True friendship includes complete acceptance of the friend; the behavior you like and dislike in equal measure. Here is a quote on that from George Eliot1:
“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”
And another from Jim Morrison2:
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
Of course, the quotes apply to people. They could equally apply to your companion animal and in this instance, I refer to your cat companion.
Myself and especially Ruth aka Kattaddorra have consistently promoted this idea of accepting every aspect of the cat. Frequently, the concept of acceptance of a cat’s behavior is in the context of claws. I like a cat’s claws because they are an important and useful part of the cat. However, a lot of cat owners don’t like their cat’s claws. The same applies to a lot of vets. They reject them as something unacceptable and so they modify the cat. At the same time they refer to their cat as a friend. The cat owner’s behavior is not one of friendship under these circumstances. It is one of possession and control at best.
The concept of pure friendship, through total acceptance, covers all aspects of the relationship. The best cat caretakers find ways to accommodate their cat’s likes and dislikes. This allows the cat to behave as naturally as possible. There are many health benefits to this.
Clearly, there has to be some degree of control for safety and common sense reasons. Acceptance of a cat’s behavior automatically shuts out punishment as a way of training a cat because there is nothing to punish the cat for.
It is universally accepted by all decent thinking people that the best relationships between people are ones in which each respects, accepts and supports the other.
The exact same principles should apply to the relationship between cat caretaker and cat.
If a person is unable to accept some aspects of a cat’s behavior, they should have sorted that out in their heads before adopting a cat. Perhaps the most important moment in “owing” a cat, is when you don’t own him – the moment before you commit.
This means that potential cat owners really must learn about cats before taking on the responsibility of a lifetime of caretaking. They should understand the costs, cat behavior, vet’s bills, a bit about cat health, and commit to spending money on cat health when required. They should commit to accepting all aspects of cat behavior. If a person cannot resolve the responsibilities in their heads then the sensible course of action is to adopt another animal species or no animal at all.
Examples of acceptance/rejection (there are a multitude of other examples):
|Behavior||Acceptance (owner’s thought process)||Rejection (owner’s thought process)|
|Cat scratches sofa||Before I adopted him I accepted that this might happen. My cat naturally does this for a host of reasons. I need to accept scratches and/or purchase a heavy-duty scratching post and encourage him to use it.||My cat has damaged my precious sofa. I hate that. Claws are destructive. I must get rid of those claws by amputation of the last phalange of all of his ten front toes.|
|Cat scratches child||This is my fault. I failed to supervise my child and to make sure she handled my cat gently and properly. I must take remedial action.||My cat’s claws are dangerous. They have to be removed.|
|Cat wants to go out||I’ll let him out if it is safe to do so because it is better for him and what is better for him is better for me, too.||It is always too dangerous outside. He may get attacked and he may get a disease and pass it on to me. I reject that. I have to play safe and keep him in at all times. I won’t entertain any other solutions such as an enclosure because it will spoil the appearance of my house.|
Acceptance is one of the principles that falls under the concept of respecting your cat.
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- George Eliot is Mary Anne Evans (1819-1880). She was an English novelist of the Victorian era.
- James Douglas “Jim” Morrison was the lead singer of the pop group “The Doors”.