Friday, May 2, 2008

Zoe on: How to Befriend a Cat

There are those who would say that an attempt made to befriend a cat, whether you are dog or human, is a completely useless venture. A recent discussion on this topic at the local dog park resulted in much scoffing. “Impossible!”, cried the French Great Pyrenees. “Piffle!”, snorted the English Bulldog. “Why bother?”, muttered nearly all the other international skeptics present.

I, however, do not follow this tack. When you think about it, we have so much in common: abhorrence of baths, distrust of squirrels, intense interest in the opening of cans in the kitchen, etc. Think of all the fun we could have together! Utter nonsense and a complete waste of time? I don’t buy it.

Having said all that, I will admit that it is not easy. My techniques are sort of a work-in-progress, but I believe I am on the right track and if I stay the course I will find success.

Eventually.

The key here is perseverance. Determination. Relentlessness in the face of incessant rejection. There will be times when your peers or even your humans may try to discourage you. Don’t become disheartened; they are merely concerned for your feelings and do not want to see you hurt. Your human might even take you aside now and then for talks about your “obsessive pursuit of the kitty”. She might use words like: “futile”, “facial injury”, “hates you”, “not de-clawed”, “will continue to hate you”, or even “when hell freezes over”.

La, la, la, la, la.

We are dogs and can choose when to understand their language and when to simply execute a blank stare and continue doing what we feel is best.

Here is some basic advice for beginners:
• Do not be deterred by a grumpy face, surly disposition, or uninviting body language.
• Learn to bob and weave.
• Embrace pain. Pain is your friend; become acquainted with it. Love it. Seek it out.
• Stay positive!

Once you’ve got these simple tips mastered you can begin to employ some elementary tactics to extend the paw of friendship.

(*Please note that I will use feminine pronouns from here on out when referring to the object of my as yet unappreciated attentions. This is not due to the rampant misconception that all cats are female and automatically called ‘she’ (and by weird contrast all dogs are called ‘he’ - appalling!), but because my particular feline happens to have lady parts and I don’t want to keep typing ‘he/she’. It’s annoying.)

As with any relationship, a sharing of interests is always a good idea. Learn to share your cat’s hobbies. Follow her everywhere exuding a never-ceasing presence. Make it your business to know everything she is doing. Monitor her meals with interest. Share the sunny patch of floor in the living room and bask in the warmth along side her (ignore any icy vibes emanating from her as it will ruin the coziness). Respectfully observe her meticulous use of the facilities.

I tenaciously applied these stratagems for 2 years before I felt ready to move our relationship along and progress to the next level, which was sort of a guerilla approach to friendship. This involved running at her with playful intensity when she least expected it and wild attempts to leap onto the high surfaces she used in coy attempts to seek refuge (furniture backs, table tops, etc.). Everyone likes a nice game of Surprise! The resulting nuclear energy that would throb from her eyes clearly expressed very intense appreciation of my gestures. The playful swats on the nose that she would give me were expressions of uncontainable enthusiasm and perhaps invitations to try again. She didn’t mean to draw blood.As I said, this is an ever-evolving exercise in determination to bridge the companion animal gap. I’m convinced the key is to show her that I don’t intend to give up. She can’t spurn my advances forever......right?

It is said that dogs enrich the lives of those around them. Human puppies build strong bonds with us that carry into their adult years and help shape them into caring, responsible adult people. The senior citizens of their species benefit physically and emotionally from our professional visits to them in assisted living kennels. I am convinced that this can work on cats too. Imagine how much more fun, worthwhile, and relevant they could be with our influence!

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