If you’re a cat person — or even a dog person — I am pretty sure that at some point you have said, “if they could just talk to us!” They do talk to us, of course, but it’s we who don’t understand. And we, of course, are the more intelligent species, yet we can’t learn a few simple words of Cat? or Dog?
So how many words or phrases does your cat know? “Treat,” “Dinner,” “Outside,” “Where’s your mouse?” and no doubt several more. My cats each know several words, and yet I — the care-giver, tuna-winner and cat-butler, the one who knows how to open the sliding door as well as a can of cat food — I know not a single word of Cat. They can make their wishes known, of course, by sitting in front of the door and meowing, or standing by the food dish and giving me The Look. But if Smokey walks in, jumps on my lap and says, “Meow,” I’m clueless. Does she mean, “Pet me,” or “I’m hungry,” or “I’m gonna hurl.”
I’ve been thinking of this more now that I’ve added my fourth (and final — I swear!) cat to the household. Lop Ear is a big old tom cat. He’s built like a bowling ball with feet. He’s huge and he’s all muscle. (Well, maybe except where his belly nearly touches the floor. That might be fat.) Lop Ear is the neighborhood stray and has been hanging around for a long time. My yard is particularly attractive since it has water, grass, shade and trees. Not to mention the cushioned chairs on the patio which are ideal for curling up in.
Lop Ear is one of a long line of cats who have passed through my yard, but only the second to make the transition to the family — and he’s still on probation. But I am finding him to be a sweet, lovable guy who actually understands a lot more than I would expect. Just now he came in and gave “that look” to Black Jack who, along with Smokey, is intimidated by his size. Black Jack, who had been sitting in my lap purring, got very still. I turned and said to Lop Ear, “Stop Staring!” and darned if he didn’t do just that! He blinked, glanced at me and turned around and walked out. Coincidence? Of course. Has to be.
He also knows “Outside!” This is a big one. When he does something bad, like smacking Smokey on the head, I roar “Outside!” and he hauls his fuzzy butt right to the door. I can also ask “outside?” and if he wants to go out, he’ll lumber to the door and wait for me to open it. It’s not just the tone of voice, he clearly understands the word.
Yet, a few minutes ago, he walked in, gave me a deliberate look and said very clearly, “Meow.” “What, Lop Ear?” I replied. “Meow,” he repeated, clearly expecting me to do something. I’m stumped.
My cats are very patient with me, obviously understanding that language is not my strong suit. As long as I’m able to open the cat food, fill the water dish and open the door, they’ll continue to put up with me. But doggone, I sure wish someone could teach me a few words of Cat.