Our “Four-On-The-Floor” Rule
At our place, pretty much anything goes, especially when it comes to the cats. In fact, right now, CG’s lounging on my lap as I type and Ellie’s reaching up, grabbing at my shirt – her attempt at saying, “Mom! Can I sit on your lap, too?” (Answer: She has to wait until CG leaves, which will likely happen soon if she continues her antics.)
Anyway, these cats are spoiled rotten, and we love it when our family and friends feel they can come over to enjoy and spoil our grays, too.
But there’s one rule in our home (OK, there are more, but this is the important one), that I had to learn, that my roommates have had to learn, that Matt has learned – and that we try to gently and subtly teach our friends and family all of the time:
Whenever a cat is put on the floor (most often when a friend or family member is done holding him/her), all four of the cat’s paws have to be touching the ground – hence, the “four-on-the-floor” rule.
How does that help? As many of us know, even some of our mild CH kitties can’t land very well. The “four-on-the-floor” rule helps others understand that, so that they can put the cat down gently and make sure that he/she is firmly planted before letting go.
It’s not a big deal if they don’t – it’s just usually followed by the cat collapsing to the floor, and an apology. All of our friends and family are so used to “normal” cats, that it’s second nature to simply release a cat a few feet from the floor. A gentle reminder – or in this case saying – helps them remember that our cats can’t always land on their feet. Even if they’re only inches away from the floor.
As for me, it’s become a habit to put the cat down and hold them for a moment until it’s clear that he’s balancing on his own. It’s just an extra second, but I’ve found it can help a great deal. If I don’t do that, the moment after I release the cat he often collapses to the floor.
Why is this a big deal? Three reasons in my book.
One, I want their experience with whomever they’re with to be enjoyable. I feel like that’s true from the moment they’re picked up to the moment they’re put down. I’m concerned that if they constantly fall/splat to the floor after being put down by a particular person, they may associate that unpleasantness with the person.
Two, safety is key. Little injuries can add up later in life, and as you know CG already has one chipped tooth, and Ellie’s big accomplishment as a kitten was chipping her adult canines the moment they came in. Little things like that can occur when we’re not thinking about it (when they crash into a wall, bang their chin on the floor, etc.), and if we can take the steps to prevent those moments, why not?
Three, in my book it’s all about respect. Certainly these cats don’t always respect my personal space, but as one of their pet parents it is important to me to keep their needs in mind as often as possible. If it means that I take an extra moment to put them down carefully for their own safety, I’m all about it.
So there you have it – our “four-on-the-floor” rule. Do you have similar rules in your home? If so, please share!
Oh, and if you were wondering, CG did jump off my lap shortly after Ellie started her antics. But it’s all good – I think they decided to ditch me and find a warm sleeping spot to share.