Frequently Asked Questions
Why would anyone want to dance with their cat?
Well firstly I think its become a way for cat owners to enter into a more interesting and meaningful relationship with their cats. Once they've danced with their cat you often find they'll speak of feeling that their cat is now a far more significant part of their world and some say they've entered into a kind of spiritual partnership with it. Secondly, cat dancers claim that dancing with their cats makes them feel great. Ok, so whenever we do something in unison with another being we raise our levels of awareness and feel stimulated, but there seems to be something quite profound that happens to these people. They appear to be affected both physically and emotionally. They talk of feeling alive for the first time and claim they become more out going, assertive and generous.
How do people actually dance with their cats?
Well they don't dance with them in the normally accepted way. That is, they don't jig up and down with them for minutes at a time. I know that some of the photographs in the book can give that impression, but 'dancing' is really the best term we have available to describe an interaction between a human and a cat or between two cats where they move synchronistically with one another, often for only a brief period of time. It seems to result from a build up of energy between them. Biologists say that the cat is simply releasing energy while cat dancers claim that it's a very powerful form of interaction. I guess the jury is still out on this one.
What if my cat won't dance with me?
Well you have to accept that some cats, like some humans, just don't dance. But a lot of the time cats won't dance because people expect almost instantaneous results. They think they can stroke their cat a bit, then put on the music and puss cat will be boogieing with them in no time. It's not that easy. You have to put hours of time in to the pre-dance energy alignment exercises, like mirroring, remote stroking, mutual purring and so on, before most cats will dain to join you in the dance and then it's often for only a brief moment. The other problem people have is not being able to relax and let go of their doubts. Cats are extremely sensitive to our moods and people who are even slightly skeptical can easily put the cat off.
Tell us about these pre-dance exercises.
Well the most effective ones are the mirroring exercises where you attempt to mirror or copy your cat's movements in order to align your energy patterns. It's a very old technique that goes back to the middle ages when a 'copie cat' was a person (usually an older woman), who could perform magic cures by copying a cat's movements and so tap into its energy. The term 'copy cat' became a derogatory expression when the Church outlawed all forms of communing with cats and had practitioners of these arts put to death at the stake.
So you copy your cat's movements just like we unconsciously copy another's movements or expressions when we're forming a relationship with them. When your cat sits, you sit. When it rolls over, you roll over, and when it washes, you wash same rhythm, same posture, same everything except that you don't actually have to lick yourself. Some people find some of the washing positions almost impossible, but its amazing what you can achieve with practice. Just remember how hard it was to get into some of those yoga positions when you first started.
But how does this copying or mirroring of the cat actually get it to dance with you?
Basically mirroring is very much like body language. When you adopt the same position as someone else your communication with them on all levels improves. This is not simply because you just feel more comfortable about each other when you're both sitting in the same way. It's because the energy patterns that flow around you, your auras in fact, are making the same shape, and that shape or energy structure, sets up a unique resonance. When two structures resonate at the same frequency, the energy levels are in harmony and, as with harmony in music, it makes us feel good. It's the same with a cat, except that our energy, human energy, resonates at a different level from the feline, so that when we bring it into very close contact by mimicking the cat, we create an initial discordance, a kind of intense friction which the laws of physics dictate can only be resolved by producing a much higher body of energy that is now compatible with both systems. It's this new energy that excites us and our cats to leap about or 'dance'. And it's when we're dancing and synchronistic movements occur, that the energy level gets even higher. That's why dancing with cats can result in such intense vibrational states and lead us to experience a deep sense of peace and empowerment.
So you always have to do the pre-dance energy aligning exercises?
Well you may be lucky enough to own one of those rare cats that invites you to the dance by making a series of intricate leaps and flurries around you. One of those cats that's able to immediately bring it's vibrations into tension with yours and so instantly build the required energy. But for most of us it will be necessary to put in plenty of time doing the pre-dance exercises
Why have people suddenly begun to dance with their cats?
I think it's largely come about come about as the result of recent publicity, people who've always danced with their cats in one way or another and felt a bit weird about it, suddenly discover that others do it too, so they feel free to open up and talk about it and say how great it is and that encourages others to try it.
So is cat dancing a new phenomenon?
Well, as far as we know it's relatively new to this century, but it appears to have been more common in the Middle Ages. It's clearly referred to in the nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle in fact that's what that whole rhyme is about. Also there is little doubt that it was the women of those days who swished their brooms in front of cats in order to excite them to dance, so they could join them and attain higher states and perform cures, that led to the absurd notion of witches riding aloft on broomsticks with their cats.
It seems fairly clear that the Church had a good idea of the sort of vitalizing energy that cat dancers claimed for their practice and felt that it threatened their preserve in the area of miracles. I think that's the main reason why women who practiced it were labelled as evil witches and burned at the stake along with their cats.
How do I know if my cat will dance with me?
Well the question you should really ask is not, "Will my cat dance with me?" but rather, "Will I dance with my cat?" In short, you won't know until you try.
How do I get started?
Well you really have to start with the exercises. Some people I know though, have begun by dancing around with their cat in their arms. Holding it closely and swaying slowly back and forth to some inspirational music is a great way to get you both in the mood and, if you know what you're doing, it can be used as an energy aligning method.
So should we put on music when we dance with our cats?
Cat's react rather idiosyncratically to music. While some seem to be oblivious to it, others can react very negatively and then there are those that very clearly get off on it. Of those that do respond to music, many seem to have musical preferences and will clearly show they enjoy one piece of music over another by sitting and purring or sometimes moving their tails or heads along with the beat or the rhythm. Its a good idea to play different types of music for your cat and look for signs of irritation or enjoyment. You need to remember that music you may want to dance to, could be a complete turn-off for your cat.
Is there any music that a majority of cats will respond to?
There is already one album of music composed by Biomusicologist David Parsons which is about to be released and is specifically designed for cats to dance to. Parsons worked with Tibetan cat charmers in the Himalayas and discovered just what sounds and rhythms were most likely to stimulate cats to dance. He took these sounds, found an analog for them on his synthesizer, then combined, multiplied and re-synthesized them with real cat cries and purring, and even subtle licking noises to create a complexity of feline sounds and rhythms that both cats and humans will respond to. It's a very new sound and the few cat dancers who've tried it feel that it works really well. My only criticism is that the record company have rather gone over the top in some of the claims they make for it. Parsons is well known internationally for his synthesizer compositions and you can listen to samples of some of his other compositions at Amazon.
So do you need to use music to dance with your cat?
Your cat will certainly dance with you without music but I think one of the most important things about playing music when you're dancing with your cat is the effect it has on you. I'm sure it helps us become more involved in the dance and that helps get our energy levels up so that our cats are more likely to join us in the dance.
Does catnip help cats to dance?
Some people claim that drugs like catnip or valerian really get their cat going, while others claim they have the opposite effect. Detractors say the cat may indulge in some initial high energy activity but it tends to be short lived and it will very quickly end up flopping about and going to sleep. I think it depends on the cat, and provided you have no ethical objection to your cat taking performance enhancing drugs, I definitely think they're worth a try.
Are some breeds better dancers than others?
So far no one breed has emerged as having more ability than another at dancing. It is true though, that older cats are not so keen on dancing and in general the more social a cat is the more likely it is to enjoy the dance interaction.
Are there other explanations for why cats dance?
Yes, there's a feeling among some animal behaviourists that energy fields are not actually involved in the cat dancing phenomenon at all. They believe that cats may 'dance' as a result of being confused by a sudden intrusion in to their territory by people they're familiar with. They think that the cat's fright/flight reaction to the intrusion becomes momentarily mixed up with the delight reaction of seeing its owner(s) and this results in a series of confused hyperactive movements which are neither one thing or the other. They think this may also explain why cats sometimes 'dance' when we do. ie., because they're confused by our exuberant, often sudden dance movements, which they fail, in the initial moments, to 'read' as either aggressive or beign. This confused fright/delight reaction can also occur, they say, when the cat's owner enters the room at the same time as a stranger.
How did Heather Busch manage to get such amazing photographs?
The photographs are the result of three years work. Her first shots were taken in peoples' living rooms, but with so much background distraction it was difficult to see what the cats were doing. Then she tried getting the cats and dancers to a studio, but being on unfamiliar territory meant the cats just didn't want to dance at all. In the end she had to set up large portable backdrops in cat owner's homes and give the cats a few weeks to get used to them before they would dance without inhibition.
What do you think is the future of cat dancing?
I think we've only just scratched the surface. Interspecies communication generally is moving forward in leaps and bounds and I'm sure as more and more people begin to dance with their cats, we're going to see some really dramatic advances in this area.
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