Issue 4: December 08
Dear Dr. Schelling,

My brother-in-law George is coming to visit us again for the holidays. He doesn't much care for cats (I know – it baffles us, too). All our other guests are enamored with our big Maine Coon mix, Mason, but kitty always goes right to George. Why?

Hostess to the humans, servant to the cat


Dear Hostess,

Mason may appreciate George's passivity.

When a kitty's abode is invaded by – from his standpoint – strangers, even a normally outgoing ambassador-type feline may become timid and overwhelmed. A roomful of well-intentioned guests saying "Here, Mason," waving wand toys, and offering treats may be a bit much for any but the most easy-going and tolerant cat.

Mason may see George's disinterest as a welcome contrast to all the solicitations. From Mason's point of view, George is displaying proper protocol and respect by letting kitty establish a connection at his own pace. Cats generally like that; they want to be in charge; they want to be the ones who decide how fast or slow a relationship will develop, and what things will be done when.

So Mason chooses George as a target because he's able to sniff and check out George at his own leisure, without interference or pressure.

Granted, cats also like to be pampered, so after a while, if George doesn't respond at all to Mason's overtures, Mason will likely move on to the cat appreciators in the vicinity, to receive the expected adoration and attention.

But Mason may also like the challenge of winning George over, of stealthily recruiting George into his domain. And in time he may succeed. Cats have a way of working their magic on skeptics.

In fact, some people are reluctant to be friendly with cats because they don't understand cats, or they had a frightening experience with a cat long ago. Still others may avoid cats because subconsciously they're afraid of being hurt; relationships with animals bring immense joy and incalculable rewards but also occasionally produce deep sadness – such as when a beloved companion is lost. But given time, a cat, with his powers of snuggling, playful interaction, keeping humans guessing, and – the ace in hole – purring, may turn the most cat-averse person into a convert.

If George really doesn't want Mason to bother him, then gently redirect kitty to a more cat-friendly part of the house, to be fair to both cat and human. However, if George is merely playing hard to get, keep a watchful eye, but see how things play out.

-Dr. Schelling

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