Like most humans, our animals love their routines. They expect their food and water to arrive at a certain time each day, or in our case, multiple times a day. They like their sleeping areas to be clean and ready for them to knead after a good meal. They like to sleep during the same times and look out the window for critters at certain times of the day. I’ve gotten used to their routines and ways they go about doing things during the day. For me, it always makes me smile. I think it’s so cute to watch them follow their daily schedule. However, while I follow my daily routine of caring for them, they often give me the strangest looks. I often wonder, do they think I’m a strange creature, like an alien?
Each morning, after I let my dog outside to potty, I make my way to the cats that stay at our house. I open the door to the area where they like to sleep and I’m greeted by a collection of kitties. They purr, rub against my legs, rub against each other, or rub against any other item they can find while escorting me to their food dishes. They sit patiently for me to follow my daily routine. I first greet them and pet them. I tell them what to expect for the day and provide them a weather forecast just in case they want to go off and explore. I let them know if any guests or contractors are going to be visiting the house.
Next, I pour the food in each dish, starting with the furthest to the right, and work my way down the line to each of the bowls. I then take the water dish and pour out the now-dirty water, which contains remnants of food from their feast the night before. I then fill the water dish and always place it at the end of the food line. While I follow this same routine, the kitties wait for me to finish my method of food delivery. They stare at me with a puzzled look while I place food in their bowls following my step-by-step plan. They have to be thinking, what is this guy doing? Just put the food down and move on man!
I’m not sure why I follow this particular method of food delivery each day. It’s something that I’ve always done and it keeps me focused on the task at hand. Any deviation from this process tends to throw me off. I will typically forget to fill all the bowels or change their water. Or, I’ll leave the bag of food with them, where they’ve been known to knock it over and eat straight from the bag. When I sometimes forget that I left the bag of food with them, it leads to a lengthy search-and-rescue mission the next time I go to feed the kitties.
As mentioned, my cats like their routines. Any changes can throw them off, too, and this has led to them being mischievous kitties the rest of the day. However, I know they could care less about my process of delivering their food and water. As long as it’s on time and in sufficient quantity, they’re happy.
As for the weather forecast and the visitors’ information I provide them, I believe they do listen. They’ll look at me with a long gaze while I tell them what to expect for the day. They don’t break their focus away from me while I’m talking to them until I’ve completed the daily update. Once done, they move on to eat their food or to locate their favorite resting area for nap. However, hearing what I say and taking action on my words is sometimes two totally different things. I believe it’s often like having children; they listen and understand what you’re saying, but tend to do what they want to do anyway. It’s always harder with your own kids, fur kids included.
I discussed this topic with Marilyn Krieger, Catster’s cat behavior columnist. She stated, "Many cats understand specific words. It doesn’t take long for cats to figure out which words are associated with pleasant things such as attention or treats and which words are accompanied with unpleasantness. If particular words are always reinforced with something the cat enjoys, the cat will be more apt to respond to the words. Cats are also very sensitive — responding to the tones in our voices. It is not uncommon for cats to retreat or hide when words are harshly and sharply expressed or to come forward when words are sweetly communicated."
Krieger provided this example. "My cats understand a lot of words, including their individual names and action words such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay.’ And, of course, they all respond eagerly to the words ‘come get a yummy treat.’ I can be at the other end of the house and call one of my cats and he or she will find me. My cats learned their names because whenever I said the cat’s name, the cat’s [response] was reinforced with attention or treats."
In my own consulting business, I tell clients to always talk with their cats verbally. I’m a firm believer that our cats understand the words we’re saying and the visualization that comes with each word or series of words that we say. Subconsciously, we project an image of everything we’re saying. The more focused and purposeful we are with our words, the clearer the mental picture we project. The clearer the picture, the better our pets understand us. Of course, our energy has a lot to do with it as well. Cats always respond better to positive energy, compared to negative energy. If we speak to them in a positive manner, and we feel good about what we are saying, our cats respond in a positive manner. If our energy is negative or harsh, they won’t respond at all. More likely, they’ll leave the room in order to get away from our negativity.
As for me, I’ll continue to talk to my cats throughout the day and follow my same feeding regimen for them. It makes me feel good knowing that they’re happy and, in turn, I usually get a positive response from them. Even if it’s a blank stare gazing back at me. I know they like me and enjoy spending time with me, even if they seem puzzled with my methods.
Does your cat look at you like you’re an alien? Do you talk to your cats? Do you follow a routine with your cats? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments.
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