Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mantel Decor

Harris has claimed the mantel as his territory. I can't remember when I last saw anyone else up there. He occupies that corner almost every day, often when I'm sitting in the armchair nearby and he wants his supper. From that perch he keeps a watchful eye on me from above. When I look up, he's usually staring down at me, like a hawk or a vulture (a cute one) staking out its prey. I don't mind.

He is the most imperious, entitled cat I've ever had. His remarkable self-esteem is often written all over his face:

I've had to remind myself lately that not all cats are as well-mannered as mine. I've heard and read lately about cats who maliciously attack, scratch, and bite their people. Possum smacks us a fair amount (without claws) because we don't obey him as much as he wants but he doesn't hurt us. And Harris will quietly bite my hand if I'm working on a difficult mat in his fur, to remind me to be careful, which is fair. When I was a kid, we had a vicious tiger who made life exciting, but my current five are uniformly sweet and gentle.* Even Wendy, who still has a feral streak, has never once tried to harm us.

I'm always surprised when I talk to non-cat people, who think it is normal for cats to be nasty and unpredictable and to draw blood. When I hear this, I instinctively blame the people, not the cats. I always assume that a nasty cat is a mistreated cat, one that has learned to protect itself. Yes, they are designed to be little killing machines, with claws, fangs, and powerful jaws, but only for prey and predators. People don't belong in either category, and cats who think otherwise usually have their reasons.

If you learn to respect and read cats, to communicate with them, and if you aren't a jerk, the claws and fangs will never come out. Learning to speak cat is a lifelong project, endlessly interesting because every cat is different, but they all like to be understood, just as we do.

Harris believes the world is his and he never needs to lift a paw, or use a claw, to prove it.

* Except for the last time Lion had went to Angell Animal Hospital after swallowing string. He escaped from his cage, and as two vet techs struggled to catch him, he bit one hard enough to draw blood, and somehow gave the other one a head injury. 


  1. Truer words were never spoken! A biting, clawing cat is one that is stressed and misunderstood. Harris is a doll; love his floofiness!

  2. well those techs weren't speaking cat, they were speaking frantic vet tech who needed to catch an escaping cat, which is just what an escaping cat does not need. They deserved it. :)

    And he sits up there because he's the alpha and it is his job to keep an eye on as much territory as possible.


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