Cats are quite smart. They know how far they can push you by using their own special brand of cat leverage. For example, the other night I got to bed late; 11:45pm. ‘No problem,’ I thought–‘I’ll just sleep in tomorrow.’
But noooooo. Nala, our one female, chose 4:05 am to make that noise that is absolutely guaranteed to wake any cat owner; that distinctive “hucka-hucka-hucka–gloooOOOOoorp” medley that is the two-second warning for cat vomit to follow. And she did it right beside my ear on the sheet. I suppose I should be grateful that she didn’t throw up on my hair.
So, up we got, the Crankee Yankee getting the cat dishes of food and water ready (of course, by then Nala had an empty stomach and was meowing loudly for breakfast; the three males just looked put out that breakfast was late). I stripped the bed (with my eyes still closed), then cleaned up the mattress (please note that this is our new mattress we’ve had for only seven months; this is the first time it’s been vomited on. Thank you <popular cleaning spray!>). Eyes still closed, I started the wash, then put new sheets on the bed.
And this is only ONE example of cat leverage. There is also the ‘poor hungry kitty’ look (this always comes after they’ve eaten–they just want more): their eyes get large and limpid, they cock their heads in the cutest way possible and make little “meorrow” noises that are pretty appealing.
Then there is the classic cat ploy of “whatever you’re eating, I get some, too.” Whatever it is; hummus on pita chips, a salad, a turkey sandwich, a piece of toast with peanut butter on it, a fruit smoothie–they need to inspect it. And if it passes inspection, they want a taste. Or two.
We have a nice back porch that the Crankee Yankee designed. Even though the finishing touches are still to be done, it’s a great roomy area with lots of light as well as screened-in panels. The cats love it. On good days, we find ourselves doing the doorman shuffle as cat after cat decides to sun themselves on the porch. Naturally, they all won’t do it at the same time, nor will they come in at the same time. Sheesh.
Here’s my take on cat leverage. You may go to a shelter and pick out a cat you like, but here’s the reality–THEY pick YOU. They can read us humans like a book. They can suss out an easy mark faster than a pickpocket in Grand Central Station. They do know a sucker when they see one. So we fall for them, as they know we will. They may put up a big fuss on the way home in the car, but in the back of their tiny little minds, they know they have the upper hand. To a cat, humans are ridiculously easy to train.
They have tricks to make us do their bidding that you wouldn’t believe. For example, there is the sympathy ploy. While you are deboning a lovely roasted chicken, the cat will sneak up behind you. You won’t have seen him, so of course you will inadvertently step on his tail, eliciting a heartbreaking “MEEEEOOOOOW!” You feel like the worst person alive; you have hurt your precious kitty. So you pick him up and cuddle him, kissing his head (and his tail, if you can reach it), telling him how very, very sorry you are and is he all right?
‘All right?’ You bet he is. He knows that you are going to give him a few pieces of that delicious chicken to make it up to him. It all works out–you feel better and he feels full of chicken. And there are so many more cat tricks! These tricks are embedded deeply in cat DNA. Just when you think you’ve figured out your cat, he is always miles ahead of you. We humans don’t stand a chance. Heaven help us all if cats develop thumbs!
As has been said before, long ago in ancient Egypt, cats were revered as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.