Reading time: 2 minutes maybe
HAVE NEEDS, TOO
by Jay Speyerer
The owners of dogs and the owned of cats all believe they
communicate with their animals. But I’ll bet most of
us who live with cats believe there is not nearly as much
communication going on. And that can be a cause for stress
These folks think they can’t really connect with these
creatures. They love their cats, but they see them as being
independent and inscrutable, too different from us. Cats might
or might not “love” us in return, whatever the
equivalent of that concept is in a cat’s brain. I think
they do, in their way, but I don’t think we’re
first on their list.
My current cats are named Jem, Scout, and Boo Radley. When
people learn what their names are, many ask why there’s
no Atticus Finch. There is: me. I’m Atticus. But I have
no illusions about where their supposed alpha stands in their
hierarchy of needs.
You might have heard of the pyramid of life's needs ranked
in order of priority, which was created in the early 1940s
by psychologist Abraham Maslow. The business and advertising
worlds co-opted Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for their own
ends, but the pyramid is still cited often by civilians. There
are five levels, with 1 being the base representing the fundamentals:
1. Food, water, shelter
2. Safety, security
3. Friends, family, belonging
4. Self-esteem, achievement, confidence
I believe cats have their own pyramid. Let's call it Garfield's
Hierarchy of Needs:
1. Food, water, litter boxes, knocking small
items off tables (shelter is assumed)
2. Full access to trash cans and wastebaskets as source for
3. Sitting in such a position that human's eye line is blocked,
whatever they're doing
4. Other cats or household animals with whom to plot human
5. Human downfall
When I’m working in my home office, they show up to
check in and say hi. But I realize I’m last. Yes, they
want contact. Jem wants to be petted. Boo wants to walk across
the laptop and mark me by sharpening her face on my nose.
Scout wants me to take a break and put my feet up on the desk
so she can stretch out lengthwise on my legs.
Cute and tender and loving, right? Uh-huh. Here are their
thoughts as I imagine them: Well, I’m not hungry, I’m
not sleepy, I don’t have to go to the bathroom, I'm
bored looking out the window, so I guess I’ll see how
the human can make my life better.
So, you see, the sooner you accept the fact that you serve
at the pleasure of your feline overlords, the more relaxed
I work with people who need to get out of
the way of their own language so they can say what they really
mean. If you would like to talk about bringing me in to work
with your staff or to help you with your personal story, jump
on over to the contact page.
If you would like to read more articles like this one,
go to the Legacy Road store and
look for the collected articles in my books Cat Got Your
Thumb? and the newly released expanded edition of Cat
Got Your Treadmill?
Now here's something for fellow cat aficianados: my new
book, Home Cats2: Diary of a Mad Catter, is out now.
Visit the store
and see for yourself!
to relate to a cat? Look
in their eyes, and then get back to me on what you see.
Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight
cats to pull a sled through the snow.
~ J Valdez
Read more about
pets and animals in the current issue.