A Cat Is A Little Emotional Sponge
Photo provided by Friskies Explorer Herminy.
I know it seems strange to compare a cat to a sponge but your cat is actually similar in that she soaks in whatever is happening around her. While there are certainly stressful or uncertain circumstances where you’d expect your cat to react to her surroundings (such as at the veterinary clinic), did you know the role YOU play in what your cat absorbs?
Since your cat is equipped with highly developed and sensitive senses, she is far more capable of picking up on subtle impressions that we easily overlook. I’ll give you an example. If your cat seems to know it’s time to go to the veterinary clinic even before you’ve taken the carrier out of the closet, do you think she’s psychic? How did she know? Actually, YOU gave it away. If getting your cat in the carrier and going to the veterinary clinic is a stressful experience then you started getting tense early on. Your cat can tell the change in your voice, the scent changes in your skin, the tense body posture, and so on. Your sensory-driven cat picked it all up by watching how you started to react.
This ability to absorb the dynamics around her applies to so many aspects of a cat’s life. Another example is when you have guests over and your cat always seems to gravitate toward the one person in the room who dislikes cats or is allergic. Is your cat just being a tease? No. She can tell by the person’s body language that no attempt at touching or interacting will be made. The person who dislikes cats or is allergic is probably not going to make eye contact and will definitely not bend down to pet or attempt to hold the cat. Compare this to the cat lovers who visit who may seek kitty out (even if kitty doesn’t want to interact).
When I work with traumatized or very frightened cats, I often will start my interaction by just quietly going in the room and placing food down and then leaving. No eye contact, no talk, no attempt to interact. I will then work up to placing the food down and sitting by the door. Again, no eye contact, no talk, no attempt to interact. My next session will involve getting the cat used to the sound of my voice. I often take a children’s book in with me and read aloud. The tone of my voice while reading a child’s book naturally takes on a soothing and calm sound. This is something the cat picks up on.
If you have a timid or reactive cat, be aware of how you use your voice and body language. A little change can make a difference in what your little feline emotional sponge absorbs.
Have you noticed how your cat reacts to changes in your voice or body language?