As a standard procedure, Laurel Pet Hospital in West Hollywood have a mini hand which is affixed to a person’s finger for petting nervous cats. Available on Amazon, the mini hand is normally used to entertain people.
In the video you see Goldie, an orphan cat. She is shy. She prefers to stay in her cage rather than mix with other cats in the open ward.
Alan Akobian, one of Goldie’s carers, says that Goldie prefers the mini hand to a normal human hand. She likes it so much that:
“[She’ll] even give you kisses if you do it long enough.”
Goldie has been living at the California hospital for several years and is looking for a forever home. Perhaps shyness has been a barrier to adoption. She used to be a stray.
Goldie is one of those resident rescue cats who struggles to show their best side and to be adopted. But what interests me particularly on this occasion is the mini hand. I have never seen one before as a cat petting tool. Clearly it is more acceptable to Goldie because of its size.
This leads me to question how domestic cats feel emotionally about the size of the human hand and being petted by it. It calls into question whether cats in general feel comfortable being petted by the human hand because it is too large and therefore perhaps intimidating to the shier cats.
Domestic cats have a wide range of temperaments from extremely shy to extremely confident. Goldie is one of the shier cats but there will be others who are more confident but may still be slightly concerned about a human hand being waved in front of them.
It’s a thought, no less. It goes to the big issue about our relationship with domestic cats, namely the size difference. Our presence can be intimidating. It’s one reason why when we thrust our face into a cat’s face they nearly always back away. It’s just too big to deal with. I’m not saying all cats find the human head to be intimidating but I would say with some confidence that it is, in general, a little bit intimidating close up.
The use of the mini hand also calls into question the fact that this cat does not mind the feel of a synthetic material. She has no preference for the feel of the skin and bone of a living hand. That’s a bit concernig in a way.
You will notice in the still photograph taken from the video that on the hospital’s checklist has a reference to this mini hand and whether the cat concerned enjoys being petted by it. Clearly, it is part of the standard cat care procedure at this hospital. Have you seen it anywhere else? I’ll be surprised if you have but perhaps I’ve simply missed this over the years.