Practical Use of Animal Communication with Cat Grooming

Jericho the cat & MarilynSome cats love being brushed and don’t mind having their nails trimmed.  Jericho is not one of ‘those’ cats. He tolerates brushing for about ten strokes unless you are trying to brush his belly… that you do so at your own peril.

Don’t get me wrong, at 18-years-old, Jeri-kitty is a pretty easy going guy, but he had his pelvis broken when he was 4 and he’s not a fan of having his underside touched.  To his credit he’ll give you a fair warning: a howl, a hiss or a ‘warning nip.’ All fair communiqué from a non-English speaking mammal.

As he ages his fur has started to mat more easily than when he was younger.  Usually I just cut the tangled hair out – we aren’t superficial here, comfort is more important that a well-coiffed coat. As a matter of function he must get his nails trimmed or they will crack, break off or curl back on themselves, making walking painful.

I’m a no-nonsense kind of cat owner when it comes to the grooming, I have a few minutes, so let’s ‘git-r-done.’ I gather the cat, the tools and we settled in for the quick and hopefully painless (for both of us) experience. I don’t try to give fair warning that the grooming is about to happen, lest the aged-one disappear behind the couch or the bird cage or wherever his secret hiding place is that I can never find him, no matter how hard I look.

JerichoBut once we are in position with Jericho on my lap and tools nearby, the communication begins. I begin the nail clipping taking care to be quick and easy with my sharp scissors. After a few clips he expresses his displeasure.  I am careful to listen.  Over the years I’ve gotten to know his intonations and squirms.  I trust him to tell me when he’s uncomfortable and has had enough and he trust me to listen. That means I take his comfort into consideration, not just my agenda of getting the grooming done now.

With our lives so busy these days it’s so easy to ignore the needs of our animals.  Not the feeding and the vet visits and the grooming. I mean the animal’s perspective on these things. That doesn’t mean Jericho gets a pass on grooming if he starts to complain about it. Kids complain about homework, but they still need to do it. I just listen to him and adjust my approach as necessary.

Here are some tips for communicating with your cat.

Listen.  Get to know your cat. Hear their voice, their pitch, their tone.

Breathe. Stop moving and just be with your cat. Breathe.

Watch. Look into their eyes. Don’t stare. Look into their eyes like you would a child or a spouse. (Cats don’t mind this, dogs sometimes do). See their soul and be open so they can see yours.

Be. Be with them in that moment.  Try to see and feel things from their perspective.

Seek first to understand.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Your perspective matters less than your animal’s at this point in the communication. They need to know you care about how they are feeling; their comfort.

Explain. Negotiate with meaning.  Explain what you are doing and why. Send mental pictures.  Show the outcome of the interaction and why it is in their best interest.

These are simple steps: easy to follow and worth the time.  They don’t take long, be they do take time, focus and compassion.  Try it and see.