Compiled by Harold Reynolds and updated on December 6, 1994
The following is a manual of guidelines for the busy cat(s) who will have a house to manage after adopting one or more humans. It is, of course, impossible to cover all possible situations, as those humans are always up to some sort of mischief, but the compiler and contributors to this guide have endeavoured to cover as wide a variety of topics as possible. It is important that this document be kept out of the hands of humans, who will undoubtedly find a way to use it to their advantage.
In order to get the energy to sleep, play, and hamper, a cat must eat. Eating, however, is only half the fun. The other half is getting the food. Cats have two ways to obtain food: convincing a human you are starving to death and must be fed now; and hunting for it oneself. The following are some guidelines for getting fed.
a) When the humans are eating, make sure you leave the tip of your tail in their dishes when they are not looking.
b) Never eat food from your own bowl if you can steal some from the table.
c) Never drink from your own water bowl if a human's glass is full enough to drink from.
d) The best times to inform humans of your dish's emptiness are when they are unable to ignore you, such as when they are sleeping or on the toilet. If you insist on waking a human at what it considers a "ridiculously early hour" for breakfast, be warned that the human may be as likely to throw you outside or in the basement as to feed you.
e) Should you catch something of your own outside, it is only polite to attempt to get to know it. Be insistent; your food will usually not be so polite and try to leave. If you can't be bothered to eat the food you've just caught, be considerate and don't waste it; it makes a perfect gift for humans! Carefully pick it up and carry it to the human's house and, if the door is closed, leave it on the doorstep. If the door is open, or there is a cat-flap, take it inside and leave it somewhere highly visible. The gift will be even more welcome if it is still alive! Live birds and mice make the best gifts as humans love a good game of chase just as much as you do, although be careful not to help them; it's their gift after all.
f) Table scraps are delicacies with which the humans are unfortunately unwilling to readily part. It is beneath the Dignity of a cat to beg outright for food as lower forms of life such as dogs will, but several techniques exist for ensuring that the humans don't forget you exist. These include, but are not limited to: jumping onto the lap of the "softest" human and purring loudly; lying down in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen, the Direct Stare, and twining around people's legs as they sit and eat while meowing plaintively.
g) Coffee is known to be rejuvenating for both cats and humans. Whenever a human sets a cup of coffee on the floor within your reach, s/he is showing you great respect and worship. Softly blow the divine liquid until cool (you may even put your paw in it to make sure the temperature is just right) and then daintily drink it.
h) Occasionally there will be disagreements over what you and the humans will deem as edible. The appropriate action, should the stuff in question be too repulsive to ignore, is to bury it. Scratch at the floor and try to drag over objects to cover the offending item. This informs the ignorant human that it really belongs in the litter box.
Most cats think that this strange-looking plant is Food of the Gods and better even than tuna. There are some, however, who are sadly deprived of the ability to enjoy this wonderful treat and will look upon the others with a mixture of confusion and disgust at the utter lack of Dignity of those partaking. If you are one of the latter, please skip to the next section.
Catnip is available in two forms, in the wild as an odd-looking plant that grows in delightfully fragrant, though often rather flattened, patches, and from the humans in a concentrated dried form. Unfortunately, the humans know of our weakness for catnip and will try to hold it out from us, often employing some very ingenious methods to do so. If the humans are careless enough to leave any catnip within reach, it is imperative to get it no matter what you have to tear apart to do so. Otherwise the humans will use it to attempt to coerce us to do things which would otherwise be beneath us.
The greatest hazard of catnip is that it causes those cats under its influence to utterly lose their Dignity. They roll around foolishly, purr at maximum volume, tear around the house at top speed, and do other things no sane cat would be caught doing. Do attempt to control yourself, especially if your humans have a "video camera" and are prone to using it.
Water (also known as Cat Solvent) would be really great if it wasn't so wet! Dripping taps are the best sources of fresh water in the whole house. Toilets are the next best (but the water inside must be colorless and contain nothing!) Therefore it is imperative that any sound of running water be immediately investigated in case a free drink may be obtained. The bathtub is the best place to lurk in the bathroom when a human is present. A plaintive meow or two and perhaps hopefully licking the faucet usually will get most humans to turn on the tap for you. If the bathroom door is closed, demand entry noisily (see Doors). The water dish is to be used only as a last resort in case the humans leave the toilet lid down and the tub and sink are dry.
If a human has a sufficiently wide-mouthed glassful of liquid, immediately stick your face into the glass. If the opening is too narrow, dip your paw into the liquid, swirl it around, and give it the taste test. You may be pleasantly surprised to find beer or even milk! In any case, if the liquid is good, continue to sample, but only while your human is distracted. Some of the best water is ornamented with those cold, hard buoyant cubes that bob up and down in the liquid when pressed lightly. If your human protests, lick the condensation on the outside of the glass.
As mentioned above, in order to have enough energy for playing, a cat must get plenty of sleep. It is generally not difficult to find a comfortable place to curl up. Any place a human likes to sit is good, especially if it contrasts with your fur colour. If it's in a sunbeam or near a heating duct or radiator, so much the better. Of course, good places also exist outdoors, but have the disadvantages of being seasonal and dependent on current and previous weather conditions such as rain. Open windows are a good compromise.
A) Snoring is not a talent unique to humans; if the cat is sharing a bed with two humans, the well skilled cat can cause one of the humans to be blamed/swatted/smacked for the deed by the other.
B) If your humans don't let you into the bedroom at night, make them suffer for it. Even if they give you a nice warm room of your own to sleep in at night, with a catflap to the outside world, that just isn't good enough. There are several ways of registering your disapproval.
a) Trash the room they give you to sleep in. After all, the humans don't sleep in it, so why should you?
b) Fight noisily with other cats in the neighbourhood, just outside their bedroom window. Make sure that you appear in the morning with as many fresh scars as possible. Spend some time perfecting an aggrieved "Well, I wouldn't have all these injuries if you only let me sleep in the bedroom at night" expression.
c) When they finally rise and take a shower or a bath, locate the appropriate drain pipe and yowl up it. That amplified and disembodied "Meow" is sure to surprise them, as is the length of time you can do this without getting hoarse.
d) When they finally come downstairs, and call for you, refuse to use the catflap to enter the house. There's a perfectly good front door they can open. Of course, if they should anticipate you by opening the front door and calling, ignore them. You should only appear by the front door and yowl once they've closed it again.
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