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Alexandra’s Cat

tuxedo-cat-on-blue-cloud Bringing a cat into your home might not seem like much of hassle, but for people that haven’t had the chance to raise a cat before, it may not be such a predictable experience. You need to be acquainted to some of the quirks cats present and learning a few tricks would be immensely useful! As I’ve described in my previous article regarding this topic, cats are a force to be reckoned with and as adorable and lovely as they generally are, you should prepare yourself for a unique experience!

Cats are not dogs! Period! As absurdly obvious as this statement may seem, it is an common mistake people make. I’ve been a dog owner all my life and my interaction with cats has been limited to playing with them whenever I visited my aunt’s house or when I saw a fluffy bundle on the street and tried to cuddle it. So there’s little surprise in the fact that my early experiences with my first cat were confusedly similar to how I behaved with my dogs and so were my expectations.

Our fateful meeting

I’ve often heard people mention that cats choose their owners, not the other way around, so when my boyfriend entered the house one lovely afternoon with a black and white cat following in his footsteps, I half expected what he later on explained. The little devil had been standing on top of a car staring at him and meowing as he parked in front of our house. He, of course, went to pet him, after which mister cat decided that he was a decent enough fellow and followed him inside our apartment building, climbed up four flights of stairs on his own and then entered our home. It was clear enough to me that he (the cat, not my boyfriend) hadn’t had the chance to eat lunch yet, so I fed him and we agreed we would be keeping him just for the night and then let him go. It was all hugs and purring that evening and the next day, when we took him downstairs, twice, he sniffed the clean morning air a few times as he stood in front of the main entrance, after which he simply followed us back upstairs. So, there you have it! We were, not so gently informed, that we are to reside with him from now on and that’s that!

I’ve had animals follow me home before or which I took back home of my own free will, but most of them (birds and dogs alike) usually tended to desire to leave once they were fed and had their required share of attention. Even if “we remained friends”, so to speak, and they visited me from time to time to grab a snack, they mostly preferred to go back to wherever they came from. Not the case with cats, it seems. If a cat has decided to follow you home on its own, well, then you’ve got yourself a new roommate.

tuxedo-colored-cat-playingHugs and kisses are for children

After a visit to the vet, we were told that our furry friend is somewhere in between 8 to 10 months old. It was clear he was not a kitten any longer, yet he seemed to enjoy our undivided attention, caresses and cuddles. For a while, that is…After a week or two, he started demanding that we let him outside again. As fearful as we first were, I went for a walk with him, distancing myself from him a meter at most. I shortly discovered that he would respond to me whistling and would immediately return to my side, so my anxiety lessened. “Well, this is not so different from having a dog.” I thought to myself. Eventually, we gathered our courage and started leaving him on his own for a few hours, after which we’d go outside and start whistling and making cat sounds until he returned. I was so convinced my new cat was a reincarnation of a dog, that it came as a total surprise to me, when a few months later, our loving interactions lessened and became conditioned.

Ladies and gentlemen, don’t fool yourselves into thinking that a cat is similar to any other pet you’ve had before! They might, at times, let you believe that they are the reincarnation of a dog, but when it comes to cuddles, they progressively transition from accepting your caresses wherever and whenever to only allowing you to pet certain parts of their bodies and just when they so desire. In short, you go from “YAY, free massages” to “pet me…with your eyes!” and, if you want to stay palls, you simply have to accept this!

Sleeping in is for suckers

I’ve never been much of a morning person and after constantly being pestered as a child and adolescent by my parents to try and change my sleeping habits, I truly felt blessed having my own house and creating my own rules. Little did I know that, as nocturnal animals, cats like to chase their toys around the house in the middle of the night. That, in itself, can be amusing and manageable as long as you are not a light sleeper. Luckily, that is not my case. At first, my adorable bundle of fur would come to bed with us and cuddle on my pillow with me until I fell asleep. As time passed though, he decided that my toes look extremely scrumptious and started biting them anytime in between 3 and 6 in the morning. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t a very pleasant experience for me, but with a bit of patience and a few tricks I managed to get it out of his system and we are now pillow friends once more.

On this note, I advise all cat owners to avoid yelling or punishing their cat by restricting access to their sleeping quarters! You will not achieve anything by doing so and you will only scare and frustrate your cat! As stubborn and independent creatures, cats will persist in doing what they please, but as they grow older they tend to quiet down. I’ve also discovered that by nicely picking him up and placing him aside helps to dissuade a cat from doing something. So don’t despair, have patience, laugh it off and don’t treat your cat like a child. It usually has the opposite effect!

 Hell hath no fury like a cat scorned

Pets usually get anxious and sad when their owners leave for a prolonged period of time. I feared how our cat would react, so when we had to leave the country for a week I decided the best course of action was to ask my boyfriend’s mother to come visit twice a day. She not only fed and cleaned after him, she spent a few hours playing with him each time she came, which, in my opinion, was more than I could ask for. Nonetheless, upon our return our lovable demon made sure to express his displeasure with us. At first, there were small things such as jumping on the kitchen counter in front of us, although he knows we do not allow that, or chewing on paper tissues or not allowing us to pet him. It was mostly amusing, but then he moved on to pushing things off my nightstand and stealing my jewelry. We were afraid he would eventually break something and hurt himself so we did our best to show him as much affection as possible and managed to distract his attention with toys. It took longer than I expected, but I am proud to say that we have survived the rebellious phase!

When your cat is acting out, trick him into playing with you instead. Distract his attention with things you would allow him to chew or scratch and play with him until you tire him out. Instead of having him go rowdy in the night, this helps you save a lot of quiet sleep! Surprise snacks and treats are also very useful!

Every experience is unique and, depending on breed, each cat has its own temperament and preferences. However, there are some general aspects which every new cat owner should take into consideration. And, remember:

Once you go cat, you can never go back!

calm-black-cat-on-blue-bed

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