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Feline Friday: How Cats Show Love

In the Spotlight

Placing himself in a vulnerable position shows you love . . . (Image copr. mhstrp2009 via Flickr)

There’s no doubt we love our pets — but do our cats love us back? The answer is yes. But cats and kittens show affections in ways that aren’t always what humans expect. In fact, a pet’s Valentine wishes might instead puzzle, aggravate or even offend some people. Here are 7 ways cats show love.

1. Cats (sometimes) scratch and pee to show affection. Cats seek out items that smell most like their beloved human — and they find scratching and peeing calming. So marking up your favorite chair or baptizing your bed with urine actually is not only a backhanded kitty compliment but a stress reliever. Providing legal scratch and potty opportunities encourages kitty to love you in more appropriate ways.

2. Cats put their rear ends in your face. This is a friendly gesture we swear! The cat is offering you an invitation to sniff — and to the feline way of thinking, that’s a very loving thing to do. But as you will not want to indulge, respond by scratching the base of her tail instead.

3. Kitties rub against you. This leaves the cat’s scent — marking you as “owned” by them. Cats repeatedly head bump their most favorite people. Bumping your face is the ultimate show of trust, since it leaves eyes vulnerable.

4. Cats knead your thighs. Honestly, we’re not sure why they do this. We know that kittens do it to prompt mom-cat’s milk to release and we suspect this instinctive behavior hearkens back to that feeling of comfort and joy. So a cat kneading her human certainly can be a kitty valentine.

5. Cats purr. Now these noises can mean different things, including delight or concern, but a cat that purrs while snuggled in your lap expresses deep trust and love for you. Return the favor and talk back in a warm, caring voice. Say “I love you.” She’ll understand the emotion, if not the exact words.

6. Cats will groom you. Licking your skin or hair, or even nibbling or sucking on your clothing spreads “family” scent and is an expression of feline love. Return the favor — petting your cat is the kitty equivalent of a love fest of mutual grooming.

7. Kittens curve their tails. When a kitten greets her mom-cat, she holds her tail straight up with the end tipped over. If your kitty directs this tippy tail at you, she is, in effect, calling you “mom.”

These are just some of the ways your pet may be expressing his love. And they certainly don’t apply to all animals, as some cats become very creative and keep us guessing! But there’s no doubt that pets appreciate our love and love us back. The best Valentine’s gift we can give them is learning to understand them, foibles and all. Of course you can learn lots more about kitty behavior in the book COMPLETE KITTEN CARE.

How do YOUR cats show love? Seren also “guards” me to keep the (spit!) unworthy dog from soiling me with his presence. And she taste-tests my food so that I don’t run the risk of poisoning (puts her lil’ life on the line just for me…and that potato chip). Please share how your cats and kittens love you!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Say WHAT? Silent Communication R Us

9-2 seren
This past week has been a strain–on my emotions and my communications. I’ve over-used and abused my voice, and the strain showed up last Thursday and 7 days later has only slightly recovered. About the same time our landline telephone went out (quelle ARG!) but it didn’t matter so much because I have no voice.

No. Voice. At. All.

For someone who communicates for a living, that’s pretty darn disruptive and frustrating. We’re in the fine-tune stages of KURVES rehearsal and I’m the music director. That means coaching (that is, singing a demo) with the actors for everything from the low baritone to 1st soprano parts. I’ve got a pretty good range but combine that with a cold (I mean FREEZING! as in NO HEAT!) rehearsal space, and the vocal chords hadn’t a chance.

No phone and no voice means recording the new ASK AMY videos were put on hold, along with any new PET PEEVES radio shows. I couldn’t even croak “happy birthday” to my mom this week. I had to rely on Email and texting, and hope folks weren’t frustrated with the funky phone

!@#$%^&*!@#$%^& Verizon!  Eleven days to wait for service ain’t funny. If I had a voice, they’d get a piece of my mind!

Wait–did I actually say that? You know what I mean.

Yet while moping around the house for 3+ days without any vocalization above a whisper, it occurred to me I had no problem whatsoever communicating with the cat or dog. There was no need to say, “want to go out?” to Magical-Dawg for him to read my mind/body language and beat me to the door. Seren-Kitty anticipated the bed-spread-chase game without an invitation. Both critters assumed the position to beg tastes from my lunch plate. And neither had trouble deciphering my mood when they picked at each other like teasing siblings (as they often do), yet responded appropriately to my silent cease-and-desist scowl-‘o-doom.
magicface7-08

How often do we humans chatter on, making words a meaningless soup when we have so many more pointed ways to communicate? Do words devalue when spent without thought? Have we lost the ability to understand subtlety when shouting becomes the norm–and we become tone-deaf to nuance?

Seren flicks her tail. A small thing, but it brings about an attitude change in Magic. He knows. And when his ears twist just so, the cat runs, while giving him the feline finger with her nether regions. Sure, dogs have a whole repertoire of communication that includes vocalizations. And so do cats.  The cat-gods (and dog-demons) know they can make noise when they want to. But with them, there are no wasted words.

I’ve received valuable feedback on my thriller WIP so this weekend I’ll be up to my own nether regions in edits. The book includes dog viewpoint as well as a cat character. So I’ll be channeling my inner critters while continuing to give my home crew the “silent treatment” while my voice heals. I hope I do them justice–both the fictional pets and the real ones.

How do you communicate with your pets? With your kids? Significant other? Do you have a secret language, or “insider” jokes and words that can bring you to tears–or blows? Is it all words or do you also have other ways you communicate? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!  NOTE: the Pet Peeves newsletter will have a special VALENTINE’S DAY ISSUE you won’t want to miss!

Feline Friday: Kitty Communication & How Cats Read

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Cats always seem drawn to sit on top of books.

TGIFF…Feline Friday, that is. In honor of TAKE YOUR CAT TO THE VET week, I’m re-running a blog (with a few updates) that some of my newest subscribers may not have seen. Enjoy!

Do your cats know how to read? Well of COURSE they do. I suspect our felines subscribe to the Kitty Manual on Rooling Humanz or wouldn’t have such a uniform method of intervention.

They simply sit on the page (or the E-reader), and absorb the text through their (ahem) nether regions. Just check out Wall-E, in the picture “reading” my first-aid book. Kitties want to be prepared. *s* What do YOUR cat’s read?

Speaking of being prepared, if you have a new kitten over the summer I’m sure you’re making the right next paw-steps to properly socialize the little fur-kid. Cats can be trained (yes, they can!) at any age, and continue to learn throughout their lives. But kittens are furry sponges that absorb lessons, both good and bad, at an incredible pace.

Dagur

Kittens are works in progress--and need help with socialization!

This prime kitten socialization period is a narrow window during babyhood when learning the “wrong” lessons can emotionally cripple the cat. For example, kittens not exposed to positive experiences with humans during this period will be wild (feral) critters and never accept people. Well actually they MAY accept a very patient and loving human who makes extra effort, but they won’t be the “pet-able” kitties we long to snuggle. Proper socialization teaches a cat how to be a cat, proper feline manners, how to communicate with other felines, and who the cat’s friends and enemies are.

The age when kittens are most receptive is two-to-seven weeks. That’s about the age of this gorgeous baby in Maria Magnus photo, above. Have your new kittens been properly socialized? How did you manage this? Proper socialization can be very helpful in getting them to visit the vet with the least amount of trauma!

Kittens tend to be snuggle-pusses. But adult cats can be puzzling when it comes to wanting attention. Or does your cat ask to be petted and then walk away and wait j-u-s-t out of reach, playing keep away for you to come to her? Seren does this, and I know other readers also experience “kitty keep away” behavior. She’ll move enough that I need to take a step, bend over and reach to pet again-whereupon she again tippy-toe dances a finger’s width away. I’ve seen cats (including Seren) do this over and over and over. Find out the reasons behind this behavior here.

I suspect that a future blog will cover the pushing “Velcro” kitties that pester constantly for attention. Is there a happy middle with kitties? Naw….that would be boring!

 

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Channeling Your Inner Fur-Kid

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What are you TELLING me?

How the hell does she swing from the drapes and seek out the highest spot in the house? Why in doGs name did he roll in dead fish—and then share by rubbing clean against my socks? Does shedding itch? Is that cute innocent look for real, or just an act?

Are you passionate about pets, too? Do you ever stop thinking about them? For more than twenty years, I’ve puzzled over their actions, behaviors, motivations and care, nearly 24/7. Pets rule.

Okay, so according to the pet-less, I have no life. Some folks write to change the world. They do so with passion, dedication, and great skill, and I admire them greatly. But I’m not the only writer obsessed with fluffy subject matter.

Amy Shojai with Golden

Westminster Kennel Club dog show after the DWAA events, where you can meet the most glorious dogs and dedicated pet people!

Pet writers also write to make a difference, and sometimes manage to save lives. After reading several cat-egories to judge a recent CWA contest of outstanding work, this hits home with me in a big way. Cat Writers Association members as well as Dog Writers Association of America folks rarely know what impact the work has, because those who most benefit from pet writing never read it. In fact, some of ‘em probably baptize it.

Please don’t leave my Petiquette newspaper columns on the floor. It’s disheartening. And if you use them to line the bottom of the parrot cage, let that be your little secret. I don’t need to know. Really, I don’t.

FAN? Really, a FAN?!

Last week I received a letter–yes, a real hand-written-and-printed-in-pencil letter–from a fan. It seems that an eleven-year-old wannabe kitten owner had been told by her Mom she needed to learn about taking care of kittens FIRST before adopting a furry baby. So the little girl decided to write to me after reading my kitten book. WOW-WOW-WOW! and hurray for Mom!

It’s worth it. Every bit of the sleepless nights. Pet writers get paid with more than $$. What made your day/week/month worth the angst?

kitten with typewriter

Cat writers channel their inner kitten...

Of course pet writers wish their audience had pocketbooks. In this economy that would help more of the furry-inclined to spend more time doing what makes writerly hearts go pitty-pat. But if pets could read and had wallets, they’d spend hard-earned kibble on Kitty Kaviar, Puppy Crunchies or fuzzy squeaker toys to disembowel (or hump) at the most inappropriate time. At least, that’s what Magic and Seren would do. What would your fur-kids buy with their spare change?

My illiterate furry audience “reads” in very different ways–puppies communicate one way and cats talk another. My true readership will never ask for a pawtograph, or care if I have initials after my name. But they will do back-flips for the right treat, and wag and purr with delight should a human finally understand that tail-talk.

What about you? are you different? What’s your obsession? Writing? Sparkly objects? Gerbils? Cheetos and M&Ms? (that’s writerly brain-food, ya know!).

As for me, until my audience comes out from under the bed, or tires from dog-earing one of my books and actually SPEAKS in language most owners understand–and puts me gloriously, wonderfully out of business–I’ll keep typing, blogging, fiction-ing and radio-ing away.

Wait, I’m channeling a message now. It’s coming clear, yes, it’s…I see it all now! what I absolutely, without a doubt, know to be the meaning behind all the howls, hisses, yowls, and wags. The fur-kids of the world sit up and beg and howl their message loud and clear:

BUY AMY’S BOOKS!

Trust me. I’m a professional. And pets never lie.

What do YOUR pets tell you to do? I’ll give you a moment to channel the fur kids. Go ahead, I’ll wait . . . . everybody here? So ask ’em. What does the cat say? Is her fondest desire to doze in front of the fan? or eat mouse morsels off a crystal plate?  or have you give up your job to scritch her itchy spots all of the time? If your fur kids could have their most favorite wish come true, what would it be?

One of my wishes would be for all the pets of the world to get along with each other and their people. I think the critters in the video, below, are on their way to making that happen. What do YOU think?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Translating Animal-Speak, There’s An Ap for That

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Serious bizness, this chewing

"Grrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!" means "@#$%^&*(!!"

About a week ago the Woof Wednesday featured a bunch of information about translating dogma and what all the woofs, wags and growls mean. Imagine my embarrassment to discover we don’t need any of that anymore.

Want to understand donkey-talk? In a flap about what all the chicken clucking means? Yearning to ferret out furry translations? No worries, Grasshopper, there’s an AP for that!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Translating Kitty Ass-ets

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Today’s Ask Amy video addresses kitty tail talk, and I’ve had fun finding a variety of furry models to tell the tale–er, I mean, tail. So give it a shot–what do YOU think the tail semaphore means?  What does Sleepy-Seren’s tail (above) say about her c’attitude?

Burmese

What about this Burmese beauty? Cats talk with their entire bodies, not just meows and airplane ears. What’s that tail semaphore mean when held on high? Happy? Agitated? Relaxed?

cat on railing

And here’s a couple tails held down instead of up–what’s the significance, or is there any? Do they mean the same thing? Seren’s tail rarely stops moving, but other kitties only flail tail when upset. Why should you care? Well…sometimes kitties lose their homes when there’s mis-communication.

July 15-17, Petfinder.com is joining with over 1,500 rescue groups and shelters across North American for what could be the largest adoption event in history–in honor of Petfinder.com 15th Birthday year! That sweet kitty above, with her tail wrapped around her body, is Bella Luna and she’s available–just click on her picture for a link to details. Betcha once she’s adopted her tail talk will transform into happy signals . . .

This Paw Nation article on understanding felinese includes some translation, but every cat has his own dialect. Just like people from different parts of the country have funny accents–unlike me, cuz I have no accent at-all, y’all.

Devon rex

How do your cats express themselves with their furry ass-ets? What have I missed in the video? And  what’s unique about your furry wonders? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy, Cat Smiles & Book Love

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What's not to love?

How does your cat show affection? There are so many ways–and many times folks just assume the kitty purr says it all. There’s no doubt that cats love us as much as we love them. People who haven’t been blessed with furry feline love have a difficult time believing this, though, because kitties show affection very differently than people do. In fact, some cat behaviors that puzzle, aggravate or even offend people are a cat’s way of expressing undying affection.

My kitty Seren often indulges in what I call “flipping” behavior, where she THROWS herself on the ground in front of me and rolls back and forth while meowing. She also cheek-rubs and head-bonks us–and yes, she purrs. Here are 14 unexpected ways cats show love. What are some other ways your cats demonstrate their affection for you? Please share!

In fact, in honor of Adopt A Cat Month, I will draw a name from the comments posted on today’s blog for your choice of one of the books, below, but there’s a catch:

There must be at least 10 comments to do the drawing–and I’ll choose a winner by Sunday night so maybe the autographed book gets to a Father’s Day recipient on time. Forward the link and encourage your friends to comment so somebody can get some free kitty-book-love. Yes, I’m purrrr-fectly evil! Which brings me to the most recent Ask Amy video, below–enjoy!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy, Kitty Yowls & Litter-ary Woes

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kitten outside under shrub

Yowling youngsters yearn for luv...

My Seren-kitty has never been a touchy-feely lap snuggler. It wasn’t until she became a senior citizen cat that Seren deigned to snooze on a human, and a lot of that has to do with tormenting the Magical-Dawg. But when I still worked in a “real job” as a vet tech, more than once clients called with concern about the bizarre behavior of feline fur-kids.

Usually it was the girl kitties who began to rub-rub-rub and rollllllllllllllllllllll all over the floor, CRYING out like tortured souls and diggidy-pawing at windows. One frightened woman was sure her cat had caught “the rabies.” I can imagine all you cat-savvy folks nodding wisely–y’all know exactly what’s up. It’s that time of the season when girl kitties pick the lock with their rabies tags, shimmy out the window, and get all lovey-dovey with feline Romeos. . . . and I sell a boatload of kitten books as a result.

cat in litter box

"Fixing" cats often can "fix" hit-or-miss potty behavior.

Of course, the Romeo cats take the opportunity to baptize everything in sight to announce their macho status to the banshee-esque girls. Even if your fur-kids have had their gonads snipped, the love-in-the-air can prompt some serious litter-ary action.

“Going” outside the litter box is the top cat-behavior complaint of cat owners. Litter-box problems lose cats their homes and lives. But cats use urine and feces to “talk” to owners, even if humans misunderstand the stinky message. Cats have logical reasons for inappropriate behavior. Understanding the reasons they snub the box often reveals easy fixes that will keep your cat’s aim on target. Here are five common reasons cats miss the box, and how to improve their aim.

It may be tempting to have the cute-icity of a kindle of kittens on hand–anyone have a litter now? What are your challenges? Has it prompted more hissy fits between your adult cats? Litter box issues? Have you found ’em homes yet?

The yowls have other causes, too–especially for our golden oldie cats. The Ask Amy video mentions a couple of these issues but there’s lots more info in the Aging Cat book. What do you do about your adult cat-erwauling? Did a vet visit take care of the problem? Or are you still losing sleep? Hint: Ear plugs are your friend! What else can you add to the Ask Amy video advice?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesdays: Ask Amy “What’s Up With Wags?”

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CLUMBER SPANIEL

Does a short tail on the Clumber Spaniel cause doggy mis-communications? Hmnnn...

Yes, I know I know, the blog is LATE! You can thank Verizon for that. Since Tuesday about 3:30 pm, the Internet coverage went away and the “help desk” guestimate of a four-hour fixed stretched into a 16-hour outtage. You can be sure, my happy-wags were lacking. And as I type this, the Texas skies blackened and winds stirred up the roses into a frothy mess so not sure how long I’ll be online.

Welcome to all my new subscribers! (~~~virtual waves~~~) I know lots of y’all came to check out the pictures and comments from the OWFI conference, or the list of helpful Ebook links.   I’ll be adding more info on the Ebooks in the weeks ahead. But each week you’ll also find furry info about cats, dogs, puppies and more.

For instance, before I lost connectivity yesterday I managed to blog at the puppies.About.com site. One of my Sweet Tweet friends asked me to mention safety issues of puppies in cars.    But I’d already prepared an Ask Amy (below) about canine wag-icity.

BASENJI

How does a curled tail affect the wag on a Basenji?

Dogs are social creatures that live together, and so they need a dog language in order to get along. How dogs communicate—what I like to call “dogma”—is based on a system of common signals. Tale wags are part of that language. Dog language not only allows dogs to communicate and understand each other. It also is a system used for conflict resolution.

What prompts your dogs to wage wagging conversations? Do they wag just part of the tail, or do their entire buttresses become wigglebums? What would you add to the Ask Amy video? Are there certain breeds or individual pets who wag (or not) in unique ways? What about cats and their tails? My Seren-kitty’s tail talk never stops (she talks from both ends). Hmnnn, that’s fodder for a future Ask Amy.

Guess I need to get future blogs up ahead of time before the powers-what-be (weather, God, Verizon…not necessarily in that order) zap my creativity.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!