Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Ten Cat Commandments, inspired by Moses the moggie

There exists a calm, well-behaved and wise old cat called Moses. He is owned by my friend's mum, a preacher.

There also exists a pair of tiny, naughty and greedy pests called Gracie and Blod. They are owned by me.

It is often pot luck as to which you end up with, though I will say to potential cat owners that a pet moggie really is a fabulous thing. Here's my advice for what it's worth!

1. Thou shalt not restrict ownership to 'crazy cat lady' only
Cats need a re-branding. Where has this popular image come from that moggies are mainly or only owned by mad cat ladies who dress them as babies and push them around in a pram?

Cats can make great pets for all, including men. Think Top Gear's James May and Fusker, Robert de Niro and Mr. Jinx and James Bond’s Blofeld with that moody-looking Persian. I can think of many male friends who could give a rescue cat a responsible, loving home...

2. Thou shalt not underestimate feline intelligence

Poor kitties, they never rank in these ‘top ten intelligent animals’ surveys. So what if a crow can make tools and an ape understand words - could they press down a door handle with their paws and then swing in on it before dropping to the floor ninja-style like my friend’s cat?

Cat intelligence does seem mainly to be of the need-to-know type which is only used when push comes to shove, and mostly hidden so that they are not made to learn tricks.

3. Thou shalt not pigeon-hole cats!
Words commonly and unfairly bandied about to describe cats are ‘selfish’, ‘disloyal’ and ‘lazy’. Occasionally you will also get ‘evil’. Plus, there are websites dedicated to cats that look like Hitler!

OK so my mother in law’s cat Fudge is somewhat of an evil genius, but on the other hand teeny 18-year old Dennis (female)  is a happy-go-lucky and hapless thing.

She is currently wearing an eye patch like a tiny pirate after an irritated Fudge caused her to lose an eye, but Dennis remains loyal.

4. Thou shalt get thy cat neutered

A single unneutered cat can cause havoc with the kitten population over the years, filling RSPCA catteries and foster homes to the brim.
Neutering or spaying is a one off, often discounted solution, and the money you make from not feeding those extra mouths can buy a whole heap of 'ten cute kittens hanging from tree' Athena posters.

5. Thou shalt not give them too much of an inch...

... Or the cunning cats amongst them will take the mile! My cat ownership began on a slippery slope which for me meant letting them sleep in the bedroom (cue regular 4am wake-up calls) and treating them to extra titbits from our plate, which eventually turned them into plate thiefs (or should that be cat burglars?).

Make life easier - feed them a regular cat diet and assign them their own sleeping area with the door to your bedroom firmly shut!!

6. Thou shalt make your community a cat haven

Cats and their free roaming ways often take them away from your back garden and into contact with neighbours, strangers or sticky situations.

Common cat problems in my experience include antifreeze poisoning (whether accidental or deliberate), air weapon attacks and wild animal traps. As well as reporting incidents to us, why not discuss possible preventative measures in a local community group.

7. Thou shalt microchip your mog

We say this all the time in our press work, but an updated record of your details linking to the cat’s microchip is the best chance you have of being reunited if moggie is stolen or strays!

Added to this there should only ever be one collar you should use on your cat, and that is a safe snap away’ kind - I recently witnessed some horrific lacerations at Newport Animal Centre when a cat wearing a regular collar got caught on a tree.

8. Thou shalt love thy cat on youtube

Dogs owners have the park and all the canine camaraderie that comes with it to show off. But cats are more of a ‘private’ pet and so you tube is the perfect place to share your moggie’s 'mad half hour' or general quirks with the world.

Cat capers seem to outweigh the canine sort on youtube; my current favourite is still ‘cat gets caught barking by a human’.

9. Thou shalt repeat: A cat is for life and not just for Christmas

This goes for all animals of course and it is sad when people rehome their cat because it doesn't get on with the new dog. Always build your pet family bit by bit like a jigsaw!

Some may also worry that it's necessary to rehome a cat during pregnancy due to health worries, but my expectant friend was recently reassured by a vet that taking simple precautions such as getting others to change the litter tray and washing hands is sufficient.

10. Thou shalt anthropomorphise your cat!

This goes a step further than Point 3 and creates a whole life or persona for your cat/pet (done by many of my friends). I think it just shows the affection people have for their animals.

However, if you have created bands for your cats as we have done (little Gracie is in a Motown girl group called Mop & the Moppettes while black cat Blod is in an EMO band), then you have gone a step too far.

Happy cat capers all!

Lowri Jones - press officer - Wales