Understanding Your Pets
I have heard many times people saying, "Don't treat animals like they were humans". I think this is a huge mistake.
Such thinking puts a huge obstacle in the way of learning to understand your pet. Humans are driven by their needs, like food, shelter, and their need for affection. How does this differ from what drives our pets? They need food, shelter and affection to. When delta showed signs of depression stemming from her jealousy that I was spending more time with the cats, I understood this and took the time to reassure her that I still loved her. She would become happy again.
While it may be true, to a limited extent, that animals do not think like us, it is also false. Long before I began rescuing cats, I was studying them, learning from them. Cats, dogs, horses and most every other animal species are not only able to reason things out, but they also think in the abstract. Like the dog who played a prank on another dog who was a bully. He laid his bone a hairs breadth beyond the bully dogs reach and sat there laughing while the bully dog strained over and over trying to reach it. And yes, animals DO laugh. I have watched my dog laugh when playing. I have a cat that loves to jump onto the arm of my computer chair, then flip over it to land on his back with his head hanging out under the arm. He then brings his hind feet up and kicks the under side of the arm fiercely. When I catch him doing this, I gently spin the chair in circles, reaching out to tickle him each time the chair front faces me. He will throw his head back and open his mouth wide in a silent laugh, then look me in the eye and do it again. Just like a kid laughing on the merry go round.
The next time your pet does something that baffles you, try asking yourself, after considering everything that happened, if you were the pet and in the same situation, how would you react to whatever it was? People tend to get frustrated when their pet refuses a tasty morsel, or ignores them when they call. If we have a right to like some foods and dislike others, should not our pets have this same right? I raised my dog, Delta, to think for herself. If I would accept her disobeying me and not returning to the house as I talked to an intruder, (she went a few feet away and lay down and watched us), then I must accept her choice to disobey me when I wanted her to chase the horses on a very hot day, and she chose to stay in the shade instead.
Many people claim cats are aloof and not affectionate. I have 17 cats right now. Sometimes I actually wish cats were a bit more aloof...but mine are not. Every single one of my cats, all 17 of them, treat me as if they simply can't get enough of me. As soon as I sit down I am swamped in cats. Where ever I go they are my shadows. They talk constantly to me and snuggle close at night. They do this because I am their mother, even the cats I rescued as adults. Wolfie does not love to be snuggled or held close, yet he adores being petted, scratched and playing games. He often crawls under the blankets to sleep close to me. Whatever room I am in, that is the room he is in. I accept what he does not like and give him what he does like. I accept all my cats on their own terms, just like I would any human friend. The more freedom I give them to be themselves, the more I am rewarded with their overwhelming affection.
Whatever your pet is, learn as much about them as you can in research. Study and observe them. Ask yourself how you would treat that pet if it were a human. Give your pets the freedom to be who and what they are, and avoid attempting to force them to be what you want them to be. Our pets are our friends and companions, treat them with the love and respect they deserve. They are like little children. It is our responsibility to raise them in a safe and loving environment. It is not our responsibility to force them to be who and what they were never meant to be.
The key to understanding your pets is in understanding yourself and human nature, because our pets are not that very different from us.