‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’
That’s my cat, reading from The Complete Works of Elizabeth Browning. He’s currently mad about poetry. God help me.
Of course, I jest. My cats can’t read. They’re not the wordsy sort. Yet, every day, in their own feline way, they tell me how much they love me. It’s rather sweet. And for a moment, I let slip the fact they will never be able to read.
Winning a cat’s heart can be tricky business. Cats aren’t like canines with their ever-ready-to-please attitudes; a disgrace really. While dogs were domesticated when humans were hunter-gatherers, the cat came into households only much later. Cats are solitary creatures, carnivores, hunters. There’s a saying that perfectly sums up your kitty – all cats are leopards at night. Because beneath the fur, the pink paws and cute mugshot, there throbs a semi-wild, hunting instinct – one that can get quite nasty and scratchy if it’s not satisfied.
I can be a leopard at night!
But it’s not impossible to win your cat’s heart. They’re like a Rubix cube – perplexing at first, but once you crack the code, it’s easy peasy. So here are 5 ways to make your kitty fall in love with you:
Play: A bored cat means trouble. Play with your cat a few times a day. A rope, string, or even fetch with a small ball is all they need. It doesn’t have to be endurance-heavy, just stealthy enough to mimic hunting and chasing. Play spends your kitty’s energy and keeps her happy.
Play with me, pretty please!
Communication: A cat tells you everything you need to know with its body language. Once you learn to decipher it, feline ways become less of a puzzle, and soon you’ll find yourself understanding what your cat is feeling.
First, the tail. An upright tail with a curved tip (like a question mark) means – ‘I’m happy to see you.’ An upright tail that frizzles slightly can mean two things: 1) ‘OMFG, human, I adore you’, or 2) ‘I’m spraying, i.e, marking my territory’, a foul business which can be remedied by neutering them when they are kittens. A low, swishing tail means – ‘Back off, I’m pissed.’ A bushy tail, accompanied by flattened ears, means – ‘So mad, so crazy, shit’s gonna hit the fan.’ A tail between its legs says – ‘I’m super frightened. Don’t just stand there. Help me!’ A tail curled around its body is – ‘I’m at rest. DND.’
‘The universe is resting, human!’
Then there are the other signs. If your cat bumps against you with its head or any other part of its body, it’s claiming you as her own. Good. Licks are better. Lolling on its back means submissiveness – no animal will show you its most vulnerable spot (the stomach) if they don’t trust you.
Chatty Catty: Meows are direct communication. Cats meow only to humans, reserving all other unpleasant sounds – hissing, yowling, screaming, spitting – for other cats. So pay close attention to what your kitty is saying, because she’s talking to you.
You smell, human!
Potty: Clean is the way to go. Cats hate dirty potties, and prefer if they’re located somewhere private and away from household traffic. Just like humans, well most of us at least.
Sleep: Cats sleep for two-thirds of their lives, so make sure you have a bunch of cozy boxes, nooks and dark spots for them to curl up in.
Sink while I sleep!
Assuming you’re giving your cat planned meals, at the same time every day, and you’re on point with all the above, if you want to know for sure whether your kitty has fallen in love with you, try this:
When your cat is curled up and is about to doze, sit directly in front of it at a distance. Now, look into its eyes and slowly close yours, for as long as it will take you to say ‘I Love You’. Then, slowly open your eyes again. Now wait. If your kitty returns the slow blink, congratulations!, your cat’s just said I love you back. And so it begins – as Humphrey Bogart says in Casablanca – ‘the beginning of a wonderful friendship.’
I love you too!
Yes, all felines in this post belong to the author.