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A Man and His Cats

Updated on April 15, 2018
Leland Johnson profile image

Let me, a self proclaimed cat whisperer, take you on a humorous and educative stroll through a day in the life of a cat.

Cats are People too

Cats, like people, have preferences. They like to be touched a certain way, and they dislike being touched in others. How do you know which way they like? Like getting to know a person, you have to get to know your cat. Failing to recognize what they do and don't like can be traumatic to the cat, and frustrating to the pet's owner. If you've owned both cats and dogs you will appreciate the fact that while a dog seems to live to be your friend and to serve you, a cat seems to be more of a free agent, giving his affections when he's in the mood. Some people dislike cats for that very reason while others, like me, appreciate their sense of individualism. While they can be extremely affectionate and homey, release a cat into the wild and it's feline instincts will re-emerg insuring survival (so long as it hasn't been declawed).

Cute and Naughty- Cats Have it All!

This is Shadow, one of our two family cats.  I never thought black cats were cute, but in his case I'll make an exception.
This is Shadow, one of our two family cats. I never thought black cats were cute, but in his case I'll make an exception.
Here is Shadow being naughty.  Not only is he on the table, but he is drinking from my wife, Sondra's, water glass.  She insists that he knows which glass is hers and that he prefers it to his water bowl.
Here is Shadow being naughty. Not only is he on the table, but he is drinking from my wife, Sondra's, water glass. She insists that he knows which glass is hers and that he prefers it to his water bowl.

Why Cats, According to Jack Byrnes, are Better Than Dogs

Maybe She's Right?

Sondra says the cat knows which water glass is hers because it seems like hers is the only one he does this with. She may be right. Cats have olfactory senses as keen as most dogs. She might give off a fragrance he likes. Either that or he can read. As you can see in the picture below, Sondra's name is written on the side of the cup.

Again With the Cup?

I'm not sure if Shadow identifies Sondra's cup because of her scent or because he can read her name written on the side.  Either way he always seems to find the one that's hers and manages to defile it.
I'm not sure if Shadow identifies Sondra's cup because of her scent or because he can read her name written on the side. Either way he always seems to find the one that's hers and manages to defile it.

He Drinks From Her Glass, He Sleeps Next to Me...

Every night at bedtime I hear Shadow walking through the house, without fail, around 10:30 p.m. He calls out in abbreviated, chirping meows, trying to find me. Even thought cats have been known to travel incredibly long distances and find their way home, they can get disoriented in the hallways of a house and call out expecting the owner to respond helping him to find his way. I call out, "kitty, kitty, kitty-y-y-y-y-y" and he always finds his way to the crook of my arm.

Shadow officially belongs to my son, Noah, but the truth is, every family member should work to bond with the animal. He shouldn't be any one person's cat. He may prefer to play with Noah, sit on Jake's lap, drink from Sondra's water glass, and go "nite-nite" with me, but he belongs to all of us just as we belong to him. Don't think he doesn't feel the same way! He gets jealous, insists on having his own way, and bears a grudge if not fed when he wants or if his litter box isn't cleaned to his specifications.


Interesting Cat Behaviors

Every night Shadow comes to sleep next to me, and every night without fail he pauses, just before he lays down, and stands with his paws on my chest in a dominant position.  Cats often position themselves above other cats, and as shown here, people.
Every night Shadow comes to sleep next to me, and every night without fail he pauses, just before he lays down, and stands with his paws on my chest in a dominant position. Cats often position themselves above other cats, and as shown here, people.
Offering the belly is a sign of trust.  It doesn't automatically mean he wants a belly rub.
Offering the belly is a sign of trust. It doesn't automatically mean he wants a belly rub.
He didn't want a belly rub...
He didn't want a belly rub...
Uh oh, my hand got a little too close for his royal highness.  He bares his teeth at me to let me know, prior to biting.
Uh oh, my hand got a little too close for his royal highness. He bares his teeth at me to let me know, prior to biting.

"Cats live in our homes with their wildness still upon them."

— Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Training Your Cat to do Tricks...It's Possible!

Don't let anyone tell you a cat can't be trained to do tricks. As you will see in the video below, they definitely can. Noah taught Shadow how to catch cards. While this is a mutually pleasurable activity for both boy and feline, Noah reinforced Shadow's good behavior with treats whenever the cat did what was desired.

Cats are indeed trainable, but truth be told, they are not as readily willing to learn as dogs. However, in one respect animals are the same: It's all about the food. Noah also taught Shadow to sit whenever receiving a treat. The cat will sit on command. (I hope to include a short video of this in a follow up hub) Use your cats name whenever you greet it, pet it, or especially when you call him/her for feeding. Also use their name when you make a sound that is recognizable to them, like when you open the refrigerator or a can of cat food. They associate their name with the sound and indeed learn to come when called. (Pavlov's dog vs. Pavlov's cat)

Shadow The Card Catching Cat

Introducing Cleo!

This beautiful Maincoon has been a delightful addition to our family, and a wonderful friend to Shadow.
This beautiful Maincoon has been a delightful addition to our family, and a wonderful friend to Shadow.

Cleo's (Short for Cleopatra) Preferred Method of Travel

Try as I might I cannot get this cat to let me carry her. As soon as I pick her up she begins mewling and climbing over my shoulder. As she does this I bend over until we are both in, what she deems, the acceptable position. This is what I meant when I said cats have preferences. She doesn't like to be carried in my arms so as I see it, I have a choice. I can either refrain from picking her up altogether, or I can carry her the way she wants to be carried. I am able to walk about in this position for about 5 minutes, enough time to elicit laughs from Sondra and the kids as well as making Cleo feel appreciated.

This has actually been a great opportunity for our kids to learn about respect. If kids can learn to respect animals, they can learn to respect people.

Pals

I don't think anyone was more pleased to have Cleo come into our lives than our other cat, Shadow.  They play constantly though he is 3 years older than her.  Kittens often have the effect of reviving older cats.  Such is the case with these two.
I don't think anyone was more pleased to have Cleo come into our lives than our other cat, Shadow. They play constantly though he is 3 years older than her. Kittens often have the effect of reviving older cats. Such is the case with these two.

"If a man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve the man but deteriorate the cat."

— Mark Twain

Cat Naps for Everyone!

The Way Cats Age

Below is a chart showing the way cats age. The aging process actually slows as they get older. This phenomenon has the effect of making them seem consistently temperamentally the same over long periods of time, even years. It was very different with our faithful dog, Buster. He retained playful, puppy like traits until he was 12 years old. Then, so sadly, he began to rapidly deteriorate, a deterioration that was very much against his will. Ah, but that's a story for another time.

Age of Domestic Cats in Human Years

Cat Age
Human Equivalent
6 months
10 years
1 year
15 years
2 years
24 years
3 years
28 years
4 years
32 years
5 years
36 years
6 years
40 years
7 years
44 years
8 years
48 years
9 years
52 years
10 years
56 years
11 years
60 years
13 years
68 years
Cats age quickly in human years when they are young, but the process slows as they age.

Stay Tuned!

I hope you've enjoyed this article about, not just my cats, but also cat behaviors. There just isn't enough room in one hub to get all the information I wanted to get in, but I think it's a fair start. Please stay tuned for follow up articles with more original pictures and videos of my cats. I hope you'll share some of your own cat stories in the comments section. Our cats have given countless hours of joy to our family. Researching cats, learning about their needs and habits have only enriched our experiences with them. Cats are therapeutic, fascinating, and in the end... members of the family.

© 2018 Leland Johnson

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    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      5 months ago from Midland MI

      Paula- I love dogs too, but they are a lot more work. I think it's unkind to leave them alone all day if the owner has to work whereas a cat does just fine if it's left alone during the day. I think a big difference, and I'm sure you're tuned in to this, is that a dog usually exists to please you. A cat lives for himself, but likes you too. I have a friend who likes to say, "Dogs have families, cats have employees." There's some truth in that,but our cats can be very loving. Thanks so much for your considered response. I love reading them!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      5 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Like so many people, I love both cats and dogs and have always had at least one of each throughout my life. Now, at this stage of life, I'm exclusively a cat-lady. I've reached the age where a dog represents more work and attention than I am able to give. In all fairness to a dog, I have realized I can mother only cats. Currently, I have a 7 mo. old whom I've decided is in need of a buddy. I'm scanning the cat rescue websites, looking for the right housemate to my "Brandy."

      I thoroughly enjoyed your interesting story of the adorable cats in your family. They are both very beautiful & it's clear your family loves them & derives so much pleasure from having them as part of the clan!

      I agree with you completely, Leland, that each cat has it's own unique & special "personality," likes and dislikes. I love my little girl. She brings me joy, love and cuddles.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      6 months ago from Midland MI

      I couldn't agree more that black cats are underrated. We laugh everyday at how Shadow's face is so dark, even his nose, that sometimes all we can see is his eyes like the cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. He also likes to lay on black garments, blankets, and back packs so he is constantly surprising us. He just blends in so much that we can't even tell he's there until he opens his big green eyes for contrast. That's really neat that you look out for so many of these amazing animals. I'm really glad you liked his card catching trick. I think it demonstrates his intelligence as well as agility. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Flourish. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

      Your Shadow is a smarty, as I loved his trick with your son in the video. Both cats are beautiful. Black cats rock. They are so undervalued. I have eight cats (but a nice sized home), of which six are indoor cats. They’ve mostly been neighborhood strays or ferals that I fixed, many of them with disabilities or health problems like diabetes. Each is as unique as a person with their own preferences and personality.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      7 months ago from Midland MI

      MsDora- That's funny- my wife insists that our older cat says "ma-ma." It sounds like it to my ear :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      7 months ago from The Caribbean

      Your article brings back memories of our household cat (he belonged to all of us) who met me every afternoon when I got off the bus, and sometimes he seemed to meow my name. Thanks for sharing these lovely stories.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      7 months ago from Midland MI

      Hi Linda- I've read that as long as cats and dogs are introduced gently, and gradually, they will get along well. That was our experience with our pets. Thanks for commenting.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      7 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I enjoyed learning about your cats and looking at the photos. I grew up with dogs. Cats entered my family when I found two abandoned kittens while jogging. I've had both cats and dogs ever since. They've always got on well together.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      7 months ago from Midland MI

      haha, poor whiskers. I'm sure he didn't hold a grudge either :)

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      7 months ago from Midland MI

      Jen, thank you for commenting. I know what you mean about getting more if you could, I feel the same way. There is a wonderful documentary on Netflix called "The Lion in Your Living Room" that I highly recommend. I think you'd like it. We named our cat Shadow because my son wanted to give him that name. Just out of curiosity, why did you name yours Tortie? I love stories behind the names.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      7 months ago from Midland MI

      Hi Ruth, thank you for commenting :) I'm glad you found the chart of interest, I did as well when I found it. Maybe your older cat would benefit from a new kitty around the house? 13 is pretty advanced in age for a cat, but he may have another 5 good years or more. Plus, you might be ready for another little friend?

    • jennzie profile image

      Jenn 

      7 months ago from Pennsylvania

      I am also a cat lover, and I have a special place in my heart for black cats. My tortie just turned 16 (I guess around 80 in human years), and I also have a black cat estimated to be around 13. I would adopt more if I had the money and space!

    • profile image

      AB Williams 

      7 months ago

      I am a dog person, I am not crazy about cats, but would never do them harm....well, not intentionally! (I didn't know there was a cat living in the house) when I was a but a child at a sleepover, awoken in the dead of night, pitch darkness, in unfamiliar surroundings, to a critter in my face.

      We both went flying across the room.

      Whiskers was fine....I did apologize to his family, but I was never invited back over....:(

      Cute pics :)

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      7 months ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      I've had cats and dogs. Love them both. Thanks for the chart regarding aging. My cat is now 13. It makes me sad though...I found my little stray when he was just 3 months old or so and I was already 46. I knew then that in not so many years he would be older than me by comparison. He's reached that stage. Still going strong though, just doesn't jump as much as he used to.

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