It’s your best friend, your security system for your home, and your body pillow when you sleep, but have you ever wondered if your panther’s feelings are mutual? All too often, we take our panthers for granted, when all it takes is ten dollars, the cost of a cheap date, to spoil your panther and let it know how much you love it.

A survey taken among panther owners shows that 53 percent consider their panther to be a member of the family, while the other 47 percent consider their panther a fierce predator that will not hesitate to snatch their sleeping children out of their beds as soon as the supply of tranquilizer darts runs out. These numbers are extremely encouraging, but we need to work harder to incorporate our panthers into our lives. Just like your “friend with benefits” needs flowers every once in a while to assuage the guilt resultant from noncommittal sex, you need to lavish attention on your panther.

The first step to pleasing your panther is thinking like your panther. Sprucing up your home to meet its needs is a start. Panthers usually live in mixed swamp forests and hammock forests, so buy a few houseplants to make your panther’s space a little greener. Some owners even go so far as to have a “swamp room” for their pets, importing soil, water, bacteria, and vegetation into their old nurseries or studies.

Panthers love to exercise, and though a good romp in the basement or through the halls of your apartment building can be great on a rainy day, a nice trip to the park once a week is definitely in order. Owners beware! There are probably no panther parks in your community, and for a very good reason: panthers are a solitary species, except when it comes to breeding. Walking your panther might be a nice way to make the acquaintance of another attractive young panther owner, but these meetings might quickly become disastrous. The next best place to exercise your panther is at a dog park, and if you’re lucky, you might be able to skip a feeding later.

Speaking of feedings, just as with men, one sure way to your panther’s heart is through its stomach. Warning: Panthers can be a little hard to please, in the culinary sense. Being predatory carnivores, they always prefer their meat alive. Now, if you’ve gotten your panther to eat out of a can, why not spoil him once in a while by allowing a regression to his basic instincts? Drape raw meat over your body and lie on the couch, pretending to look after your brood. You’ll soon see your panther’s eyes light up as it prepares to attack you. That is, of course, if you actually see your panther. Chances are, you’ll just feel the hammering thud of its massive forepaws pinning you helplessly to the sofa, and then you’ll see just how happy you’ve made it. If you’re more interested in life as a panther, why not set up a little hunt in your home? Panthers mainly stalk white-tailed deer, and though ten dollars certainly won’t get you one of these elegant creatures, it’ll certainly be enough to persuade the town drunk to go out and catch one. Once you’ve gotten the deer, release it in your house. Go ahead and join your panther in the hunt! Remember to use slow movements in your approach, and then a high-speed burst as you pounce on your prey. In case your panther is occupied and the task of the coup de grâce falls on you, make sure to bite the spinal cord on the top of the neck, just where the head and neck join. Afterward, together, you can drag the carcass to your panther’s special place, or “kill site,” for later consumption. You and your panther will both have to defecate and urinate around your kill site to warn other animals of your presence. Let loose and have fun with it.

With these simple ideas, you can get any sad panther face to perk up right away, and if even these start to become old hat, then there are many books at your bookstore or local library. Your panther will thank you, or at least stop trying to maul you while you’re lying out in your backyard.