by Tory Butterworth
As a psychotherapist, I try to get inside people's heads. As much as possible, I want to know how my clients see themselves. While I'm not omniscient, I like to believe that I know a little more about people's internal experience than your average Joe.
As a pet owner, it is tempting to assume I have these same skills with my two Persian cats. What does go on in their furry, little brains, anyway?
At times I feel like I do understand. Cats evolved from cave dwellers. As a result, they feel safe in dark, small places that make most humans claustrophobic. Conversely, the bright, open spaces us humans prefer make them nervous, because they're just the sort of spots where large, winged predators can swoop down unexpectedly.
Ever put a cat in a pillow case? A friend of mine recommended this for trips to the vet or short moves. From a human perspective, it reminds us of death by strangulation. However, anyone I know who's ever tried it with their cats notices how calm they get. Sometimes they even purr!
Then, there's other times, when I realize my intracranial feline perspective is all an illusion. I bought my cats some raw food last year: raw chicken meat ground up with vegetables. Little did I know that health food can be as hard a sell for cats as it is for humans.
Thora (name not changed to protect the innocent) wouldn't try the stuff. Well, that's Thora, she hates anything new. But Pansy wouldn't try it either. So I coated it with a canned, "chicken in broth" cat food. Broth, my foot! It's should be named, "chicken in strange gelatinous substance." That didn't stop Pansy, she loves the stuff.
Thora, despite the fact that she didn't want any, didn't want to be left out. While I fed Pansy, I put food out for Thora with a closed door in-between, so Pansy wouldn't steal Thora's food. After a few minutes, I opened the door and Pansy got whatever Thora didn't eat.
Here's the strange part. Pansy licked the canned food off her plate, but left the raw meat untouched. However, when I opened the door protecting Thora's identical breakfast, Pansy ate everything, canned food and raw meat alike.
So I moved Pansy's unfinished dish next to Thora's. And suddenly she licked her platter clean! What DOES go on between those furry ears?
Here's my advice. Live with them, love them, cuddle up with them at night or in the morning. But don't kid yourself that you really understand what's going on in their heads. You probably don't want to know.