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A Cat’s Tail

A Cat’s Tail

Years ago, a small orange kitten showed up in my front yard.  The kitten was friendly and quickly let me know that this was its new home.  It did not seem to matter that there were two dogs living at the chosen residence.  Being a dog person, I had never had a cat and knew very little about caring for a cat other than that they needed a litter box and required different food than dogs.  I could not even tell the gender of the kitten.

I searched for the kitten’s owner without success.  So after buying a litter box, litter, and kitten food, off to the veterinarian’s office we went for immunizations.  As I had guessed, the kitten was about six months old.  It turned out that the kitten was a male.  When I asked how large he would grow, the veterinarian informed me that the kitten should end up about eight pounds.  Boy did he miss that one.  In the next few months, the cat grew and grew and reached twelve pounds.  He is not obese, just a big guy.

I bought a couple of cat reference books as I was curious about cat behavior.  The books stated that cats are somewhat aloof, interaction with people is on the cat’s terms, and cats rule the household.  Obviously, my cat had not read those books because he is not that way at all.  He is very friendly easy-going guy who enjoys being in the on the couch with the family, preferably in a lap.

One book theorized that cats do not come when called because they have not been taught their name.  After all, you cannot expect a cat to respond if he does not know that you are talking to him.  So I made an effort to teach Willie his name.  I used his name numerous times throughout the day and at mealtime.  In a few days, he knew his name.   

Both books stressed that cats do not like change, especially moving their litter box to another location.  I am glad Willie did not read that part of the books either because from time to time, I take Willie and his doggie sisters on a road trip to visit family.  That means that the litter box is moved many miles north of its usual location.  For the first few minutes we are in the vehicle, he will vocalize until he realizes that he is not being dropped off for boarding.  Then, he gets comfortable in his carrier and settles in for a long snooze.  Turns out that Willie is a great traveler and at our destination, he is a good guest.   He has had no trouble locating is litter box in a new location and reliably using it.

Another point the books made about cat behavior is to watch their movements, especially the ears and tail, to understand their mood.  It is easy to see when a cat’s ears are erect and the whiskers are slightly droopy that the cat is relaxed.  If the ears point slightly forward, the cat is curious.  In attack mode, the ears are flattened and whiskers are forward.  Tail movements are another clue to a cat’s mood.  If the tip of the tail twitches, the cat is excited, curious, or it is a friendly greeting.  If the whole tail switches side to side quickly, the cat is bothered. When a cat thumps its tail against the floor, he is frustrated or upset and you should stop whatever you are doing to cause the frustration.  A puffed up tail indicates fear.  A tail held up high means the cat is content or confident.  But all the information about tail movements and what they mean did not help me one little bit because Willie does not have a tail.        

Willie is a Manx cat.  They are known for being medium to large size cats and they are a naturally tailless, save for a few exceptions.  They are affectionate, not chatty, and are friendly with dogs.  In some respects Manx cats have a more dog-like personality than cats in general.  That is definitely true for Willie.  He enjoys playing with his doggie sisters and he is comfortable sleeping on the same bed with them.

A Manx cat may be a good choice for a first-time cat owner who wants a dog-friendly feline.  A Manx can be a loving family member.  Just keep in mind that you will need to “read” ears because the tail will provide no clues.

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