Friday, December 11, 2015

Animal behaviour

Anyone who’s around animals for any length of time starts to notice their behaviour. Anyone with furbabies also notices that their animals have particular behaviours and personalities. And much of that behaviour can be endearing.

The photo up top is of Jake and Sunny waiting for Nigel to get home from work. They’re sitting perfectly still, looking toward the front gate, watching. They’re waiting for Nigel’s car—with they recognise—to pull up in front of the house and pause as the garage door opens. Then, they go spare. Nigel tells me they act similarly when waiting for me.

The thing is, as they wait for Nigel, they don’t move at all, sitting perfectly still, like a living photograph. I realised that rather than just saying that, it would be better to have proof, and so, I shot a very short video and deliberately moved my phone to show it wasn’t a photo. I posted it to my personal Facebook page, and then later thought of sharing it. However, I can’t embed the video here because of my privacy settings, and I don’t want to do a 19 second YouTube video, so, the Blogger video function will have to do (video below); even through it’s so low in resolution, I think you’ll get the gist of it.
A long time ago, when I was still living in Chicago, I had two cats who were also glad I got home. They’d would run to the front door as soon as they heard me open the vestibule door of our building (how did they know it was me?), then they'd leap up on a chair by the door and stand on the back, waiting for me to open the apartment door and give them a patting. Then, one day they ran too fast and flew onto the back of the chair and knocked it over backwards, ending up standing on the fallen chair. After that, they both greeted me on the floor.

Bella isn’t quite as active as that, but she does appear when one of us gets home, because all three of them get a treat—which is probably why they’re all so glad when we come home… Seriously, though, I’m convinced that this is what civilised Bella.

Bella came to us as a stray, as I talked about at the time, and behaviour was often a challenge. Though she love jumping into my lap, she’d often reach a point, get a somewhat possessed look on her face, and attack me with claws and/or teeth. I had scratches and bite marks on me for months.

Over time, the frequency diminished and we grew to recognise her impending, well, attacks, when she’d sort of get glassy-eyed. Sometimes we could even snap her out of it. Sometimes.

Then at some point, I don’t remember when precisely, we started giving her treats out of our hands. She wouldn’t eat it at first, but then eventually did. I’ve often heard people say that an animal is truly domesticated when it will eat out of you hand. That could be B.S. for all I know, BUT, Bella’s behaviour changed completely once she started taking treats from our hands: The attacks disappeared and she became the sweetest, loveliest little cat.

While the sudden attacks are gone, she does still occasionally bite or bring out the claws if she’s startled. So, we make sure she knows we’re there before we pet her, and if she’s asleep we talk to her before we pet her so she’s not startled. Bella lived rough as a stray for quite some time before she chose to live with us, and this is probably behaviour left from those days.

All three furbabies are loving, affectionate, and sweet tempered. I like to think we helped influence that (and with Bella, we clearly did), but a lot of it is in their natures, and we’re just lucky.

In any case, they certainly keep us entertained!

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