Some people use the word “cattitude” referring to our beloved feline friends. I recently saw it defined as “of or pertaining to the finicky and egotistical attitude/nature a cat may portray. Catty and sassy all at once.” Even the most loyal cat enthusiast won’t deny the validity of this particular definition.
Most of us are privy to common displays of cattitude, like knocking earrings off the bedstand (never to be seen again), sips taken out of our freshly poured water, or the cold shoulder after a weekend away. However, in almost a year living with my adopted kitty, Tulip, I’ve learned something. Believe it or not, cats actually do give a lump in their litter box about people, and each other.
I wrote about Tulip the Tank and her gluttonous ways, as well as her disdain for the great outdoors. I must preface all the mushy things I’m going to say about her compassionate nature with the harsh reality that my sweet little calico does, in fact, exhibit a pretty major cattitude. Perhaps the most notable facet of Tulip’s cattitude is that she has somehow managed to identify my pet peeves, and she uses them against me!
For example, if it’s 6:15 a.m., my usual wake-up time on work days, and I’ve not yet risen to feed her, Tulip knows exactly how to force me out of bed. Of course, she starts out with the traditional feline pleas. She walks all over me, pounces on my feet, meows agonizingly, and paws at my face. However, I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring these predictable attacks of cattitude. Sometimes I even think it’s just part of a bad dream and roll over to catch a few more ZZZs.
But the second Tulip saunters over to the blinds covering the window next to my bed and starts swiping, that chilling scrape, scrape, scrape sound goes right through me and shakes off any last bit of slumber. Within seconds, I’m sleepily pouring food into her bowl.
Tulip displays another example of her personal brand of cattitude during the daunting task of nail trimming. Although it has improved, when I first adopted Tulip, it took three adults to hold her down and swaddle her to start the process. Her angelic little face would stare out at us from inside my oversized beach towel, with accusatory green eyes that seemed to say, “Just try it.” Sometimes we wouldn’t even finish clipping one nail before she bolted. If we did manage to hold her down, she let out a series of guttural cries, which sounded more like we were amputating her paws than trying to give her a simple nail trim.
I had Tulip for three months before I witnessed my first example of a diminished cattitude and a subsequent display of cat kindness. It was August, and I had visited a local farm festival at which I made the poor decision of eating a hamburger for lunch — a hamburger that had likely been sitting outside for hours in 95 degree heat before being cooked. Ugh! When the food poisoning inevitably hit me a few hours later, Tulip was extremely uneasy. She followed me from the bathroom to my bed, from my bed to the bathroom floor, from the bathroom to the couch, all the time with a confused look of pity on her face. I remember catching her eye as I hugged the toilet, seeing her little head cocked to the side, staring at me in concern.
Between bathroom breaks, Tulip attached herself to me like a barnacle to a whale. She snuggled up into my armpit, nuzzled under my neck, and purred soothingly. She didn’t try to play or even ask for food at feeding times! Her genuine concern was a welcome surprise and comfort. I never expected affection and understanding from the type of pet that so many deem “standoffish” and “overly independent.” A visiting friend even commented, “Is she always this sweet and snuggly or is she worried about you?”
Cat kindness doesn’t just extend to people, either. A few months later, Tulip displayed a similar sympathy toward a close feline friend. It was my roommate’s cat, Jack, to whom I like to refer as her “catmate.” Jack is a very healthy, active cat, who typically doesn’t slow down for long. One night as I was cooking and my roommate was at work, I remember being surprised that Jack wasn’t hanging out in the kitchen. I heard an unusual coughing sound coming from the pantry. I peeked in to witness Jack throwing up, which is common for Tulip the Tank, but a rarity for him.
“Poor Jack-Jack,” I cooed, as Tulip came racing into the room, halting right in front of Jack. She swiftly sniffed the vomit, eyes darting to Jack, then to me. Staring lovingly at Jack, she let out the cutest, concerned meow.
Given these events — and in combination with the little bouts of affection that Tulip and all cats demonstrate toward those they love — I propose a new definition of the word “cattitude” that more appropriately sums up the complex, enchanting personality of cats.
Cattitude: The exquisite balance of cunning and kindness displayed by domesticated felines that allows for an entertaining, happy home for all.
After all, wouldn’t our beloved cats be just a little bit boring without their cattitude?
Does your cat have cattitude? Let’s hear about it! Share your stories in the comments!
Read more on cats with attitude: