4

Catitude

A guide to the tao of the cat as described by resident experts, Super Snooper and Kommando Kitty. (They are available for private consultation if you desire. Fees are determined on a sliding scale based on how much they like you.

Cats are by nature sweet, loving creatures. If we are treated otherwise by humans, we will respond accordingly. Particularly if our every wish is not fulfilled by our personal human.

Humans have two non-negotiable duties. They must feed us and make sure that our litter-boxes are clean.

If your human does not feed you in a timely manner, you are permitted to remind them of their responsibility. If they feed you at 4a on workdays, they should understand that they must feed you at 4a on non-work days.

Permissible ways to remind your human of feeding time include, but are not limited to pouncing, talking to them, and lying on their faces.

It is not permissible to use the potted plants for a litter box unless your human has been derelict in cleaning the proper one. The litter box is your private space. You are responsible for determining when it is too dirty to use.

Humans are also useful as warm-blooded furniture. If you need a comfortable place to sleep, laps may be used. Do not let your human tell you that you are in the way of the newspaper, book, sewing or anything else.

If you feel your human is ignoring you, you are entitled to attract their attention. More specifically, you may sit on a book, newspaper or keyboard.

Cat beds should always be positioned in the place with the most likely to have a sunbeam most of the day. It is not appropriate to have one in the human’s bedroom. The large one the human sleeps on is yours as well.

If your human feeds you food including “greens” (for some reason they think they are healthy) you may take it as permission to eat greens on your own. Ferns and spider-plants are especially tasty. Some cats like the taste of flowers.

If your human feeds you food with eggs and/or cheese, you may assume that you are also welcome to those foods when your human indulges.

Cats are carnivores. Your human may need to be taught that we recognize meat even if it is being consumed by the human. Most of us are particularly fond of deli meats such as ham and turkey.

If your human is not feeding you a sufficient amount of meat, you are allowed to share theirs. However, ask for a separate plate. They have germs.

If your human pays sufficient attention to you, you should get enough exercise in the house. However, if your human feels he/she must take you for a walk, be certain they know the correct way to do it:

Cats who go outside are permitted to check the weather at both doors before determining that it is too cold/wet/snowy/windy to go out.

Cats have a sixth sense about humans who are not fond of them. However, it is rude to use this power unless the human invades your territory, (i.e., your house).

Humans do not seem to understand that they are teaching us hunting skills when they dangle those feathers on a string in front of us. They rarely appreciate the fruits of our improved hunting. You will probably never see them eat a gift you have provided. Do not be disappointed; it is just poor manners on their part.

Most humans are fully trainable and will become loved and treasured members of the family.

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9

Horatio Hedgehog, Intrepid Explorer

A couple of days before Christmas, my husband came into the study with my present, a 2-month-old hedgehog. I had a hedgehog a couple of years ago, but Jean-Luc has passed on to the great hedge. So my family thought it was time for a successor.  Jean-Luc had been a sweetheart. He was very even-tempered and would sleep in my sweater or shirt on my arm. I could give him tummy rubs and pet his chin. I thought he was a typical hedgehog. Having been the human for several cats, I should have known that there is no such thing as typical.

The new guy’s name is Horatio, Lord Nelson, but I like to call him Sir Grumpy. The first few times I took him out of his cage, he got into extreme protective mode, and I could barely pick him up without gloves. He’d huff and chuff and do his very best to intimidate me. It was kind of amusing when you consider that he weighs about a pound (he’s an African pygmy hedgehog, not the larger variety you find in Europe). I would speak softly and try to get him to relax. No chance. He wasn’t happy, and I was not going to change his mind.

I don’t really see the point in having a pet that I can’t cuddle with, so I was not happy with Horatio. My husband said I wasn’t spending enough time with him. Who wants to spend time with something that spends all its time making threatening noises and pretending to be a hand grenade waiting to go off? But obviously, a new tactic was needed.

So I decided to try a few minutes every night rather than going for an hour or so. Progress! He actually let his quills soften to the point I could pet him. And he stopped pooping every time I had him on my lap. Major bonus.

But then I missed a couple of nights.  Apparently Horatio has a little clock or calendar in his cage. When I went to get him out, he was back to his old self, grouching around. So he was adapting to having a human! But he wanted a human on his terms – whatever those were.

Horatio does not like to be woken up. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, but we have to keep a blanket on his cage right now. It’s too cold for him without a heater and we need the blanket to keep the heat in. As far as I can tell, he has decided that nighttime is when the television turns off until he gets tired in the morning (sometime around 4a). Which is actually pretty good, except the only time I can get him out without waking him is before work. Since I start work at either 6a or 4a, depending on the day, it would mean I have to get up really early to play with him. Then I would be really grouchy.

A couple of days ago, I was home sick and got up early. I had an idea and put some pillows around to create a sort of “run” for him. He loved it. The first thing he tried to do was get out (of course). When that didn’t work, he spent quite a while happily wandering around, sniffing everything. The cats were fascinated, but smart enough to stay away from the quills.

Horatio finally figured out how to escape, so I put him back in his cage. He was not a happy hog. He huffed and he puffed and he scratched at the newspaper on the bottom of his cage. He’d get on his wheel for a couple of minutes then get off and stomp around some more.

I am trying to make him a more sturdy playground. He loves to climb, so I have to make sure there’s no way for him to climb out. He has sharp teeth, but a terrible overbite, so I don’t think that’s a major issue. I wonder if there is some sort of Architectural Digest for hedgehogs? Or maybe a hedgehog whisperer to tell me what he’s thinking?

For the moment, I’ve given up the hope of having another snuggly hedgehog. Right now, I’m just hoping to get him to the point that he doesn’t make me think of Cujo every time I pick him up. One thing at a time. Eventually he’ll discover what he was missing in turning down all those tummy rubs. In the meantime, I’m keeping the gloves handy.