Monday, November 23, 2009

Cat Ownership Metaphor

Like emotions, when a cat’s needs aren’t being met, they will let you know. This desperate attempt at communicating may be quite unpleasant, as cats (emotions) have a limited capacity for communicating with their owners. You may be clawed at, jumped on, or left with copious amounts of bodily fluids on your living room floor.

The important thing to remember is that your cat is not doing these things simply to aggravate you. They are just trying to let you know something isn’t working for them. Also like emotions, cats can not be ignored (one person, literally, suggested the option of putting a cat down if they had become a nuisance, which I vehemently disagreed with, literally and metaphorically). You have to live with them.

You might be able to take a brief reprieve by putting the cat outside or in another room for awhile (this could refer to any distress tolerance techniques), but eventually they will scratch at the door demanding to be let back into your company.

On the positive side of this metaphor, cats can be very tender, loving, warm, and playful companions.

However, in order for felines to function in full capacity, one needs to figure out the specific favour being requested. In the literal sense, this might be accomplished through any type of therapy or personal introspection.

If the issue has been left for too long before being attended to, the work in remedying the situation (cleaning up the copious amounts of bodily fluids) can be unpleasant. And one can easily become disgruntled if after cleaning up a mess, the cat repeats the same unwanted behaviour (this might mean one has tried a particular coping strategy, and found it successful, only to have their original issue resurface). But all this means is that more work needs to be done in identifying the problem. It could also mean that the problem has been identified, but the remedy is a process rather than a one time fix (such as if the cat had a bladder infection and required medicine for a few weeks).

If ‘owned’ in a healthy manner, cats will function in a likewise manner. This is not to say they will always behave perfectly, as feline temperaments are subject to situational changes (literally this might be any non-constant stressor such as getting a flat tire during rush hour, etc.), but that they will behave appropriately in stressful situations (instead of urinating on your laundry, they may meow outside of their litter box to let you know it’s time to clean it. A person who has a flat tire may call BCAA instead of getting angry).

And sometimes a cat just needs to be, gently but sternly, taught what the rules are (setting boundaries on your emotions and behaviours).

All in all, when properly tended to, living with cats is an extremely enjoyable experience.

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