By Dr. Megan Dunn and Pebbles the blind cat
To understand cat people there are only a couple of things you need to know. First, yes, they are a little crazy, and, yes, they fully embrace it. Second, they are passionate about their felines, to put it mildly. They may jokingly complain about all the havoc their furry companion wreaks on a daily basis. But if you even think about saying anything sincerely negative about any cat that has ever lived, prepare for a firestorm of crazy to be unleashed upon your head, the force of which you can’t even imagine. You’ve been warned.
Being in the “cat people” club is considered an honor by all who are admitted (by feline standards, of course). And it is indeed a club. You can go to the farthest corners of the planet, not knowing a living soul. If you happen upon a fellow feline fanatic, there is an instant bond that outsiders just can’t understand. So in order to reinforce those bonds (and give the crazy cat people something to talk about), here are ten things that only cat people will understand.
10.) Cats will not tolerate cluttered countertops Too often humans insist on leaving objects sitting on top of counters, tables, or nightstands. Obviously, this is feline territory, and therefore, it must be kept clean and clutter-free at all times. But cats do understand that humans are often absent-minded and may accidentally leave objects (cups, pens, books, clocks, etc.) just sitting on top of a cat’s favorite surface. Not to worry, though. With a swipe of the paw, this unacceptable mess can quickly be cleared. You’re welcome.
9.) Cat people know what “zoomies” areYou are sitting peacefully reading a book with your furry angel in your lap, enjoying a quiet evening at home. Then suddenly you feel it. Her muscles tense up. Her ears go back. You can see her pupils dilate like the waxing moon. Then, zoom, off she flies around the house like her tail is on fire. Up the curtains. Around the couch. On the chair, then off the chair and into the kitchen. You hear a crash and see her sliding around the corner and out of site. And suddenly she is back in the living room, stretched out in the floor breathing heavy.
No, your cat has not been possessed by aliens (hopefully). As a predatory creature that sleeps a few (well, maybe, like 16-20) hours per day, the extra bursts of energy are needed to catch prey. So, no judgments, okay? Just give your feline some fun cat toys to play with, and enjoy the show!
8.) You never need to set an alarm clock! It’s the weekend, hurray! You finally get to sleep in and catch up on some much-needed sleep, right? Yeah, right! Just because you don’t have to work doesn’t mean that your dear feline’s tummy can wait. If you normally have to get up at 5 am for work, it is not unreasonable for the cats to start reminding you at 4:45 that breakfast time is quickly approaching. The most common reminders include laying on the face, pawing, and licking of the face and head. But never underestimate the power of the chest sit with the death glare.
Some “clever” humans attempt to outsmart the cats by simply shutting them out of the room. Oh, you poor, poor simpletons. How you underestimate the motivated feline! Cue images: paws reaching under the door, shredded carpet, doorknob rattling. When all else fails, there is always loud, constant wailing. Come on, already, just give in and put out some food. You know you’re not going back to sleep until you comply, anyway!
7.) Two words – Can. Opener. No explanation necessary. It doesn’t matter if it is a fancy electric opener or some jacked-up hand-held can opener from the 1920’s. Your cat knows what it is. And she will appear out of thin air, frantically crying at your feet the moment you even approach the can opener. Be prepared.
6.) Cats love hide-and-go-seek – cat people… not so much Maybe it’s just my crazy mom. As soon as kitty finds the perfect sleeping spot, that quiet, hidden, up high spot that no one can find, she gets into a frenzied panic. She calls, but no answer. Immediately she believes that said kitty must have gotten stuck in the dryer, or under the bed, or has been electrocuted somewhere, or somehow escaped out the door and has been mauled to death by hungry wolves. She looks in every possible place she can think of, whilst weeping and calling for kitty, imagining every possible grim fate that kitty has likely suffered.
Hehe! It is so much fun to sit in the secret hiding spot, observing the amusing display of hysterics. Eventually, of course, this gets old and boring. Then it’s time to come out for a treat. But, felines, beware. Mom’s reaction can vary between scolding to elated (overly tight) hugs. But it’s worth it in the end if you are able to slip by undetected and save the hiding spot for the next time!
5.) You include “toilet paper replacement” in your monthly expense budgetAll cat people know this. Toilet paper on a roll is the most pawesome invention ever! How in this world is a cat expected to just ignore the soft, delicate material that flows so perfectly in your paws? Just accept it, and prepare for the astronomical toilet paper bill. Or maybe an investment in a Paws Free toilet paper holder would be worth it. But for fun’s sake, I say let the poor kitty have a T.P pawty! I still maintain that I was framed!
4.) Wearing black in public is only a dream Well, I wear fur all the time. Why do humans think this is such a big deal? For those who (inexplicably) find feline fur offensive, maybe stay away from dark colors. Or any solid colors. Just go ahead and get the t-shirt There's probably cat hair on this.
3.) Cleaning vomit is just part of life, Yes, cats puke from time to time. It’s usually no big deal. But it can sometimes signal other problems going on that need to be checked out. For more information on feline vomiting, you can read about hairballs in cats here.
2.) The most desirable location for a nap is wherever the human is lookingWatching television? Perfect! I’ll go sit on the t.v. stand. Reading a book? Well, obviously the best, most wonderful place to sleep is on top of a book a human is looking at. Don’t forget about computer keyboards. They are super comfy, as well. Obviously, your cat is the most wonderful thing on the planet to observe, so this behavior is only done as a service to the humans. Felines can be so selfless sometimes.
1.) Only true cat people know how affectionate and loyal a cat can beWe felines have a reputation for being aloof and independent. Okay, so maybe some of that is legitimate. But we can also be every bit as loyal, loving, and friendly as dogs.
People who are not true cat people may say, “I once had a cat I loved, but that’s only because he acted just like a dog. He was waiting for me when I got home from work and followed me around the house. He just wanted to be close to me, like my dog.” Ok, I’ll try not to be too offended by that. Clueless humans. While all felines have different personalities, the typical cat is super attached to their human and just wants to be loved.
Anyone who has truly loved, or been loved by, a cat surely knows well the deep bond and attachment that forms. Cats are not small dogs (thankfully). But a feline somehow makes you feel like it’s a tremendous honor just to be loved by them. But isn’t it, though?
As the great Charles Dickens said, “What greater gift than the love of a cat?”
Until next time… Keeping Pebbles Strong!
Shared with permission from Uncharted Veterinary Conference
Presentation by Dr. Carrie Jurney
By now you all know I love veterinary medicine…I love the science, the clients, the pets, the agriculture…I love it all. Those who really know me understand that, while I adore helping animals, my real joy is in helping people with their animal’s problems. After all, isn’t that what most of private practice is? If we look at the number of veterinarians in the US, a big majority of us are in clinical practice, so why have so many of us fallen victim to the “us versus them” mentality? That in some way we are opposing forces fighting each other?
Every day I hear concerns from frustrated vets, - complaints and judgments from exhausted veterinary staff and doctors about clients. And, sure all people in service industries are naturally going to gripe about certain client interactions, its human nature…but have we taken it too far? Do we actually see them, the clients, as our enemy?
These frustrations and concerns are understandable. Veterinary medicine is a challenging profession. It requires knowledge, empathy, emotional intelligence, and physical stamina. Practice can drain you of each of those things; sometimes simultaneously. But I still have to ask: Aren’t we – veterinarians, staff, and clients – all in this together? I know my paycheck is signed by the practice owner every month, but I earn it from the clients I serve. Relationships I build provide better care for pets, celebration of the human animal bond, and builds the practice. So, in truth, how can they, with whom I must partner for the care of their pet, be my enemy?
Anyone with access to the news knows the United States and the world more generally are divided and, at least so it seems, increasingly so. Could it be that this trend toward tribalism in the culture at large is causing our cultural divide in veterinary medicine to grow deeper? Are we influenced towards judgment, blame, and disdain to those who are “not like us”? Does the current lack of civility and increasing cultural anger encourage us towards professional anger and resentment? I would submit, it’s an idea at least worth consideration.
As a community we need to support each other and further encourage each one of us to build our own emotional intelligence. We need to step back and realize our clients are often hurting people who are not rational, fair, or kind…and that is rarely a reflection on us as people or professionals.
It can be exceedingly difficult to not respond in kind when we are mistreated. When I have a particularly challenging or negative experience with a client, I try very hard to stop myself and ask where I could have gone differently. Could I have explained something in a different way? Was my tone appropriate, was I wearing my resting bitch face? Did I close them off? Should I have stepped out and brought someone else in? It was so easy for a while to just join in the bandwagon, grab a pitch fork and declare they make my life hell. But…that made me burnt out, angry, sad, and lost. Yes, I still get mad,. Yes, I still complain, and yes I’m rude sometimes. But centering myself back to a place of empathy helps. I am learning to understand that the folks who attack me in person or on social media likely come from a place of true pain all of their own, separate from me. I have given myself permission to have my own self value, self-worth, and esteem regardless of the judgment of others. This has made practice more enjoyable, and while still just as demanding as before, it is sustainable. So long as I remember to practice self-care, I can have a long career. But the most important self-care begins inside my own head as I learn to respond positively and view my clients not as opponents, but as members of the team.
The Admin Team of NOMV is a group of veterinarians dedicated to improving veterinary mental health.