Friday, April 06, 2012

Visiting Cats

A new family moved into the house at the very North end of the alley that runs behind Roseholme Cottage. They brought at least three cats, of the outdoors-sometimes variety, who have been camped out in the fenced back yard and, occasionally, outside it: a longhaired tortie (marked a bit like Rannie, but with bigger patches of white), a sleek all-back shorthair, and a very pretty gray-and-white longhair.

They seem to be fitting in well with the other neighborhood cats. Last night, after retuning from an appointment to get my taxes done (my withholding was pretty close, I don't owe the Feds or State and will get a little back), I walked up to meet them.

All three exhibited the behavior that I'm told made cats domestic: skittish, but determined to find out if this stranger might have something of interest. They started to bolt as I walked up, then the bravest (gray-and-white) came up to the fence while the other two watched nearby. All three are "talkers" and eventually, they were all mewing at me while the lead cat smoothed on the fence. Nice kitties!

I'm told housecats can do something a lot of critters can't: calm themselves. Supposedly, that's how they ended up hanging around with us as pets instead of simple mousecatchers: some adults were able to stand being around us giant bipeds long enough to have kittens and from there, well, who doesn't like playing with kittens? Next thing you know, the little critters have associated you with their mommy and you've got a genuine housecat. True or not (LabRat has likely got the skinny on it), it's interesting to see 'em make up their mind about someone -- and flattering when they decide you might be trustworthy.


Ruth said...

I'm pretty sure I remember reading that thats why a stressed cat purrs, it releases a horomone that helps calm them or some such....

DaddyBear said...

Honestly, if someone comes to my home and my cats don't warm to them within an hour, it doesn't bode well for them. Bonus points of one of them falls asleep in their lap, especially if they're a self-identified non-cat person.

Guffaw in AZ said...

Cats are cool. I've been appointed as staff for three in the past.
I like them. A few is fine, but there ARE limits.
Don't become another cat lady!
;- )

LabRat said...

The domestication story is fuzzier than you'd think on most domestic animals, including dogs (no matter what Coppinger will tell you, and he will, over and over again at increasing volume), but yes, the ability to calm themselves and to exert self-control to investigate a potential good thing is something any animal must have to be domesticatable at all.

Where cats get interesting is that, compared to dogs or horses, their social software is much... rougher. They're much more prone to what amounts to emotional breakdown under pressure. Displacement aggression is much more a cat thing than it is a dog or horse thing- something unrelated fires the cat up and gives it a huge spike of anxiety or territoriality and... its buddy is sitting right there next to it. Cats have had to eventually be rehomed after a cascade of aggression and fear that started with one displacement episode.

Anonymous said...

We have had 7 cats show up in the barn at our place and stay over the last 20 years. My wife can get them calmed down in no time.

I just ignore them till they decide that I'm not a threat and the source of food.


rickn8or said...

Along with what LabRat said, I was wondering how Rannie and Huck were dealing with this massive invasion and your infidelity.

"Hey you! Get gone! That's MY foodservant!"

Roberta X said...

Huck and Rannie do not go outside. Well, Huck sometimes, on a leash.

The Freeholder said...

Roberta, we all know our own. Thus, why the cats warmed up to you.

Frank W. James said...

Actually, even though we have a small dog now, I'm a CAT-person, but my wife is allergic to them so we have our 'son's' dog, a miniature dachshund.

However, I've learned over the years that you can create a sort of 'gun-cat'. You see in the winter I use a .22 LR revolver to shoot sparrows out of the door-tracks of the out buildings and CATS absolutely LOVE sparrows.

It's gotten to the point that when I miss our 2 outside cats will criticize my marksmanship and complain there should be a dead treat at their feet.

Neither of them is as a result scared of gunfire and many times when I'm working with a rifle, prone, on my backyard firing range I find the female rubbing against the back of my head while I'm pulling the trigger on an extremely loud AR-15.

They REALLY ARE social animals and can decide for themselves what's good and bad.

I love the dog, but I still prefer cats because, bottom line, they ARE predators and if our outside female was 50 lbs heavier I WOULDN'T GO OUTSIDE AT NIGHT!!!!

She is always leaving us 'presents' in the morning at the back door and they are not the ones the dog leaves...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Roberta X said...

That's wonderful! Frank, you are a genuine original -- and so are your cats.