A good cat owner – I prefer to use the phrase “cat caretaker” or “cat guardian” – should rely on intuition or a gut feeling when deciding if her cat is feeling well and is content or not.
To many people, it might seem very vague and wishy-washy to rely upon something so intangible when it comes to something as important as their cat’s health and welfare.
However, a “gut feeling” is anything but vague and wishy-washy. If a person has a gut feeling about something, anything, they are in fact pulling together, in their brain, many diverse bits of information that they have gained through personal experience to come up with an answer or solution.
A good cat caretaker knows her cat very well because she frequently interacts with her cat and is thoughtful and observant. Over many years the person builds up a database of information in her brain about her cat. This information is difficult to put into words and to physically collate because it is all merged together. However, just because it cannot be written down it does not mean that it is not highly valuable information. In fact, it is probably some of the best bits of information that a person has and it is used when one has a gut feeling or an intuition about something.
Many times in my life, particularly now that I’m older, I have used a gut feeling about something to make a decision. I do this when I am unable to find out information about something but my brain automatically calls up information stored there over my entire life based upon experiences and some of these experiences are similar to the situation about which I have to make a decision.
The same can be said about cat caretaking. Almost without realising it we know the habits, routines, likes and dislikes of our cat. We know his physical traits and we know how he feels and how he smells and the sounds that he makes. We know how he has changed over the years and all this information is stored in our brain and we don’t even know it, sometimes.
But when we are called upon to make a decision our brain taps into this information in a highly sophisticated and subtle way. The brain does not look up an answer as if it was searching through a reference book, the whole process is intuitive and the information is merged together to provide a feeling about something which can be relied upon with a great deal of certainty.
One of the areas of cat caretaking where a gut feeling is particularly valuable is in respect of the health of your cat. In a recent article, Jo discussed the subject of cat pain and how it can sometimes be difficult to decide if your cat is in pain. There may be subtle signs and the subtle signs were relate to slight changes in behaviour. This is where the gut feeling of a cat owner comes into play. Intuitively the person makes a comparison between the behaviour of her cat at present and compares it to his behaviour beforehand. Then, also intuitively, a decision is made based upon further experience whether the change in behaviour relates to health or something else.
The key to successfully using intuition and gut feeling is to be, at least, a reasonably thoughtful and observant person. If the person is unable or unwilling to be observant and thoughtful then quite naturally any gut feeling that the person has will be less reliable because there will be less information stored in her brain, gained through experience. And the wider amount of experience a cat owner has, the more reliable and the more accurate will be the gut feeling that she has. I suppose this is common sense but I believe it is worth stating. It is why in the title I started off by referring to “good cat owners” because bad cat owners cannot rely upon their intuition.
Photo credit: by Eirik Newth