Lessons Learned · Struggles · The Journey

Cat Herding 101

I love cats! I’ve always loved cats! I’ve always thought I had “that cat way.” You know, when you enter a room, the cats don’t run, but come to you because they sense you are a “cat person?” I seem to have a way with cats! They like me… I like them.

Recently, I became a Cat Herder. It’s a job that I’ve done part-time on the weekends and some occasional summers and holidays. The cats come for a time and then they go home. Those times have helped me hone my cat herding skills, but on a very small scale; a little bit at a time. I’ve had little or no training and have just learned by trial and error. I’ve never really considered myself a cat herder because I only have one cat myself and, well, she does not need much herding. She’s pretty low maintenance and has been with me since she was born. My recent job as a more official cat herder brought cats that have not been with me since they arrived in the litter. That adds a layer to the herding process that can be tricky!

Cats are funny creatures; unlike dogs. Dogs are loyal and rely on your for everything, even as they age. Cats…. not so much! Cats are completely content eating and sleeping on their own time schedule. They can be playful, but not always with me. Occasionally they let me wave the feather pole in front of them or toss a cat-nip stuffed ball their way. One time they might respond, perk up and play. Other times (more often than not), they just let it roll past them and look the other way. With the cat that’s been with me since birth, we call that “giving you the butt.” She turns herself away from you, with her posterior end next to you. It’s a funny thing, because she wants to be near you, but does not want to engage in eye contact or anything to personal. With cats, it’s their terms or no terms. Food, clothing and shelter…. that’s about it.

I’ve always loved cats! My career has involved “cats” for 26 years! I’ve got quite a resume of things I’ve done… all in the name of cats and their care and training. You’ve heard the saying, “It’s easier when they are somebody else’s (cats).” Some would agree… some would not. I’m on the fence with that one. It all depends on the job you are doing with the cats. Cat Herding is a new layer of this career for me. I’ve always wanted to be a Cat Herder; dreaming of it as a little girl as I played with my pretend kittens. I wondered if they would have my eyes or purr in my lap when they were older. When this new Cat Herder job started up 10 days ago, I truly could not imagine what it would be like.

I’ve learned some lessons this week and am certain that more will be learned next week, as this particular Cat Herding assignment comes to an end this coming Friday. I’ve learned that I need the teenage cats way more than they need me. As I mentioned above – food, clothing and shelter. When cats want something, they rub up against your leg and seem interested. When the food is in the bowl, they move on. When they’ve been with you their entire life, it is unwritten that they still love you. When they come in later in life, you can assume nothing. That’s where my personal feelings get in the way of doing my job. One night they are licking your nose and telling you they love you. The next morning, they have their tail in the air and are prancing by you, possibly with a hiss as they pass! I’m learning that my love needs to be steady and strong, whether they rub up against my leg or hid under the bed and ignore me. The hissing is temporary, and eventually they will come around and lick my nose again. Teenage cats are exercising their independence and become very agitated when you try to control their world in any way, shape or form! They forget who is putting food in their bowls and scooping their litter box. For now, I need to be patient and know that eventually when they get older, their lives will slow down and we will be “given the butt” less, with more time of purring and nose licking. They might even reminisce of the days gone by when we used to play with the laser light together or have feather time!


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