Friday, May 31, 2013

What Brings Your Pet Joy?

By Julia Williams

One of the things I find most interesting about human beings is our uniqueness. We each have a distinct set of things we like, and things we don’t like. No matter how many humans you compared side by side, you’d never find two whose preferences matched. It’s the same with our pets. While some people think animals are a less complicated species than humans, in terms of their preferences each pet is unlike any other. However, without the ability to speak our language, pets generally have a harder time making those preferences known. They have to rely on body language and their own “animal speak” to get their point across. They also need an owner who is tuned in and takes the time to discover what floats their boat.

Understanding what brings your pet joy and then doing what you can to provide that for them is a wonderful way to deepen your bond. We humans appreciate it when others make a point of knowing what we love and what we don’t, so why should it be any different for our pets? It’s really not, but because of the language barrier we typically don’t learn all of our pet’s likes and dislikes as quickly as we do with humans. It can take many months, sometimes even years, of observation and trial-and-error to figure out what makes them tick. The reward – a beautiful, close-knit relationship – is well worth it, though.

Discovering what your pet loves is important, but what is also crucial is making sure that others know these things, too. When I wrote Have You Made Arrangements for Your Pet, I neglected to mention this, but I should have. It’s an essential arrangement for every family with pets but especially those who are single. I was reminded of this while reading Gwen Cooper’s novel, Love Saves the Day. The cat protagonist lived with a single woman who passed away. Even though the cat’s new family was the woman’s daughter, she was thrust into a home where they knew nothing about what she loved and what she didn’t. Many pets are surrendered to shelters without this critical information as well.

Change is hard enough for any pet. Imagine suddenly being in unfamiliar surroundings with strangers, unable to tell them that the food they offered wasn’t appealing to your palate, or that you wanted a lighter touch of the brush when they groomed you, or that what you really wanted someone to do, more than anything, was scratch your belly. It would be frustrating, to say the least. A pet’s quality of life would surely be diminished if they weren’t being provided with what they love most.

Now that my own cats are 14 and 11, I have a good grasp of their individual likes and dislikes. I know that Belle absolutely, positively loves to cuddle, Rocky tolerates a hug now and then (I like to think it’s because he loves me) and Mickey would rather have a poke in the eye with a sharp stick than be held and cuddled. I know Mickey well enough to know that if I dare to pick him up and cuddle him, I have about 30 seconds (a minute tops!) before I’ll get my face bitten off. Some might say this means Mickey is unfriendly and not a nice cat, but they’d be wrong. He doesn’t love being cuddled, but he’s a very affectionate cat as long as it’s on his terms – he loves to sit on my lap while I read or watch TV, and loves to be petted and brushed while he relaxes by the heater.

I also know that shaking a pouch of FELIDAE TidNips cat treats will turn my lazy/sleeping kitties into wide awake, prancing, meowing, deliriously happy felines. A cat treat might seem like such a small, simple thing to a human, but to these three it’s the highlight of their day. My cats are all different and unique beings, but their love of these treats is the one thing they can all agree upon. Who am I to deny them what they love more than anything? I would not dare. For I know that if I did, it would only be a matter of time before my bare foot found their strategically placed hairball!

Top photo by Meredith Leigh Collins
Bottom photo by Per Ola Wiberg

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. So important that we really learn what makes them happy - great post!

  2. Wonderful post, Julia! All of our cats have had different personalities, and we've always tried our best to learn what makes each of them happy. :)

  3. Your Mickey is exactly like Austin! Great post and very true.

    I hope Belle is doing better? xx

  4. I feel like you do, Julia. It gives me immense pleasure to make my cats happy and by now, I truly do know what "floats their boat," with each cat being wonderfully unique. Thank you for such a heartfelt post and my thoughts are with you and Annabelle.

  5. Oh my gosh, I wish I blogged more often as I missed this fine post. What brings my girl joy? Me. And having her routine as always, having her favorite humans around. She is very sociable. She loves getting into bed with me at night and she especially loves her morning routine where she wakes me and gets snuggles, hugs, kisses and talking then, breakfast. She IS a joy and I am her joy.


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