Sunday, 20 October 2013

Every Cat's Window of Opportunity

Preamble
     No, I'm not talking about cats becoming computer literate. And yes, I do know how cats love to sit between their humans and the computer when using Windows 7 or above.

     I'm talking about how cats love to make the best of any situation. In the absence of facial expressions (though I'm certain that many cat people will swear that their feline companions are capable of communicating this way) a cat uses its body to its full potential to let you know how she feels.

     And today's post is all about how they back that up with a total physical response or "TPR". TPR is a wonderful thing because it backs up what you think may be happening intellectually with a really overt bodily reaction. It turns theory into hard evidence. 

     How do you know a cat understands that the tone of your voice means it's chow time? They wrap themselves around your feet, purring madly and race to the food bowl the second you turn in that direction. It's a TPR!

     How do we know that a cat sees an opportunity in something? They display a TPR...

Ever Ready

     If you want to know anything about always being prepared then look no further than a cat! Lazing on a doormat, perched on a cupboard, snoozing on a cushion or nose in a food bowl, a cat's situation can change in an instant and when it does they're ready for anything.

Pusia is ready for anything!
     I find it's always the case that Pusia surveys her territory when she gets the chance to sit on the doorstep. A world of endless possibilities unfolds before her. She's alert to every opportunity and her eyes dart this way and that in preparation for whatever adventure presents itself.

     Being 'ever ready' means making the most of every situation. To us a spade is a spade and a chair is a chair. How does she Pusia see it?

Nothing is ever as it seems...
     Quite clearly a chair is not just a chair just as a table is not just a table and a diary is not just a diary. They can be adapted to anything suitable for making a cat's life more comfortable. 

     I found that the deck chair creates a lovely canopy for Pusia to relax under on sunny days. It's not simply that, either! She also used it to conceal her location to birds that inadvertently landed within pouncing distance. The table is a perfectly elevated vantage point and my diary is a comfortable seat.

A Minor Inconvenience

     One of the things I love most about cats is their adaptability. If you're around and the cat wants the door open or the window open then you'll know about it pretty quickly. Whether it's day or night you'll be bombarded with a torrent of wails, prods, pounces and complaints. "Let me out! Get this window open!" is quite easy to infer from cat sounds.

     On the odd occasion that one of my cat pals needs to be confined under house arrest when I'm not there, I see a calm acceptance of the situation.


Making the most of it.
     It's true if, say, there's a nasty storm and I have to lock the cat flap before going to work. The last thing I want is wet all over the place and gusts of rain blowing in as Pusia comes and goes.

     She accepts the situation gracefully. There's plenty to keep a watchful eye on from the comfort of the window sill. This doesn't mean she' given up hope!

The French Lieutenant's Cat!
     I'm told by neighbours who pass my house while I'm out that Pusia will appear promptly at the window looking out as they pass and then retreat again at their unfamiliar faces. It's not until she hears the sound of my car arriving home that she gets really ecstatic! I see her little mouth moving as she talks to me through the window and then before I can even get the key in the front door lock she's on the other side telling me off.

     This displays one of all cats' best qualities. They seem to accept it when they can't change something and recognize the times they can. For me it's a great ego boost too! Pusia's animated appearance on the window sill for my arrival and mine alone is a very demonstrative TPR and a vocal one at that.

Windows of Opportunity

     Windows always give any cat that sneak into the outside world they lust after. Some schools of thought advocate that cats shouldn't ever be let outside. Let's just think about that for a moment.

     There are obviously exceptions where a cat's safety is in question but what happens when you keep a cat indoors? Its natural instinct is to be outside patrolling its territory and keeping the wildlife in check. If you left a cat alone in a house indefinitely without any human care or companionship it would undoubtedly die. Give a cat the freedom to roam outside and it will, barring accidents or encounters with larger predators, survive without any difficulty.

     Have you ever checked your cat's reaction to the slightest crack or opening in a window or door? This is why they have whiskers. So they can fit through the smallest of gaps. Evolution has a sense of humour after all. It knew that humans were going to confine them!


Any window will do.

     If you try to keep a cat indoors they will never tire of re-enacting The Great Escape with all its inventive means of evasion. That's a lesson in perseverance itself. This is why I've given up trying to dictate Pusia's movements to her.


Redeploying Jacob's Ladder

     I'm sure that, amongst the local cat population, my house is seen as a kind of Mecca. It has mystical qualities that mean magical bowls of food appear in its grounds for the local feral cats. My Pusia emerges from it like an Empress in the Forbidden City or the Dalai Lama at Potala looking out over the Holy City. For this reason we have an army of ferals who are forever lurking in the undergrowth and observing my (and her) movements.

Undercover kitty!
     These cats have learnt that there are always opportunities around. It's not a matter of if they happen but a simple fact of being there when they do. I have to be a bit careful that Pusia doesn't get wind of these soup kitchen meals for the homeless. On the whole she seems to feel special enough with her own personal entrance to the house not be bothered by them.

Pusia's ladder...
     This, for Pusia, is Heaven with a capital "F". "Freedom!" She's so used to it now that it makes her confinement on those rainy days all the more uncomfortable both for me and her. But, thankfully, in her wisdom she never bears a grudge and all ills are forgotten in a heartbeat.

Land of Plenty

     So cats learn to get along. They seem to understand that, fundamentally, there's plenty to go around and they never worry where the next meal will come from.

     I'd like to have that same outlook on life. To live with an understanding of abundance is a true blessing. To know that whatever else is going on around me, I only need to concern myself with the fact of noticing when the opportunities arise - that would be a fine thing.


     There are always plenty of opportunities. Learning to observe them without losing our focus is an art that cats have almost perfected! Having them around as our companions is a great reminder of this fundamental truth.