About a year and a half ago, my husband and I adopted a two-year-old Maine Coon cat named Timmy. The why isn’t important, and while the how might be of interest to some, I’ll skip that story and focus on the what. Which is the cat.
When one takes in a mature animal, one expects some behavioral issues, and Timmy had one. He’d bite—hard but never maliciously. After a few days of observation, we concluded that somehow during his formative period he’d learned to associate biting with affection. We’d stroke him; he’d bite.
To break him of this habit, we would gently yet firmly admonish him each time he’d attempt to clamp down his fangs into our flesh. “Nice, Timmy. Be nice!” was our mantra, and after about seven months of reconditioning, the biting may not have stopped altogether, but its frequency and intensity had diminished considerably.
As for today, Timmy is simply a love. No biting. None. Good kitty.
I tell you about Timmy and his reformation because the “Be nice!” mantra comes to mind each time I happen upon a snarky e-mail or a snippy reader comment on Ragan.com. You know the ones. They smack of a superiority in delivering a “gotcha,” as though the reader takes delight in pointing out an author’s oversight.