From the Blog

Bad Attention

I don’t have kids, but I have a cat. And a husband. Having both, the cat now for nine years, and the husband for a couple months, (plus a couple year pre-marriage trial period), I am very closely qualified for a degree in psychology. Throughout my years of having a cat, I have learned a great many things about the workings of little kitty brains that translate surprisingly well in the understanding of human relations.

For instance, I know that I can shower endless attention and affection on the cat, especially at the end of the day when I come home from work, when he greets me at the door like a happy labrador. He will roll around on the floor, curl around our legs, and chirp and yap at us until we get down on our hands and knees and give him a rigorous rubdown. And even then, he is not truly content until we are sitting down with a lap for him to curl up in.

But regardless of how much love and attention we may give the kitty, if we begin to turn our attention elsewhere, and we are not fully “present” and focused on him, he will make his displeasure known. It’s hard to share a lap with a laptop and a cat at the same time. He wants to be between me and whatever is the object of the attention that is rightfully his. He will try to perch in whatever tiny space there may be, inches even, and sit there like a dead lump of fur. He’s hard to see through. Eventually, the kitty will become irritated with the tapping or movement and slink off to go be destructive and scratch things he shouldn’t.

I don’t know if you know this, but kitties have brains the size of a pea. And it doesn’t  matter how many times I may yell at him to stop scratching the chair, or stop hooking his claws into the drapes, or stop chewing the cord from the blinds. It takes all of ten seconds to forget what he’s not supposed to be doing. And he does it again. He fixates on the “bad thing,” and keeps doing it until I shoo him away. Then he will go find some other interesting bad thing to do. And I chase him around the house, shooing him away. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It’s particularly bad when I’m on the phone. He may have been sleeping before, and I may have quietly been doing something else. But if he hears my voice talking to someone, it reminds him in his little kitty pea brain that he doesn’t have my full attention. And he comes running and does something bad and I yell at him.

Classic, right? He’s not getting the attention he wants, so he goes for the next best substitute, the “bad attention.” But he’s normally a sweet kitty the other 5% of the time he is not being a bastard. He really is.

Over the weekend, I was on the phone, catching up with my parents. I talked to both my mom, and then my dad. My parents live 1000 miles away, so we usually have a bit to chat about once the weekend rolls around. Before I was on the phone, Dave was quietly tapping away at his workstation. But as soon as I got on the phone, I hear him ask me a question. And I realize, he’s not asking me a question, he’s full on trying to have a conversation with me, but I can’t hear him because I’m on the phone and my brain can’t process two conversations at once. So I shooed him away and pointed to the phone, in case it wasn’t obvious like, “See? This device? It’s a phone. I’m on the phone right now, so please stop talking to me.”

So he decided it was as good a time as any to shred the junk mail, three feet away as I was on the phone. With, you know, a loud, shreddy machine. Baffling. I gave him the stink eye and he grinned and stopped. Then he sat next to me on the couch and, I’m sorry to have to share this, internet, but he began poking and tickling and yes, I believe the word is groping. While I was on the phone with my parents. I’m trying to talk to my dad on the phone about what to get my mom for her birthday, while my husband was trying to cop a feel.

I’m sorry internet. I’m sorry, Dad.

In the absolute very least, he does not hang on the drapes or destroy furniture.

Comments

  1. I can’t imagine I’d get a much different review from my wife… Though don’t get her started on a comparison between kitties and our kids. They’re equally destructive and demanding of attention. :)

  2. Ah, newlyweds. Nothing in the world quite as cute as them.

    Of course, when me and The Wife™ were newlyweds there wasn’t a WWW and blogs to share such things on … quite yet. Mayhap just as well.

    Speaking as a husband in good standing (though obvs not yours … that would be awkward) and someone who has cats I can say that it’s good to have cats around because not only are they cute, lovable, a sight for sore eyes, little you-worshipers and they PURRRRRR, but they also provide someone in this house who I’m reliably sure I’m smarter than.

    And for that, they are worth their fuzzy weight in gold.

    But you’re absolutely right about the little kitty pea brain. Somtimes I think our cats are God’s way of incarnating the word DUH and putting it on four cute paws. I mean, if they WERE as smart as some of us cat people think they are, they’d have already exacted dread retribution for the LOLCat meme … am I right?

  3. @Jim, I didn’t want to outright say that having a cat was good kid training. But has certainly been good husband training.

    @Sam, This is Dave’s first experience living with a cat. At first, one of them was afraid of the other (human was afraid of sweet little kitty), but now they are good friends. I hear things like, “Me and kitty are going to make coffee.” Or, “Me and kitty and going to put on our shoes.” Or, “Me and kitty are going to do the dishes.” A kitty in the house often means I am “out voted.” And because the kitty can’t speak english, his vote is most often ceremonious only, and can’t be used to break a stalemate. FWIW, lack of english withstanding, we know it is likely the kitty is on my side.

  4. Picture of said kitty? I forgot what he looked like.

  5. If you think cats and husbands are bad when you’re on the phone, kids are much, much worse.

  6. Aw, gee. “Me and Kitty”. Adorable. And the cat was yours? I think Kitty’s been annexed!

    It’s a good thing we don’t give our kitties the vote. Gridlock? You ain’t seen nuthin!

  7. It must run in the family Heather! I have the SAME problem over here!

  8. why is he being a bastard in the photo? he just curling up against the warmth of the laptop. If i set my laptop down somewhere he can get access to it, my big boy is on it in an instant. Same with books, and shoes. Sometimes he falls asleep wiht his head in my shoes… but I digress.
    For changing bad behavior of a cat there is NO equal to a squirt bottle of water. Bad behavior? squirt!! more bad behavior? SQUIRT!!! with consistent use, within a week the bad behavior will be over. It took three days to retrain the pussies to stay out of the kitchen at feeding time. They were crowding around my mom’s feet, and she is none so steady on her pins. She had stumbled a couple times. Squirt bottle came to the rescue.
    It might even work on Dave =)

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