Monday, August 8, 2011

anatomy of a prize winning snuggle

In the winter it was commonplace to see Rose and Nahum snuggling together. Lately though, seeing cats snuggle together is a rare sight.  Even more rare is finding three cats snuggling together and in August!

Let's break it down and see what we can learn from these crazy snuggly cats.

Essential components for the perfect snuggle:
  • Cushion - soft blankets, couch cushions, cat beds, human beds - all acceptable surfaces for snuggling. Notice in this example, there are two blankets being utilized on top of the cushy couch cushion. In snuggling, there is no such thing as too much cushion.
  • Space - there must be enough available space to fit all the parties comfortably. Veteran snugglers know to leave additional space for additional late-comers. The more snugglers, the better the snuggle.
There is room for another cat on the gray blanket next to Willow
  • Stillness & Endurance - only invite cats to the snuggle that have proven themselves to have long endurance for snuggling. Notice that Theo is not one of the cats in this snuggle. He is often too wiggly and doesn't consistently have the endurance to sustain a long snuggle. Slight movements to maximize comfort are tolerated, however, wiggles are not. Ideally, the litter box should be used before joining the snuggle as it is inconsiderate of the others to interrupt snuggling perfection to have to use the facilities.
  • Arrangement - cats need to be arranged in the snuggle to maximize their comfort. Nahum is the most experienced snuggler in this assortment, therefore he gets the anchor position in the corner. It is important that the anchor has a strong endurance and ability to sustain the snuggle. A wiggly anchor is certain to ruin the snuggle. Notice that Rose gets the edge of the snuggle, this is because she is the least experienced snuggler and has the greatest potential to be spooked. Newbie snugglers need options for quick escape incase they get frightened.
  • Position - it is considered rude to place one's butt near the head of another snuggler. This is not an official rule in the snuggler's handbook, but more a matter of proper etiquette.
  • Contact - in regulation snuggling competition contact must always be made between all parties. Points are deducted from snugglers who fail to honor this rule. Outside of the competitive snuggling circuit, it is advised that contact always be made, however it is not essential to achieve a good snuggle.
  • Ambiance - environmental factors play a big role in setting the stage for a successful snuggle. Temperature needs to be on the cool side. Loud noises are not allowed, nor are rude smells.
  • No tooths or claws! - mutual bathing at the start of a snuggle is acceptable however use of tooths and/or claws is never permitted and the snuggle will terminate immediately. 
  • Comfort - this is really the summation of all the above components. It all comes down to comfort, plain and simple. Uncomfortable snugglers never achieve prize willing snuggle status. 

The cat with the most snuggling experience out of this assortment, he offers to take the anchor position. Taking this position requires a fair amount of responsibility, something that could easily impede a more novice snuggler from fully getting to enjoy the moment.

  • Notice how Nahum uses Rose's back as a pillow. Nahum being a bigger cat, needs a sturdy pillow, and Rose's back provides the perfect pillow.
  • Nahum rest's his paw on Willow's face. The best snuggles involve contact with all the parties. Most of his contact is coming with Rose but he knows the snuggle will be enhanced by having contact with Willow too. This behavior again marks Nahum as a professional.

  • What good is a snuggle if you can't sleep?! Nahum demonstrates he has no problems taking care of his anchor position responsibilities while enjoying a deep slumber.

The least experienced snuggler in this assortment, she seems to be a natural. Seeing her work this snuggle, it's hard to notice her lack of experience. She wisely took the edge position which matches her personality.

  • Rose positions herself perfectly. A true novice snuggler might park too close to the edge of the couch, which is a very dangerous situation. Many snuggle injuries occur when a cat sleeping too close to the edge makes a slight adjustment and falls off. Rose wisely chooses a safe distance from the couch edge.
  • This is an example of good snuggling form. When snuggling, one either faces into the snuggle or outward of the snuggle. Rose demonstrates an outward position. The bent paw over the nose really adds a level of sophistication to her snuggling pose. If this had been an official snuggling competition, the judges certainly would have rewarded her generously for her fine form.
  • Another aerial view shows how Rose is making contact with both Willow and Nahum. With snuggle moves like these, it won't be long before Rose gains her professional snuggler status.

Snuggling comes very natural to Willow. Even when alone, she appears snuggly. If snuggle competitions had a category for solo-snuggling, Willow would be the champion! Let's take a closer look at her contribution to this snuggle. You will notice from picture to picture that she makes several adjustments to her snuggle pose. Her style represents more of a freestyle approach where she is not afraid to take risks.

  • In this view of Willow's starting position it is difficult to see if she is actually making contact with Nahum. 
  • From this view it is clear Willow is indeed making contact by using Nahum's paw as a pillow. In a competition she would gain a few points here for precision snuggling.
  • After a few adjustments, Willow shows a bit of her white tummy furs, something that always pleases the judges. This latest adjustment really highlights the risks Willow is willing to take in her snuggling. From this view, it appears that after making this adjustment, she is no longer making contact with Rose. If this were true in a competition, she would certainly lose many points from the judges. Lets take a closer look.
  • Zooming in on the area in question reveals that indeed contact is still happening, even with only a few furs! Wow, that is a risky move.
  • Nahum's soft fluffy tail makes for a wonderful pillow. A side note: Willow is also engaging in good self-care here by breathing through Nahum's bushy tail. Since she suffers from asthma, she needs to be careful not to breathe in too much dust particles, so here she is using his tail as a filter to remove any nasty dust particles from the air. Extra points for utilizing self-care techniques in the snuggle.
  • A picture of contentment. This is certainly a good indicator of a good snuggle in progress.
  • In case the previous picture didn't convey the contented look on Willow's face, here's one more.

After witnessing this stellar practice round, I like our chances of taking home the blue ribbon in the 2012 snuggle championship series. 


  1. We think you're a definite "in" for the blue ribbon. Save the pics for the Cat-O-Lympics in 2012--assuming the CB will hold them again!

    Happy World Cat Day to you all!

  2. We give you an 11 out of 10!!! And you are right - Rose couldn't look more content if she tried. Mom smiled through this whole post. :)

  3. This is a fantastic post! And you three are obviously a shoo-in for the Gold medal of snuggling. WOW.
    Happy World Cat Day!!

  4. Was für wunderschöne Kuschelbilder, ja, solche bekommt man gewiss nicht ständig. Einfach wunderschön zum Ansehen.

    LG Claudia

  5. I like the concept of endurance brought to evaluation. Is this teachable? or genetic? I'm hoping teachable. My Bugs has no endurance for this kind of thing. No Nahum to show him the ropes. Only thing Bugs wants: Insane crazypants-ity. He's two years old, by the way. Not a kitten. Bugs? Are you listening? You can get BIG points for snuggling! Bugs? Bugs? Where IS he! Not by my side. Alas.

  6. Oh wat a gorgeous delicious wonderful sight.

  7. Thanks for a post which made me smile! I wish your cats the best of luck int the Cat-o-lympics!!

  8. This post is awesome! I'm laughing so hard! You certainly have some pro's living with you!
    Sarah @


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