Friday, February 8, 2013

Communicating With Cats


I used to consider myself a dog person. Then I ended up with cats. That is when the confusion set in.

According to scientific anthropological speculation, dogs are better at reading the facial expressions of humans, because they have a longer history with humanity.  Cats are allegedly more intelligent due to the fact that unlike dogs, who are pack scavengers, cats are lone predators that congregate into colonies when feral.  I have read several articles that wild cats rarely vocalize, while our manipulative domestic companions have learned to.

I speak science, some other languages, but mostly science. I can understand dogs, but the language I fail to master is cat.  This does not stop the self-proclaimed most intelligent species on the planet at attempting to communicate with clever cats on a daily basis.

Among one of my most miserable failures at translating Feline into English was a rescued Siamese, who looked like a grey alien crossbred with a vampire bat and sounded like the dissonant bag pipe of the cat world. According to those that love the breed, the emission of unearthly wails of despair were the Siamese equivalent of "talking" and did not require emergency exorcisms for demonic possession.


Random Siamese kitten. Not a Chihuahua.

My attempts to make first contact with the aliens in my home continue to this day.  They blink, I blink back a reassuring I come in peace. Their incessant meows evoke a conditioned repertoire of routine queries: You want food? Here you go. Not this food? You don't want food? You want to play? Want to chase the string or the ball? Neither? You want to be petted. Patted? I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT! Hey, where are you going?

Misunderstood, tail held high, they walk off. Before I question my sanity, I remind myself that many human conversations are equally inconclusive.

15 comments:

  1. I think you might the string to those cats. (It's happened to me too.)

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  2. This is why I still consider myself a dog person. If you're going to come over to me insisting you want something, but either don't know what that something is, or expect me to know without it being explained/showed to me then it's best we go our separate ways...

    Plus I have to deal with enough of that from Mrs. C.

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    1. Hahahaha.
      Yup. But, does she purr? I think the cats and I have spotted a *squirrel*.

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  3. Once upon a time, I had a tabby cat. Then my BFF and her Siamese moved in. My cat learned to emulate her cat's dissonant wailing. Even after I moved from IL to FL, my cat would would still wonder around the house making that loud cry. There are days I miss those cats, and that meow.

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    1. Your cat imitated the sound? I miss that cat, but not the meow. It was alarming, sounded like a siren in distress.

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    2. Yes, it did. I always thought it was the craziest thing. I guess it would almost be like us, learning a new language? I wish I had a recording of it.

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  4. Cats are like that really hot person you chased in high school. They're continued indifference to your presence and attempts at affection only drives you harder to please them. Smarter species indeed!

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  5. While I can't communicate very well with my cats they order me around quite splendidly well.

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  6. I just leave mine alone. In another million years communication should be much easier.

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    Replies
    1. @David, never thought of it that way. Cats are attention seekers. *ponders*

      @Laoch, you're trained too?

      @Alistair, no you don't.;)
      It is likely that cats will survive us.

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  7. You need to have my Moby for a few days.. He is an open book.
    food...food...food...food...food...food....

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    1. Bol. I just pictured him like a cartoon.

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  8. Are cats are quite vocal and will respond to us as if they really were trying to have a conversation. It is quite amusing. Except for when they want to have a conversation with us at 2 in the morning.

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    1. @HeatherL, ours do that too, it's actually fascinating. Yes, the early morning wake up, been there, not fond of it either. They do understand some basic words, especially "tuna".

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