#WLAMF no. 24: Kitties can anticipate the future

There is a book called Worry and Nervousness: The Science of Self Mastery. I don’t know a thing about the book or its author, except that its author must not own cats.

How do I know this?

The book makes the claim “man is the only animal that worries.” And anyone who would say such a thing has clearly never lived with a cat.

I have a cat named Liam. He’s generally pretty good-natured, except that he has the unfortunate habit of biting my nose to show me he loves me. I’ve only known him as an adult kitty, and must conclude that at some point when he was a kitten, someone must’ve thought the nose-biting thing was cute as hell and encouraged it.

But Liam is a neurotic kitty, and he worries. Specifically, he worries about his food dish and his water bowl.

He seems to have the capacity to worry about only one of these things at a time; perhaps it is true that man is the only animal that worries about more than one thing at once. A few nights ago, Liam woke me from a sound sleep to tell me something was Very Very Wrong, running back and forth between the bed and his food bowl. I stumbled out of bed all cross and blearly-eyed, to find his dish had only two inches of food left in the bottom of it–scarcely three days’ worth of food! This, naturally, led to something of a panic attack on Liam’s part.

So I filled his food bowl, and went back to dreaming of interviewing shambling horrors or flying an ultralight around the flooded ruins of Old London or whatever the hell I was dreaming about (I have to live inside this head full-time)…

…when Liam woke me once more to tell me something else was Very Very Wrong.

This “something else” turned out to be his water bowl, which was down to a mere three inches or so of water in it–clearly, if you’re a kitty, cause for panic.

Man is the only animal that matters? I beg to differ, sir, and would be pleased to introduce you to a counterexample.


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8 thoughts on “#WLAMF no. 24: Kitties can anticipate the future

  1. Zuul actually got so neurotic about OH MY GODS AND LITTLE FISHES, I CAN SEE THE BOTTOM OF MY FOOD BOWL (even though it’s a pinhole view and the bowl is otherwise full) that we eventually *adopted another cat* to give her more stimulation and get her to stop being quite so stressed-out.

    (She had been in a state of constant low-grade war — with her on the losing end of her larger, fitter brother — since kittenhood, so when my ex and I split up, we each took one cat. Gozer was the happiest he’d ever been — he had His Human all to himself, and he loved it. Zuul, strangely enough, even though she LOATHED her brother and would rarely even sit on opposite sides of the same piece of furniture, got really codependent and needy and unhappy. She didn’t actually want to be Only Cat, she wanted to be Top Cat.)

    Now, the kitten we adopted is 3 years old, and is taller, stronger, faster, and fitter than she is . . . and she still can bop him on the forehead when he’s being too obnoxious about running toward her and leaping over her to indicate a desire to play. She is Top Cat, and that makes her very happy.

    And she’s a LOT less neurotic about the food bowl . . . although we eventually had to switch to a timed feeder, because free-feeding just was not working with her weight issues.

    Some people assert that animals don’t have personalities, much less anxieties and neuroses. I generally roll my eyes and laugh derisively, at that point.

    But, yes — she still does the “TIMMY’S IN THE WELL!” impression if one of us walks into the room and the bowl is empty, even though she knows damn well that it drops 3 times a day without human intervention . . . but she’s a lot more chill about it, strangely enough, rather than checking and re-checking and being unhappy about it all the time.

    — A <3

  2. Zuul actually got so neurotic about OH MY GODS AND LITTLE FISHES, I CAN SEE THE BOTTOM OF MY FOOD BOWL (even though it’s a pinhole view and the bowl is otherwise full) that we eventually *adopted another cat* to give her more stimulation and get her to stop being quite so stressed-out.

    (She had been in a state of constant low-grade war — with her on the losing end of her larger, fitter brother — since kittenhood, so when my ex and I split up, we each took one cat. Gozer was the happiest he’d ever been — he had His Human all to himself, and he loved it. Zuul, strangely enough, even though she LOATHED her brother and would rarely even sit on opposite sides of the same piece of furniture, got really codependent and needy and unhappy. She didn’t actually want to be Only Cat, she wanted to be Top Cat.)

    Now, the kitten we adopted is 3 years old, and is taller, stronger, faster, and fitter than she is . . . and she still can bop him on the forehead when he’s being too obnoxious about running toward her and leaping over her to indicate a desire to play. She is Top Cat, and that makes her very happy.

    And she’s a LOT less neurotic about the food bowl . . . although we eventually had to switch to a timed feeder, because free-feeding just was not working with her weight issues.

    Some people assert that animals don’t have personalities, much less anxieties and neuroses. I generally roll my eyes and laugh derisively, at that point.

    But, yes — she still does the “TIMMY’S IN THE WELL!” impression if one of us walks into the room and the bowl is empty, even though she knows damn well that it drops 3 times a day without human intervention . . . but she’s a lot more chill about it, strangely enough, rather than checking and re-checking and being unhappy about it all the time.

    — A <3

  3. Our cats would lead us places like food, water, Outdoor..but they knew there was a tradeoff, they had to roll over first. The training was for *out* but they adapted it to get whatever it is they wanted. Including my dad’s warm chair with a sneaky bait and switch on the *out*.

    Certainly they were finicky about food and water and Burrito would YOWL when on his way in for cuddles, but I only ever really saw anxiety at the vet’s office.

    We did occasionally see the resentment at the rolling over training before he learned he could use it to get his way at everything. He would sigh out of stubbornness and frustration, try and wait us out, and finally roll at the 8 count of 10.

    They had very different styles of the rolling, too. Thankfully, Nacho mostly learned it from watching Burrito; she didn’t require much training. She was generally more stubborn and would leap out over top of him when door was open, but got much better about it after he passed and she couldn’t sneak.

  4. Our cats would lead us places like food, water, Outdoor..but they knew there was a tradeoff, they had to roll over first. The training was for *out* but they adapted it to get whatever it is they wanted. Including my dad’s warm chair with a sneaky bait and switch on the *out*.

    Certainly they were finicky about food and water and Burrito would YOWL when on his way in for cuddles, but I only ever really saw anxiety at the vet’s office.

    We did occasionally see the resentment at the rolling over training before he learned he could use it to get his way at everything. He would sigh out of stubbornness and frustration, try and wait us out, and finally roll at the 8 count of 10.

    They had very different styles of the rolling, too. Thankfully, Nacho mostly learned it from watching Burrito; she didn’t require much training. She was generally more stubborn and would leap out over top of him when door was open, but got much better about it after he passed and she couldn’t sneak.

  5. Three days

    At least around here, it’s recommended to have at least three days food and water on hand at all times in case of emergencies. Clearly three days food and water is the new empty!

    Ewen

  6. Three days

    At least around here, it’s recommended to have at least three days food and water on hand at all times in case of emergencies. Clearly three days food and water is the new empty!

    Ewen

  7. It’s probably from that time I went out of town for three days and he shut himself in the bedroom by mistake and couldn’t get to his food and was forced to pee on my bed in retaliation.

    Sorry about that.

  8. It’s probably from that time I went out of town for three days and he shut himself in the bedroom by mistake and couldn’t get to his food and was forced to pee on my bed in retaliation.

    Sorry about that.

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