What words do you use to describe your cat and his actions?
“When you nonchalantly say things like ‘he hates me’ or ‘he’s the devil incarnate’ it paints your cat in a way that can’t be unpainted”. – Jackson Galaxy.
I have just written about swearing at your cat. It should never happen or very rarely but I bet it happens more often that humans care to consider. The point of this article is that if cat guardians/caretakers frequently describe their cat to others as ‘my cat attacks me viciously’ or ‘he’s my devil kitty’ you have to question whether the owner’s attitude is up to the task of caring for a domestic cat to an adequate standard.
The fact is that if the family cat is attacking someone at home regularly and visciously the usual reason is either (1) the cat is extremely anxious because of the atmosphere in the place and he is provoked into aggression or (2) he is playing and his bites are gentle and not even breaking the person’s skin but the owner reacts to this in an extreme way describing it as vicious attacking. In both instances the human is normally in the wrong and I not supporting the cat blindly. It’s common sense.
Jackson Galaxy makes a good point on this topic. He says that if a cat owner uses words like ‘attack’ or ‘mean’ or ‘aggression’ when speaking about their cat they are “assigning intention and/or deeper meaning, inaccurate or exaggerated as it may be, to a behavior or action”.
As he has a wealth of experience in dealing with problem cats and meeting their owners to sort it out, he can say confidently that “close to 90 percent of the time I’m at least partially dealing with a problem of perception, and the language used around perception”. He says that descriptions of feline behavior such as ‘my cat is attacking me randomly’ is ‘just chatter’.
In other words the cat’s owner has misplaced perceptions about cat behavior and their cat’s interactions with their owner and the description is normally inaccurate, or imprecise. For me these sorts of descriptions of cat behaviour describe more accurately the attitude, knowledge and behavior of the cat’s caretaker.
He correctly says that these words suggest that the cat is a stranger to the owner and they create an emotional barrier between human and cat. It is almost as if the person has given up on the relationship. It is one stage before relinquishing the cat to a shelter.
Jackson has heard these words “over and over again for minor offences like ankle nipping, even when the skin isn’t broken…and even when no direct contact is made, for that matter”.
He describes the words as ‘poison’ to the relationship. It is not wise to label your cat this way even if there is some (probably misguided but perhaps not) justification for it. Cats understand the tone of human language but not the words. Labelling domestic cats this way in front of or towards the cat is bad for the cat. It will turn off their Mojo by which he means their joie de vivre (joy of living) – my interpretation.
Note: I have intermingled my thoughts with those of Mr Galaxy but the article is based on his thoughts as written in Total Cat Mojo.