Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Cats: The Real Headmasters!


     Headmasters? Yes, let's get this straight, once and for all. If you are lucky enough to be owned by a cat then they're in charge. Don't think that you'll ever really be alone for one minute. Whatever you do and wherever you go there will be a beady little intelligence monitoring your every move!

Always under scrutiny, nothing goes unnoticed.
     The thing is, it's a never ending job being a cat. Every minuscule move, every slight sound - it's all the potential for either all kinds of fun and mischief or it's a possible threat. Every tiny detail messes with a cat's head in all kinds of ways we can only begin to imagine.

     I realise this more and more with every passing day as I observe Pusia and come to know her habits and her ways a little more. She's busy being a cat, of course, but in doing so she's developed an incredible control centre that allows her to do this with exquisite skill!

Mission Control

     Let's just take a moment to consider all that technology packed into the control centre of this lethal killing machine.

Prepare for take off!
     Everything this super effective predator needs to be a smart bomb is packed in that little ball of cuteness. The ears are incredibly mobile to help locate prey. The eyes are super efficient and only need a fraction of the light that human eyes need to see. There are whiskers, of course, but additionally there are different layers of bristly follicles that give the cat an extra depth to its perception of the world around it.

     Nothing gets past the nose which can identify a multitude of smells that tell it everything from the diet a potential mate has (the females look for the Toms that produce the smelliest wee because that proves they're the most effective hunters) to the scent of a prospective meal or an intruder.

     Not to mention the teeth that that can deliver the final lethal puncture to a captured rodent or bird. Contrary to what some cat dislikers will tell us, science has now shown that cats can despatch their prey quickly and painlessly. Can...

Every Breath You Take

     Is it any wonder that cats are always so alert? I notice all the time that Pusia can be sleeping peacefully on my lap and the moment I so much as curl a finger to press the remote (the remote, book, pen, paper, drink and snacks all have to be placed strategically close for the moment she jumps on my lap), that tiny silent movement is enough to send her into a startled frenzy.

The slightest creak...
    She's ever aware of the need to be vigilant against threats. This is a hang over from her days as a wild cat and something that we still see in all feral cats today. Freddy, my local feral feline pal, will never relax in my company. He keeps his distance and jumps the moment I so much as take more than a passing interesting in him.

Freddy needs to keep on his toes.
     For Freddy it's an essential life skill. For Pusia it's more of a knee-jerk reaction.

The Devil's in the Detail

     With such a marvellous set of neuro toolkits at their disposal is it any wonder that cats are always on the go? Even when they're snoozing they are, of course, only half asleep and are ready to leap into action at a moment's notice.

     Pusia is alway planning things. I see it in her eyes and I see it in her movements. The moment she's properly awake she's doing everything with a purpose. She knows there's a big wide world out there and she knows that she's got the job of being a cat to do...

Pusia is always scheming.
     That's all well and good when she has my attention. But often I'm distracted and she may not get exactly what she wants straight away. Does she accept this? Does she lie down and wait for me to do her bidding. No. Firstly she'll try to get my attention with a little body language. For instance, this means "Won't you just flipping open the door!"

The subtle approach is the first line of communication.
     Often she will not get her way with such a subtle approach. This is when the real head stuff kicks in. Did you know that cats rarely meow at each other. Most of their vocal repertoire is directed at humans or threats. In both cases, however, they're trying to convince the object of their communication that they're in charge! 

     Pusia will often resort to meowing at (yes, "AT") me to get her way. Her cries will become ever more complaining and urgent until I either respond to her demands or she finds an alternative way of getting what she wants. The paw in the face whilst I'm asleep, for example, is a perfect way of ramping up the pressure. It will usually work. Particularly if said paw includes the odd claw - quite unintentionally, I'm sure.

Cleanliness Really Is Next to Godliness

     Cats are incredibly clean - we all know that. They don't pooh and pee all over the place, they like to eat from clean utensils and they certainly can't stand being dirty. Strange then that Pusia has a habit of leaving her leftovers for me to find.

The scene of the crime.
     This unfortunate scene greeted me when I returned home from work one day. Due to the little smear of blood I know that something very grizzly happened here.

    My first reaction is to think that Pusia has been a trifle messy with her table manners. Then, on reflection, I realise that this kind of stuff only ever happens on the days I leave her alone for any extended period. She is, of course, using her head to get her message of protest over to me.

     Cats all over the human world organise similar protests every single day. It's effective and it works. I have considered giving up the job several times just to become her slave!

     And so it's easy to see how this delicate treasure trove of senses, hairy loveliness and razor sharp canine teeth needs a lot of tender loving care just to keep it in tip top condition. Cats like to eat bones to clean their teeth. And, of course, it's essential to keep their fur in good shape.

     One of my greatest pleasures is to watch Pusia having a good feed, crunching on some tooth cleaning biscuits (she draws the line at actually eating the real thing in front of me - though I have occasionally awoken to the sound of crunching mouse bones) and then setting about the important job of cleaning herself.

Time for a wash!
     In an almost perfect routine of gorgeousness that makes me want to ooh and ah she makes a perfectly entertaining show out of licking her paw and stroking the moistened pad all over her head. She's a master at doing this (as all cats are) but I think, somehow, that she's more of a master at it than any other cat I know.

     Except, perhaps, Mrusia who also knows how to make me ooh and ah.

Appealing to the Senses

     Putting all the physical things to one side, a cat's real ability to be such a master with their head is simply the act of being so lovely. Various theories abound about why cats appeal to (many) humans so much. Chief amongst these is the idea that cats resemble human children and bring out the nurturing instinct in us. They have large foreheads, cute little noses and large eyes. And don't they just know how to use their assets to get our attention?

Pusia on the cat walk.
     That's the real skill of being a cat and using your head. Get a human to fall in love with you and you've pretty much got it made. You'll have gourmet meals, a nice warm bed and strokes whenever you want them!

     On top of that you'll be your own boss and often have the freedom to live your life as you want it. Cats are pretty much the Marilyn Monroes of the animal kingdom. They use their beauty and their heads to find themselves a rich sugar daddy (or mummy) and then they keep using their assets to get every inch of luxury lavished on them.

   That's my Pusia and I love her all the more for her prima donna ish kind of ways. She knows how to use her head and she's a master at it! She's the boss...

No mistaking who's in charge.