Ever wonder where our characters get their customs and quirky traits? Why does Jake always sniff his food? Why do the Tau lion shifters slow blink at one another or caress the back of their hand against a loved-one’s cheek?

The shifters in our Saga are more than human. They’re part animal in body and spirit and their personalities are often colored by traits found in the animal spirit they’ve connected with.

Growing up I spent a lot of time watching Wild Kingdom and studying the animal world I loved so much. I didn’t just like wolves, I wanted to be one. I wanted to know everything about them. So when the world of shifters opened up to me in my writing, I was finally able to put all that accumulated info somewhere.

Why does Jake sniff his food? Because that’s what my older cat, Cougar, does. He doesn’t always want it, but he wants to know about it! He’ll be very vocal until he can sniff it. Sometimes he’ll spend so much time sniffing and deciding that Kota, my younger Pixie Bob, will swoop in an gobble up the treat.

Some of the other traits for our Feline shifters come straight from the Vegas Cat Boys too. Take for example the Slow Blink. If you watch the video by my favorite cat behaviorist, Jackson Galaxy, he explains in the video here that in feline, the Slow Blink means “I love you.” How cool is that? And yes, I’ve tried it on my own cats and works every time.

One of the greeting customs for the Felines is the knuckle-caress. It’s a simple gesture where one person gently caresses their knuckles against the cheek of another person. It’s a sign of love and deep respect. I can’t remember how I discovered this one. The closest comparison I can think of is it resembled a head-butt, you know, when a cat comes up to you and gently butts his head against you to say hello. The second I offer my hand in this manner to Cougar or Kota, they instantly, and often enthusiastically, give my hand a head-butt.

On the wolfish side of things, our Lykous Packmates have a few idiosyncrasies of their own. For starters, their hierarchy is much more strict than the Felines. Ever wonder why everyone waits for Diego or Regina to take the first bite at a meal? In the wild, the Alpha always gets first dibs. In Lykous terms, this translates into the Alpha taking that first bite or drink before anyone else does when the Pack is gathered together.

And while the Felines aren’t bothered by sustained eye contact, a Lykous, or any Canine would take that as a blatant challenge. So mind your manners and don’t stare!

Fortunately for our canine shifters, we’ve left out sniffing butts as part of the equation.

On another note, February falls right smack in the middle of the wolf’s mating season—but as anyone who reads the Saga will tell you, the Pack has no restriction on intimate relations. Happy Valentine’s Day, Wolfies!

All the shifters in our Saga have similar traits based on actual animal behavior that make the characters that much richer and interesting.

Do you have pets or an affinity to a wild animal? What traits would they have if they were a shifter? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Yes! I love to have stare downs with my cat. I feel like she really understands everything we say. Cats have great personalities don’t they? Very interesting, the wolf pack in comparison to cats.
    I have always loved birds, the ability to fly and travel near the heavens, to go anywhere would be my animal choice.

    • I think they do too. Both of mine will talk to me all the time. I remember one day (and I felt so bad about this) late in the afternoon I had taken up their waterbowl to wash and refill it. I got distracted and forgot to put fresh water down. All the next day, Kota kept jumping up on the desk and sitting in front of the monitor. He wouldn’t give up. I finally shoo’d him out of the office. Later I was walking by their dishes and realized they didn’t have any water. The moment I put some out for them, Kota stopped trying to get my attention.

      Another time something fell over on the porch out back. They both did the same thing until we went out there and fixed it.

      It all sounds very “Lassie says Timmy fell down the well again!” but they’re pretty smart and they know when something isn’t right or out of place.

      So…what kind of bird?

  2. My brother started to sniff his food as an infant and still does it as a grown man. Taking in extra senses is a powerful way to be present and ‘know’ it, as you said. I too have always been drawn to wolves. Crows, too for me. Turns out crows symbolize serendipity, one of my fav parts of the world as we know it.

    • He really does that? Did he ever say why? That’s so funny. I remember Alan Alda’s character Hawkeye doing that on MASH.

      Wolves, crows and ravens are all intertwined in many mythologies. The wolf is the mentor and the crows/ravens are always the tricksters. Maybe you have a little of both of that in you?

    • Buddha Boy! I love those pics you share of him. He’s so sweet. Does he really go all squishy limp like they say Ragdolls do?

    • They do! I grew up with dogs, so learning Feline has been an interesting experience. Their reasons for motivation are so different. Do you have any pets? If so, what’s their biggest quirk?

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