If you’ve ever thought that your cat has been pulling the wool over your eyes, you’re probably right.

Text and photos by Stef dela Cruz, MD

Cats look adorable. They meow like little angels, beckoning to us with their innocent little voices. They’re fluffy and cuddly with round, pleading eyes. They love rubbing their bodies against us, wrapping their tails around our legs as lovingly as women like me wrap men around their fingers. Hold on, that last statement was a jab said in jest. After all, it’s April, the month we habitually start by celebrating fools. Kidding aside, the cats in our lives are just like furry cherubs on earth, sent to watch over us and keep us company… …Or are they? Could it be that they’ve been fooling us all along?

Four ways cats take us for fools We claim to have domesticated cats but from the way these felines have been running our lives, it looks like they’re the ones who have domesticated us, not the other way around. Of course, I’m not simply throwing around an unfounded accusation. I’ve got proof!Here are four ways cats try to make fools out of us—find out if you’ve been a victim of their cunning duplicity.

“Go ahead, fool, fall for me!” – Mimi, six months old. Expert schemer.

1. Cats pretend they’re nice if they think it will get them what they want

Case in point: The kitten who most recently made a fool of me who goes by the name Mimi. When I first laid eyes on Mimi, she was all fur and softness, all meows and sweetness. You would never guess she would break every single vase she could get her paws on.

I was not her first human and it was a rollercoaster ride claiming her as my own, something I wrote about tearfully in Animal Scene’s February issue. Of course, at the time, I was unaware that Mimi was one master schemer. My friends now think that she simply pretended to look like she was dying that fateful Christmas Eve so that I would finally decide to take her in. They have evidence to back their claim: After looking like she was on the brink of death that night, she was playing happily in my bedroom less than 24 hours after. “There’s no way she scammed me! She’s a cat, for crying out loud!” I used to say. Not anymore.

2. Cats train you to wake up at a specific time without your realizing it

Anyone with a cat will tell you that their feline kids are actually snooze-free alarm clocks. Our cats wake us up way before the sun even rises above the horizon. They apply different methods, too, depending on what kind of training we respond to. Some like to meow in our ears until we just can’t take it anymore (my older cat, Merlin, prefers this method). Others paw at our faces or pull at our hairs with their teeth. Others still break things in far-flung corners of the house. Sleep be damned—we have no choice but to get up and find out if hell really has broken loose. Ah, cunning cats. Do not be duped.

“These fools don’t understand cat language. I have to stare at them until they finally do my bidding.” – Merlin, six years old. Regal manipulator.

3. Cats manipulate you into surrendering food via staring contests

Have you ever been in a staring contest with a cat? They stare at you like royalty waiting for their errant servants to do their bidding. And no, when it comes to these stare-offs, the human slave never wins. It usually happens when a cat wants food, something cat people like me readily recognize. That’s not saying cat owners know what the stare-off is about from day one.Cats have found a way to train fools like us so that they would get food whenever they pleased. Here’s how my cats “teach” me to give food via staring contests. First, they sit on a table – that way, we’re eye to eye. Chins up and heads held high, they stare away until I go to them, wondering what on earth I did wrong to deserve the unrelenting stare-off. They continue to stare, making me feel paranoid. I eventually ask myself, “What is it? Did I do something wrong? Did I forget to give them food?” Like the gullible human that I am, I bring out their favorite kibble, which officially ends the staring contest. Cats, one. Humans, zero.

4. Cats tell you when you can sleep on your bed (and when you can’t)

Imagine yourself tired after a long day’s work (which, by the way, you have endured because you want to be able to afford their food, not to mention the hypertension-inducing fees when you visit the vet). You are weary and want nothing more than to finally get a good night’s sleep. However, your cat is on your bed. He’s not off to one corner of the bed, making way for your obviously bigger body. Nope, he’s smack in the middle of the mattress.

Let’s face it: He’s the boss, and you’re clearly not.

You now have two choices: You can sleep in an awkward position and risk falling off the bed sometime during the night, or you can sleep on the floor. Ask anyone who lives with a cat and he’ll tell you how many times he has been evicted from his own bed.

Don’t fool yourself: If you have cats, they pretty much own your house, the same way they own you. We are fools, but willingly so We love the cats in our lives, notwithstanding their manipulative nature. If that makes us fools, so be it! We can’t get enough of their purrs, of their loving head butts, of the way they run to the door whenever we come home. Besides, we can learn a lesson or two about manipulation simply by watching them do their stuff. It’s something anyone can do, including you—go ahead, find a cat and watch how he works his spell on you! It can be very educational.

Of course, if you have to watch a cat for a long time, you might as well adopt one. There are many you will find out on the streets – they’re much better at fooling people than their wealthier, more sheltered counterparts, I’m telling you – but you can also go to cat shelters if you don’t fancy the idea of having to catch a highly intelligent, highly manipulative feline. As for people like me who already have cats, we can simply roll our eyes and give a collective sigh. We’ve already been duped the moment we thought it was our decision to own them because, really, they are the ones who own us. We might as well make the most of it by giving these lovely furballs a kiss or two each day—maybe even more, especially if they don’t like it. You know, just so we can even the score.

About the foolish author:

Stef dela Cruz, M.D. is a columnist and blogger. She was conferred the 2013 Health Media Recognition by the Department of Health. She is now the foolishly proud human of two cats and a dog whom she treats not as pets, but as family. Connect with her on www.stefdelacruz.com or via Twitter & Instagram (@StefdelaCruzMD).

This appeared in Animal Scene’s April 2016 issue.