Cat Counsellor: How Your Cat Really Relates to You

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9780553817621: Cat Counsellor: How Your Cat Really Relates to You

If cats were asked how they would truly like their owners to show affection, what would they say? Are we giving them what they want? Is just loving them ever going to be enough, and can we love them too much? This well-researched study shows how miraculous results can be achieved by merely changing the way we relate to our cats. Packed with fascinating case studies and tips on every aspect of cat relationships—including those with all things furred and feathered—it also includes the fascinating results of the relationship survey, giving cat owners from all over the world the chance to share their feelings about their feline companions.

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About the Author:

Vicky Halls is a leading cat behavior specialist, and the author of Cat Confidential, Feline Felons, and A Practical Guide to Feline Behaviour Counselling.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER 1

A Love-Hate Relationship

Every day I experience examples of the extraordinary relationship that mankind has developed with the domestic cat. I marvel at the depth of my feelings for my own cats, Lucy, Annie, Bink and Mangus, and witness acts of incredible love and devotion during my typical working day as a cat behaviour counsellor. I have often suggested this to be a modern-day phenomenon, but in fact the human/cat bond has been around for thousands of years. We may currently express it differently in our insular western society but the allure of the feline is common to many races and has been for a very long time.

The origins of the relationship are probably best viewed by going back to ancient Egypt, circa 4000 BC, when cats were employed to keep mice and rats away from grain stores. For a long time this was considered to be the earliest reference to domestication, but a grave found in Cyprus in 1983, dating from 7500 BC, contained the skeletons of a human and a type of immature cat. Cats are not native to Cyprus so this discovery does rather suggest that cats were tamed or maybe even domesticated as early as that. Statues from Anatolia (the Asian part of Turkey) created around 6000 BC depict women playing with domesticated cats, so I have every suspicion that further evidence of a pre-Eygptian inter-species relationship is waiting to be uncovered. I doubt very much that cats were 'backward in coming forward' once they saw the obvious advantages of getting to know humans.

It is easy to see from history how the symbiotic nature of the human/cat relationship arose. Traditional nomadic lifestyles ceased so storage of crops was essential. The grain attracted quite a bit of interest from mice, rats and (inevitably) African wildcats. The cats were encouraged to stay around by the Egyptians, who fed them scraps by way of inducement. The presence of an abundance of food, both scavenged and caught, and the absence of predators or human deterrence meant that feline colonies soon formed.

All grain was stored in royal granaries, and as these large concentrations of goodies attracted huge quantities of mice it was essential that the Pharaoh had access to as many cats as possible to protect the precious commodity. It would have been extremely difficult to confiscate everyone's personal cats so in an obvious stroke of genius the Pharaoh made all cats demigods. A mere human couldn't own a demigod (only a god could do that) but they could look after them. Egyptians brought their fostered cats to work at the granary overnight and picked them up in the morning. For this service they received a tax credit and were able to claim their cats as dependents even though all cats were technically the property of the Pharaoh. It sounds great in theory but can you imagine taking your cat to work at the local granary and then picking him up again in the morning? For one thing, he would have left of his own accord before the whistle blew because he'd had enough; for another, as soon as he realized he was supposed to work with a bunch of other cats you wouldn't see him for dust; alternatively, you'd get him there once but never see him again as he'd immediately move in with someone more sympathetic. I cannot imagine how the system worked but it is well documented; were African wildcats so compliant? One thing is certain: the Egyptians would not have risked incurring the wrath of their Pharaoh so they were probably uniquely persistent.

The cats were always put first in the Egyptian household. After all, people were only human; cats were demigods. (Is it just me or is this equally true today?) When a cat died the family who housed it went into ritualistic mourning, shaving off their eyebrows and pounding their chests to show their grief at the loss. The cat's body was wrapped and brought to a priest to make sure the death was natural (killing or injuring a cat was a capital crime). It was then embalmed. Not surprisingly, people came to believe that cats had a direct influence on their health, and their fortunes.

Cats and religion

The ancient Egyptians regarded cats as embodiments of the fertility goddess Bast, also known as Bastet. Bastet was originally lion-headed, but she became depicted as a cat or a cat-headed woman as the appeal of the domestic cat grew. The ancient Egyptian symbol Ru (referring to, amongst other things, the symbolical transition from the spiritual plane to the material one) appeared in many magical texts at a time when cat and woman were worshipped as one and is shaped like the half-dilated pupil of a cat's eye. Egyptian art shows myriad images of cats in domestic situations, often sitting under the wife's chair to symbolize an enhancement of her fertility by association with Bastet. Cats were clearly doing what comes naturally, catching rodents and birds; humans were depicted as encouraging the behaviour or, at least, somehow facilitating it. Already the mighty cat had learnt the art of training humans.

It was not just the Egyptians who worshipped cats. The Roman goddess Diana, in her role as moon goddess, was linked with the cat and also with the feline-friendly number nine. Nine is a mystical number and can frequently be seen in various mythologies. It followed that Diana, long associated with the cat, should endow the animal with its proverbial nine lives. Freya, the Viking goddess of fertility, love and war, was strongly associated with cats also. Her chariot was driven by two large cats, Bygul and Trygul; and kittens were often given in her name to brides to ensure good fortune in love and romance.

The European faiths transferred many of the attributes of Bastet to their own deities, so the early Christian Church actively absorbed cult festivals. The Virgin Mary became the symbol of the virgin-mother goddess. The connection between the female and the cat even features in early Christian imagery, where a cat is seen giving birth in the manger where Mary cradled the baby Jesus. In a Leonardo da Vinci sketch of the Holy Family, Jesus is shown cradling a cat. The Copts, the original Christians in Egypt, believed that when the Holy Family fled to Egypt to escape Herod's infanticide they stayed for a while in Bubastis, where Bastet's temple was the centre of cat worship, at a time when the latter was at its height. In the Jewish Gospel of the Holy Twelve there is a tale of Jesus remonstrating with a crowd of ne'er-do-wells who were tormenting a cat; I'd like to think that He had a particular affection for felines!

The cat is highly respected in Islam because of tales that the prophet Muhammad was a cat lover. One story tells of a cat that saved Muhammad from being bitten by a deadly snake. In another tale, when Muhammad was called to prayer, his cat Muezza was asleep on the sleeve of his robe. Rather than disturb his cat, the prophet cut off the sleeve. He used water from which his cat had drunk to wash himself and his wife ate from the dish from which Muezza had eaten, such was their devotion.

In Burma and Siam people believed that the souls of the departed lived in the bodies of cats before moving on to the next life. In Japan religious ceremonies were held for the souls of departed cats. According to Chinese myth cats were supernatural creatures who could detect ghosts and evil spirits; the cat god, Li Shou, is said to ward off evil spirits of the night. Agricultural deities in China were also often depicted in the form of cats. It is hard to find a culture or religion without references to cats as symbols of fertility, wisdom, protection or good fortune.

All the great cat goddesses such as Bastet and Diana, with their link to the moon, combine both feminine and feline attributes. Since time immemorial, women have been thought to possess the ability to be mediums, soothsayers and clairvoyants. Intuition too is deemed to be a female attribute. Cats have an enigmatic quality that makes them appear wise and 'knowing'. They are often described as 'old souls' - I've done so myself - and the attraction of women to cats could be seen to represent a link to an ancient part of the human soul. This may seem fanciful but thousands of years of cat history, myths and legends amount to a powerful influence on modern-day thinking. Any animal that has been the subject of a massive swing in human reaction from deification to persecution to deification again (we do worship them, let's face it) in the space of a few thousand years must be fairly special. Even today, when the domestic cat is experiencing unprecedented popularity as a pet in the western world, people seem to be divided between cat lovers and cat haters. Such is the influence of Sooty, Ginger and Tigger that there appear to be very few fence-sitters.

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Halls, Vicky
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Descrizione libro Transworld Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. If cats were asked how they would truly like their owners to show affection, what would they say? Are we giving them what they want? Is just loving them ever going to be enough? Can we love them too much? Vicky Halls, author of the bestselling CAT CONFIDENTIAL, has devoted her life to studying the human/feline relationship. In CAT COUNSELLOR she explores the origins of this emotional bond and shows how miraculous results can be achieved by merely changing the way we relate to our cats. CAT COUNSELLOR is packed with fascinating case studies and tips on every aspect of cat relationships, including those with all things furred and feathered. It also includes the fascinating results of the relationship survey, giving cat owners from all over the world the chance to share their feelings about their feline companions. If you have ever wondered why you love your cat so much, then this is the book for you!. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780553817621

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Descrizione libro Transworld Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. If cats were asked how they would truly like their owners to show affection, what would they say? Are we giving them what they want? Is just loving them ever going to be enough? Can we love them too much? Vicky Halls, author of the bestselling Cat Confidential , has devoted her life to studying the human/feline relationship. In Cat Counsellor she explores the origins of this emotional bond and shows how miraculous results can be achieved by merely changing the way we relate to our cats. Cat Counsellor is packed with fascinating case studies and tips on every aspect of cat relationships, including those with all things furred and feathered. It also includes the fascinating results of the relationship survey, giving cat owners from all over the world the chance to share their feelings about their feline companions. If you have ever wondered why you love your cat so much, then this is the book for you!. Codice libro della libreria AAZ9780553817621

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Descrizione libro Bantam, 2008. Condizione libro: New. 2008. 0th Edition. Paperback. If cats were asked how they would truly like their owners to show affection, what would they say? This book shows how miraculous results can be achieved by merely changing the way we relate to our cats. It is packed with case studies and tips on various aspects of cat relationships. Num Pages: 336 pages. BIC Classification: WNGC. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 199 x 132 x 25. Weight in Grams: 318. . . . . . . Codice libro della libreria V9780553817621

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