When Not a Hug is a Hug for Hug Your Cat Day!

Today is National Hug Your Cat Day and while I find all seven of my feline companions irresistible, wanting to smother their precious kitty floof with hugs and kisses, let’s be honest – not all cats like to be hugged. But no need to frown and fret – just because kitty might not want to be held in your loving embrace, doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you or enjoy your company. As with anything feline related, it’s about understanding and respecting the feline mindset. Once you do that, it’s just a matter of translating other behaviors to what equates to a hug in your cat’s mind.

Here are 10 tips, tricks, and bits of advice in which you can improve the friendly radar with your cat or interpret the ways she shows you love, i.e., a hug:

1. Just like people, cats have different personalities and levels of tolerance for physical attention. If you don’t like your personal space invaded, maybe your cat doesn’t either, so go at her pace and respect those boundaries. 

Peanut and Mia are littermate sisters, but Mia despises being picked up and Peanut can’t get enough of it!

2. Look at the signs around you – for example, does your cat follow you from room to room like a loyal puppy dog, sleep next to your computer while you’re doing whatever, or meow a greeting of hello when you come into a room – all of these are ways kitty is letting you know you’re okay in her mind.

Do your cats greet you with a “hello” when you walk into a room? Good! That’s their way of saying they appreciate you and enjoy your company!

3. Don’t aggressively chase your cat for attention or unintentionally provoke her. If she feels threatened, she’ll react and the next thing you know, the claws come out. She doesn’t mean to be mean; it’s just instinctual for her. Follow her lead and work with positive reinforcement. Talk in gentle tones and focus on petting her in small doses and in areas she’ll tolerate. For example, most cats aren’t fans of tummy rubs, so why tease her, no matter how adorable and fluffy her tummy is.

4. A gift dropped at your feet (dead or alive) or left about the house is your cat’s way of saying, “look what I’ve done, aren’t you proud of me, oh, and by the way, I like you!”

A well-placed plush toy dropped at my computer is kitty’s way of saying, “I brought this to you because you are important to me, I want to impress you, and I love you.”

5. Your cat might not want a hug, or to snuggle on your lap, but maybe a well-placed pillow next to you on the couch for him to sleep on while you watch television is his idea of a wonderful feline-human bonding moment.

Kizmet might not want me to smother him with hugs and kisses, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to hug me on his own when he sleeps next to me on the couch.

6. A cat that doesn’t tolerate petting might enjoy some gentle grooming with a brush—not only will it reduce hairballs; it feels good to her and can strengthen your bond.

7. Interactive play can also be fun – for both you and kitty. A wand toy with feathers typically entices most any cat. Or a healthy and yummy snack – there are very few cats that won’t turn on the charm for a tasty morsel, allowing you to be her BFF for at least a few minutes. If you establish a daily routine with these types of efforts, it shouldn’t take long before she associates you with good things.

All seven of my cats have different levels of tolerance for physical attention, but the one thing they all love is playtime and snack rewards!

8. Keep in mind your cat comes with a history, especially if you found her as a stray or adopted her from a shelter. You don’t always know what kind of life she had and much of her behavior will be triggered by situations from her past. Current circumstances will also dictate what she’ll tolerate—if she just had an altercation with another pet, or has perhaps been startled by something outside, or is wary of visiting company, or whatever else out of her perceived norm, it’s not the time to be experimenting with hugs.

9. Pay attention to body language. If kitty is growling, hissing or spitting, with flat, backward ears, dilated pupils, and twitching or waving tail, he’s telling you to leave him alone. He’s annoyed, frightened, or angry and might become aggressive—this is also not the time to be picking him up. The same if he becomes a “Halloween” cat—ears back and flat against his head, whiskers back, back arched, fur standing on end and tail erect or low.

With Kizmet’s wide, dilated eyes, he’s clearly saying, “DO NOT PET, DO NOT HUG ME!”

10. If kitty is arching her back up to meet your hand when you pet her, with her fur flat, and her tail high, proud, and erect, that’s a signal she’s enjoying your touch! This is often accompanied by chirps and trills, which probably means she wants something from you – such as food or attention. Or a kitty that flops over, freely exposing her belly with no reservations. Go for it – pet her, love her, and consider yourself hugged by your cat!

Jazmine is clearly saying, “Yup, it’s okay to love and hug me!”

hearts

Feline behavior is a fascinating subject and how it ties to the environment they live in and the relationship they share with us is equally fascinating. I did significant research on the subject when I wrote Makin’ Biscuits – Weird Cat Habits and the Even Weirder Habits of the Human Who Love Them. If you would like to learn more about the how’s and why’s of what our cats do, I highly recommend you check the book out! Not only is it entertaining, it’s educational, too! For more information, please click here.

A Presidential Peek Into the Cat Writers’ 25th Anniversary Conference and Awards Banquet

Tick, tock – the clock strikes noon and I grab my purse in frazzled haste, heading to my car where I sit in the sweltering South Florida heat to make some phone calls during my lunch hour in the parking lot. I sweat; loose papers are haphazardly strewn on my makeshift desk, which in this instance are my blue jean clad knees, while I frantically try to take notes amid the disruptive roar and rumble of afternoon traffic, rendering it nearly impossible for me to hear. Did she say the room would be for seating of eight, or we’re meeting at a later date? Read more

Getting Ready for the CWA Conference, it’s National Pet Month, and There’s a Stray Cat in My Yard!

My goodness… I can’t believe I haven’t posted something since Easter! What this tells me is a reality that I’ve been having a hard time coming to grips with, but the glaring truth nonetheless: I’m not Super-Woman and I’m literally incapable of managing an extremely demanding full-time day job, my more than full-time position of president of the Cat Writers’ Association, which includes coordinating a 25th anniversary conference and awards banquet, my home and personal life, and a blogging/writing career in the 24 hours a day I’m given. Something must give, and for the time being it’s my personal writing. Read more

Happy Easter Wishes From the Zee and Zoey Gang!

Little miss Mia all coy and sweet for her Easter picture!

Oh, my catness! It’s already Easter! I’ve been so busy pulling together the last-minute details for the Cat Writers’ Association 25th anniversary conference and awards banquet that I’ve barely come up for air. It will be held on May 16 – 18 at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch, St. Louis and the clock is ticking to get everything done! And not to pressure anyone, but if you haven’t registered yet, there’s still time – we have an amazing lineup of speakers, an incredible book signing and fundraising event for the Humane Society of Missouri, prizes, gifts, celebrity cats, entertainment, and our annual awards banquet which promises to be a spectacular night! You don’t have to be a member of the CWA to attend – please click here for full details.

Keep Easter safe for your cats by avoiding dangerous temptations such as curling ribbon, cellophane grass, chocolate, and Easter lilies.

Anyhow, whatever you’re doing -whether it’s a peaceful day with family and friends or a catch-up day like mine, I hope it’s a day filled with blessings. And don’t forget how curious our feline friends can be  – Easter is a wonderful time but there can be many things dangerous to cats. Curling ribbons and cellophane grasses if ingested could become entangled in their intestines, causing them to twist and close off requiring dangerous surgery. Chocolate is highly toxic to cats and so are those beautiful Easter lilies we are all familiar with. And if a cat eats a small toy or decoration, they could possibly choke on it, so really the best thing to do is keep these types of temptations away from your cat. To be safe, keep both the phone number of your veterinarian and the pet poison helpline programmed on your phone in case of emergencies (poison helpline is 855-764-7661).

Happy Easter – love, and purrs from Deb and the Zee/Zoey gang!

Love from Rolz, angel Jazz, Peanut, angel Harley, Zee, Zoey, Kizmet, Jazmine, and Mia.

hearts

It’s a Blog Hop!

A Red Robe Memory for Zoey’s 11th Birthday

It all began with sweet Kit.

Many years ago, long before she was even a kernel of leopard-spotted existence in my life or this world for that matter, Zoey had already stolen my heart. It began with Kit, a stray cat I found in my driveway one cold and damp evening when I lived in Upstate New York. Of course, I took her in and she went on to live a happy and full life with me. When she passed at eighteen years of age, it was not a surprise as I had been mentally preparing for months, if not years, for the inevitable day she would no longer be with me. Read more