Believe it or not we are entering that time of year our staff (remember dogs have owners, cats have staff) anxiously refer to as “the holidays.” And we felines know what that means: mouthwatering food naively left out on counters and front doors held open just long enough for us to slither out into the wild while guests come and go.
Since the holidays are a time for family togetherness, good cheer and love, your humans expect you guys and gals to become lap cats at the snap of their fingers. Being the most esteemed Tortie that I am, it is only natural that I get a lot of questions from people wanting to know how to make their cats more affectionate; they just want “Bucky” and “Angel” to keep their laps warm while they eat popcorn and watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” Towards that end I offer the following tips to staff bound and determined to get “Harry Winston” and “Bentley” to conform.
For starters, please don’t smother, pressure, or go all gaga over your poor, unsuspecting kitty. We like to believe that everything we do is our idea. We’re not like dogs who will do some of the silliest things to get one of those worse than cardboard tasting dog treats. My advice to your humans is to pretend you don’t give a darn whether or not your reluctant feline ever graces your lap with his or her regal presence. The best way I’ve found for humans to forge a bond is through play. Just you and your precious feline “Muffin,” one-on-one with a wand toy should do it. Every kitty responds differently so give it a week or three.
Earlier this year we had a shy shelter kitty who went home with a really nice lady who spent five agonizing months trying to pet her sweet, but very frightened calico; but her little “Cupcake” (her shelter name since she was found at Dunkin’ Donuts) wasn’t buying it. So I sent a volunteer in to work on taming this timid gal. The first four days involved just playing in an aloof, cat-like way. The play sessions ran from twenty to thirty minutes a day and involved introducing Cupcake to the joys of featheredwand toys and laser chase. On day five, voila! Cupcake started rubbing against my volunteer’s legs while she was getting the food ready. From force of habit, said volunteer inadvertently started petting the sweet calico without realizing what a crazy thing she was subconsciously doing. Instead of going ballistic, however, Cupcake was purring up a storm.
By day seven, Cupcake was rolling on her back for tummy rubs. This was accomplished without tons of cajoling and bribery, just down to earth bonding through play induced trust building. From that moment on sweet Cupcake got more and more loving and today she is practically a lap cat. I’m a pretty smart little Tortie girl, aren’t I? Thank you to those of you who answered “yes.”
My absolute favorite part of the holidays, besides food, is my annual “Dear Kitty Santa Claws” letter that boasts of my numerous good deeds and includes only the most modest of requests: food, treats, and a private office. That’s not asking too much is it? And in the spirit of these happy holidays I’ve decided to hold a “Dear Kitty Santa Claws Letter Contest.”
What do you think? Great idea, right? The grand prize winner will have his or her letter printed in my next column.
Since I’m such a smart girl, I’m keeping the rules simple: no copying your kitty girl/boyfriend’s letters, and no submitting multiple entries under aliases. One cat in your household, one entry. Seventeen cats in your household, seventeen entries. And no, you can’t ask Santa to get rid of your sixteen siblings. The most important rule, however, is the one about the form of your submissions: please, have your staff email your letter to: email@example.com by December 1. Jan promised to read each and every letter to me.
One kitty has already turned in his “Dear Kitty Santa Claws” letter, written through tears and heartbreak. Six year old “Timmy” was returned to us (we have a lifetime return guarantee on all of our adoptees) after his human died. Moreover, his mom – who was adopted by the same woman, has already found a new home. So Timmy is now all alone in the world and very sad. All he wants for Christmas is a new fur-ever home full of love and companionship.
And for those kitties who are too ashamed of theirbehavior to write a “Dear Kitty Santa Claws” letter, I am also offering a “Best Dressed Santa’s Helper Contest.” A few suggestions are dressing up as an elf, a reindeer or as a happy scrooge. Your staff can submit photos of your stunning outfits and/or your heartwarming letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Winning entries will be printed in my Christmas column on December 13. The deadline is December 1 so you don’t have much time.
And since Thanksgiving is just over the horizon, I want to share with you the many things I’m thankful for this year. My staff and I rescued 131 cats and kittens so far and found fur-ever homes for every one of them!
I am especially thankful for the many happy endings we’ve enjoyed along the way. We had a couple of kittens who sought shelter in truck wheel wells and car engines who thrived under my supervision and found fur-ever homes after lots of loving care; we had a couple of mama cats kicked to the curb – one mom and kitties deposited on the sidewalk on a busy road and another found literally giving birth to her kittens on the side of the road. Then we had our gunshot victim whose femur was shattered and another kitty who survived an almost deadly attack by a coyote, bobcat, or panther, and literally had to be sewn back together. We had a couple of abused cats who we brought back from the brink of death and are now thriving with loving families. Then there is the sweet boy “Magic,” a kitten found on the Goodland Bridge with a concussion and broken leg.
Lastly, I am thankful for the several new litters of kittens I am currently tending to. I have had my paws full teaching these newbies to push their food bowls to the edge of their cages so I can enjoy a few tidbits of yummy kitten grub. So all things considered, there are lots of things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays!
Now get crackin’ with those Santa Claws letters! I’m waiting.
Love, nips, purrs and kisses.
Naomi is a 4 year old Tortie and a permanent resident at FLC. She is the shelter supervisor and takes her salary in food. She would love for you to learn more about For the Love of Cats at its website, www.floridacatrescue.com