Thursday 29 September 2022

Find out what your cat likes through observation and deliver it

Instinctively, I spend quite a lot of time observing my cat and finding out what he likes me to do. Yes, I know, it is a form of cat-training-human, but I like it. I feel that it is my duty to try and please him and it is no hardship to me. And you do this by interacting with your cat and observing the effect. Of course, it helps to understand domestic cats generally.

Gabs on top of the Sky television box which emits quite a lot of heat. Like many domestic cats he loves warmth.
Gabs on top of the Sky television box which emits quite a lot of heat. Like many domestic cats he loves warmth. Click it for a large image. Image by MikeB.

My cat likes the back of his head to be stroked. He likes my hand to be placed on the back of his head. I think that he likes both the contact and the warmth. It has got to the point where he asks for it not by meowing but by looking up at me in a certain way which I now understand.

And this request always happens when he is on my lap, when I'm in bed, as is the case right now. It's about cause and effect. You do something with your cat, and you can tell if he or she likes it.

Another thing which he likes is to be flea comb around the cheeks and down the side of his neck. Also, on the top of the head. He likes the feeling of it, and he likes the way his fur feels afterwards I believe. These are areas that he can't get to and therefore it is fairly obvious that it will please him.

The benefits of doing this are twofold: you check for fleas and if there is one in that area you remove it and kill it and the whole experience is pleasurable both for cat and person. It is pleasurable for the person because it is a warm, friendly interaction which is exactly what people are after when they adopt a cat companion.

My behaviour in this instance is the same sort of behaviour that another friendly cat would perform when allogrooming. You often see two domestic cats who are friendly with each other licking each other. And they nearly always focus on the top of the head or other inaccessible parts. Perhaps that, too, is instinctive.

It is quite easy to get into routines with respect to behaviours that please both cat and person. The cat enjoys the interaction, and the person enjoys their cat's company and delivering a form of behaviour which their cat enjoys.

Here are some other human behaviours (not a complete list) that my cat responds positively to which I therefore do in order to please him:

  1. When I sit down to watch television, I call him to come over and sit on my lap. He prefers it when I wear an old dressing gown which I guess provides extra warmth to him. He almost invariably comes over and takes up the offer.
  2. I know that my cat likes warmth. Many domestic cats do. I do my best to provide it. In fact, he likes it on his belly. I know this because when he lies on my lap he spreads out and hangs over the edge of my knees while putting a paw on the coffee table. He likes to have one paw on the coffee table and to please him I bring the table towards him so that he can do this.
  3. I know that my cat prefers to go into the back yard through the bifold doors rather than through the cat flap. So, if it is possible, I open the bifold doors enough to allow him through. This encourages him to go into the backyard and I join him there for a cuddle and to see what is going on. While in the backyard he likes me to pick him up for a short time of about 30 seconds. This gives a high vantage point, and it allows for an intimate form of contact. He lets me know when he wants to be put down by looking at the ground.
  4. I know that he likes to sleep in a place where there is protection above him. I know this because he likes to sleep on a chair, the lower half of which is under the dining room table. He likes that feeling of protection that the table above him provides. A lot of cats have the same feelings. Therefore, I have splashed out and bought him a special little "bedroom". I have not constructed it yet but when I have, I will provide a picture on this page. It was expensive and had problems on its delivery. It's manufactured in Poland, and I was not aware of that when I bought it online. There were duties to pay i.e., VAT which I wasn't aware of. I renegotiated the purchase price with the manufacturers, and they gave me a discount which was more or less equivalent to the amount of VAT. But the point here is that a lot of cats including mine like to sleep with something above their head for protection. It allows them to sleep more soundly. This is an example of finding out what your cat likes through observation.

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