I will never understand the mindset of cats

I live with three cats, as you may know. Two of them are mine: a docile boy who bestows his love on strangers and pillows alike, and a feisty girl who likes to perch on my shoulder. The third cat is a mad-eyed part-Siamese who occasionally trips over her own paws. On a daily basis, the three of them do things that baffle my housemates and me. If one of us happens to miss a particularly insane cat behavior, we’ll regale each other with cat stories over dinner. (We’re well on our way to becoming a household of crazy cat ladies.) Here are a few of their more systematically weird behaviors:

* Sitting on objects whenever possible. I don’t mean sitting atop chairs or warm televisions; that’s normal. No, our felines insist on sitting on objects that make no functional difference to their comfort. If there’s a small sheet of cardboard in the middle of the floor, they’ll contort themselves until they fit onto it. If I leave a single clean sock on my bed, the cat will fall asleep right there, so that only the forlorn toe is peeping out. The only possible explanation is that they thrive on creating inconvenience.

* Hunting invisibles. Every now and then, all three cats will engage in warfare with something invisible. They dash about the house with their tails fluffed up and their pupils dilated. Then, they’ll dive underneath furniture and meow frenetically. Ten minutes later, they act as if nothing had happened.

 * Selective laziness. As indoor housecats, all three animals are slightly chubby. However, they have the capability to perform astounding acrobatics, as seen whenever they decide they need to be sitting on the top of a five-foot shelf. This makes it all the more confounding when they exhibit acts of petulant laziness. For example, one cat likes to sit on people’s laps, but he goes about it by staring the lap-owner down and meowing, hoping they’ll pick him up and save him the effort of that tiny leap. If they don’t, only then he will grudgingly leap up into their lap, using the smallest amount of energy possible (which means he sometimes falls a few inches short and has to claw the rest of the way up).

* Enforcing deadlines. Around 11pm most nights, the cats decide that It Is Bedtime. If we’re cruel enough to stay up reading or working at our computers, then the cats follow us around the house, glaring balefully at us, until we finally remember our duty and hop into bed so that they can sit on our feet. Did you know that it’s possible to feel scolded by a creature that cannot speak?

* Creeping. On dark, quiet nights, when you’re alone in the house, you might sometimes have the uncanny feeling that you’re being watched. This feeling can usually be explained by looking around for the cat who is inevitably sitting right behind you, eyes full and unblinking. He will start to purr loudly as soon as he sees that you have spotted him. Also, god forbid you should ever try to close a door in the house, because this will immediately attract a cat to come and make horror-movie scraping noises on the other side of the door until you reopen it.

* Tough love. This is most characteristic of my female cat, who tolerates most people but is genuinely fond of me. She demonstrates her affection in myriad ways. If I am petting her and start to move away, she reaches out a single, en-clawed paw and snags my pants to stop me. As mentioned before, she likes to sit on my shoulder; I have the scars to prove it. At night, she preferentially sleeps on the pillow right next to my face, which is both adorable and suffocating.

Now go adopt a kitten!

4 thoughts on “I will never understand the mindset of cats

  1. This is rather funny, I must say: each sentence a reason why I don’t have cats. “She reaches out a single, en-clawed paw and snags my pants to stop me” is what Chessie does with you. “Hooking a thumb-claw into the layer of muscle that stretches across my chest, pushing it deep and quickly removing it along with a jagged wedge of flesh” is how she prefers to communicate with me.

  2. I have seen the ‘lie on a single piece of paper on the floor’ behavior in a number of cats. I can only guess they are drawn to obvious contrast.

  3. I just…this is so funny. I laughed out loud 14 times-I counted (no, I didn’t, but my point is that this is hilarious and should be published…elsewhere, I mean). And the link from ChrisFS-have you SEEN it?! I’m still not convinced that dogs aren’t the best ever, though.

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