Is There a Grand Unified Theory of Cattitude?


Oh, Felis domesticus, our loving friend. We know that our cats have a unique way of relating to us and to the world. Some call this cat behavior "cattitude," as if all cats have exactly the same way of sharing their feelings and insights with us. Or maybe these people think "cattitude" means that cats just don’t care about anyone but themselves.

However, anyone who really knows cats knows that cattitude doesn’t consist entirely of being aloof and snarky.

Some cats, like my baby Bella, express their cattitude by being the class clown. She seems to know that I would never tolerate her constant raids on the meals of other cats and myself if she didn’t wear such a goofy expression while she was trying to perpetrate her food heists. She wakes me up before the alarm goes off with silly antics like running across my full bladder. Her amazing yoga poses on the cat tree leave me melting into a puddle of kitty-loving goo.

Thomas, on the other hand, projects a quiet confidence that only a well-traveled mancat can. He’s solidly grounded in his body and sure of his ability to catch his prey and fight off intruders. Our recent travels have increased that confidence, and I think this transformative journey had something to do with his transformation from a "terrified trembler" to an "extroverted explorer." The journey certainly has made him more willing to be part of the kitty welcoming committee at my home.

Siouxsie’s cattitude comes from her long life. Sure, she may have a slight case of "bitchy resting face," but she’s really a sweet and wonderful little lama. In her eyes is the wisdom of millennia, and in her purr is the whisper of the universe’s love for every single atom within it. Of course, that wisdom also leads to her unwillingness to take crap from anyone ÔǪ including me.

Cats are like that human friend who’s not afraid to tell you that the sweater you’ve tried on makes you look like a potato, who hands you tissues and tea as you cry over your stupid ex, who doesn’t take any crap from you, and will lovingly call you out on your misguided beliefs — and expects the same from you.

If there is a grand unifying theory of cattitude, it’s that no matter how they express it, cats’ sense of self comes from being absolutely centered and absolutely present. Every moment is completely, absolutely now. Cats don’t spend time lamenting the past or worrying about the future. I’m sure they remember what their lives have been like, and even those who got a very rough start in life seem to be able to put that stuff behind them and live now.

Cats know their boundaries, and they’re not afraid to exercise them. They know, in that present moment, who’s safe and who isn’t, and if they don’t want you near them, they’ll certainly tell you so with a growl or a hiss.

We could learn a lot from our feline friends. If we’re able to adopt some cattitude of our own — to be centered and present, to know our boundaries and stand our ground, to not let energy vampires suck the lives out of us — we’ll become much happier and better people as a result.

What do you think? Is there a grand unifying theory of cattitude? How do you define cattitude, and how do your cats express their innate cat-ness? Share your thoughts in the comments.

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, professional cat sitter, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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