Think Like a Cat

February 10, 2024

Book Notes

Think Like a Cat book cover

When I read a book I have the habit of highlighting certain passages I find interesting or useful. After I finish the book I’ll type up those passages and put them into a note on my phone. I’ll keep them to comb through every so often so that I remember what that certain book was about. That’s what these are. So if I ever end up lending you a book, these are the sections that I’ve highlighted in that book. Enjoy!

If you’re about to become a cat owner for the first time, you are soon to enter into a relationship in which you are unconditionally loved, endlessly forgiven for you mistakes, never judged, and constantly entertainers. A cat can men the stresses of your day disappear just by curling up in your lap at night. When you’ve been working too hard, a cat will walk across your papers to let you know it’s time for a break. A cat will show his gratitude for the simplest act, such as scratching him under the chin, by serenading you with his deep, rich purr. A cat will still adore you on those days when you look your worst. A cat is a patient listener, even when you’re telling a story for the third time. A cat is the most dependable alarm clock you’ll ever have.

Cats are often seen hunting alone. Cats may also appear aloof to some humans because, as hunters, they take in their entire environment. Sometimes the cat may sit on your lap, enjoying your affectionate stroking, but there are other times when he’d prefer just sitting nearby, relaxed yet ready should any prey come on the scene. Cats are stimulated by even the slightest movement which might indicate potential prey.

If I want my cat to stop doing something, I direct her to something better and then reward her when she gets it right.

Once a cat is spayed or neutered, it doesn’t matter if you choose a male or female. Hormones are what usually drive undesirable behavior such as a spraying male or a yowling female in heat. Simply having the cat spayed or neutered, you can control that.

The coats of many long-haired cats will mat if not brushed daily. Mats can cause health risks like preventing air from reaching the skin. Fleas can also seek refuge under mats and as mats tighten they pull on the skin and will make walking painful.

Don’t let anyone sell or give you a kitten taken away from his mother before he’s 10-12 weeks of age. Kittens need to be with their mother and also their littermates until that time. Kittens taken away from their littermates too early have difficulty integrating into multicast households later.

The prey-drive is strongly triggered by movements going away from the cat.

Kittens are born with blue eyes. Their true eye color will develop several weeks later.

Cats have limited color vision. They can see blues, grays, yellows, and greens. They don’t see reds.

Your cat’s ears are also modd indicators. Ears flattened sideways and down reflect irritation or possible submission. An anxious cat may twitch his ears. When the ears face forward, it often indicates alertness. During a fight (or in anticipation of one), the ears are rotated back and flattened to prevent them from being damaged by an opponet’s claws.

When it comes to drinking water, cats use their tongue to lap water at an incredibly fast speed. The cat curves the upper side of its tounge downward and darts his tounge lightly onto the surface of the water.

The cat’s tounge has fewer taste buds than that of a human. The cat generally has no desire for sweet tastes although some develop a taste for sweet goodies if repeatedly offered by owners.

Grooming is vital to survival. After eating, the cat uses his tounge to remove al traces of prey from his fur so it won’t alert other prey to his presence. It also decreases the cat’s risk of becoming prey to a larger predator.

The upper whiskers, which extend beyond the head, also help guide a cat through darkness by gauging air currents. Whiskers on the forelegs are used to sense any movement of prey trapped under the cat’s front paws. The muzzle whiskers also help a cat to determine if he can fit through a tight spot. In theory, the width of the whiskers should match the width of the body. In reality, though, many cats are overweight so their body width far exceeds the whisker tips. Whiskers play in important role in feline body language as well. Whiskers that are forward-facing and spread out usually indicate that the cat is alert and ready for action. The whiskers of a relaxed cat are positioned sideways and not as fanned out. Fear or potential agression is communicated by the whiksers being tightly spaced and flattened bac against the fcae.

When a cat scratches a tree or scratching post, the outer sheath of teh nail is removed. This allows the new growth to come through. If you look at thebase of where your cat normally scratches, you’ll probably find little discarded crescent-shaped sheaths.

When you cat flicks his upright tasil at you, it’s usually meant as a greeting. In most cases, the message he’s sending is “Hi, I’ve missed you! When’s dinner?”

The first 2 years of a cats life are the approximate equivalent of twenty-four human years. Each year after the age of two equals approximately four human years.

A meow is a greeting that is usually directed toward humans and is generally not a cat-to-cat form of communication.

The cat’s saliva contains a natural odor neutralizer and that’s why the kitty’s for smells so fresh after a tounge bath.

It’s believed by Manny to be a sign of trust and affection whenm a cat gives a slow eye blink to an owner or companion cat. Affectionately referred to as cat kisses, you can try giving a slow blink to your cat.

A cat has backward-facing barbs on his tounge so if he eats certain objects he has to swallow them becasue they can’t be dislodged.

Place the litter box on one side of the room and the food/water bowls on the other. It’s important to keep a good distance between them because cats don’t eat in the same area they use for elimination.

Spaying = females, neutering = males

Notice how much water he usually drinks. This wil be important information because an increase or decrease in water consumption can be a sympton of certain diseases.

While your dog is sitting at your feet, anxiously watching you for signals, your cat is sitting next to your, keeping an eye on her territory and watching for potential prey.

Animals are very smart. They don’t repeat behaviors unless they serve a purpose. Even though you may not understand of like the behavior doesn’t mean it isn’t serving a necessary purpose for the animal. So the key to your think like a cat approach is to:

  1. Figure out what purpose the behavior serves. What’s the “payoff” for the cat?
  2. Offer an alternative behavior that is of equal or increased value.
  3. Reward the cat for choosing the alternative.

Clicker Training

The first step is to teach the cat to associate the cliker with a payoff. Click the clicker and then toss a treat. Before doing it again, wait for the cat to look at you before repeating the sequence. This helps the cat associate YOU with the reward. Do it about ten times or however long the cat remains interested and engaged. Once a behavior is learned and performed consistently, you can begin giving intermittent food rewards. You can alternate food rewards with praise, petting, or a toy.

Timing is important because the cat is associating the sound of the clicker with what she is doing at that exact moment. Of you click too late she may have already moved on to another behavior. If you click too many times she won’t know what the heck she’s being rewarded for. Click only once and be precise.

Never call your kitty’s name in anger. If you call him by his name and then proceed to punish him when he comes, he’ll never want to come to you again. Begin teaching your cat to associate positive things with his name. While you’re petting him, repeat his name over and over in a soothing, quiet, friendly voice. As you’re preparing dinner, call her name.

Stoke your kitty along the sides of the mouth (he’ll actually enjoy that). Then gently slide your finger inside his lips and massage his gums. This prepares him for having his teeth brushed. Offer a treat. Go back to rubbing him under the chin and down his back, then return to her mouth. Carefully open it by placing on hand over the top of his head and gently supporting his upper jaw while you pull down on the lower jaw with the finger of your other hand.

When you put your cat down, do so gently. Don’t let him leap out of your arms. You don’t want to train him that the only way he can get out of your grasp is to struggle and jump for his life.

When you buy a cat bed, keep in mind that cats generally prefer elevated places for sleeping and lounging. If you put a cat bed on the floor in the corner, it may be doomed to being forever unused, or only b y your dog.

Rotate your cat’s solo toys to keep them from becoming boring.

The problem with all the cute little toys that are strewn about the house is that they’re esentially dead prey. In order to play with them, the cat must work as both prey and predator. When shopping for one, look at the toy and imagine what kind of prey it resembles and how your cat, based on his personality, would react to it. Try to cover the various types of prey such as: Bords, Mice, Insects, & Snakes. Your cat will be more interested if you vary the toys, because he’ll never know just which prey to expect.

A common mistake by well-meaning owners is to play with their cat by dangling to toy in front of him. It isn’t a natural form of cat playing/hunting. Remember that playtime is supposed to be a make-believe hunt. What self-respecting prey would hover in fron tof the cat and hang around to be repeatedly batted? The cat ends up just using reflexes instead of using his best tool–his brain.

Another playtime mistake is that the owner keeps the toy out of the cat’s reach during the entire game. Cats don’t chase to exhaustion, they silently stalk and ambush when they’ve gotten close enough. Much of the efficient hunting technique onvolves his patience, planning, and precision.

Move prey away rom the cat, not toward him.

If the cat hasn’t had enough opportunities to capture and kill his prey, he’ll be left frustrated. You can let you cat win every time. That’s how you inspire confidence in your cat, by allowing him to be the Mighty Hunter. When your cat has achieved his great capture, reward him by either serving him dinner or giving him a treat–the hunt and then the feast.

Your impulse may be to hold your cat when she reacts to something scary, but in many cases that may only convince her that he fear is valid. What matters is that your casual and calm body language reassures her that she is safe and secure and offer her a little anxiety-relieving distraction.

Play sessions can help two cats who don’t get along by distracing them from focusing so intensely on each other. As soon as you see the tension building, pull out a couple of toys. The cats become distracted by the toys. As they play (remember, use two toys so they don’t have to compete), they begin to associate fun playtime with being together. They get used to being in the same room without having tension.

When you’re playing with your timid indoor cat, place boxes, bags, cushions, pillows, or whatever objects are handy in the middle of the room to create hiding places and thus more security for him.


Very often cats will eat catnip (it’s safe), but the pleasure-inducing effect is actually only achieved by smelling the herb. The effects, which last about 15 minutes, are complelety harmless and nonaddictive, and after those fifteen minutes of ecstasy and zany fun, cats are relaxed and ready for a nap.

Lower quality catnip contains stems, which do nothing but fill up the package. Dried stems are also very hard and sharp. If your cat enjoys eating catnip (which most do), stems are uncomfortable. Stay away from supermarket brands. Better quality catnip can be found in pet supply stores, cat specialty shops, and online, or you can grow your own!

To release the aromatic oil, rub the catnip between your hands before you sprinkle loose catnip on the floor or carpet. I’d also recommend that instead of buying all those catnip-filled toys, buy a few furry mice toys and drop them in the catnip container.

Kittens don’t respond to catnip either, so don’t attempt to entice yours until he’s at least a year old.

If you have a male cat in a multicat household, the first time your give him catnip, do so away from other cats. There are some males who actually display agressive behavior while under the influence of catnip.

When cats are playing, one or both may hiss once or twice, but if they hiss several times, they’re more likely engaged in a fight.

The think like a cat perspective:

Very often, in a n attempt to comfor a cat, the owner trues to hold the strggling animal. The owner’s voice often sounds worries, and the cat interprets this as confirmation that there really is something to fear.

A cat’s urine is very concentrated and has a strong odor that can be detected by predators in the wold. Cats in the wild urinate and defecate away from their nest and cover their waste so they don’t attract predators back to their young.

If owners aren’t maintaining the boxes as often, they also won’t be monitoring their cat’s elimination habits as often. For example, if you aren’t sifting the box everyday, you may be unaware that your cat has diarrhea.

A covered litter box really does contain the smell–by keeping it trapped inside so that your ccat must endure the concentrated odor each time he enters. The cover on the box also reduces the amount of air circulating so the litter takes longer to dry, creating a perfect environment for odor.

Scented litters may mask odors but they don’t eliminate them.

Maintain a consisten litter level by topping off the litter every few days as you remove urine clumps.

Don’t put the litter box near the cat’s food and water.

If anyone has ever advised you to rub your cat’s nose in his mess, don’t follow it under any circumstances. By rubbing his nose in his mess you only manage to communicate that the very act of urination and defecation are bad and he’ll be punished every time he goes.

Scratching also serves as a visual and olfactory marker. When a cat rakes his nails down a surface, a visual mark is left that can be seen by other cats at a safe distance.

Scratching posts – if the cat got the post just the way he likes it, complete with visual and olfactory marks, then it was truly his. Then suddenly if you take the post away he won’t understand why it disappeared. Instead, get an additional post and place it nearby so he’ll have a great new scratchin option. If he truly abandons the worn-out post for the new one, then you can dispose of the old one.

Cats require a higher amount of protein in their diet than dogs. A kitten requires even more protein that that of an adult cat.

Put one hand on either side of the cat. By firmly stroking his sides, you should be able to feel his ribs (if you can actually see his ribs, then he’s underweight). If you can’t feel his ribs without applying very firm pressure then he’s overweight.

The cat lovers will usually walk right over to him, reach out to pet, or-even worse-try to hold her becore he’s had time to evaluate them. The only one who makes no overture to him is the cat hater. That person sits on the couch and completes ignores your kitty. That behavior allows the cat to conduct his investigation

If you have trouble seperating a mat, use the detangling spray or sprinkle cornstarch into the hair and keep combing it out.

Remember, cats are little emotional sponges so if you keep your attitude positive and casual, he’ll pick up on that.

A pet who sees their owner grieving, crying , and not interacting with them as usual can create anxiety and even depression for them.

Animals are little emotional sponges.

Heat affected cats drool a lot and lick their coats to spread saliva in an attempt to cool themselves. With heatstroke, the cat begins panting. The color of the mucous membranes and the tounge turn bright red. Saliva becomes very thick, the cat starts drooling, and often vomits.

For superficial burns, apply a clean, cold, water-soaked cloth over the area for about thirty minutes to relieve the pain. Then, gently pat the area dry. Clip the hair away from the burn. NEVER use ice because it will damage the tissues underneath.

You can test for dehydration by gently pulling up on the skin of the upper back. It should snap right back. If the skin falls back into position slowly or stays up in a peak, then the cat is dehydrated.

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