Kitty Corner

by Derald Freeman

Raising the Purrfect Cat

Copyrighted © May 2009
Grreat Ideas, Inc. – Burleson, Texas
by Derald Freeman, author

Over the years the author wrote and has published over 80 articles on horticulture, "Memoirs of Derald Freeman", "60 ways To Toast Your Bread", and other books and pastiches. Derald was educated at East Texas Baptist College, spent 25 years in business management, and then started his own computer software business which continued for 30 years, successfully marketing inventory software and computer peripherals nationwide.

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Cats in ancient history
Cat body structure
How cats think

Below are excerpts from some of the chapters.

Chapter contents in the book
Chapter 1 - Introduction to cats
Chapter 2 - The History of cats
Chapter 3 - Cat characteristics
Chapter 4 - Are you ready for a cat?
Chapter 5 – I’m hungry
Chapter 6 – Health care
Chapter 7 – Talk and play time
Chapter 8 – Growing together
Chapter 9 – Fun and excitement ahead

"Cats have been associated with humans for over 9,000 years. Indications that the domestic cat existed in Egypt have been found in tombs of the ancient Egyptians with skeletal remains of cats that were buried with the human remains. The cat in ancient Egypt was a sacred and respected creature and was venerated by all. It was in Egypt that the cat was first domesticated 4,000 years ago and where they were held in the most admiration and respect. In Egypt male cats were called Mau and females Mait. Cats were worshipped as idols, and kept as agents of pest control and good luck. Probably the most famous Egyptian goddess after Isis was Bast, also known as Bastet."
"Cats without another cat in the house to play with will be lonely, even though they have you. You are not there all the time and when you are you do not want to play as much as the kitten."
"You need to give serious thought into what kind of cat you want to spend the next 10 to 15 years with. EDo you prefer a cat that is not particularly noisy or demanding or do you like talkative cats? Do you want a peaceful, quiet lap cat that will sit on your lap for hours on end or want a very active cat with lots of energy? According to a new study sponsored by the Pet Food Institute, the number of pet cats in America reached a new high in the year 2000, and Americans owned more than 75 million pet cats. Of those approximately one in 10 is longhaired, although that can depend upon the area. That means Americans own approximate 750,000 domestic longhairs."

Most people have either a cat or dog or both in their home. Paradoxical the cat can be loving and predatory, relaxed and alert, consoling and inquisitive. Domestic cats will never win at distance running, but when it comes to sprinting they take the Olympic medal every time.
One indisputable truth is that nothing can be quite as therapeutic as a cat curled up in your lap, half asleep, purring steadily while you stroke its slick, smooth fur. I have had cats during my entire adult life which now is in excess of fifty years. The feline creatures have taught me many lessons along the way. Whether they are nuzzling against my leg in a show of attention or chirping (Maine Coons chirp instead of meowing) at four o-clock in the morning to be fed I still love them.

Body structure:

Cats have maintained a skeletal structure similar to their ancestors whereas dogs have changed considerably due to selective breeding. Therefore, cats are free from many skeletal abnormalities. For the most part evolution has been kind to cats. The frame of a cat permits coordinated, fluid, managed, and graceful movements that have adapted the domestic cat to hunt, stalk, leap, run, play, and jump.

A cats skeleton is very similar to that of a human being, however it does lack the shoulder blade bones. This allows freedom of movement of the foreleg, which can be turned in almost any direction. The skeleton consists of 28 different types of bones. A human has 206 bones, however a cat has around 290 bones and 517 separate muscles, this makes them very agile animals, they use more than 500 muscles to leap, jump and sprint. It has 13 ribs. Many of a cat’s bones are found it its tail. Typically, the number varies from 14 to 28 depending on the length of the tail.

How the cat thinks

The cat’s brain is large and well-developed compared to other animals of the same size, enabling them to assimilate facts and react quickly and to solve problems with skill much better than larger animals. The brain makes up one twelfth of its length and 9% of its body weight. Compare this to 2% of the total body weight of the average human. Researchers Norman Maier and Theodore C. Schneirla reportedly found cats to have long-term spatial recall of at least 16 hours, as compared to no more than five minutes in dogs.

If we define intelligence as the ability to acquire information, retain it, and utilize it to solve problems, the cat is clearly the winner of all our companion animals. Try putting an adult cat in a room in which he has never been before and watch how every nook and cranny is carefully examined. Actually, curiosity didn’t kill the cat; it gave him a reputation for having 9 lives!

We know that the ability of cats to investigate new environments is legendary, but it has also been proven that their ability to retain information is superior to that of other domestic animals. Cats learn by observation, imitation, trial and error just as humans do. Cats will turn doorknobs to open doors, ring doorbells, open cupboards, turn off lights, and even use the toilet solely by observing the owner perform these activities. Many feline behaviorists as well as child psychologists seem to agree that the intelligence of an adult cat equals that of a two to three year old child. Some say four or five years old.

Some interpretive cat sounds.

prrrt - means Aren’t I wonderful?
mrrrAOWr! - means, You will find OUT how far I’ve come from jaguars!
drawn-out mrrroooow - a demand for something
low pitch MRRRooooowww - a complaint or displeasure
high-pitch RRRROWW! – is anger, pain or being fearful
chatter (rapid teeth-chattering jaw movements) - excitement, frustration (when prey is out of reach or escapes)
chirrup - friendly greeting sound and
purr - invites close contact or attention

A letter to my cats

These are some chuckles I have found on the Internet and received in emails from friends.

  • The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain MY food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate of food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.
  • The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object.
  • Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.
  • I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will sleep on the couch to ensure your comfort.
  • Cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible.
  • I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.
  • For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, and try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered.
  • Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine or feline attendance is NOT mandatory. The proper order is kiss me, THEN go smell you’re own or the other cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough!
  • To pacify you, my dear pets, I have posted the this on our front door:

Rules for NON-PET OWNERS who visit and like to complain about our pets

  1. They live here. YOU DON’T.
  2. If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That’s why they call it "fur"niture.)
  3. I like my pets a lot better than most people.
  4. To you, it’s an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn’t speak clearly.
  5. I like my pets best because I don’t have to listen to them gossip.
  6. They don’t want to borrow anything.

Cats are better than kids because...

  • They eat less, don’t ask for money all the time, and are easier to train.
  • Usually come when called, NEVER drive your car.
  • Don’t hang out with drug-using friends, don’t smoke or drink.
  • Don’t worry about having to buy the latest fashions.
  • Don’t want a cell phone or iPod.
  • Don’t tie up the phone.
  • Don’t wear your clothes and don’t need a thousands of dollars for college.
  • ...and if they get pregnant, you can SELL THEIR CHILDREN!!

The cat poem.

Nine little pussy cats playing on a gate;
One fell on its tail, and then there were eight.

Eight little pussy cats as cute as heaven;
One bit another, then there were seven.

Seven little pussy cats learning new tricks;
One ran far up the tree, then there were six.

Six little pussy cats saw a bee hive;
The bees chased one, then there were five.

Five little pussy cats playing near the door;
One ran and hid inside and then there were four.

Four little pussy cats underneath a tree;
One heard a dog bark and then there were three.

Three little pussy cats thinking what to do;
One chased a little bird and then there were two.

Two little pussy cats sitting in the sun;
One ran to catch his tail and then there were one.

One little pussy cat looking for some fun;
He went chasing a butterfly -- and then there were none.

by Derald Freeman

30 ways to spoil your cat

  1. A big comfy chair - We don’t allow our cats on the upholstered furniture. However, we have throws on the ottoman foot rests in front of the chairs and they can sleep there if they want.
  2. Sing your cat a song. They seem to like the vocalization and music.
  3. Give them catnip. We occasionally put catnip in their toys or on the scratching post and watch them tumble and roll.
  4. Buy them a water fountain. We found one at a pet store that runs water through the fountain all day long. They love it.
  5. Give me a treat everyday. Always give them treats when they do something special, like using the scratching post.
  6. Cut holes in a large box so they can play in it.
  7. Brush and comb them each day if that is what they enjoy.
  8. Play with them every day.
  9. Make a window bench so they can watch the birds.
  10. Always keep their litter boxes clean each day.
  11. Tell them when you are leaving the house and that you will come back. When you return tell them you came back.
  12. Hide their Favorite Treats around the house so they can look for them when you are gone.
  13. Clean the cat door that goes from the house to the garage where the litter box is located.
  14. Screen in the back porch so they can spend time outside while you do other things.
  15. Rock them in a rocking chair while they are in your lap.
  16. Give them a shoulder massage.
  17. Let them choose which tin of food will be opened.
  18. Invite them onto the bed with you.
  19. Let them chase a laser light.
  20. I spoil my cat by putting ice cubes in their water.
  21. Change their dried cat food to a different flavor every two days.
  22. Use stainless steel bowls for food and water and wash the bowls every few days.
  23. Always call their names and tell them you came back home.
  24. Play a game of hide & chase. One cat loves to be chased into the other room and then chase me back.
  25. When we open a can of tuna or salmon for our meal I always give a pinch in bowls to each of the cats.
  26. Look in to their eyes when you talk to them.
  27. Look at them when they talk to you.
  28. When they appear afraid in a storm, talk to them and tell them everything is alright. Offer to hold them but don’t force them. Spend time in the room where they are until the storm is over.
  29. Dry your hands before picking up your cats. They don’t like wet hands.
  30. When running the vacuum give them an opportunity to exit the room with the vacuum turned off.
  31. Give them a pot of green grass that stays in the house.
  32. Give them tummy rubs if they like that.

Myths about cats

Ancient mariners believed that a cat’s behavior could foretell a change in the weather. Some sailors considered black cats unlucky since they were thought to bring bad weather. Tortoiseshell cats were often held by seafarers to be lucky and Japanese sailors in particular would carry a tri-colored cat aboard. They believed that such a cat could give early enough warning of an approaching storm for the vessel to return to port to avoid it, and would also send the cat up the mast to "put the storm devils to flight".

A story is told of Muezza, the prophet Mohammed’s favorite cat. One day, when Mohammed had finished his prayer and meditation, he discovered that Muezza had fallen asleep on the sleeve of his robe. Rather than disturb the cat, he cut off the sleeve so that he could be on his way.

Another legend holds that the ’M’ marking on the forehead of the tabby was created by the prophet as he rested his hand lightly on the brow of his favorite cat.

Sayings about cats

As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows, cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the human mind. -- Cleveland Amory

Comedian George Burns chose to call his cat companion of many years "Willie" because, in his words, "When you told the cat what to do, it was always a question of will he or won't he...."

There is, indeed, no single quality of the cat that man could not emulate to his advantage. -- Carl Van Vechten, American photographer

Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to a good many ailments, but I never heard of one who suffered from insomnia. -- Joseph Wood Krutch

A cat can be trusted to purr when she is pleased, which is more than can be said for human beings. -- William Ralph Inge

I’ve never understood why women love cats. Cats are independent, they don’t listen, they don't come in when you call, they like to stay out all night, and when they’re home they like to be left alone and sleep. In other words, every quality that women hate in a man, they love in a cat. -- Jay Leno

Design and content is copyrighted ©, January 2004
by Derald Freeman, Burleson, TX.
All rights