“Orville hates me,” Alyssa sighed as she walked in from the garage where she’d gone to spend some time with Orville, her cat.
“He doesn’t hate you,” I told her. “He’s just really sure of your love.”
“Why does he run from me the minute I step outside?” she asked forlornly.
“Because he knows you’ll chase him,” I replied. “He knows you want him to let you hold him, he knows you’ll pet him, he knows you’ll give him treats and talk kindly to him.”
“But why would that make him run?”
I don’t pretend to understand why cats work/think the way they do. Cats are weird. But I do tell her, “He’s a cat. Try this. Try ignoring him for two days. Feed him and give him fresh water each day like you normally would but don’t pick him up, don’t pet him. Don’t talk to him and definitely don’t chase him down. Do this for two days and see what happens.”
Orville loves people. He’s one of those few cats who actually does want attention but he knows attention from Alyssa is guaranteed and so he doesn’t have to work for her love.
He also knows that Olivia hates him. She loathes that cat and so he’s constantly in her face, at her feet, pouncing on her (claws retracted, never drawing blood) because he wants attention from the one who won’t give it.
Tom yells at him when he does things like claw the screens and so Orville loves him too. He stops right in front of Tom for belly rubs and follows him all around the yard.
I explained to Alyssa that if she makes Orville work for her love and attention he’ll want it that much more.
Today is the first day of The Great Cat experiment. Alyssa fed Orville like normal and gave him fresh water. But she didn’t pick him up, she didn’t coo at him about how cute he is. She just did what he needed for survival (though that cat doesn’t actually need her to feed him. He catches birds, mice and baby moles daily.) We’ll see if she can managed to do this for two whole days before giving in to her need to cuddle and baby him.
I just pray that I never have to have this conversation with her again, replacing the word ‘cat’ with the word ‘boy.’ Yikes!