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Raising Raisen:
Notes From My Journal


     "Don't get too attached to them," I used to say to everyone after the kittens were born. "I don't want to keep them...I'm still not really quite ready for a new cat, just yet."
     My last cat, Midnite, had died of cancer a few years earlier. So I still had some loyalty issues with that. I kinda felt that if I got a new cat, then that would be being disloyal to Midnite. He, too, was a perfect cat and a good, close friend.
     While I did have some reservations scratching way in the back of recesses of my mind over keeping the new cats, I knew darned well that what I was saying and what I'd most likely actually end up doing were probably two completely different things, entirely. But I kept that little secret to myself.
     ...And, of course, it eventually ended up becoming the truth.

     I loved cats. They're so much better than dogs, to me. Dogs do everything according to the alpha leader thing. Once you've established yourself as the leader, there's no challenge. Everything becomes simple. You tell them what to do and they do it. Everything is "follow the leader because that's the way it is."
     With cats, it's far different. They actually think. They think for themselves. They're independent. They don't depend upon you all of the time, or require your attention during 100-percent of your waking day. They do what they want, and if they don't like what you want them to do, they won't do it. There's a challenge involved. You have to work hard to become a part of their family; and when you are finally accepted, you feel proud because you've accomplished something most dog owners wouldn't have a clue about - by developing a real relationship with your pet.

     That is how I always looked at cats. They were intelligent, and had real feelings. You have to get "on the same level" with them, or they'll only allow you to see them as "an occasionally mobile piece of porcelain decoration that is self-cleaning" - which seems to be the definition of a cat that many people have and seem to prefer; but not me. I prefer to get involved with them, to work with them, and to try to bring out their real personalities - which are usually kept hidden from us "lesser, undeserved life forms." I've always believed that if you can accomplish this, then you really will become ... a "Cat Whisperer," if you will. You will be able to "understand" cats in the same way that that guy who talks to horses "understands" horses; and I sort of thought of myself like that, with cats. In many situations, I "understood" them where most owners didn't have a clue.
     ...And every cat is different, too. Each one has its own personality waiting to be shown. But you have to get them to trust you, and to open up to you, first, before you'll ever get a chance to see it.

     But what would happen if you raised a cat from birth, and you were lucky enough to be there during that "imprinting" period? If you were not only the companion, but the "Daddy," or the "Mommy" ... would the cat become a "Super Cat?" And what about me? Could I actually raise a child, and do it right? and would the kid turn out normal? Finally, if I raised a cat exactly as I would a human child ... that is, if I treated the cat as if it were a human child, would the cat turn out to be exceptionally smart?
     I'd always wondered about those things, and here I had a chance to find out. And so, that is how I entered this little "project" ... with that very train of thought.

     There was something about the way that I raised my cats in the past that I never really paid attention to; and people always commented to me about how my cats were always "so cool." My cats were always so affectionate and open, and they got along with strangers with no problem. They seemed to be able to be around and get along with ANY kind of new and strange animal, and tended to treat them more as a fun and curious potential friend than anything that was to be afraid of, or to be eaten. My cats were always "different" like that, and I had no clue what it was that I had done in the past for them to turn out that way. But I suspected that it had more to do with them being treated with real "love" and like they were a real part of the family than with generic "kindness." (There is a difference.) I was curious about that, and I wanted to find out for sure.

     I had three "mottos" going into this:

     "If you're going to do it right, do it yourself.
     "If you're going to do it right, do it all the way."
     "If you're going to do it right, have a detailed plan, beforehand."

     Before I really even realized it, I was already drawing up the long-term, step-by-step plans to raise the cats with.
     Before long, I was buying every little cat book and booklet that had information in it about properly raising kittens, and about cat psychology, and with all the "whens" and "hows" about feeding the right kinds of food to make sure that they would become exceptionally strong and healthy.
     That latter concern ended up an obsession - one which clinched any leftover doubt about keeping the cats.
     You see, most all of my previous cats were either deliberately killed by other cruel people, or were stolen by people who liked how my cats were always "cool," or they died of some disease that I had no clue about until it was too late. When these two kittens came along, I was anxious to do everything that I could to prevent the disease part, at least, from happening, by making sure that they were the strongest and healthiest possible kittens on the face of the earth. (Training them on leashes and "runners" in the back yard, later, took care of the first two problems.)
     At any rate, I researched everything that I could about raising kittens and cats, and, while I waited for their eyes to finally open, I wrote up a little "plan" for the kittens in a notebook. I also occasionally took notes on observations that I'd made of them, along the way.

     These are excerpts from my notebook...

Raising Raisen: Notes From My Journal
c/o Todd L. Sherman/KB4MHH
Gainesville, Alachua Co., Fla.
E-mail: afn09444@afn.org
Created: May 2, 2002.
Last updated: May 2, 2002.

© Copyright 2002 by Todd L. Sherman. All Rights Reserved.

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