My cats were hanging around the whole time I was reading this book and I kept telling them, “I’m learning all your secrets.” They were nonplussed, which seems about right.
Written by veterinarians, the book is set to explain some of the basics of cat behaviour and how we can train our favorite felines to behave differently and/or how we humans can behave differently to adapt around the cat (learning one: cats are trainable! Unlike dogs, people tend to assume cats aren’t trainable so we don’t even try, perpetuating the myth).
Some of the info in here I already knew, based on my googling about specific behaviours I was seeing when we got our two furballs at the beginning of the pandemic (see: why is my cat ack-ack-acking at the birds in the feeder? That’s called ‘chattering’, and its instinctive when a cat gets very excited about prey). A lot of it was new, though: learning two: how sociable a cat will be is largely genetic from the father! So we really lucked out with our little farm strays- we know the mom and she’s great, but I’ve given lots of thanks to the unknown random tom that enabled them to be so cuddly); learning three: spraying a cat with water to get it to cease a behaviour is largely useless and maybe even counterproductive (not only will your cat likely not make the connection and keep doing the bad thing, but it will start to think of you as the bad guy). The better strategy, at least for things that are normal cat behaviour (jumping on things, scratching things) is to redirect and use positive reinforcement. We’ve been trying this out with jumping on the table, and seems a little better? Probably more on us than the cat.
I appreciated the chapters troubleshooting common cat problems that we haven’t experienced (yet- hopefully most of them never?)- things like defecating outside the litterbox, over-aggressive grooming, and geriatric cat care (our guys are only 2, so we’ve got some time yet before that). Knowing that there are strategies for addressing these issues are out there is good back of mind info. (As I am typing this one of the cats is trying to dig to China though the couch cushions. Entertaining to all except the couch, which dreams of the pre-cat days. Here we go with some treats and a redirect to the scratching post…).