Before I get started on the topic at hand, for those of you interested in food progress, but not necessarily about the cats and how we live (the rest of this post), I did buy a dry food (Evo) to replace the current dry food (Blue Wilderness) and we're going to keep a 1/2 dry 1/2 wet ratio still. However, Evo is 11% carbs max (10% is the recommended highest) so that's much better than the 30 something percent from Blue. It's also cheaper per pound, and still grain free! Yay! We are keeping the same brand of wet food, but we are looking at the ingredient list and trying to keep grains to a minimum there as well. Also, when I got home and fed the cats, Kurumi jumped right in without questions (aka she loves it)! This wasn't the case with the Blue Wilderness. She ate the Blue because she can't starve herself, but she didn't really enjoy it so it seems to be a good choice all around.
Anyway, a comment on my "Feline Matters" post hit me pretty close to home. Trevor (thanks again for your comment...very kind!) was stating that people often do things for their pets that they would never have thought they would do...but it was more elegantly stated. It's so true. When you talk to people who don't have pets, or people who have never had pets, they look at you like your crazy. I've had people hear stories and later ask about my kids. They look incredibly surprised when I say I don't have children, only to find out I was talking about my cats. I must admit that I do tell stories as if they are my children because it's more fun, and also because other pet people understand because they do the same thing. It can't be helped. I'm still trying to figure out whether that makes us crazy or just...different ;)
On another note, our house will never be extremely tidy because we have toys everywhere (back to kid references, hahaha). Kurumi drags out my Beanie Babies. I have to clean out from under my bed every few months when I notice there aren't as many stuffed animals as there used to be on the shelf (her only "bad" habit, but it's really not that bad...just silly). I come home everyday to the same house shoe in the same place by the entrance. I still can't get her to bring the other one for me.
Animals have SO MUCH personality when they are allowed to be themselves. Some people might say our cats are spoiled, but that's not true. They have better manners than some people I know. They just act like cats should act! I've stated before that our cats are 6 and 7 years old, but they still act like they're just a year or two old. They sleep a little more, but when they're awake, they play, and they play hard. But, they also know their boundaries...except Tango. He still plays in the cabinets and makes racket with the pots and pans. It sounds cute and funny, but it isn't so fun at 3 in the morning.
One morning I noticed an open cabinet (some mornings there are as many as three or four) so I closed the it. As I was making breakfast something hit my leg. I didn't think much about it, then but it hit me again. I looked down and noticed the cabinet door moving. Tango had gone in the cabinet I closed, two doors down, made his way to the cabinet I was standing in front of, and was then trying to get out...scaring me in my half sleepy state of mind. It's even more terrifying when all of the doors are closed (meaning I wasn't aware of his playing in the cabinets) and he just bolts out through a random cabinet door, barreling out of the kitchen into the rest of the house, out of seemingly nowhere. He has a thing for dark places. His favorite spot to sleep has always been the closet no matter where we live. Maybe cause he's black?
This brings me to another point. We don't "own" our pets. We allow them to live with us. I'm going to copy and paste again.
My dad thinks I'm crazy because I "become attached". They're just "pets", but really, we don't own our pets. We coexist with them and are allowed to share our lives with them and them with us. We deal with their illnesses (Tango currently vomits whole food pieces everyday...see my "Feline Matters" post), bad/odd habits, quirks, and all. You don't deal with something like that just because. You deal with it because you love them and the joy they provide through their company and character. They are essentially helpless in their domestic state and it is up to us to deliver the best care possible. They rely on us for their needs.
It's no different than having a small child in the house. Some say cats are easier because they're independent, quiet, and self involved. They've never met my cats who are just as whiny, messy, mischievous, and vocal as my youngest sister.
That behavior is not a kitten thing at 6 and 7 years old. It's just who they are and we allow them to be that way. They're not misbehaved. They're simply having fun! They don't get on our shelves and play with Ryan's action figures. They know better than to do that, but they do play tag and jump out to scare each other. Kurumi likes to play with hands, but she keeps her claws pulled in so she won't scratch anyone. She's quite courteous when she plays with people. She has our friends (and ourselves) wrapped around her paw. It's pathetic. She's just too damn cute.
If we pick her up she immediately looks at the ceiling. Most cats don't like to be held (Tango is just now getting to this point after 7 years of work), but she thinks it's a game. She knows that if we pick her up she gets to play with bugs that fly in the house or those sticky hand things. She grabs them, they freak her out, she drops it, we throw it against the ceiling, and it starts over. We don't force them to be something they're not. Many animals act sad and old because they weren't allowed to develop in a way that lets their personality shine through...just like people.
Obviously, we don't train them like people, though, because they're not people. Too many dogs are misbehaved because they're treated like people. We train our cats like cats. We use water in a spray bottle as "punishment" and reinforcement. We give treats for good behavior. They're not allowed at the table or around us as we eat. They know it.
That's another thing! They're so smart! A friend of my mom's kind of insulted me. He was talking about how dumb animals are and how they can't think beyond instinct, etc. She stood up for me and informed him that my cat is trained to sit. He didn't believe her because you "can't train cats". Absolute nonsense. Training her to sit certainly makes going to the vet easier. No carrier. No leash. Sit. Stay. We're good. The fact that I provide comfort probably helps. She knows I'll protect her from those big scary beasts in the waiting room ;)
Another silly quirk (also related to intelligence): Kurumi will sleep straight through the night. In fact, if Tango gets too loud with his 3am crying she will cover her ears, act annoyed, or go beat him down. Sometimes we shut the bedroom door to enjoy some quiet while he's wailing away. The only time Kurumi doesn't sleep through the night is if she really really has to pee. When this happens she jumps on the dresser and knocks a pin or something off, stares at me, waiting to see if I'll stir after hearing something drop. If I don't move or get up, she will knock something else off, and wait. She never does this outside of needing out of the room. And it is never anything breakable. I sometimes think this is coincidence, but I'm pretty convinced now that she knows what she can and can't mess with. As soon as I get up and let her out, she uses the litter box, maybe a drink of water, and comes back to bed for warmth and cuddles. I used to get upset by her knocking things off the dresser until I realized she was trying to communicate, because what better way to get mommy's attention than messing with stuff you shouldn't! The first few times (after realizing the reason) I let her out and closed the door behind her. Now I wait for her to do her business (I might as well have a dog) because she'll scratch at the door, wanting back in.
Tango's most endearing quality is that he sits next to me while I play piano. He's even figured out that pressing keys makes sound. There is one key in particular that he likes. And he's so thoughtful about it. Absolutely adorable. This makes me sound like I don't know how to play to listeners outside of the room, though. Other times he sits next to me on the bench and sleeps or watches, just listening.
It breaks my heart to think that there are people out there who don't get that and think of animals as disposable or able to be neglected without consequence as if they're all the same. If we were able (financially and room available), I would adopt more pets, especially those who have never been loved or allowed to live life as intended. My sister adopted a dog...just a few months old, that was afraid of stairs and looked really confused when we tried to initiate play time. She moped and sat all day because she was punished for playing and "making a scene". It took us months to get her play and enjoy herself. It was so so sad, but extremely thrilling to see her develop with us into an incredible dog.
This is not to say that everyone can be animal people simply by reading this post or about animals, or that everyone *should* be animal people because that's never going to happen, nor is it practical. It's an interest that varies with each person. In Trevor's situation it took sharing his life with a dog to understand and overcome previous perceptions. Some people don't have a passion for animals, and that's fine. If you managed to get through this post without a passion for pets, I commend you! You deserve a sticker or something.