For the Love of Cats

What is a cat whisperer?

A cat whisperer is a person who respects and understand cats. Understanding cats is not rocket science. There are some very basic things about cats, that if you would learn them, you might become a cat whisperer, but for the most part it takes a special kind of attitude to be a cat whisperer.

Most cat whisperers come by it naturally simply because a certain type of personality will appeal to a cat more than others. If you can come to understand a cat as an individual, you realize that each one of them is different.

The first thing to remember is that you cannot train a cat in the same manner you would train a dog, although you can train cats. I don’t train cats, I communicate with them on their own level and respect them as individuals.

Does your cat snooze in a cardboard box?

Cat in cardboard box

Understanding Your Cat

In understanding a cat, there are some basics things you should know. When you first meet a cat they will size you up. In their mind, usually, the first thing they are wondering is if you are a threat to them. That is the first thing they will try to determine. If they determine that you are a threat, their first response is to run away or hide or both. This is very simple.

I have only met one cat who seemed to automatically trust everyone, even a cat killing dog; but that cat was not smart enough to use the litter box and made messes all over the house. I suspect that this particular cat had spent its entire life indoors in an extremely safe environment until someone dumped her into my alley. She had been de-clawed and de-fanged and was completely helpless outdoors.

Most cats will pick up on people’s attitudes and personalities, but it is not by some magical power they possess. They are just very sensitive and observant. Just because a person claims to like cats, or thinks they like cats, that is no guarantee that a cat will be receptive and friendly to them.

A “dog person” expects to be the master and expects a dog to obey him. They expect that a dog will be friendly and try to please him. If a dog person expects this sort of relationship with a cat, he will be sorely disappointed. If a cat senses this attitude, the cat will avoid or hide from that person.

In short, cats don’t tolerate being pushed around or forced into anything. They are not as trusting as dogs, and they don’t need to be because they are not pack animals. Their survival depends on their own ability to ascertain a threat and they have no pack instincts. They are solitary animals who have to fend for themselves. Therefore, cats are much more responsible and in tune with their individual predatory instincts than dogs, whose ancestors hunted in packs.

I fancy myself a cat whisper, but I once met an even better one. He was a veterinarian. I had to take Romeo, a rescued tom cat, to the vet and I was worried about Romeo's reaction to this strange new person. The vet was going to have to examine his ears, which were infected with a painful skin cancer. Romeo had not been very happy with me when I tried to examine and medicate his ears. I never declaw my cats and I was worried that Romeo might claw the vet. I warned the vet that his claws were very sharp, to be careful. The vet was not the least bit concerned by my warning.

I was astonished when this vet opened the cat cage and Romeo came right out and happily greeted the veterinarian, willingly allowing him to examine his ears with no protest (or claw attack) at all. It was not as though I did not know Romeo very well, he had been living with me for several years. The vet spoke to Romeo with such real sympathy and gentleness it warmed my heart, and apparently Romeo's too. I was truly amazed and grateful for this cat whisperer veterinarian.

A cat whisperer is not simply a person who sets out food for feral cats living in the alley behind their house. A cat whisperer loves and respects cats. They will usually have more than one cat, and most of the cats will have chosen the cat whisperer rather than the other way around.

A cat whisperer is often a host or rescuer of cats, not a collector of cats. A cat whisperer loves cats as individuals and knows that each cat will have a unique personality. While a cat collector might have their cat de-clawed, a cat whisperer would never do that, and might think of it as cruel and selfish.