We are Barnum and Bailey. I am Bailey, the tuxedo cat. I know our pawrents love us a lot, but my problem is that Barnum is a talker and always get more attention. I am very quiet because I think that is proper behavior for a cat.
I suppose I can whine and carry on like Barnum, but it just isn’t in my nature. I swear to you he outright screams. I don’t think that’s very nice. If he’s sleeping and I want something, they have no idea because they don’t understand my quiet ways. How can I get my point across without being an irritating nag like Barnum? Thank you for advising me.
Cat parents often tune in to the needs of their cats – but not always. When there are two cats in the house, and one is particularly vociferous, that cat gets the most attention. It does not mean Barnum is favored. The attention he gets is simply to shut him up.
I will give you a few pointers on using silence. Think eyes, ears, and tail. It is called non-verbal communication. If you stick to the plan, it will work for you. Let us take each one at a time:
Ears: These ear positions are instinctive, but spelling it out will be helpful to you.
• When angry, your ears are flat against your head and you are in a defensive mode.
• If you decide to attack, your ears will lie flat, but with a twist so the tips of the backs of the ears are seen from the front. You likely communicate this naturally when you are fed up with the cacophony.
• When interested or paying attention, your ears point forward. Do this more often for extra points because it lets everyone know you care, and it makes you look more adorable.
Eyes: Many people believe the eyes are the window to the soul. Your eyes can tell stories about your feelings if those around you are aware of it.
• Dilated pupils show you may be expecting an attack, and will increase your peripheral vision to help judge the situation, but they also show fear. On the other hand, you could just be in bad lighting.
• If you are fed up and ready to attack, your pupils will narrow, giving you better depth perception. Narrow pupils also help you decide where to attack.
• Blinking of the eyes, very slowly, is a beautiful way to show love for those around you. A wise pawrent will blink back, or even initiate the love fest.
Tail: The tail is the easiest way to get your thoughts across to others, probably because it is bigger. You likely have it mastered by now, but it is no help if no one else gets it.
• Your tail is straight up, in full length, when you are greeting friendly pets and people. It can also be an invitation for skritches, or a request for food.
• If you drop your tail straight down and fluffy, you have decided to attack. Watch out Barnum!
• Wrapping your tail around your body when lying down shows you feel content and all is well in your world.
While most of this is natural to you, it is important your pawrents get the information so they understand you better. When you get my letter, take your little claws, and cut off the top and bottom, leaving just the information they need. Find some tape and attach it to the refrigerator door. Point taken!