Now that I’m an adult, I guess I should adopt a more serious tone and deal with a somewhat difficult topic: politeness. Not everyone knows that we cats care about protocol and formality. We like our routines and appreciate it when humans comply with our rules. I am not just talking here about feeding us whenever we want or getting up to play with us in the middle of the night. (I have heard some home cats test their people in these ways.) This is more about how we prefer to meet and play with strangers like most of the guests in the café. I have a reputation for sleeping a lot and many people remark that I am aloof, slinking away out of reach of those who try to pet me. I suppose I should just come out and say it bluntly: some humans are so annoying! But I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you just don’t know how we cats want to be treated.
Firstly, remember that we are not only predators, we are also prey (even if we are not so in New Zealand, we still have the instincts). This means that we will usually run from anything that seems to chase or hunt us. You may not think you are threatening but if you move quickly or look at us intently, we may not be able to resist our urge to run. These are things predators do.
Second, we use our sense of smell to decide if someone is all right. Let us sniff your hand before you start to pet us. Consider how startled you might be if someone just started touching you without introducing themselves first.
Thirdly, don’t put the toys right in our faces. We may swat them away, but this is not play; this is annoyance. Our play is pretend hunting. It is hard for us to make believe that a toy is prey when it is too close to us. The best thing is to move it erratically a little bit out of our reach or drag it away from us or show it to us and then hide it as we watch. This is how our natural prey acts and we will hardly be able to resist pouncing or chasing anything that stimulates our instincts. You may say, “My home cat lets me do all these things, so what’s the big deal?” Please remember, your home cat loves you and tolerates a lot that an unfamiliar cat won’t until it knows it can trust you. Even your home cat may appreciate a little more politeness in your relationship since it shows you care.
I hope I have not offended anyone with my directness. But, I guess, if I have that is all part of growing up. When you come to the cafe, please tell any humans you see doing these things that we really don’t like it. I am sure you will know how to do it more nicely than I would. Thank you!