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Why does Duncan do this?

Duncan under the zoom blanket

Duncan under the zoom blanket

It’s been awhile since we talked about Duncan. He’s in good spirits and I think he lost two pounds. GC gave him a toy for Christmas which hooks over a door handle and has a mouse on an elastic for him to play with. He plays with it every day, so he’s getting regular exercise now. The other day he played so vigorously with this toy that a cactus on a nearby window sill got knocked to the floor and had to be repotted. I took care of it, but it went on Duncan’s permanent record.

Duncan’s developed a new habit which puzzles me, and I’m hoping you might have some theories about it. He licks pants. Yes, Pants. My pants, GC’s pants, other people’s pants. He especially likes to lick pants that recently came in from outside. If you come to my house, Duncan will greet you at the door, lead you to a chair, jump onto your lap and proceed to lick your pants. He started doing this about a month or two ago, and he’s a bit obsessive about it. I’m mystified.

Another thing that’s odd is he loves being read to. GC sometimes reads out loud to me before we fall asleep. We recently finished Alice in Wonderland and now we’re reading a book of short stories by Ivan Coyote. Duncan likes to lie on GC’s chest during story time, purring and peering down over the book. As soon as story time is over, he comes back over to my side and snuggles up. Is this a normal cat thing? Does your cat enjoy being read to? (If you’re not sure, please read them a bedtime story tonight and report back tomorrow.)

The lovebirds, Billie and Lester, are happy, healthy and adjusting well to their new home at GC’s house. They had a bit of a mishap a few days ago when, while standing on their swing, they chewed through the thing that attaches the swing to the roof of the cage. The swing and the birds crashed to the floor of the cage, and the birds emerged from the rubble looking a little dazed and confused.

We let them out of the cage about once a week. They’re getting better at flying, and the dog has adjusted well to the idea of birds flying around the house. They have regular flight paths now. They like the tops of two paintings, the chandelier, a high shelf in the kitchen and the ceiling fan in the stairwell. We don’t like it when they go upstairs because they don’t seem to know how to get back down.

We’d let them out more often but it’s a big ordeal to get them back into their cage. They don’t let us pick them up unless they’re exhausted (and even then, Lester is not above biting us). We’ve tried luring them with food, directing them with the broom, waiting patiently, and dimming the lights. If you have other ideas, we’d love to hear them.

The Dog has been wearing his cone lately because he’s got a rash on his leg and he licks it compulsively whenever he gets the chance. This makes it worse. GC says the rash is a chronic and recurring problem, as is the licking of the rash. The Dog doesn’t seem to mind wearing his cone, but GC feels bad for him because if he were a dog he wouldn’t like wearing a cone.

I got The Dog a heart shaped cookie with a paw print on it for Valentines Day. I found it at Bark & Fitz, on Richmond Road. So adorable. He loved it.

(Speaking of pets, does anybody else feel that their Green Bin is like a pet? Or is that just me?)

15 comments to Why does Duncan do this?

  • Melissa Sprott

    Java eats dustbunnies (and shames me on account of my poor housekeeping). My mother-in-law’s cat licked photo emulsion, stamps, and the top of my mother-in-law’s head.

    My compost bin isn’t a pet, yet, but I do think of it much more than I do my trashcans, so maybe you have a point!

  • My first thought is: it’s the salt. It occurred to me the moment you mentioned “from outside”… See if Duncan keeps doing it once spring hits.

    One of my cats likes potato chips. I can’t explain that either.

  • My cats don’t lick my pants – but Rocky has a bad habit of biting fingers, noses, toes and elbows. Not hard bites, just little love bites.
    As for reading, they could care less if I read to them or not, but Rocky is one of those cats who has to lay on my chest and chew on the book while I’m reading it. If I’m not reading them, he lays on my books.

  • sassy

    Duncan is looking very good, 2 lbs, that’s a good % of weight loss.

  • emily

    my cat licks any paper product. boxes, magazines, newspapers, packaging, etc.

  • Juno usually comes & curls up on my chest when I am reading in bed, sometimes so close to the book that I have to hold the book at an uncomfortable angle in order to read it. I have never hear of a cat licking pants before!

  • The salt on the pants idea sounds promising.

    Are the birds motivated by food? Or by telling them what good birds they are? Try to figure out what will motivate them, and then stick-train them. That is, train them to step up onto a stick. Use a dowel (so you can have several similar-looking sticks in convenient places). First get them used to the stick by giving them treats or encouraging words, then get them to step up on the stick. Birds are trainable, just like dogs, you just need to figure out what each individual bird considers a good reward. You can also use clicker training – just like dogs. Just be sure to end each training session on a high note – you don’t want the bird to get frustrated, so short training sessions are best. Hopefully at least one bird will figure it out quickly, and then the other will follow.

  • Oh, and if the motivation is food, be sure to give them tiny bits (like half a sunflower seed) or they’ll take so long to eat it will interrupt the training process.

  • Have ya considered licking your pants before Duncan does, to find out what he sees in ’em? If it doesn’t work, at least you can say you tried a new fetish.

    Ummm, okay, leaving now…

  • XUP

    I’ve never read to Bazel, but he goes into a trance when music is playing or when we sing. Robin got Bazel one of those door toy things and Bazel loved it — played with it constantly until a couple of weeks ago when somehow he got a claw stuck it in and ripped it a bit — the claw is okay now, but now we don’t let him play with it unless we’re around. I have no answers about the pants licking, though the salt thing sounds like a possiblity to me, too.

  • Arden

    Well, it does sound likely that the pants licking is due to salt (both from sweat, and road salt)

    That said, my own dogcat goes through endless phases of manias. He had a licking a few years ago, where he’d lick any bare skin he saw. If you sat on the toilet, he’d come lick your shin and knee. If you were in bed it whatever body part was closest to where he was currently sitting. Are there any colours or materials that he seems to go more bonkers over, because it could be a dye, or material smell. Or it could be laundry soap. We had a cat who liked soap (and LOVED anything bleachy, so much so that my nanny’s hands would be slobbered over and slightly mauled as if she’d dipped them in pure catnip)

    He also loves our doorknob-hangers and is the only one of five cats to play with it. (We’ve never had any issues with injuries either, and we’ve had the hanger for over 5 years now.

    Thanks coyote, I can’t stop laughing!

  • Carmen

    I,too, am quite fond of my green bin. I check it after trash day to make sure it has no bumps or scratches. It sits in the garage, easily within reach…. but then, I really, really love my composter during the warmer months.

  • Suki licks walls, doors, table legs, photo emulsion… pretty much anything that she can get to. I worry about her licking the paint off the walls (and I actively keep photos away from her), but it hasn’t hurt her yet.