Thursday, May 15, 2014

Adopting a Not-a-Kitten

Yes, kittens are so cute and cuddly! And clueless. And cause trouble.

The cuteness helps when we are helping them understand their world... over and over again. But there's a great way to bypass this highly intense and demanding stage, and still wind up with a great cat.

We simply go to a shelter and choose a great cat.

And don't forget, cats don't really mature fully until at least three years of age. There can still be plenty of kitten left in the older kittens and teen cats. While adults and seniors have lots to give. They have a whole history we can pick up on as we get to know them.

In my podcast #13, The Used Cat, I explain my tips and tricks for choosing a teen, adult, or senior cat. Despite all our worries, this is actually the best way to get a cat who fits us.

We know who they are

From six months onward, our cats show much more of their body type and personality than they do as kittens. So picking older cats means knowing what we're getting.

Tristan, 11 months, clear as a bell
As seen here, my cat Tristan is 11 months old. The long body and legs, and the high energy, instantly lets us know he is an Alpha cat type. When we got him as a three week old foundling, and even as he moved into his kittenhood, this important clue to his personality and needs was not clear at all.

More developed cats show their traits right away. We know if they are a cuddler or a climber. We know if we "click."

They know what they are doing

It's great to have an expert around, especially if we are cat newbies. Our more developed cat will have their own skills in place much more than they did as kittens.

If we are uncertain of our cat skills, working with a cat who has more maturity means we won't feel frustrated by our training or doubtful of our influence.

Kittens have tiny attention spans and high distractibility. It can take a bit of learning to interpret their behavior, and know what to do about it.

We negotiate as equals

Growing and grown cats known how to communicate and control their emotions. This means we can let them know what places to stay away from. Kittens think everything is a toy. More mature cats can be told.

The all-important negotiation stage can't happen with tiny kittens very fast at all. But a six or seven month old kitten is a delight. They can be trained. They do show they care about us. All without the frustration of younger ages.

We develop our relationship much faster 

They want to work with us and they want to be loved. Our instances of affection are actually more deep and lasting at this age. And it starts happening the moment we connect at the shelter.

A more mature cat shows outlines of planning and consideration that are the joy of cats. So don't deprive yourself of the Instant Gratification of getting a "pre-baked" cat.

My podcast tells you how!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Picking the right kitten

While we can influence our kitten, we cannot mold them. They come with their own personalities!

This is why I urge people to give some thought to the kind of kitten they would like... and give them tips on how to choose that kind of kitten.

While we took on our most recent kitten, Tristan, as a 3 week old orphan, if he had been six weeks old, I would have been able to tell he was an Alpha. This means he has plenty of energy, plenty of curiosity, and plenty of affection... if we are able to meet those needs.

Our Maine Coon mix, Reverend Jim, was an easily identifiable Beta cat. Sure enough, he has been a friend to everyone, a mellow boy who is easy to make happy when his social needs are met.

James Bond always had Gamma tendencies, and his shyness turned into devotion, once I reached his big heart.

It is important to know what Cat Type would work best for our home, with our existing cats, dogs, and people. Then we know what to expect, and what to give them to make them happy.

Listen to my podcast, How to Pick the Right Kitten. Take my SelectSmart quiz, What Cat Personality Will Be a Good Match? to find the right kitten for you!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Teaching Our Cats

Everyone agrees that cats are lovely to look upon and captivating to cuddle. But then, "they" say, cats are difficult to train and don't care about us.

Not only are "they" wrong, they don't realize that proper training springs from love... and vice versa. What they are missing is just how easy it is to do both.

When we do it right.

(l to r) Olwyn, Reverend Jim, Tristan
In my tenth podcast, Training is Communication, I explain that Training is actually the wrong way to think about how we raise and civilize our cats.

Trading is probably a better concept. What it boils down to is friends, doing each other, favors.

In the podcast, you can hear me asking favors from Olwyn and RJ, who, at different times, interrupted the podcast. I requested that they settle down and be quiet while I was recording. And they did.

The success of my method depends upon good communication. How else will my cats understand that I love them? How else can I convey my requests based on friendship?

Likewise, my cats need a way to communicate their love for me, and their own requests to have their needs met in the best possible way.

We can develop this vital skill in no time. I explain how in How to subtitle ourselves.