Feline Behavior

Allegra and Her Special Toy

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A couple of weeks ago, we explored why cats bring their humans gifts. There are a lot of different theories, ranging from cats believing that humans are such poor hunters that they need help to thanking humans for providing a home and food for them. Please read Why Does Your Cat Bring You Gifts for more information. A lot of you shared your cats’ gift giving behavior in the comments, so today, I’d like to tell you about Allegra and her special toy.

Her special toy is not fancy. It’s an ancient olive green and tan suede mouse that was given to her by a friend when I first adopted her in 2010. The mouse lost its tail somewhere along the way.

She picks it up and carries it around the house, chirping and singing and sometimes yowling. It sounds a bit plaintive, a sad little cry, as if she had lost something. The first time I heard it, I thought she’d hurt herself! As soon as I look for her when she does this, she drops the toy and stops, which is why I haven’t been able to get a video of her with the toy.

Almost every morning, I find her special toy in the bedroom, even though it doesn’t “live” there during the day. Some mornings, I find it under the covers. I have never heard her bring it during the night. I’m a relatively light sleeper, but apparently not so light that her chirping, singing and yowling wakes me up – or perhaps, she is considerate enough to bring the toy quietly at night?

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Allegra’s previous special toy

Interestingly, she’s only considered that suede mouse “special” for the last five or six years. Before then, she had a different “baby” – an ancient toy that actually belonged to Feebee, who passed away in 2000. She dug that out of the toy basket one day, and apparently decided that it was going to be her “baby.” It’s a soft, plush little stuffed mitten with a tail that has a pompon at the end. Then one day, she lost interest in that toy and the green suede mouse became her baby.

She never actually plays with these toys, but yet, they’re clearly very special to her.

Amber had her own version of a special toy: a green and tan fuzzy mouse that I got for her when she first came to live with me. For the entire ten years that she was with me, that mouse was her special “baby.” Like Allegra, she’d pick it up, carry it around the house, crying and yowling. Amber would often sleep with her “baby,” something I rarely see Allegra do. 

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Amber with her special toy

What’s really interesting to me is that Ruby won’t ever touch Allegra’s “baby.” Ruby considers every other toy in our house hers – but yet, she hasn’t once played with Allegra’s suede mouse. This was also the case with Amber’s green and tan mouse. Even though Buckley was already a senior when she came to live with us, she still liked to play, but she never once touched Amber’s special toy. When Allegra joined Amber and me as a 7-month-old kitten who would go after anything that moved, she never once played with Amber’s special mouse.

I asked Allegra to tell you about her special toy, but she declined. She said some things aren’t meant to be explained to humans.

Why Does Your Cat Bring You Gifts?

cat-carrying-toy

Guest post by Will Hodges

A few months after Anya, our first feline family member, walked into our lives, I began to find one of her favorite toys in my bedroom every morning. This seemed odd to me, as all of her toys were kept on the main floor of our home, and bringing a fluffy toy ball all the way up the stairs and into the bedroom was definitely not an easy chore.Continue Reading

How to Make the Cat Carrier Attractive to Your Cat

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This post is sponsored by Sleepyod

While the cat carrier may not be your cat’s favorite place, it is an important part of your cat’s life, and it can be vital in an emergency.  And it’s up to you to convince your cat that spending time in the carrier feels good. Unfortunately, for most cats, the only time they’re in a carrier is when they have to go to the veterinarian, so the association with carriers is often a negative and stressful one. Continue Reading

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Welcome to our regular “Ask the Cat Behaviorist with Mikel Delgado” segment. Once a month, we’ll post a reminder for you to post your questions for Mikel. She’ll answer as many of them as she can each time, and I’ll publish her answers in a subsequent post.

Mikel is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Minds, offering on-site consultations for cat guardians, shelters, and pet-related businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, and remote consultations around the world. She obtained her PhD in Psychology at UC Berkeley, where she studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships. Mikel is co-author of Jackson Galaxy’s forthcoming book, Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat.Continue Reading

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Cats often get a bad reputation with regards to birds. A few years ago, I wrote Faulty Science Spread Lies About Cats and Their Impact on Wildlife, and even though the post is a few years old, the information is still relevant. But there is a way for birds to not only coexist peacefully with cats, they can also provide stimulating entertainment for indoor cats, and the best part: nobody gets hurt.Continue Reading

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Despite the stereotype of “fighting like cats and dogs,” cats and dogs can live together peacefully in the same household and even become best friends. If you are thinking of adding a canine companion to your feline household, some simple common sense precautions will ensure that everyone gets along.Continue Reading

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ask-the-cat-behaviorist

Welcome to our regular “Ask the Cat Behaviorist with Mikel Delgado” segment. Once a month, we’ll post a reminder for you to post your questions for Mikel. She’ll answer as many of them as she can each time, and I’ll publish her answers in a subsequent post.

Mikel is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Minds, offering on-site consultations for cat guardians, shelters, and pet-related businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, and remote consultations around the world. She obtained her PhD in Psychology at UC Berkeley, where she studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships. Mikel is co-author of Jackson Galaxy’s forthcoming book, Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat.Continue Reading

How to Leash Train Your Cat

leash-train-cat

There is no question that indoor cats live longer and healthier lives. The average life expectancy for an indoor cat is 12 to 15 years vs. 4 to 5 years for an outdoor cat. To ensure that they also live happy lives, it is imperative that cat guardians provide a stimulating environment. If you feel strongly that your cat should have access to the great outdoors, leash training is a way to allow her to safely enjoy being outside. For some cats, safe outdoor excursions can help prevent behavior problems by stimulating them and helping them burn off excess energy. Leash training can also come in handy during trips to the veterinarian, or during emergency situations.Continue Reading

Ask the Cat Behaviorist with Mikel Delgado: A Lost Cat, a Cat With Pica, a Screaming Tortie and More

ask-the-cat-behaviorist

Welcome to our regular “Ask the Cat Behaviorist with Mikel Delgado” segment. Once, or every other month, we’ll post a reminder for you to post your questions for Mikel. She’ll answer as many of them as she can each time, and I’ll publish her answers in a subsequent post.

Mikel is a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Minds, offering on-site consultations for cat guardians, shelters, and pet-related businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area, and remote consultations around the world. She obtained her PhD in Psychology at UC Berkeley, where she studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships. Mikel is co-author of Jackson Galaxy’s forthcoming book, Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat, due out October 31and available for pre-order now (this is an affiliate link*).Continue Reading