Cat shame

I want to digress from my robot series to talk about an uncomfortable cat. In my personal experience cats are masters at being comfortable.  Cats seem to spend the majority of the day looking for places or positions where they can be comfortable and sleep/think/rest.  The rest of their day seems to be completely occupied with getting into trouble. Luckily this trouble seeking time is quite short in comparison.  This is why it is especially unnerving for cats to undergo anything that disrupts their natural tendencies.

shamed, sham·ing. noun. 1.

The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonourable.

Last month our cat Phoebe got into a little cat fight.  The end result was that she lost a bit of fur and skin off of her ass.  It looked small enough to heal on itself, and would have if Phoebe didn’t obsess over licking the wound.  This is apparently a common behaviour.  Soon the little wound was about the size of a quarter and she was licking all the hair off the area.  We were forced to buy a cone of shame.

Phoebe’s cone

She seemed to be game with us putting it on her head, but once we placed her on the floor she began to experience a counter intuitive feedback issue.  Her whiskers told her that she was in a predicament where the only way out was to cautiously back up.  This didn’t solve the problem.  She kept backing up until her ass hit something.  This probably felt uncomfortable and induced a strong desire to lick her ass again. It took her a while to realize that backing up did nothing of value.  Over the next few hours she went through what I have to describe as being aggressively grumpy and we tried to give her a lot of space, mostly for our own protection.  The other cats also gave her plenty of space.  I suspect they also found this to be quite humorous, cats can be so cruel.

By the next day I had the impression that she fell into a deep depression about her situation.  I doubt that she made the connection between ass wound licking and the cone of shame.  But I did get the feeling that she was doing some serious contemplation as to exactly what she did to earn such disgrace.  A few days later her wound was starting to scab over and heal properly.  She began to fall into the acceptance phase of her cone occupation.  This phase is by far the most amusing to watch, which in its self is a bit shameful.

Watching her try to get through the cat door to go outside, or use the cat box, or hunt for a bird in the back yard was most entertaining.  She also fell into a phase where she started to actively seek affection and approval from us. Maybe she was seeking forgiveness for some perceived deed which she feels she is being punished for.  This made for some interesting times in bed where she would purr and try to cuddle with us. Getting smacked in the head by a plastic cone in the middle of the night doesn’t contribute to a blissful night sleep.

Eventually it was time to take the cone of shame off.  I had a bit of anxiety about this, how would she react?  I figure that she would react in one of three ways.

1. She has been planning on retribution during the last few weeks and as soon as we removed the cone of shame it would be pay-back time.

2. She would be so relieved that she would forget the whole thing and go back to being a “normal” cat.

3. She would be grateful and be extra good for a few weeks.  Less time looking for trouble, more time appreciating life without the cone.

It turns out that she managed to cover all three, depending on the hour of the day.  Yes, typical cat behaviour.


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