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Jay Speyerer
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Award-winning author

"Pittsburgh's Mark Twain"

 

 

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May 2017
Reading time: 2 minutes maybe

 

The Hierarchy

CATS HAVE NEEDS, TOO

by Jay Speyerer

The owners of dogs and the owned of cats all believe they communicate with their animals. But I’ll bet most of us who live with cats believe there is not nearly as much communication going on. And that can be a cause for stress in humans.

These folks think they can’t really connect with these creatures. They love their cats, but they see them as being independent and inscrutable, too different from us. Cats might or might not “love” us in return, whatever the equivalent of that concept is in a cat’s brain. I think they do, in their way, but I don’t think we’re first on their list.

My current cats are named Jem, Scout, and Boo Radley. When people learn what their names are, many ask why there’s no Atticus Finch. There is: me. I’m Atticus. But I have no illusions about where their supposed alpha stands in their hierarchy of needs.

You might have heard of the pyramid of life's needs ranked in order of priority, which was created in the early 1940s by psychologist Abraham Maslow. The business and advertising worlds co-opted Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for their own ends, but the pyramid is still cited often by civilians. There are five levels, with 1 being the base representing the fundamentals:

1. Food, water, shelter
2. Safety, security
3. Friends, family, belonging
4. Self-esteem, achievement, confidence
5. Self-actualization

I believe cats have their own pyramid. Let's call it Garfield's Hierarchy of Needs:

1. Food, water, litter boxes, knocking small items off tables (shelter is assumed)
2. Full access to trash cans and wastebaskets as source for "toys"
3. Sitting in such a position that human's eye line is blocked, whatever they're doing
4. Other cats or household animals with whom to plot human downfall
5. Human downfall

When I’m working in my home office, they show up to check in and say hi. But I realize I’m last. Yes, they want contact. Jem wants to be petted. Boo wants to walk across the laptop and mark me by sharpening her face on my nose. Scout wants me to take a break and put my feet up on the desk so she can stretch out lengthwise on my legs.

Cute and tender and loving, right? Uh-huh. Here are their thoughts as I imagine them: Well, I’m not hungry, I’m not sleepy, I don’t have to go to the bathroom, I'm bored looking out the window, so I guess I’ll see how the human can make my life better.

So, you see, the sooner you accept the fact that you serve at the pleasure of your feline overlords, the more relaxed you'll be.

~end~

© 2017 by Jay Speyerer

I work with people who need to get out of the way of their own language so they can say what they really mean. If you would like to talk about bringing me in to work with your staff or to help you with your personal story, jump on over to the contact page.

If you would like to read more articles like this one, go to the Legacy Road store and look for the collected articles in my books Cat Got Your Thumb? and the newly released expanded edition of Cat Got Your Treadmill?

Now here's something for fellow cat aficianados: my new book, Home Cats2: Diary of a Mad Catter, is out now. Visit the store and see for yourself!

 

 

 

 

Want to relate to a cat? Look in their eyes, and then get back to me on what you see.


Quote of Note
Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through the snow.
~ J Valdez

Read more about pets and animals in the current issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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