Cats like to get what they want. Mine fully expect I’ll fulfill their every whim and, if I don’t, I get sass. That’s right — my kitties aren’t shy about showing me they’re unhappy with my choices. They’re like bold teenagers with brazen mouths. I’m familiar with the sass of teenagers and cats because I’ve lived with both of them … and lived to tell about it. Really, it’s all part of parenting cats and humans alike.
Here are five ways my cats put on their smart-alecky best, along with my opinion of the teenager equivalent. Oh, just a quick note: These aren’t examples from my own teens. I don’t want them reading this and thinking I’m making up stories about them or throwing them under the bus. They were way less sassy than other kids I know. Still, there was some sass.
Cosmo is the king of the tail-flick, but Phoebe comes in a close second. When he doesn’t like my answer to his request, he turns sharply and flicks his tail as he walks away. Sometimes there’s a clipped meow that goes along with it, and that indicates he means business.
Teenager equivalent: Yelling “fine!” and then stomping out of the room and slamming the door.
On some occasions, one of my cats will use his or her whole body to alert me of the overwhelming irritation. This includes airplane ears, annoyed eyes, and body language that tells me, “Can you be any more of a buzz kill?” For example, if I must (and usually don’t) need to move one of the cats off the bed so I can make it or change the sheets, they’ll act like I just ruined their entire life. Pout, pout, pout. I’m the worst cat mom ever … in that moment. Things change drastically when I shake the treat bag.
Teenager equivalent: Not being able to go to a concert with friends because it’s a two-hour drive and they’re only 14 and not riding along with that older friend who just got her license and has a reputation for being in the “fast crowd*.”
*My kids still make fun of me for using the term “fast crowd.”
Phoebe is one who stands her ground, no matter what I have to say to her. If she wants food and it’s not mealtime, she’ll throw those ears back, give me the stink eye, and continue to park herself right beside her bowl. She figures if she waits long enough, and the stink eye burns enough, I’ll give in. Nope. (Usually.)
Teenager equivalent: Not getting to attend a sleepover because the next morning is a driver’s ed lesson and they need to feel well-rested. “But Mom! I promise I’ll go to sleep early!” And then continuing negotiations to no avail. Yeah, teens can give good stink eye.
One way Saffy likes to make her beef known is by pretending I no longer exist. She won’t meet my eyes and refuses to react to me in any way. If I’m not going to give her what she wants, I’m dead to her. That sounds dramatic, I know, but who’s more dramatic than a cat? For real.
Teenager equivalent: The silent treatment after receiving unpleasant news like “Sorry, you can’t take my brand new car to a party because it’s sleeting and you’re a new driver. Yes, I know the girl you like is going to be there.” Life: officially ruined.
Phoebe is the most persistent of my three, and sometimes she acts absolutely incredulous when she doesn’t get her way. She combines Nos. 1-4 and throws her whole self into the production. The ears are cocked, the tail gets flicked, she dishes out some serious stink eye, and then completely ignores me. This the is Queen Mother of all sass. In Phoebe’s case, this reaction is given primarily when I separate her from her precious pile of warm laundry. This is a definite no-no in Phoebe’s world. She’ll have none of it, and there’s no mistaking her annoyance and serious sass.
Teenager equivalent: Locked in the bedroom, music blaring, refusing to talk to parents or join the family for mealtime. This might happen after something terrible has befallen them … you know, like having their parents show up at a public place where they’re hanging with their friends — and maybe a love interest — and then having to sit through those parents telling embarrassing stories about when they were toddlers and shoved raisins up their nostrils. The worst!