Thursday, April 9, 2015

How to Talk to Your Cat

Jean Craighead George was a Newbery-Award-winning writer who knew a lot about animals. She wrote a lot of fiction, but I really enjoy her nonfiction. This book, for example. I've lived without cats for a few years now, so rereading this reminded me how much I used to enjoy talking to Merlin, Mr. President, Ibn Rafferty, Bella, et al.

There is one thing to know about cats: The cat that picks you, the one that meows at your door asking to be taken in, makes the best pet. You have not forced yourself upon it. Of its own free will it has chosen you. That's what a cat is all about -- free will.

... cats have worked out as many as nineteen different meows to get their points across... The purr distinguishes the cat from all other animals... Amazingly, the purr is never given when the cat is alone. Sitting in the sun on a soft pillow will not turn on the purr; curled on the hearth before a toasty fire won't do it either. The purr is communication...
Front legs speak, too. Tearing at the upholstery with the front legs and claws is the cat way of saying, "I am powerful. I am sharpening my weapons. Beware." The cat is peeling off the outer covers of its claws, honing them to a lethal point. The deeper the claws dig, the more status the cat has.

... cats have a way of sitting right where you are reading or writing. Words will not shoo them away... The best way to tell a cat to get off your book is to arouse deep cat instincts.

Put a brown paper bag on the floor. Now place your cat beside the bag. The cat is gone. The bag is throbbing. The cat is exploring, testing, settling down. Cats HAVE to go into caves and holes -- and paper bags and boxes. You have told your cat to leave you alone. You are free to read for quite a while.

I recommend this book if you like cats. If you don't like cats, well... maybe you could learn to talk to them. Careful, though -- you might end up liking them!

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