If you’re anything like me, this next bit of news may surprise you.
While cats seem aloof and unconcerned with all things human related (as long as their food and water dishes stay full!), they are not totally impervious to changes in the things and people around them. If you’ve ever replaced some of your larger home décor pieces, or rearranged your furniture, then perhaps you’re familiar with the spastic confusion felines exhibit: suddenly tearing through the house as if their tails are after them, scaling furniture they once barely seemed to notice, slamming into relocated furniture pieces and swiping at you when you reach for them, and so on. What many feline pets did not realize is that they also notice when we alter our appearance (beyond just changing clothes or applying a little makeup, that is).
Funny story (and 100% true!)… My hair has been long and dark (and recently streaked with quite a bit of silver) for as long as I’ve had my five cats. A couple of weeks ago, I finally had enough extra money to go get a desperately needed hair cut. I’ve been friends with the girl who cut my hair for several years, and she asked me if I would agree to be a guinea pig for something she really wanted to try on my hair, since she finally had me in her chair. I agreed, because she’s really good at what she does, and I trust her.
Long story short, she took about 4-5 inches off my hair, and I now have dark gold colored hair with lots of blonde streaks. When I got home, it was dark, and my cats were only concerned with the two bald spots they had in their three food dishes. The next morning, however, was quite a different story. Three of them reacted by grabbing paws full of my hair and biting it, and the fourth pawed at it gently, meowing at me for hours. However, the funniest by far was my youngest female’s reaction. She is a tri-colored kitty (what some might call tortious shell), and her coat has a great deal of orange and yellow hues.
So, I was brushing my hair, and she wandered up to my chair and stretched up nonchalantly… and froze, mid reach. Then, she jumped up in my lap, sniffed my hair, grabbed a paw full, and started trying to spread it out on her back and over the top of her head! At first, I couldn’t figure out what she was doing, so I pulled my head away from her. She meowed loudly at me (which she NEVER does) and grabbed more hair. This time, as the strands fell, I examined my hair more carefully. The way the light hit my hair, it appeared to her to be the exact same color as hers… and she had noticed! I can’t presume to be a feline mind-reader, but if I had to guess, I’d have sworn that she thought I was wearing HER hair on my head, and she was trying to take it back! Since then, I’ve approached her both with my hair up in a ponytail and out of sight, and down, allowing it to fall in her face as I loved on her. When it’s pulled back, she doesn’t give it a second thought, and eats up the affection like it’s catnip. When she sees my hair in her face, however, she starts meowing and trying to drape it over her, just the way she did the first time she saw it this color. I don’t enjoy teasing animals, but it’s so freakin’ cute that I die laughing every time!
So, I sat down, did some research, and came up with a list of things you can do to keep your feline from panicking over your new ‘do!
- Start small. If your cat is easily excitable, try getting your hair cut an inch or so at a time. If you’re aiming for a new color, alter it shade by shade. The gradual change is less drastic, and will seem less strange to your cat.
- Experiment. Get temporary hair dyes or colored extensions and introduce your kitty to your hair changes one streak (and one color) at a time.
- Make a habit of it. Probably the fastest way to adjust your cat to changes in your appearance is to make those changes a regular part of your routine. If you change your hairstyle, length and/or color about every 4-6 weeks, it won’t take your feline long to become desensitized to wild hues or drastic cuts.
- Pick good timing for your makeover. Whenever possible, schedule your hair appointment for the same time you plan to add or rearrange furnishings in your home. In theory, your cat will be too preoccupied by the furniture changes to notice your altered appearance, until they’ve already acclimated to it.
- Be generous with treats and toys. This is a trick used by pet owners for all sorts of situations. If you want your cat to react well to any change, especially drastic changes in your appearance, buy them their favorite treats, snacks, toys, and/or, if all else fails, catnip. It’s sort of like bribing them to like your new hairstyle, even if everyone else hates it!
For many of you, this may be a major newsflash. However, if you learned this tidbit the same way we did, and you have a cute or hilarious story, please feel free to share it with us!
We'd love to hear more wacky tales of cats reacting to new styles and/or looks!