© Cindy Lee
To be an effective cat one must remember exactly what it means to be a cat. Cats are not like dogs. Cats are not like humans. While this may seem obvious, the fact that cats are found so often among other species necessitates this reminder that any behavior learned by said other species might be detrimental to the life of the cat. Therefore, my eager little felines, I beg you to take heed of my words and be sure to remain catlike at all times.
The first thing you must remember is that cats have not friends. This is important to maintaining the complex social structure of the species, and to keeping territorial boundaries intact. An overly friendly feline might find itself with unwanted guests sharing dinner, or even living quarters. Therefore, the best strategy is to maintain a professional distance at all times.
This does not mean you cannot show affection toward another cat, or another species. There are many advantages to keeping up the appearance of friendliness. A fairly talented feline is able to manipulate its caretaker in an infinite number of ways, just by putting on the right show of affection. For instance, I once knew a cat that was able to avoid a scolding. When the moment of truth arrived, it merely wrapped its furry little body around its caretaker's legs and put on the most precious little purr you ever heard. The caretaker was so taken by the act that all was forgotten, and presumably, forgiven.
As for other cats, you must never show affection unless it is necessary for mating or nursing. You must be able to show strength at all times, never letting down your guard even for a second. Reputations can be obliterated by a poorly timed blink. You must be ever vigilant when faced with an intruder. While intent is never assumed, neither is it denied. Loyalties do not exist in the cat world, only truces. Cats invented the cold war.
While you need to spend time guarding territory, you also need to constantly explore the territories around you. Daily excursions are essential for keeping informed of the surrounding world. New cats and new alliances appear at any given moment. You must make sure to keep updated lest you make a fatal social error. Of course, it would be impolite of you to forget to leave a calling card. After all, other cats also need to keep informed of your presence. This can be accomplished by a few well-placed face brushes followed by a thorough spraying wherever you are. This gesture also serves as a reminder of your social status in the area. It is crucial that others are aware of this status at all times. One missed day can change everything, the result of such carelessness being no mate for the season, or worse, lost of territory.
Generosity is not a feline trait. It implies social inclinations and lack of power, neither of which quality should even be considered, much less pursued, by a good cat. You should only share food when an immediate threat is involved, such as a dominant cat. Any such possession must be guarded mercilessly, lest one appear soft or weak. Strength is absolutely vital to the status of the cat. Any perceived weakness will lead to loss of possession and territory. Therefore, you must avoid any sharing outside of mating. The one exception to this rule is when you are buying the favors of the caretaker, in which case a well placed bird or mouse can go a long way toward a lasting relationship.
Indoor cats must follow an entirely separate set of rules in order to coexist peacefully with humans and the occasional other species. Territory is usually well defined with little threat from outside cats. This works well in that the constant defining, redefining, and defending of territory is no longer an issue. However, it is prudent to remember that said territory is still shared by other species; you must be able to make compromises. Therefore, the smart indoor cat will not only have the entire area mapped out, but will know the precise location of strategic lookouts and hiding places. These should be area inaccessible to all other species including humans.
Once this is accomplished, you can turn your attention to more important endeavors, specifically exploration. While spraying is not an option in an indoor environment, face rubbing is still acceptable. Claw marking is a little trickier; clawing the wrong spot can lead to unpleasant consequences. The best way to announce your existence is merely to nap on various items and pieces of furniture. It won't be too long before every inch of the house is covered in your hair. No further action is needed until the caretaker cleans everything and it's time to start all over again.
This would be a good time to mention a crucial point for any cat. Nobody ever owns a cat. You are a separate entity existing within a given infrastructure. In other words, all other creatures share your territory. You are merely allowing them to coexist with you. Always remember you are doing them a favor by letting them care for you, and make sure you are constantly and amply rewarded for your patience and tolerance. If this need is not being met, I'm afraid it's time for you to be moving on in search of better quarters. This is the way of the cat.
I believe it was the cat that inspired whatsitsface Machiavelli to write "The Qualities of the Prince." You are regal and proud creatures. You must hold your head and tail up high at all times in honor of the feline genes you carry. Even when you stumble or fall, you must immediately right yourself and walk boldly on. Saving face is the ultimate goal of the cat. It helps you maintain the power and status you so rightly deserve. Being a good cat is everything. You must never forget this. And now, my little ones, I wish you good luck and good territory. It is indeed your destiny.