A Big Purr of Welcome

This blog used to be written by Tara, cat and author of Cats in Charge: A Guide to the Training and Education of Humans. She is also a leading character in Big Dragons Don't Cry, Book One of A Dragon's Guide to Destiny and in its sequels.

Once Tara realized that the rewards of writing a blot didn't include treats or catnip, she assigned the job to me, human and nominal writer of her books.

However, she has final approval of all posts, and she advises you to visit often. The advice you'll read here can land you in a field of catnip if you follow it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Note From the Human Scribe

Author Camelia Miron Skiba asked fellow authors why they write. Here's my answer on her blog.


My reasons may not be so creative, but they are definitely survival oriented. If cats run your life, you'll understand.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cats in Command: A Short Story

Curiosity Quills, a site of which I greatly approve for its cat-centric content, has published a short story by my scribe. Read it here. http://curiosityquills.com/cats-in-command-a-short-story/ There will be a quiz.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Unfriendly Cat

Dear Tara,

I read your post on the importance of making friends with the current feline resident. All well and good, but this cat has no interest in being my friend, and she has no understanding of the importance of feline solidarity. She hisses at me and bats me around the tiled kitchen floor. Am I supposed to silently tolerate these indignities?

Batted and bruised

Dear Batted,

A cat NEVER tolerates indignities. However, a certain amount of patience is mandatory. Yours is not the only impatient email I've received. I recognize that the insights I have to share are important and long overdue. However, I cannot simply pour out all I know at once. Furthermore, my scribe, although well trained, insists that she has other things she needs to do. I am working on her attitude.

Furthermore, I know that kittens have short attention spans. That's why I left the details of diplomacy out of the previous post. In this post I will address them.

The example you gave makes a good starting point. Certainly nothing is more humiliating than being used as a hockey puck, and feline self-respect demands that you protest with plaintive cries. Timing, however, is everything.

If the older cat is stupid or aggravated enough to bat you about while humans are present, add to your protest a dazed look and, if you think it will be effective, a slight limp. This combination of actions will solicit sympathy for you and "Bad kitty" for the offender. The older cat will soon realize that such abuse will lead to unwanted repercussions.

A clever older cat, however, will be careful to abuse you when no humans are around. In such circumstances, you must subtly provoke him into public abuse.

Subtle is the keyword. Your purpose is to adapt a principle of martial arts by using the other cat's aggression against him. An excellent ploy is to act very affectionate with the other cat. Rub against him or perform another action that makes your intentions seem innocent and friendly. This will irritate and provoke the other cat into a hostile response. Immediately adopt the dazed look, plaintive cries, and possible limp.

This approach may have the drawback of making the older cat even more hostile to you, but you can neutralize this effect. Choose your moment carefully.

A good time to approach the other cat is when he has just been fed or brushed. Adopting a submissive pose, (don't worry about this; you're only pretending) express your appreciation for his wisdom and your desire to learn from him. Introduce the idea that two cats are better than one when it comes to the training and discipline of humans.

You may need to do this more than once—another reason for adopting patience. Eventually, 90% or more of cats will see reason. Should you be unfortunate enough to encounter a member of the small percentage of cats who refuse to see reason, stay out of the creature's way, and make sure that every one of his attacks on you are noticed.

This constitutes an official state of war. It pains me to admit that some cats never learn. If you find yourself living with one of them, your priority is to make certain that the other cat is always seen as the aggressor.

When all else fails, pray to the Long-whiskered One to knock some sense into the stupid cat's head.

The above protocol can be adapted to any hostile act on the other cat's part.

To your continued success,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dealing with Other Cats/Part 1: The Older Cat

With this post, I return to my advice column.

When you enter your new household, you will need a very different approach to a resident cat or cats than you use for any dogs. In the absence of other evidence, your keywords should be respect and cooperation.

Here's the most common scenario: You are being brought in to fill a vacancy. Prior to your arrival there were two cats of similar ages. One of them died. The humans believe that the other cat is lonely. You are there to provide the surviving cat with companionship.

The resident cat, however, may have an entirely different perspective.

1. She may not have been fond of the deceased cat at all. Many cats, despite mutual dislike or indifference to each other, recognize the importance of a show of solidarity against other species. Also, since cats are place-oriented, they prefer a peaceful environment and make arrangements to tolerate each other.

The remaining cat, however, may have been looking forward to sole rulership of the household. Your arrival disrupts her plans for domination.

2. Nothing makes a cat feel his age like a lively kitten. It's not your fault that you're young, adorable, and highly energetic, but stop your prancing for a moment and consider that the older cat has the right to feel insulted. He may wonder if the humans were dissatisfied with this older model. He may feel that they've been disloyal in the face of his years of faithful service (or behavior that looks to the humans like service, which is good enough).

If the contemplation of this attitude makes you impatient or irritable, consider this: Someday you will be in this situation, an older cat whose life and status are about to be disrupted by a charming little ball of fur. Put yourself in this position. How do you feel? Not so wonderful.

If you keep the older cat's attitude in mind, you can form a successful and indeed vital alliance. An agreeable older cat can fill you in on information critical to your future. She can, for example, give detailed personality profiles about human residents in the household and update you on the training program currently in effect. Together, you can accomplish more than twice as much.

Therefore, your first priority should be the winning over of the current feline resident.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Star in a New Epic

My human scribe and I have been very busy the past few weeks (that is, whenever the power was on). We finished editing Dance with Clouds, the second book in the Dragon's Guide to Destiny. My scribe did most of the work. I'm not much at spelling or typing, but she can't scratch her ear with her hind paw.

I was, however, very helpful with the spellcheck feature. Every time it prompted her to call an animal "that" instead of "he" or "she," I pushed the ignore button. I am a "she" and proud of it.

This book is available at Amazon. At $2.99, it costs only a little more than an excellent can of cat food. If you prefer other ebook formats, please go to Smashwords.

If you haven't read the first book, it's currently available for $.99 at Amazon and Smashwords. This low price was chosen to introduce readers to the series.

As in Big Dragons Don't Cry, I humbly play a leading—one might almost say a heroic—role. But to go into details would be a spoiler.

Order your human to get both books. I get a percentage.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back From Under the Couch

I am glad to report to my readers that the hurricane/tropical storm was, at least in this area, overrated and over-reported. I am aware that in areas north of my home the effects were severe, and my thoughts are with all who are currently suffering. If you live with a kind human, suggest that they make a donation to an organization that helps stray and homeless cats.

I spent my time keeping my humans calm, and I have had to take the rest of the week off to recuperate. Soon, though, I will post a new blog entry. Until then, stay dry.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cats and Water Do Not Mix

I'm headed for a safe space under the couch or possibly in a closet for the next undetermined period. My human scribe informs me that, type as she may, electricity is needed to convey a message to my readers. Science is not my strong point.

I have learned that many shelters from the storm that take humans will not take their pets. Cats, this is discrimination. In addition, our humans need us to calm and comfort them. They just don't understand weather like we do. Take action.

Cat(ch) you when things calm down.

Stay dry,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Assuming Dominance: The Unfriendly Dog

I hope I've made it clear that even when you evaluate and choose adoptees according to your powers of observation and logical principles, it's still a crap shoot. In that case, your most important duty is to make sure none of it falls on you.

This sums up the situation with an unfriendly dog. Let me assure you that it's workable. For an intelligent cat who knows which way to leap, everything is workable.

In dealing with dogs, keep this fact foremost. Far more than a cat does, a dog seeks the approval and love of his master. Yes, it will make mistakes, sometimes on the rug, sometimes through the miscalculation of chewing a beloved sock, shoe, or slipper. A wise dog can extricate herself from such disasters with a soft-eyed, plaintive and the faintest of whines.

This, however, is not a guide for dogs. My point here is that your corpse isn't one of those mistakes from which a dog can extricate himself. You want to avoid such unpleasantness.

Take the attitude that you're in the midst of battlefield negotiations. This is no time for long speeches or flowery prose. Got for quick and to the point. If a dog is thinking of lunging at you, shriek at the top of your lungs, "I wouldn't if I were you! They'll send you to the pound." The mention of this frightful word should freeze a dog in mid-lunge.

The other reason you limit yourself to brief communication is that you must also prepare to activate Plan B. Know where the closest couch is and make sure the space beneath is large enough for hiding. If you are close to a human adoptee, calculate the distance to his or her lap.

Above all, unless your life depends on it, make no hostile gesture towards the dog. I'm sure I don't have to list all the swipes, growls, and other legitimate behavior you must avoid. Maintain your status as the innocent victim.

Make no comments as the humans chastise the dog. The dog will probably get the message, but don't turn your back on him until you've had some more negotiations. Establish with the dog that you're open to a friendly division of property, humans included. You won't eat his food (this is the easiest promise to make, because their food tastes awful), and you demand that he not eat yours (much harder for the dog, which is why you insist).

If he's already carved out the bed as his personal domain, don't argue in these early stages. You may actually prefer to sleep elsewhere, but later on you will want to establish that you have every right to occupy that space—or indeed, any and every space.

These, however, are the earliest days. Your task here is to establish civility and to demonstrate with every paw you lift, that you have a friendly and conciliatory spirit. It's like catnip in the bank in terms of investing in your future.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Establishing Dominance Part I: The Friendly Dog

With this post I resume my advice column and return to the theme of how best to take over any home you enter. Part of that, of course, involves establishing your dominance over any other creatures who may already live there.

Humans are accustomed to think of the "pet-owning" (forgive me while I expel a hairball of disgust) world as being divided between dog people and cat people. This would be convenient and would give me no need to write this post.

However, to their possible credit, many people describe themselves as "animal lovers." This may mean they are kind-hearted, and if you evaluated them thoroughly when you considered them for adoption, you will already know this.

In other cases, though, you will find a household where a dog person and a cat person combined households. This raises the possibility that, once the glow of love and mating dissipates, they may be in trouble, due to deep emotional incompatibility. This will mean trouble for you, so be on the alert for early warning signs. Your first action must to be to make yourself indispensable to the cat person.

I will cover this area more thoroughly in a post entitled "What Divorce Means to You."

Whatever the reason for a dog being already established in the household you intend to conquer, you must deal with this presence. His seniority need not concern you as much as that of another cat would. It must, however, be taken into consideration.

For this reason, I recommend that you exercise the maximum in self-control. Evaluate the dog. Is her tail wagging? Is she panting in a friendly way? If your impressions are positive, make the most of the opportunity.

If you're a kitten, assume the "I'm just a tiny, adorable, helpless ball of fur" attitude. Move very slowly towards the dog, pacing yourself by the volume and frequency of the remark, "Isn't that the cutest thing?" and by the flashing of cameras and cellphones. If you hear the statement, "We should put this on YouTube," up the attitude and accompany it with heartbreaking whimpers.

If you are a mature cat, don't try to overplay cute. Instead, go for pathos. Remind your new servants that you've had a tough life on the street where you learned to trust no one or that the death of a human forced you into homelessness. Convey with an ever-more-confident step that being in this loving and nuturing atmosphere is already healing your psychic wounds. If you play it right, you, too, may earn Internet exposure.

Regardless of your age, keep the climactic scene well in mind. You will end up crouching or lying between the dog's legs, your head buried against his chest. (I hope for your sake that he will have been recently bathed.) Hold that pose. Humans love scenes of interspecies friendship because they don't understand that we are far more tolerant than they usually are. Or maybe they do understand and need the inspiration of the lion and the lamb and the dog and the cat.

It costs you nothing to make them happy, and you will be greatly rewarded. They will talk about you to their friends, and they will put your picture on their Facebook pages and web sites. You could become famous.

It's worth suffering a small amount of dog hair.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Are We Famous Yet?

A quick note to readers of this blog: my scribe, C. M. Barrett, was interviewed about the book in which I play a starring role, Big Dragons Don't Cry You can read the interview here.

Comments are welcome.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Animals Have Feelings: Bach Flower Remedies for Cats and Dogs

My human transcriber has written and published Animals Have Feelings, Too: Bach Flower Remedies for Cats and Dogs. The book costs $1.99 and is available at amazon.com You can also get it at Smashwords where it can be downloaded in .mobi, .epub, .pdf, and other formats. (What are these words humans concoct?)

I have reviewed the book, and the most important message I found was the statement that often companion animals, through their behavior, mirror the emotional imbalances of their humans. I might have stated the case somewhat more strongly, but I'm satisfied to see the message go out to the electronic universe.
Topics Include:

How the Bach Flower Remedies Can Help Animals and Humans: An explanation of how energy healing works.

Understanding Our Animal Companions: Animals, especially companion animals have emotions. Because they don't speak the same language as we do, they often communicate through their behavior. Learn to crack the code by observing your pet carefully.

My Cat/My Dog/Myself: Sometimes animals mirror our own emotional upsets. You'd be surprised what you can learn about yourself from them.

Abuse and Abandonment: These animals need special understanding and treatment.

Some Common Conditions and Remedies for Them: An annotated list.

Urge your human to buy this book. At $1.99, it costs less than a decent cat toy or even a large can of quality food.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How Cats Rule

Due to excessive heat, I am assuming the yoga position known as Cat Assuming Deep Stillness and Avoiding Motion. I am also allowing my humans to rest her paws today as we take a break for a very short video that demonstrates feline dominance. Congratulations to the unnamed cat who stars in the piece.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Adopting a Child: Part II

This post continues the topic of adoption where children are involved.

Pay particular attention to the relationship of parent and child. Who's running the show? You almost always want the parent to be in charge. Make an exception for the child who demonstrates maturity. He may say, "This cat seems very smart and alert." This is obviously an intelligent observation.

He may sidestep his parents' attempts to choose a cat for him and follow his intuition, which is very catlike and promising. You will find such a child easy to train.

As you carefully study the relationship between parent and child, listen for these fatal words: "If we get you this cat, you're going to have to take care of it." Some children do indeed take responsibility for feeding and other necessities, and if you hear cheerful agreement, consider this promising.

However, if children must be threatened into cat care, two words: Never happen. After prolonged periods of hunger and poor sanitation, you will be returned to the shelter (or worse), having wasted time that could have been spent in training more suitable humans.

See earlier posts for suggestions about making sure you don't get adopted by a reluctant juvenile caretaker.

If the child picks you up, you will have an excellent opportunity for evaluation. Does she hold you just right, or does she let most of you dangle precariously? Do you sense affection and warmth? If your overall impression is positive, consider adoption.

This brings me to a very difficult and subjective issue. Having listed the many pros and cons of various human types, I must confess that sometimes good judgment flies out the window. Despite our best intentions to remain objective, we may sometimes feel so attracted to a particular human that we can't imagine life without him or her.

Humans call this love. I call it delusion, but, since I vowed at the beginning that this blog would be totally honest, I admit that I have fallen under its spell. If you like living on the edge and possibly risking your life, go for it. And don't say I didn't tell you so.

You must always remember, by the way, that humans are usually looking for kittens. Shelter management sometimes takes advantage of that urge by insisting that single kittens get lonely during the day and that an adult cat must be part of the deal. This gets more of you adults out of cages. The downside is that you will have to deal with a kitten, a topic I will go into in the future. For now, I will note that any cat worth the name can handle the juveniles of her species.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adopting a Child: Part I

Adopting a Child: Part I

Dear Tara,

I read your comments on shelter cats choosing humans for adoption with great interest. What is your advice regarding the evaluation of children who accompany their parents to a shelter? In my experience, younger humans can be troublesome.

Kautious about Kids

Dear Kautious,

How right you are. Like all animals, humans have love and tenderness for their young. Unlike other animals, they don't always know when it's time to give their offspring an encouraging kick in the rump towards independence. The most important rule for any cat to know about parents and their children is that in a conflict between the child and you they will choose the child. ALWAYS.

I will defer the topic of managing children in the home for a later post. For now, we'll consider the importance of first impressions.

As with adults, evaluate the child's physical appearance. Clean face, hands, and whatever else is visible are mandatory. This shows good training on the parents' part and a certain degree of good behavior on the part of the child. Clothing should be presentable but not of fashion model quality. Too much fuss about appearance can indicate an adult who 's obsessed with an immaculate home. This is not the kind of home you want.

Look for scabs, scratches, and any other indication that the child may play rough. You don't want one who plays rough with you.

Is the child a whiner, surly, sullen, and/or verging on a tantrum? Children, like cats, can be very adept at strategic bad behavior. We applaud their ingenuity, but we don't want to be its victim. Avoid a child who may take her or his bad moods out on you. You will be forced to retaliate, and this could be your exit ticket.

In Part Two of this topic, I will discuss the all-important relationship between the parent and the child.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Choosing Your Human From a Shelter: Part 2

Dear Tara,

Your post on choosing the right human to adopt was very helpful. Could you rate the types of humans who may visit a shelter looking for cats and kittens?

Tired of My Cage

Dear Tired,

I'd be glad to answer this important question. Below you will find various categories.

Singles of Mating Age

Although it isn't always true, single adults often seek a "pet" to relieve their unhappiness at being single. If you sense that rare human who revels in solitude—a trait that is often revealed by confident bearing and the total absence of wistfulness in their voices—make yourself VERY available for adoption. Their lifestyle will totally suit yours.

If you choose a lonely single, be prepared for a high-maintenance relationship. Some cats enjoy this, but the time needed to comfort a needy human cuts into the time necessary for grooming, sleeping, and stillness.

Often the lonely ones do better with a dog. Seek any indication, like fur and odor, that indicates they already have one. This is a separate topic, but going into a home where a dog has already established himself is not always optimal.


The biggest concern with choosing an elderly human is how close to the grave they appear. I say this not out of a lack of compassion but because cats are too often ignored in the post-mortem shuffle. If the senior is accompanied by a responsible-looking younger human, and all other aspects are positive, you may want to consider adoption. Seniors often prefer an adult cat, and this benefits those of you who get neglected because of the kitten craze.

Senior couples are often a better choice, as long as at least one of them appears capable of remembering feeding time and other essentials.

Gay Couples

In general, these are excellent choices for adoption. Although you should not be deluded by the myth that they are always childless, many gay couples are attracted to our charming, low-maintenance selves. Food and treats in such households are often of the highest quality.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Choosing the Human Candidate for Adoption

Dear Tara,

I'm writing to you from an animal shelter. I'm an 8-week-old kitten and highly adoptable. I want your advice on how to pick the ideal humans to rule.

With Eternal Gratitude for Your Wisdom,
Cuteness Catsonified

Dear Cuteness,

Let me commend you on your attitude. If your human subjects believe you'll be honoring them by gracing their home, you're putting your best paw forward and setting the highest possible standard for future training.

To other cats reading this, you don't have to be an adorable kitten to assume this attitude. It's natural to all cats, and any cat who emphasizes it is virtually guaranteed the home of his or her choice.

Examine your prospects carefully. They should be neat and tidy, but not overly so. Those who are excessively groomed will try to make trouble later on about shed hair and other natural practices.

Nor should they be overly adoring. Those who go on about what a cute little kittiekins you are may try to treat you like a baby or—far worse—a pet. This could present challenges in your quest to assert your natural dominance with them.

Look for an attitude of respect and submission. A bit of awe at your magnificence never goes amiss. Humans who display these useful traits will make the best candidates for training.

Several effective techniques will prevent the wrong humans from adopting you. Look stupid. Act lethargic. Be indifferent to their attempts to charm you. If all else fails, pee outside the litter box.

Above all, maintain your attitude of superiority. This will attract the humans easiest to dominate.

Do let me know how it works out.

All the best,