Cats Teach Consent
When I Rule the World…
by Linda Hall, Cat Behavior Experts
How many times have you wished you could make the rules? I admit that I often daydream about the changes I would make, not just in my home country of America, but everywhere. I want to rule the world.
My #1 Mandate
As ruler of the new world, my first mandate will be that all humans must live with cats in their homes. Why? Because cats teach consent and boundaries when it comes to entering their personal space. Breaking this rule will result in hefty fines, which I will distribute among the world’s rescues, shelters, TNR folks, etc. If children are present, these fines will be much higher, because kids need to learn about consent at an early age.
There would also be mandatory hours assigned for everyone to work with those places. I believe humanity would be greatly improved by my ruling, if people could see how many cats (and dogs) are in the shelter. People would be more empathetic, more understanding and it will even lower crime. It would also help these pets to become more socialized to people, and thus more adoptable.
Cat Behaviorists are Observers
When working with cats, we watch their body language for subtle clues as to how they are feeling. Are the cats giving is consent to get close? New skills, people and objects are introduced slowly, allowing them to guide us in both speed and space. The use of force will never work in achieving your goal. We respect their boundaries and wait for their consent.
I adopted a feral cat, Karma, five years ago. Although I wanted to cuddle her, humans scared her, so I kept my distance as she slowly acclimated to our home. As her comfort level improved, I would offer my hand and watch her. If she showed any signs of nervousness, I slowly pulled it back. I told her, in a soothing voice, that she was safe and I would not force myself on her, I would wait for her to let me know she was ready. Eventually, she did consent to some cuddles, but it’s always on her terms.
The habit of watching feline body language has carried over to my interactions with humans. As I interact with people, I watch their body language. If they show signs of discomfort, I back off or gently end the encounter.
How This Would Change the World
How many times have you heard phrases like, “They were asking for it”? This is because no one taught consent, what is consent, and what NO really means. When we respect the boundaries and feelings of other living beings and ask for consent to enter their personal space, there is no room for confusion. The #MeToo movement would become history with cats teaching us consent. The practice of respecting body language and boundaries, would lead to more respect, love and understanding.
What a wonderful world that would be!
So, what are you waiting for? If you don’t have a cat, you had better head over to your local rescue or shelter!
You don’t want to break my mandate!