Lisa Kern

Lisa Kern
Pennsylvania, US
March 28
I'm a mom of three boys, a needy dog, and an insolent cat. When I'm not writing, vacuuming up pet hair, or cleaning pee off the toilet seat, I like to fantasize about jeans that actually fit and an all-you-can-eat-chocolate-and-cheese diet. Welcome to my party.


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APRIL 18, 2012 8:52AM

Evan, the Cat Whisperer

Rate: 16 Flag
Evan and Mewcifer

               The relationship between my youngest son, Evan, and the stray cat who showed up at our back door in December has always been a rocky one.  In spite of Evan's eagerness to make friends with him, Mewcifer the cat hasn't been nearly as excited about Evan.  In fact, if given a choice, the cat would rather hang out with the dog versus Evan every time.  I'd watch helplessly as Evan's heart was broken on a daily basis by his love for a cat who did not love him back.

                Part of the problem was that Evan has never been around a cat.  He's accustomed to dogs and has no idea of what to expect from a feline.  While a dog will generally appreciate a robust pat on the head or a good belly rub, a cat will hiss and spit his displeasure at being handled so roughly. 

                Evan's attempts at picking up the cat were especially cringe-worthy.  Instead of merely scooping up Mewcifer under his front legs, Evan would try some awkward behind-the-belly grabbing motion which pretty much guaranteed that scratching and biting would follow. 

                Mewcifer, who did not earn his devilish nickname by being mellow, makes no secret of how and when he prefers to receive attention from his human family.  Stroke his fur for too long and he'll nip.  Try to play with his feet and he'll scratch.  And don't even think about touching that soft fur on his belly.

                Over the past months, I've done my best to teach Evan about cat body language - or at least as I've come to understand it:  one ear back means he's becoming agitated and you should stop doing whatever you're doing to him; two ears back means he's already passed the point of annoyance and has moved on to seriously pissed off.  Do not attempt to negotiate or change his mind.  When that second ear goes back , it's time to abandon the cat-handling mission and seek cover because you are about to have some major kitty-scolding unleashed upon you.

                Having been bitten and scratched by the cat so many times, Evan was understandably nervous around him.  Mewcifer, of course, could feel this weak energy and would take total advantage of it.  After all, that's what cats do as part of their efforts to rule the world.  I'm almost positive it's in their contract.

                The other night, Dan and I had an appointment.  As we tried to leave the house, Mewcifer did his best to block the door so that he could bolt outside as soon as we opened it.  Again, it's what cats do.  Bonus points are earned if the humans trip over the cat in the process.

                I asked Evan if he'd move the cat so that we could leave the house without him running out.  Evan bent down to pick up the cat but then hesitated.  I could see one of Mewcifer's ears turn back and lower ever so slightly.  This was not going to go well.  This cat was capable of progressing from zero to monstrous in 2.5 seconds.

                "Just be pure positive energy," I coached Evan.  "Remember, you're the boss!"

                With that, a newfound confidence came over Evan.  He straightened his posture, scooped the cat up and out of the way, and proclaimed in his loudest, proudest voice, "I'm the boss!"

                Instantly, Mewcifer returned his ear to its normal upright position and completely relaxed in Evan's arms.

                Ever since that night, Evan is much more confident in his interactions with Mewcifer, and their relationship is becoming increasingly more peaceful.  Instead of fearing being bitten and scratched, Evan has  learned to say those three magic words that make him all-powerful:  "I'm the boss!"

                Too bad they don't have the same effect on laundry.  Or teenagers.

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tiny steps of progress. even teenage boys can learn from a cat, so the world's ok. good one, lisa. ;0
You tell the best stories. Mewcifer is the best name ever, by the way.~r
I admire your son's tenacity. I've never managed to be the boss to a single cat that I've owned. Nice post.
ah lovely. kittys are wicked. all the "haz's" in the world does not belie the fact that they are cruel taskmasters determined to rule the world.

even is dear. you might suggest to him that your kitty is ticklish but not the good ticklish, but the kind that hurts. some kittys are very sensitive. or frightened. he may have been mishandled in his checkered past.

it's always pure joy to read you. :)
ps. every time I see AX cologne, I think of you and your son. :)
When negotiations with one of our cats breaks down, I'm forced to remind him/her that I'm 20 times their size and I know how to grab their scruff.
Confidence goes a long way in interacting with animals, including humans. Good for Evan! Rated.
Seriously? Mewcifer? Major points for genius. His behavior is much like The QUEEN's, our resident cat. Sadly, no Evan here to handle her.
It's such a fascinating challenge to bond with an animal, especially a cat. I can get exuberant around felines, too - I'm a huge cat fan and get so enthusiastic when I see one. My cat Ali has taught me a lot about cat communication and being calmer and such. One big thing I've learned from him and books and shows about cats is that looking at a cat and calmly closing your eyes, leaving them closed and opening them languidly communicates calm and should help the cat be more at ease. It doesn't always work, but I've found it helps. Continued luck to your son!
That's the best face on that cat, ever. Also, Evan totally looks like you!
Well told--enlightening ansd entertaining.
I get so excited when I see that you have posted. Always such a good read.r
So sweet. When you're teaching a kid one thing, you're also teaching them other things. To respect individual boundaries of a cat (and others), to pay attention to the not-so-obvious signals and body language of a cat (and others) and to be patient when you're trying to woo a cat (and others). Great job, Mom!
Lisa, I'm so happy to hear you kept Mewcifer! Great cat tale! Hooray for Evan!