Crazy conversations with feline friend
September 03, 2008
"Me-ooout," my 16-year-old tiger-striped cat calls. She rears up on her somewhat plump hind legs at the sliding glass door and repeats the command.
"Me-out," she says, with some degree of insistence.
I'm no Doctor Doolittle, but suddenly I feel like I could be. I understand, without question, exactly what my most pampered, precious pet is saying.
The obvious aside, there have been times throughout my relationship with this particular feline that I've been convinced she's trying to have a conversation with me.
I actually prompt this, too, by calling her name — "Poodle"— "Poot" for short— and asking her what she wants. I realize this sounds crazy. Loony, even. But I know I'm not alone in the pet-speak world. I've witnessed several highly intelligent, productive and otherwise normal folks talking to their pets.
"C'mere little so-and-so," I've heard them coo. "Are you hungry? Where's your toy? Tell mama you love her..." and so on and so on.
Some people, myself included, are convinced that their animals understand what certain words mean. While cognizantly I know it's more about sound than actual meaning, one thing I'm certain of is old Poot knows the question "are you hungry?" the word "No!" and the "good girl, pup," cooing that I do when she responds to my commands.
Now that she's gotten up in years, though, her hearing isn't exactly what it used to be. Because of this, my cooing has increased to the decibel level of enthusiastic shouts in order to get any type of response from her.
When my house was broken into I felt so sorry for my cats, whom I believed were so scared and cowering somewhere frightened like crazy by some stranger marauding through my house. Lately, though, I noticed that Poot was probably blissfully unaware that the entire nightmare was happening. These days when I come in the door, keys clanging, boots pounding across the floor, after I've settled in I hear a sweet, snoring sound. It's Poot. Often I walk right up to her hiding place, take off my shoes, do my thing, and the snoring just continues. I get a kick out of it. It's only when I touch her that she'll wake with a start and let out that little high pitched mew/growl that I've come to love so much.
Now that Poot's in the senior citizen of cats category she's a little less tolerant of things, too. She doesn't know that she's still a mere youngster compared to my precious 'Guida' who was my faithful companion for 22 years.
Still, maybe Poot can't hear all that great but she sure can talk. She's constantly mewing at me for one reason or another and it's up to me to figure it out. The reasons run the gamut from wanting food to wanting me to pick her up (she can no longer jump onto the sofa or the bed). She also lets my other cat, 'Snackfood,' know quite vociferously that she's not in the mood for any antics. Snackfood's about four years old these days, but compared to Grandma Poot she's a mere kitten. Poot's not in the mood, and she lets Snackfood know about it through a very irritated sounding mew. Sometimes she'll go so far as to take a little swipe at her just to drive the point home. Of course Snackfood is no dummy, she pretty much steers clear of Grandma.
One day, though, I'd really like to have a conversation with Poot, though I have an idea of what she'd probably bring up right away:
"What the heck did you give me such a ridiculous name for?" she'll growl. "That's downright cruel. "Poodle. The nerve," she'll meow. "Poot's barely tolerable but it's better than a dog's name for goodness sake! Just for that, I'm going to ignore you for a while, then go off for a nap and snore up a storm. Then, I'll just squint my eyes at you and act bored with your constant fussing over me.
"By the way, you just think I can't hear you because that's what I want you to think," she'll continue. "I hear every word and sometimes like it when you beg me to come over so you can pet me and be comforted by my presence.
"In the meantime, get over here to the door," she'll add. "Me-ooout."
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