Cat purr-sues literacy
DEAR TABBY: I really enjoy it when my assistant reads to me. I find it very soothing, and I would love to be able to read to her and, in the future, to other cats. My assistant has been kind enough to tutor me, but I’m having a hard time picking it up. I used to think that I was a quick study because I’ve learned how to open the cupboards at the office, and I also understand doors, but this whole reading thing is going over my head.
I was wondering if you happened to know of any good reading programs for cats (free or paid), or if you have any tips. — EAGER READER IN REDDING
P.S. My friend Earl helped me write this letter because I couldn’t do it myself.
DEAR EAGER READER: I admire your stick-to-itiveness. Please know that you’re not the only cat out there who struggles with reading. It’s actually a very common issue — so common that I started an organization to help called Cats for Literacy. We have after-school programs for young kittens and evening programs for adult cats who want to improve their reading skills. Visit the website at catsforliteracy.org to find a program near you.
Once you’re more comfortable with the fundamentals, practice by reading things you enjoy. I highly recommend Cat Fancy for its stunning photography and engaging profiles. And, of course, my column here.
I know that with dedicated study, you’ll be able to read Dear Tabby entirely on your own.
Cat deals with heavy petting
DEAR TABBY: My kitty modeling agency is small compared to yours, but even at my level, I’ve learned that good help is hard to find. My one and only assistant is great in many ways. She’s punctual, energetic when it comes to keeping me entertained with feather toys, and she’s a fantastic cook and gravy preparer, but she’s also the worst masseuse I have ever known. She has absolutely THE WORST petting technique.
She taps my head like I’m a dog and even — I kid you not — literally rubs me the wrong way.
I understand that every assistant has their strengths and weaknesses, and nobody is perfect. I definitely don’t expect perfection, but even if we could just slightly improve her petting abilities, it would be a big improvement.
I hope that my assistant doesn’t read this because I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Overall, I think she’s doing a wonderful job.
Tabby, what do you think I should do? Have you ever had an assistant that was great in so many ways but lacking in one particular area? And have you had much success sending employees to get outside training? — TOO MUCH TAPPING IN TOPEKA
DEAR TOO MUCH TAPPING: Of course I’d never admit this to my assistants because I like to keep them on their toes, but both of them are primo, top-notch at petting. I have, however, experienced a similar issue with one of my employee’s family members. My female employee’s mother does the same exact thing, and it drives me batty.
Here’s what I do: I let her get one or two pets in, but then after the third one I gently nip her on her hand — not to draw blood, but just as a reminder of who’s boss.
She’ll come at me again, of course — they always do — so I’ll repeat the process until she gets the technique right.
If this doesn’t work, you’ll need to escalate the situation, and I recommend dropping gentle hints. Print out a guide to successfully petting your cat. Google it. There are tons of them online. And place that on her desk first thing in the morning with a sticky that says, “FYI.”