Let me introduce you to a little, white, wavy, soft, fur ball friend of mine. His name is Monet (Pronounced Mon-ay, pictured below) and he and his tortoiseshell brother, Nutmeg, were born to Coco - a chestnut coloured single mother with green eyes - on the dog's turf in late 2011, along with two other tortoiseshell kittens (who were given to friends) at the height of cat breeding season that year. The dog, Pep, surprisingly adapted to their permanent residence in the garden at the highly secure, state-of-the-art ten star cat shack, where they return for dinner, soon becoming very satisfied customers as usual after their wander in the neighbourhood jungle. And yes, it was a huge surprise that the dog tolerated their presence, considering his sometimes ravening hostility toward strangers. Until they throw him a ball, that is.
Monet glaring out from his position between the garden swing seats
Now, not to arouse the dog's jealousy, but it's time we looked into what the best way(s) of spending quality time with your cat would be. Obviously, this would depend on whether your cat has a favourite hobby.
Monet, for instance, is known for chasing moths, sometimes leaping to ridiculous heights in numerous vain attempts to catch them. So it's all about choosing an activity that is as similar to moth chasing as possible. That's where the soft toy mouse attached to a piece of string comes in. You may not realise it, but such a seemingly insignificant toy can turn what would have been a boring weekend into hours of fun with your cat.
Ensure that the clothes line is not in use, then simply throw the mouse over one of the lines, guiding it with the piece of string. Of course the string will need to be long enough for this purpose. The goal is to be able to lift the mouse up - quickly of course (remember you are competing with an animal who has far better reflexes than you) and lower it down again without too much trouble.
Get your cat's attention, then quickly pull the mouse up the moment he or she attempts to pounce on it. Spin the clothes line clockwise or counter clockwise to maximise play. Do the same thing again with the toy. This activity is suitable for younger and young-at-heart cats.
A good form of self care is to talk to your cat about the problems in your life. Look for things that you could possibly have in common. You might just surprise yourself. For example, Monet's mum, Coco, is a single mother with a litter. To make matters worse, what looked like the father cat has been sighted a number of times outside the exquisite cat complex, intimidating his estranged wife and kids at night, while the dog is locked up in the laundry fast asleep in his super comfy basket. Father cat isn't desexed either, so that's the pussy cat equivalent of being on a permanent anabolic steroid trip. Surely there are a lot of single mothers today who could identify with this scenario. I know that I already identify with Monet, having three siblings myself.
The Three Musketeers. From Left to Right: Mother Cat, Coco (born circa 2010), with her two sons, Monet and Nutmeg, aka Little Nutmeggy, because he was the runt.
Our cats have come a long way considering the fact they've come from a broken home. There are signs of a few hang ups now and then – our cats have been spotted in areas far from home and have acted very snobby and standoffish - even rebellious - when I've gone to pet them. It's as if they're saying, "Hey, I'm 16 cat years old. Don't tell me what to do. I don't have to go home with you. What are you going to do about it?" To that, I'll politely say, "I understand entirely – you grew up without a father. He wasn't there to teach you proper respect. You've even got tatts in the ear for crying out loud." Then I walk on by.
Indeed, if you truly want to communicate with your cats it's important you take the time to understand what they have to tell you. Conversation is a two-way street. Here are some wonderful tips to purrrfect your feline friend's language.
If you have a favourite way of spending time with your cat, please share it with us. They deserve to be spoiled.
Great article, Matthew.
Having a very talkative cat, we understand where you are coming from.
She understands the morning routine, sitting patiently till fed. However is very vocal when extra food is required, water bowl empty or her tray needs cleaning.
Over 18 years she really has trained us.