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Our “Four-On-The-Floor” Rule

February 4, 2013

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.)

Photo courtesy Arria Belli

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.

Photo courtesy Marshed

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.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn permalink
    February 4, 2013 9:18 am

    I’ve been doing that and didn’t realize it. It just seemed right. Thank you so much for your blog. I have learned so much from you and others.

    • February 6, 2013 8:14 am

      Thanks for your kind comment! I hope to hear more about you and your cat soon!

  2. natsera permalink
    February 5, 2013 4:57 pm

    Yeah, I figured out that Dimity needed to be put down gently after a number of falls and collapses. She never seemed insulted, but I think gentle is the best way with any cat. She also has a “bung” on her nose from crashing into something — I didn’t see it, and the scab has come off, but I’m wondering if the hair will grow back in! I also noticed that she sometimes has tremors in her back feet and wonder whether that’s part of CH also. Her head, though, is steady as a rock. I do wonder whether different cats are affected differently. But in the meanwhile, she’s a bundle of love, except when she’s playing with her toy mice — do NOT distract!! LOL!

  3. February 9, 2013 2:24 pm

    I, too, have been doing this without ever really consciously thinking about it.

    My Sascha loves lap time, but REALLY does not like being carried; just holding him a couple inches off the floor makes his heart race like he’s a hummingbird. Sometimes he’ll decide to get down on his own, and take that flying leap off faith off of whatever couch or chair his current lap of choice happens to be resting upon. But if he gets up, looks at the floor, and looks at you, it’s four on the floor.

    My boy is 13, and thankfully everyone knows how to handle him to help keep him from hurting himself.

  4. March 6, 2013 5:38 am

    Poppie does not like to be picked up but occasionally appreciates a quick trip up to a chair or the couch. The vet thought perhaps he got dizzy when he was picked up but he doesn’t kick so much after YEARS of attempts to be picked up. He likes to get down by himself and will kick me away when I try to help. He has taken some bad falls unfortunately. He is not a cuddly cat in some ways but is getting better and INSISTS on affection at certain times by crying. He is learning to return the favor by rubbing against my hand or my foot or grabbing my foot with his claws in happiness. Ow!

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