In our continuing monthly feature, Bingley Hub is pleased to be bringing you up to date news of what is happening at the Yorkshire Cat Rescue homing centre. We are pleased to be working with such a fantastic charity, which helps re-home unwanted cats in our region.
My Cat ignores me…
“My cat ignores me!” is a phrase we often hear at Yorkshire Cat Rescue, and our usual reply is “Congratulations!”. That usually provokes a confused reaction from the disgruntled owner, who regards being ignored by the cat as a negative thing.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Cats – as everyone knows – are excellent predators but few people think of them as prey animals – able to be caught and eaten by bigger animals. At an instinctive level, any prey animal will not fully relax its guard unless it feels completely and utterly safe.
So a prey animal will not turn its back on something – or someone – that it fears might eat it. Our thinking is that if your cat turns its back on you, it feels so safe with you that it knows that it has nothing to worry about, so congratulations, you have created a happy and safe environment for your cat.
This fun example illustrates how body language across different species – in this case cat and human – can be totally different.
For example, as humans if we see something that makes us happy, we smile. In smiling we show our teeth and widen our eyes. In cat body language, the way a cat intimidates another cat (or dog etc) is by opening its eyes as wide as possible and hissing – showing its teeth. This is why when cats go into a room full of strangers they invariably make their way towards the person who doesn’t like cats – the person who looks away and not the people who smile and show their teeth etc.
Many of the problems and situations we encounter at Yorkshire Cat Rescue are due to people mis-reading body language of their cats, or due to people superimposing human behaviour onto cat behaviour or needs.
One common problem we get is when people acquire a second cat without understanding the requirements of their existing cat. For we humans, we usually look for a best friend who is roughly the same age, the same gender, maybe subconsciously the same colouring or body shape etc. For cats, none of this applies. If you have a female adult cat and feel that she is lonely for cat company, you must not apply the same rules to her as you would apply to yourself. In fact, you must do the opposite. She will hate having another adult female cat “invade” her space, and in fact it will do the opposite of what you intend – it will make her very stressed and unhappy. Instead choose either a male cat or a kitten of either gender. Cats have a female hierarchy and if you have two adult cats who don’t know each other, they will fight to be dominant.
If you would like to know more about cat body language, why not drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org – we will do our best to answer your questions.
For enquiries please call Yorkshire Cat Rescue on 01535 647184 or visit: www.yorkshirecatrescue.org