The other day, while standing in a long check-out line at the super-market, I started chatting with a woman whose shopping cart was filled with cat food and other feline-related items. Naturally, our conversation turned to anecdotal tidbits about our kitties. But I must admit that I was a bit startled when she began complaining about her two cats; referring to them as lazy good-for-nothings because they weren’t “earning their keep.” Although it was difficult to hide my disdain, I politely inquired about what she thought they should be contributing to her household.
I gotta tell you that I quickly regretted asking that question. She immediately went on a tirade; accusing her cats of spending endless time napping on a sunny spot by a window, or upon awakening loudly chasing each other around the house. She next pointed at the array of the different cat foods in her shopping cart; blaming her kitties for being picky eaters, calling them “ingrates.” She paused for a second and to her credit, whispered, “However, I do dearly love them.”
It was apparent to me that this lady had no idea that all cats have jobs, and what her cats had chosen as a profession.
This being said, it took my husband and me many years to realize that all our kitties were blissfully employed. It took us a while to learn that not only do all cats have particular jobs, they are the ones in which they have exceptional expertise and having a specific task in which they excel helps to bolster their self-esteem.
As a matter of fact, many frustrating feline behaviors may be part of a cat’s job description. For example, our now angel kitty, Dr. Hush Puppy, a highly intelligent Lilac Point Oriental Shorthair took great delight in knocking things off tables and bookcases, or anything within easy reach onto the floor. It was so frustrating to have to replace these objects to where they belonged. To be perfectly honest, it drove us up the wall.
This behavior would begin by his quietly sitting and staring at an object that caught his attention for a few seconds. He would then reach and touch it with his paw, and with surprising accuracy, he would swipe at it and send it flying onto the floor. After gazing at the fallen object for a moment, he would then trot off to another location with a self-satisfied look on his face.
It took us a while to understand that Hush Puppy was actually measuring gravitational forces and attempting to learn if there were differences in the amount of time it would take for an object to reach the floor based on its size and weight. It was only after we found his diary in which we learned that he was aiming to win the prestigious Nobel Prize award for his research in Gravitational Waves.
It took us some time to fully grasp the reasons for a very exasperating behavior in which Aki, our three-year-old Oriental Shorthair takes great pleasure. He delights in moving different cloth type-things around the house which are frequently heavier than he is. If my husband or I attempt restore it to its rightful place, Aki will drag it to where this cat believes it belongs, within a nanosecond. However, we eventually understood what Aki was trying to tell us, and realized that Aki’s profession is Interior Decorating and one that he takes very seriously.
Although all cats have a unique calling, their behaviors may be so subtle that their human companions may not recognize them easily. However, if your cat consistently drops toys in their water bowl, or tends to jump onto your shoulder when you least expect it, these type of actions will give you the hints you need to be able to determine your cat’s occupation and to be able to more greatly honor them with the appreciation and delight they deserve. Although at first glance these actions may be frustrating and annoying, in reality your cat is imparting valuable and important information to you which will enrich and deepen your relationship with your kitty.
By: Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW, (Ret.)