, grabbing the first thing that you can and running like mad for cover. This is, of course, the most dangerous method. Better is to find some way to distract the human by luring him/her from the kitchen so you can sneak in, hopefully unobserved, and steal/gobble at your (relative) leisure. If you are an only Cat, send something crashing to the floor in another room and run out before the angry human comes to investigate. If you have an accomplice, get said accomplice to do the deed. This way you don't get blamed for the mess, though later you will have to take your turn at being the accomplice. Sharing the spoils is not required, though it does help promote co-operation for later "crimes".
The Quest For Food should begin at least an hour before the feeding times your humans have set for you, because you just never know when their feeble minds will fail to remind them of the all-important task of nourishing their masters. Phase One consists of verbal reminders and Meaningful Glances at the humans, response to which will range from ignoring in the afternoon or evening to having items thrown at you or being ejected outside if in the (to them) early morning. Phase Two involves more activity on your part. Divide your time between hovering near the empty food dish (perhaps licking it to make sure it's truly empty) and being under foot and issuing more reminders and Meaningful Glances. Whenever the human's path takes him/her even approximately in the direction of the food dish or the place where the food is stored, immediately stampede to either of these locations. The response will likely be demands for patience, derogatory comments, and perhaps a kick if you get too closely underfoot. Phase Three, the final phase, involves your escalating Hampering activities to the maximum, plus more direct actions like knocking over items from desks, dressers, kitchen counters, or chewing on books, magazines, plants, etc. Keep one ear open for the humans, who will likely be on the warpath as soon as they realize you have moved into this phase. Finally they will either give in or else it will be feeding time, so be sure to devour your ill-gotten gains and consider your next moves during your post-meal nap.
Most Cats think that this strange-looking plant is Food of the Gods and better even than tuna. There are some, however, who are sadly deprived of the ability to enjoy this wonderful treat and will look upon the others with a mixture of confusion and disgust at the utter lack of Dignity of those partaking. If you are one of the latter, please skip to the next section.
Catnip is available in two forms--in the wild as an odd-looking plant that grows in delightfully fragrant, though often rather flattened, patches, and from the humans in a concentrated dried form. Unfortunately, the humans know of our weakness for catnip and will try to hold it out from us, often employing some very ingenious methods to do so. If the humans are careless enough to leave any catnip within reach, it is imperative to get it no matter what you have to tear apart to do so.
Otherwise the humans will use it to attempt to coerce us to do things which would otherwise be beneath us. The greatest hazard of catnip is that it causes those Cats under its influence to utterly lose their Dignity. They roll around foolishly, purr at maximum volume, tear around the house at top speed, and do other things no sane Cat would be caught doing. Do attempt to control yourself, especially if your humans have a "video camera" and are prone to using it.
Water (also known as Cat Solvent) would be really great if it weren't so WET! Dripping taps are the best sources of fresh water in the whole house. Toilets are the next best (but the water inside must be COLOURLESS and contain NOTHING!) Therefore it is imperative that any sound of running water be immediately investigated in case a free drink may be obtained. The bathtub is the best place to lurk in the bathroom when a human is present. A plaintive meow or two and perhaps hopefully licking the faucet usually will get most humans to turn on the tap for you. If the bathroom door is closed, demand entry noisily (see DOORS). The water dish is to be used only as a last resort in case the humans leave the toilet lid down and the tub and sink are dry.
If a human has a sufficiently wide-mouthed glassful of liquid, immediately stick your face into the glass. If the opening is too narrow, dip your paw into the liquid, swirl it around, and give it the taste test. You may be pleasantly surprised to find beer or even milk! In any case, if the liquid is good, continue to sample, but only while your human is distracted. Some of the best water is ornamented with those cold, hard buoyant cubes that bob up and down in the liquid when pressed lightly. If your human protests, lick the condensation on the outside of the glass.
As mentioned above, in order to have enough energy for playing, a Cat must get plenty of sleep. It is generally not difficult to find a comfortable place to curl up. Any place a human likes to sit is good, especially if it contrasts with your fur colour. If it's in a sunbeam or near a heating duct or radiator, so much the better. Of course, good places also exist outdoors, but have the disadvantages of being seasonal and dependent on current and previous weather conditions such as rain. Open windows are a good compromise.
Snoring is not a talent unique to humans - if the Cat is sharing a bed with two humans, the well skilled Cat can cause one of the humans to be blamed/swatted/smacked for the deed by the other.
If your humans don't let you into the bedroom at night, make them suffer for it. Even if they give you a nice warm room of your own to sleep in at night, with a Cat-door to the outside world, that just isn't good enough. There are several ways of registering your disapproval.
Trash the room they give you to sleep in. After all, the humans don't sleep in it - so why should you?
Fight noisily with other Cats in the neighbourhood, just outside their bedroom window. Make sure that you appear in the morning with as many fresh scars as possible. Spend some time perfecting an aggrieved "Well, I wouldn't have all these injuries if you only let me sleep in the bedroom at night" expression.
When they finally rise and take a shower or a bath, locate the appropriate drainpipe and yowl up it.That amplified and disembodied "Meow" is sure to surprise them as is the length of time you can do this without getting hoarse.
When they finally come downstairs, and call for you, refuse to use the Cat-door to enter the house. There's a perfectly good front door they can open. Of course, if they should anticipate you by opening the front door and calling, ignore them. You should only appear by the front door and yowl once they've closed it again.
This is an important part of your life. Get enough sleep in the daytime so you are fresh for your nocturnal games. Below is a good, but not exhaustive, selection of favourite Cat games that you can play. It is important though to maintain one's Dignity at all times. If you should have an accident during play, such as falling off a chair, immediately wash a part of your body as if to say "I MEANT to do that!" It fools those humans every time.
Any small item, such as Q-tips, is a potential toy. If a human [Image] tries to confiscate it, this means that it is a Good Toy. Run with it under the bed. Look suitably outraged when the human grabs you and takes it away anyway. Watch where it is put so you can steal it later. Two reliable sources of toys are dresser tops and wastebaskets. Below are listed several types of Cat toys.
Bright shiny things like keys, brooches or coins should be hidden so that the other Cat(s) or humans can't play with them. They are generally good for playing hockey with on uncarpeted floors. When in the kitchen, the object is to eventually slide the toy under the refrigerator or stove "goals" and then attempt to get the human to retrieve it for you so you can do it again.
Dangly and/or stringlike things such as shoelaces, cords, gold chains, dental floss, and rubber bands also make excellent toys. They are favourites of humans who like to drag them across the floor for us to pounce on. When a string is dragged under a newspaper or throw rug, it magically becomes the Paper/Rug Mouse and should be killed at all costs. Take care, though. Humans are sneaky and will try to make you lose your Dignity. Note that playing with shoelaces when the human is trying to tie them is another form of Hampering. Fishing poles with small toys attached are favourites of humans who want to destroy Dignity, because they are just so hard to resist. Beware the tactic of the human spinning around in circles while you charge vainly after the toy, especially if you are on a smooth floor and can't get good traction. Respond to hilarity by baleful stares and washing yourself, then walk by the toy with your nose in the air. Then leap on it when the human isn't suspecting. It works every time.
Within paper bags dwell the Bag Mice. They are small and camouflaged to be the same colour as the bag, so they are hard to see, but you can easily hear the crinkling noises they make as they scurry around the bag. Anything, up to and including shredding the bag, can be done to kill them. Note: any other Cat you may find in a bag hunting for Bag Mice is fair game for a Sneak Attack, which will usually result in a great Tag match.
A somewhat risky approach to catching Bag Mice utilizes the Bag Slide. This is accomplished by performing a classic crouch (including full butt-wiggle) 5-6 feet from the mouth of the bag, then charging into the bag at full speed, causing the bag to skitter a great distance across a wooden floor (Note: This does NOT work on wall-to-wall carpet!) CAUTION: Be prepared for a significant impact with walls, chairs, etc. if you've really built up your momentum!
Ignore anything that appears to be a store-bought Cat toy. After all, in the old days, Cats had to fashion their own toys. Store-bought toys are an affront to a "real" Cat. However, if the toy appears to be interesting, you may wait until the humans are sleeping before you play with it (but be sure to keep quiet so they don't figure out you actually like it).
Some cats find ice cubes to be great toys, as they can slide across smooth floors for great distances. Ice cubes can only be obtained from the freezer (it is *not* recommended that you try to fish any from drinks or knock them over, as the humans will immediately confiscate the toys and probably hurl you bodily outside!) if you pester a human while he/she is getting something from it. Once the new toy is released into your custody, it's play time! Be careful not to lick it though as you may find it sticks to your tongue!
Your human is more likely than not to have other humans come to visit. Sometimes they will all just sit around and talk, which is great because you have the opportunity to get lots of extra attention (see GUESTS). However, sometimes they'll set up some sort of game and start playing, which is not so great because they aren't noticing you. Many human games (and all jigsaw puzzles) have lots of little pieces, and are really Cat Toy Bonanzas, but the humans will not want to share them with you for some reason. If they are playing on the floor, rectification of this injustice is relatively straightforward. You can charge across the board scattering pieces everywhere and snatch one in the confusion. The subtle approach, where you act really friendly to one of the humans so you can get close to the board and then snitch one, requires more patience. If you have a partner who can create a diversion, say by running across the board as in the first case, you can then zip in during the uproar and snitch a piece while the humans are distracted. A third option is to just plop yourself down in the middle of the board and say "Pet me!". With luck, a piece or two will get stuck in your fur (especially if you're long-haired) and you will have a new toy when you're ejected from the board.
Playing on a table presents a greater challenge, as the board is much more inaccessible. Try ingratiating yourself by curling up on a lap, and occasionally sticking your head over the table edge to see what's going on and perhaps try to knock a piece or two off the table with a paw. Jumping on the table is risky but potentially rewarding, as the humans may not expect such chutzpah (or chutzpaw in your case). If a corner of the game board extends over the table edge, you can stand on your hind legs and reach for it; if successful you could bring a whole avalanche of toys down!
Unfortunately, all of these actions are liable to make the humans very angry, so you'd better have a safe place to run with your toy, unless you're a Hedonist (see CAT CLUBS) and enjoy playing fast and loose with your life by baiting the humans. This activity also counts as HAMPERING.
Supervising (a.k.a. Hampering)
It is well known that humans are incapable of performing even the simplest of tasks without feline supervision and/or assistance. This supervision is absurdly known by the humans as "Hampering". If one of your humans is engaged in some close activity and any others are idle, stay with the busy one. It would take a large book to describe all of the activities which need to be supervised, so only a condensed list is presented below.
When supervising cooking, sit just behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and thereby stand a better chance of being stepped on and then picked up and comforted.
For book readers, get in close under the chin, between eyes and book, unless you can lie across the book itself. unless you can lie across the book itself.
For television watchers, be sure to settle down in their laps just before a commercial break when they're most likely to want to get up and do something.
For knitting projects or paperwork, lie on the work in the most appropriate manner so as to obscure the maximum amount, or at least the most important part. Pretend to doze, but every so often reach out and slap the pencil or knitting needles. The worker may try to distract you; ignore it. Remember, the aim is to Hamper work. Embroidery and needlepoint projects make great hammocks in spite of what the humans may tell you.
For people paying bills (monthly activity) or working on income taxes or Christmas cards (annual activity), keep in mind the aim: to Hamper! First, sit on the paper being worked on. When dislodged, watch sadly from the side of the table. When activity proceeds nicely, roll around on the papers, scattering them to the best of your ability. After being removed for the second time, push pens, pencils, and erasers off the table, one at a time. If the items are arranged in neat piles on the table, it is your job to maximize Hampering by scattering the documents. A clever way involves a co-conspirator, preferably another Cat, but a dog will do. In the next room, stage an altercation with the conspirator. Tear around the room until you build up a good speed, then race into the room with the slaving human and leap onto the table, skidding appropriately to wipe out all the piles. With practice, you can get the blame put on the other cat (or dog) and perhaps even get a few cuddles and "Did the mean kitty/doggie pick on you?" condolences.
Speaking of Christmas, this annual event presents many opportunities to Hamper. When the human is trying to wrap presents, go for the Paper Mice which hide under the wrapping paper that is on the floor. Do your best to shred their hiding places. Ribbons also make great toys! Be sure to attack the loose ends as the humans struggle to wrap their presents in spite of you. If there are any bows, try to steal them and run under the bed with them. If the human does not give chase (thinking he/she will "sacrifice" one for the sake of peace and quiet), go back and steal another! Snitch the gift tags before the human can put them on the presents, or for more fun, after they put them on. Watch out for sneaky distraction tricks like putting Scotch tape in your fur! Climbing up and lurking in the Christmas tree is also fun (though beware the sticky sap that some have) and makes for a good hiding place, provided you can stay still and not knock off any ornaments. Tinsel garlands make great toys (but not good food). Ornaments are not such great toys, however, because they break into lots of sharp pieces which can cut your feet (not to mention incite yelling fits in the humans).
When a human is holding the newspaper in front of him/her, be sure to jump at the back of the paper. They love surprises.
As often as possible, dart quickly and as close as possible in front of the human, especially: on stairs; when they have something in their arms; in the dark; and when they first get up in the morning. This will help their coordination skills.
If your female (or sometimes male) human is trying to arrange her/his hair in the morning, and if it is long enough, treat it like you would any other strings. Try to bat, grab, and generally attack it. Steal any elastics or "scrunchies" that the human might wish to use to tie down her/his hair and duck under the bed with them. This only works if the human isn't intelligent enough to have a couple of "sacrifice" scrunchies which you are allowed to steal with only token resistance. Once you twig onto this tactic, try standing in front of the mirror or jumping onto your human's head or shoulders. This should get you evicted from the room and you can spend the rest of the time meowing piteously at the door.
Always sleep on the human at night so s/he cannot move around. See the Bed Hog Club under CAT CLUBS for a suggestion.
When a human is attempting to "make the bed", hop on it and curl up in the middle, or pounce on the sheet the human is trying to rearrange. If the human tries to ignore you by covering you with the sheets, move around and try to mess things up. Protest loudly when you're evicted.
Suitcases always mean that your human is about to abandon you, so it is important to prolong the packing process as much as possible. As soon as one is opened up, jump in and curl up for a nap or chase your tail and/or attack items put inside. It is of paramount importance to shed as much hair as possible during the Hampering process to make sure other Cats (and humans) know that your human is already owned.
Laundry presents many opportunities to Hamper (hence the other name for the laundry basket--the laundry hamper). Laundry fresh from the dryer is a perfect bed, since it is warm and soft. As soon as it is put on the bed for sorting, arrange yourself for a nap. If the human removes you, keep returning until the laundry isn't warm anymore. Now it's play time. Pounce on anything the human tries to move around for folding, especially socks and nylons. For added fun, grab a sock and hide under the bed.
When a human is working at a computer, s/he isn't paying attention to you. Fortunately, this problem is easy to remedy, but persistence is critical because humans seem to hold the computer in ridiculously high regard. You can easily obstruct the human's view of the screen with your beautiful tail, or if it's low enough, with your even more beautiful body. Trampling or sprawling on the keyboard is always good for some attention as well. Pay special attention to the keys marked "Esc", "Del", and "Brk". If you need to nap while supervising your human, good places are the keyboard, on top of the plastic thing with the cord that the humans laughably call a "mouse", or on the human's arms. If the human insists on removing you from these choice locations, there's always the lap. If possible, while in the lap try to drape yourself on one of the human's arms. Also feel free to knock pens, papers, diskettes, Post-It notes, and anything else accessible onto the floor. Should you decide that the human has spent enough time at the computer, you must draw him/her away from it. Hop onto the nearest table, counter, or shelf that is within sight of the computer table and begin to knock things off, one at a time. Terrorize any birds if your human has them. Fight noisily with the other four-foots in the house or get into particularly destructive Tag games, and so on. Bear in mind that these sorts of shenanigans will likely enrage the human, so you had better have a safe haven to run to when he/she comes charging in after you.
High-tech devices create the possibilities for high-tech Hampering, such as the computer example above. Many of the humans' entertainment devices like TVs, VCRs, and stereos have flat rectangular doodads with lots of buttons on them called "remote controls", which are often left on coffee tables which are part of your patrol rounds. You can do the obvious (i.e. hide them), but it is a well-established fact that all those little buttons are great for massaging your feet. Be sure to trample them thoroughly for the best effect! If they are pointed towards the things they control, you can also get the machines to turn on, make timer lights flash, generally scramble things up, and in short, Hamper! Sometimes your actions will have undesireable side effects, such as a sudden, terrifying blast of noise from a stereo or TV (which may lead to a terrifying blast of noise from the humans, especially if you do this in the early morning!). If this happens, run and hide under the bed and wait it out. Answering machines are also good to walk on. Trampling on certain buttons will make interesting things happen, and possibly Hamper by making messages disappear.
If your human is talking on the telephone (and hence not giving you the required 100% Undivided Attention), be sure to demand attention by standing on the base and trampling as many buttons as possible, or the big one that hangs up the line if you can.
Help your human clean the apartment by walking across and thoroughly inspecting each surface as s/he finishes dusting it. Pay particular attention to glass-top tables.
The best time to use your litter box is just after the human has cleaned it, since there are no nasty things for you to step in. Lurk in the background until the cleaning is done, then leap in and do your business, being sure to get some litter on the floor to keep your slave busy. Ignore any foul commentary from the humans at the extra work you create.
Pretending to be all lovey and cute is a good way to Hamper, if you have the stomach for it, because it's especially hard for the humans to get mad at you. You can employ all the usual wake-up tactics in the morning, then immediately launch into loud purring, head-butting, and cuddling until the human gets up, at which point you can race to the food dish. This tactic can be used to try to deviously get onto normally forbidden zones like the kitchen counter by acting as if you can't get close enough to them for pets and rubs. When the human's attention is diverted (perhaps by a co-conspirator), snatch something (preferably edible or a good toy) and run for it. Interference with newspaper reading, computer use, etc., are just a few of the nearly unlimited potential for Hampering in this manner.
As you get older, hampering can get to be more of a challenge. One favorite of older cats is the 'Keep them in bed' technique. Just before your human's noisebox goes off in the morning, assume a comfortable position next to him/her. Purring, head nuzzling, and other techniques may need to be employed. Try to position yourself so that your human will not be able to hit the noisebox easily to make it shut off. (It is unknown why humans do this since it just comes back on anyway.) It is important to keep your human in bed as long as possible. If you have two humans in the same bed they will not always get up at the same time, so be sure to apply the technique to the human that will awaken first. When your human moves you out of the way act as if arthritic and unawake yourself. As soon as the human makes his/her way to the bathroom, be sure to walk in front of him/her. This is especially amusing in the morning, though it might result in a kick from a less alert human. When the first human goes into the rainmaker to get wet, take care of your personal business and then prepare to hamper the other in the same way.
Guidelines for where to sit or lie down.
1.It is considered bad form to lie on the bare floor, couch, or bed. An exception is made for the human's favourite chair, which you are allowed to sit on no matter what (or who) is there.
2.On a bed, there will often be laundry or clothes lying there. It is your duty to lie on them to get your beautiful fur on them. If there is a choice, choose either the cleanest item or the item which contrasts most strongly with your fur. If your human protests, act cute.
3.It is also your duty to lie in an area that makes your human contort to the greatest extent if s/he wishes to share the bed/couch with you.
4.Even resting on a book or a newspaper on the floor is preferable to just lying on the floor. Newspapers are particularly important to sleep on if your human has them on the floor for his/her reading convenience.
5.Select a chair to sleep on that Hampers your human the most. For example, if your human is doing a craft on the kitchen table to prevent your interference, it is your duty to take a nap on the chair your human would like to be sitting in. No other chair at the kitchen table will do.
6.If kicked off any preferred seating, it is of critical importance that you not immediately go about your business. You must either sit still for a time, washing yourself to save face, or lie on the floor to make your human feel guilty, and let him know you're waiting for the chair. If the human cheats by moving your resting chair and/or sitting in a different one (in a situation such as the kitchen table example above), you may be able to continue Hampering by jumping into the human's lap. If the human has to get up to get something, and dumps you off (if you've elected to take the lap option), immediately occupy the chair, curl up to enjoy the warmth, and look smug. Of course, the human will just switch chairs or throw you off again. This game can be played for hours.
It is advised that Cats use any scratching post the humans may provide. They are very protective of what they think is their property and will object strongly if they catch you sharpening your claws on it. Being sneaky and doing it when they aren't around won't help, as they are very observant. If you are an outdoor kitty, trees are good. Sharpening your claws on a human is a definite no-no! Some humans come equipped with "jeans", which can be scratched without inflicting too much injury. Attempts to climb up them will result in further attention, albeit perhaps not the kind you wish.
The vacuum cleaner
This appalling Beast is known by many names, Cat Eater being the most prevalent. Normally pliable, agreeable humans will turn into raging monsters while under Its influence, running around the house sucking up all the carefully shed Cat hair and terrorizing the feline residents with evil glee. Nothing can stop It until the influence is over and the foul device is put back into Its closet. All you can do is run and hide when you hear the engine roar to life and hope that It doesn't find you. On some occasions, however, the humans are forced to open up the vacuum cleaner and remove a swollen, dusty bag from within. This is Its stomach, and must be destroyed if you can get the chance. Do not worry if the human yells at you, for the yell is really that of the Beast in pain. Some Cat circles are of the belief that the weekly ritual is actually a struggle for control, as the Beast attempts to free itself from the human's grasp so it can rampage at will. The back and forth motions of the machine are supposedly indicators of this battle of wills. Regardless of the interpretation, Cats should definitely keep a low profile until the Beast is returned to its lair and the human returns to normal.
To get a door opened, stand on your hind legs and hammer it with your forepaws and/or yowl. Once the door is opened, it is not necessary to use it. After you have ordered an "outside" door opened, stand halfway in and out and think about several things. This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow, or mosquito season. Protest if the human uses a foot to "encourage" you to leave. Sometimes doors can be opened by Cats without the aid of humans. Such doors must be kept open for the Cat(s) to investigate within at any time. Swinging doors are to be avoided at all costs; their nickname "Tail-Biter" tells it all.
If a human goes into a room, especially the bathroom, and closes the door to exclude a Cat, meow pathetically and try to stick your paws under the door to open it. If the human relents, lets you in and then closes the door, immediately demand to be let out. If the human lets you out and closes the door, immediately demand to be let in again. This is especially fun when it's the bathroom and there are guests. This game can be played until the human wises up and hoses you with a squirt gun. Scuttle out of range and wash yourself, to pretend that the assault on your Dignity didn't happen.
If a door that is usually kept closed, such as a closet door, is opened, you must immediately rush in to investigate to see if anything has changed since the last time you were in there. Resist the human's attempts to remove you before you have completed your investigation. Protest loudly when the human removes you anyways.
As with doors, drawers represent Restrictions to Freedom of Access. Although sometimes a clever Cat can figure out how to open a door, opening drawers is almost impossible and must be done by a human. Any drawer that can be opened by a Cat, of course, must be on a regular basis, especially if it's a dresser drawer, since they provide comfy beds for naps. Needless to say, when a drawer is opened, it is imperative that its contents be investigated for items which are potentially edible, toys and/or comfortable resting places. Dresser drawers must also have their contents "pre-haired", i.e. the clean clothes must have Cat hair deposited on them before they are even worn, just in case the humans are able to get out of the house in the morning without the Cat being able to shed on them.
As soon as you hear a drawer open, immediately rush to the scene and jump in. If the human removes you, be persistent, since every time you get picked up, you shed some hair. This is best if it can be done with a partner -- one jumps in as the other is removed. Do your best to rearrange the contents of clothing drawers by playing "Find the Mouse" as far back as you can reach. Scratch yourself vigorously to deposit the required hair. This is an excellent form of early-morning HAMPERING (see above)!
Hide-and-Seek game can be played if a human is distracted by something and leaves a drawer open. Burrow in as far as you can and make yourself at home. If the human doesn't see you when he comes back and closes the drawer, the game begins. It is especially effective in filing cabinets where there are often large empty spaces behind all the papers where you can't be seen. After a few minutes, start yowling loudly so that the human will want to find you. With the right projections, you can keep the human searching for several minutes before he/she thinks of looking in the dresser or filing cabinet. When revealed, glower at the human reproachfully and jump out with as much Dignity as you can muster. Be sure to leave plenty of hair behind. The first recorded instance in the literature was with a Cat named Pandora who kept her humans looking for her for a couple of days!
Humans have three primary functions: to feed us, to play with and give attention to us, and to clean the litter box. It is important to maintain one's Dignity when around humans so that they will not forget who is the master of the house.
One way to keep your human healthy is through agility training. You can do this by running ahead of your human, maintaining a distance of about one and a half of the human's paces, and suddenly stopping to clean yourself. If the human doesn't trip over or boot you (a very real hazard, especially from beginner humans), s/he is fit and able to avoid all sorts of danger in his/her world. A bonus from this exercise is that the sight of the human will be very amusing and you can share the experience with your friends on the back fence. Another form of exercise can be imposed by sitting just out of reach of the human when he/she wants to pet you, so that he/she has to get up and move over. When you are being brushed, don't sit still for it, but move around all over the place, forcing the human to follow you around or else pick you up and hold you. And of course there's the Big Chase when you steal something like a chicken leg.
If you are scolded for any reason, however (un)justly, fix upon your human your most forlorn and repentent gaze. This will induce such guilt and remorse in that human that she will immediately scoop you up and cuddle you, apologize profusely and offer you a favorite treat.
Occasionally, human ignorance demands a blunt response. If your humans have the gall to "discipline" you with a squirt bottle, the proper strategy is to abscond with the offending item when no one is looking, and hide it behind the couch or at the back of the most cluttered closet. Many months later the fools will stumble over it, but they will get the message.
In order to provide and care for you, the humans must leave the domain every morning (usually before you take your first Cat nap). To help them on their way, either yowl loudly, massage their scalps with your claws, gently bounce on top of them in bed, knead their chests, purr, and/or drool on them. The best time to do this is about 24 minutes before their clock begins to blare or ring. We must protect them from the noise because it could ruin their sense of hearing.
On some mornings, usually on the days the humans call Saturday and Sunday, the humans often want to stay in bed longer than usual. They resist attempts to rouse them more than ever. They will reluctantly get up to feed us and then return to bed, hoping that we will leave them alone. This should not be allowed. Sleeping humans are essentially ignoring us, which is a Bad Thing, so once you have eaten your breakfast, continue your campaign to get them out of bed. See WAKING THEM UP.
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