Cat Lessons: Gratitude

We are fortunate that all three of our cats get along with each other so well. The bromance between the trio is pretty cute – it apparently involves using one another as pillows. They do play with each other frequently, though that is more difficult to photograph, and evidently share their toys. Such gentlemen cats!

What I have noticed about the trio is that they seem so content with one another’s company and apparently grateful for it. (Perhaps I’m overly anthropomorphizing…) Be as it may, being happy and grateful for one’s friendships is a worthwhile lesson to learn!

Do your cats get along? What kind of relationships do they have? Do they share or do they compete with one another? Share in the comments!

Making Friends

Having three cats – all boys, with very different personalities – is a fun lesson in cat ownership. I’ve noticed that all three regularly play by themselves and with each other. It’s a common occurrence for a scamper session to start before we wake up in the morning and continue during breakfast. Another preferred time to bat toys around and tell everyone about it is right when we’re going to bed. Charlie in particular likes to warble when he plays – I’ve been working on getting video and audio of it so I can share it with you here on Purry Home Companion.

Hooray the boys are getting along! Apparently Charlie and Garrus are starting to see Mau as belonging to their social group.

Garrus and Mau chill on the ottoman.

“Hi Mom. I really want the blue blanket for myself but Charlie won’t move. Maybe we can snuggle instead.” ~Mau

They both fit!

Charlie and Mau shared the cat tree! Charlie got his spot back!

Do your cats get along? Are they friends with each other? Does your cat have a dog friend? Share your stories in the comments!

Garrus remains unconcerned.

Playing vs Fighting

Feline housemates, just like human housemates, may not always get along. Depending on the cats involved, they may actually fight or simply ignore one another. Other cats like to play and tussle with one another, and that can sometimes look like they’re fighting.

Photo courtesy of Petcha

How do you tell the difference between tussling and actual fighting? Here are a few things to look for:

  1. Body language. When cats prepare to fight, they will adopt a defensive stance, curve their spine, bristle their fur, and flatten their ears. A big bottle-brush tail lashing back and forth is another indication of escalating aggression. By contrast, play cats will generally have calm, forward ears (sometimes they may flick back but are not flattened down) and won’t not have bristly fur or look like a classic Halloween scaredy cat.
  2. Position. Playing cats generally have looser positions as they tumble. Sometimes they put a paw around the head or go after the belly area (playing may look rough), but note that they take turns. Fighting cats square off against each other, attempt to intimidate each other with posturing and loud vocalizations, and strike only when necessary.
  3. Noise. Playing cats generally don’t make a lot of noise. They don’t yowl and scream, but if the play gets too rough, there may be a couple meows of protestation! When they do this, they teach each other manners and that biting too hard ends the game. Kittens learn this from an early age, ideally from their siblings and from occasionally disciplinary nips from their mom. Fighting cats hiss a lot, growl, scream, snarl, and generally make A LOT of ruckus.
  4. Friendship. Cats that play together generally have a friendly relationship and see each other as belonging to the same social group. They may snuggle together, groom one another, and even share toys or food. When cats do not have this kind of cordiality, they avoid one another and may have totally separate territories.

Photo courtesy of PetMD. Note these two tense cats are squaring off and just look angry.

Photo courtesy of Free Cat Images. These two cats are tussling, not fighting.

Photo courtesy of Chewy. The tabby on the right prepares to playfully bop the one on the left.

If you want more information about determining whether your cats are playing or fighting, check out Vetstreet, AnimalWised, and PetHelpful.

Do your cats play or do they fight? Do they like each other? What kind of antics do they do during a tussle session? Please share in the comments!

Foster Anniversary

At last year’s Clear the Shelter event (held on Saturday, August 19th), our lives changed when we decided to foster two tabbies. We had not fostered before but Aaron and I decided jointly that these boys really needed us.

Aristotle was gaunt, pitiful-looking, and had patchy fur due to overgrooming. Because of his severe stomatitis, he had (understandably) a poor appetite.

Tink, then two years old, had spent cumulatively 18 months at the shelter (partly in foster care). He had been adopted and returned three times, and had recently lost his buddy cat Pan. While he had been successfully paired with a new buddy, Tink was decidedly not doing well in the shelter and spent 95% of the time hiding.

Both cats were skittish, extremely shy, and wary. They needed a lot of TLC and a quiet respite from the shelter. In our care they made noticeable improvements, especially because we were patient and made an effort to gain their trust. Only two weeks later they moved in! Since we brought them home during the Clear the Shelter event, the adoption fees were waived.

A year later, they are very different, and much happier, cats. They are no longer so skittish and timid. Charlie (formerly known as Tink) blossomed into a perpetually sunny, friendly, and affectionate cat. He squeaks! He flops! He snuggles! Garrus (formerly known as Aristotle) underwent dental surgery to treat his stomatitis and is now a much healthier cat with bunny-soft fur. While still on the reserved side, he now asks for visits, bats at crinkle balls, and chases after the red dot with gusto.

As you can see, Charlie and Garrus are not concerned. They may, however, be only slightly overloved in our house.

Pet Appreciation Week

The first full week in June–Sunday, June 3rd through Saturday, June 9th–is Pet Appreciation Week! Summer is the time for family vacations and fun, so make sure you take the time to acknowledge and truly treasure all the benefits that your pets have brought to your life. My cats bring me joy, laughter, and warm fuzzies, and have taught me about love, family, true friendship, and compassion.

I managed to snap a photo with Charlie looking directly at the camera while Garrus enjoys his buddy’s company.

What do you appreciate most about your pets? What lessons have they taught you? Share in the comments!

International Happiness Day

Today is International Happiness Day! Who knew, right? I think it is most appropriate. Every day we are deluged by negativity in a variety of ways. It’s hard to stay positive and happy. Creating this blog was one way for me to give myself, and hopefully others, a small dose of joy. My cats bring me happiness and make me laugh every day. I hope yours do too!

Lately Charlie has been EXTRA cute. He has been very chatty lately–so many chirps, trills, and squeaks–both directed at me and just when he’s moving around: jump on the bed (chirp), look out the window (trill), see Garrus (squeak), talk back to me (chirp, squeak, trill, squeak, squeak, chatter). He’s been rather lovey and snuggly, especially in the morning and at bedtime, and he has demonstrated that he in fact knows how to knead! It only took him eight months to show me that he does knead when he is sufficiently relaxed and googly. When he does, he shows me all of his toes and purrs most rhythmically.

Charlie is teaching me how to be simply happy. Finding joy in the little things. Wonder in every day activities. Greeting loved ones enthusiastically. (I admire his persistence in trying to make friends with Boudicca. Lately he has been adding to his overtures of friendship by bringing her toys on the couch.) Playing. Looking outside. Happiness indeed.

Cat Lessons: Sunbathing

In my time as a cat owner, my fur people have taught me a number of things. I’d like to share some of them with you. Here is one of them: get a little sun.

Many cats enjoy sunbathing and my cats are no exception. They enjoy the warmth, they get to sprawl and relax, they might doze off, and if they are near a window, they have an opportunity watch the interesting goings-on outside. Garrus, especially, is apparently solar-charged. He seems to wilt rather like WALL-E when his batteries are low.

The boys’ favorite sunning spot is the master bathroom, especially this winter. We have a unique set up in there. As we don’t use the garden tub, Aaron fitted boards on top of the tub and created a platform. On top of this platform he placed the two Cat Genies, which need water hookups and a fair amount of space. (If we had more room in the house we would have put one Cat Genie somewhere else but we have made do with this arrangement.)

The cats have found that there is sufficient room for them to loll around the Cat Genies, and that sunlight streams through the window in the afternoon. This makes Garrus in particular a most happy cat.

This picture was taken with the same setup we use now but before we transitioned to Cat Genies. (It is clear in the photo that there was more room on the platform and the boys took full advantage of this.) This was also one of the first times I had seen Garrus flop on his side like this. It was delightful to see him look so utterly relaxed.

[Read in Sir David Attenborough’s voice] “Now here we see the meditating cat in its traditional pose, accompanied by its spotted companion. Transcendental vegetation is very important to these creatures and can best be accomplished after basking in sunlight for a period of time and not being disturbed, even though it is most tempting to do so. We must remain absolutely quiet in order to hear them begin to purr. This is a sign of great contentment and relaxation and that the meditating cats are reaching the zenith of transcendental vegetation.”

Yesterday afternoon, I found Charlie lounging inside one of the Cat Genies as if it was a lounge chair or hammock. (Don’t worry, it had just finished its cleaning cycle and was therefore clean and sanitized. I think he liked it because it was also warm from said cleaning cycle as well as the sun.) He was very talky about how happy he was about finding a new spot.

Charlie felt it was necessary to (1) warm his belly, (2) flaunt said belly, (3) be ridiculously cute and flirtatious at the same time. He squeaked all the while I took a number of photos.

Later Garrus came over to investigate what all the squeaking was about and found a spot for himself. I managed to snap a photo of him mid-slow blink.

Boudicca sunbathes too! She does, however, restrict her basking to a shorter period so I am not always able to snap a photo of it. When she sunbathes in front of the back door, she normally looks outside the window and watches birds. I am unsure why she turned around and looked mildly miffed.

I believe this was Garrus’ first sunbath in our house and one of the alternate sunbathing spots. This was also one of the first times I saw him start to relax.

Here is Boudicca catching a late afternoon sunbath. In this photo, her lowered and extra green eyes make me think of Maleficent.

Do your cats like to sunbathe? Do they have favorite spots? Do these spots change from season to season or according to their moods?