Let's Talk
Share this image

Do Your Cats Con You Into Getting What They Want?

My cats are so clever -- playing the role of con artist is one of their cutest talents.

Catherine Holm  |  Oct 15th 2014


I’m about the most honest person on the planet. My mind doesn’t know how to work in cunning ways. Yet my husband says I am a natural-born con artist. Why? He claims I con people in to getting what I want with my sweetness (really!), and without knowing what I’m doing. Hmmm. Is it possible to be a con artist and not know it?

The more I thought about it, the more I began to see these sweet and effective qualities in my cats! My cats are great at getting what they want, and they do it in the sweetest way possible. You never see it coming! How do they con me to get what they want, and how do they maintain their sweetness? Here are some of their tricks. There’s nothing malicious about any of this — it’s pure sweetness, and that’s why it’s so effective.

1. Teamwork = double trouble

Two great minds are exponentially great when it comes to cats (the sum is greater than the parts). And sometimes, two cats meet each other and make an amazing team. I see this developing with Norton and Zorro. They seem very tuned into each other. For example, I store dry cat food in a big bin. Sometimes I hurry and don’t put the lid on tight enough. Little Norton wants more food, but hasn’t figured out how to get into the bin. Smart and enterprising (and big), Zorro jumps on the flexible plastic lid, bending it, and and pushing it into the bin. Both then jump into the bin (it’s fairly big), nibbling away at an all-you-can-eat meal. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

2. The gentle approach

The old cliche about killing more flies with honey than vinegar is really true. Here, Norton and Rama prove it. Notice how politely they each pull the bowl from the other in this video. I’ve never seen anything so deliberate, and so cute. Who says cats aren’t smart? To me, these guys are brilliant.

3. The raised paw

Who can resist the raised paw? I used to think that only dogs did this trick, but cats do it too, and use it to their advantage. We have seen Zorro do this, both pre- and post-taming. I think it means, “I want something. I want attention and love.” I always give in.

4. The plaintive meow

My cat wants my attention? He knows just how to modulate his voice. Not too aggressive, but with enough angst (drama? subtlety?) that I’ll perk up my ears and notice. It’s short and to the point, and it usually gets my attention and gets my cat what he wants — food, love, or more love!

5. The sweet look

This gets me every time. There are endless variations on this theme, but there’s a way that cats have of looking really deeply at you. If you are like me, they own you at this point.

6. The silent meow

I’ve had very few cats do this, but anyone who has seen this knows how heart-melting it can be. What makes a cat do this? Is it intentional or not? The result is that I stop what I’m doing and give that cat whatever she wants!

7. The “let’s throw the Baba” howl

My Chester has a beloved catnip pillow toy we call the “Baba.” (Don’t ask why — it’s just one of those nicknames that evolved.) At about 11 p.m. each night, Chester decides that he wants someone to throw his Baba. He carries it around the house, somehow managing to vocalize with the Baba in his mouth. Is this cute to a cat lover like me? Yes! Do I throw the toy for him, giving him happiness? Of course!

8. The deliberately placed toy

Chester also makes sure that the Baba deliberately shows up in very obvious places. We’ll find it in a slipper, in the middle of the doorway into the bathroom, in the center of a step. The result is always what Chester wants — we throw it toy for him.

I could take an example from my cats’ sweet conning ways, but it seems that I’ve already learned to do this, according to my partner.

How do your cats sweetly con you to get what they want? Do you mind? Can old cats learn new tricks? Let us know in the comments!

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.