Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cat Psychology

I have lived with cats my entire life. Today is Thanksgiving Revisited (more on that in a later post) and as I set about preparing the turkey and cleaning the kitchen I was once again reminded how much fun cats are to live with. They provide me endless amusement, and as I write this Gus, the white 15 lb beast, is curled up in my lap while Claire is resting in her bed on the window. So, today's post is dedicated to a few things I've learned about cats.

I. If they can get in it, they will.
This is the first thing I want to discuss, because I have a recent example to demonstrate it. Last night I was on the couch knitting and Gus was on the end table next to me. At my feet there was a paper bag that was left over from a work project I brought home. I casually tipped it over and Gus was in it in a flash.
After a few minutes, I called Jason downstairs and asked him to find his cat. He couldn't. Every once in awhile he would say, "I hear him, but where is he?" convinced I had locked him in a closet. I replied, "No, he's in this room." Roughly five minutes later Gus started attacking my slippers through the bag (which was by my feet) and Jason said, "How did you get him in there?!" My reply? "I tipped the bag over."
Gus has also been stuck in several boxes over the two years we've had him. The bag thing is funny, because when we first brought Claire home she wouldn't play with him, but she would hide in bags and attack him through it. As long as she couldn't see him, she would play with him.

II. Milk tabs make cheap toys.
This I learned on accident. I dropped a milk tab (the ring of plastic you pull off the one gallon jugs of milk in order to twist the cap off) on the floor shortly after bringing Gus home. Before I could pick it up, that cat had taken it across the apartment and was batting it around the bathroom floor. I thought it was cute, so let him play with it. Weeks later he was still playing with it. When Claire came to live with us, the milk tab was a hot commodity. Moral of the story? Don't buy toys, buy milk.

III. There are roughly four distinct meows you need to be able to decipher.
1. "The food dish is empty!" This does not mean that the cat is hungry. It simply means that the food dish is empty and has caused mass panic in the house. This meow is high pitched and there seems to be few breaths taken between each meow. It is often accompanied with a weaving between the human's legs.
2. “Where have you been!” This is a general, talkative meow. Medium in tone, more breaths taken between each individual meow. Usually heard when the cat first sees you at the end of the day.
3. "You surprised me!" Sounds much like, "Mrrr-OW!" Equal to the human's "Ah!" Claire makes this noise when I wake her up by petting her.
4. "Pay attention to me!" We call this the, "Me, me, me!" meow. Cause that's kind of what it sounds like. Medium in tone, but meows rapidly fired.

III. Cats are not cuddly on demand.
I have two cats because I wanted a cuddly cat to comfort me at the end of a long day. There is nothing better than having a warm kitty curled up in your lap purring while drinking a cup of tea at the end of the long day. Gus did not cut the bill. Gus has a fifth meow, in fact, and it's the "OMG, you're killing me!!!" meow. Jason has learned what this meow sounds like and can be three rooms away and say, "Nike, are you holding Gus?" when that meow is heard. Yes, yes I am. That is the story of how Claire came to live with us in a nutshell.
Claire is more cuddly and we have a saying in our house, "Where two or more are gathered, there is Claire." Even Claire, however, the cuddliest cat in the world, has her moments. Last night, in fact, I went to cuddle her while she was in the window seat and she slapped at me and jumped three feet away to the other side of the window seat. Jason, who witness thed event, said, "Huh, that was weird."
Also weird, Gus curling up in my lap. But don't let that image fool you. He also looked up at me sweetly while I typed away before chomping down on my arm completely unprovoked.

I could go on and on about other things I've learned from my cats, but that would likely bore you. Like, don't set anything down that you don't want a cat butt on, because they will find it. This morning Claire made a bed out of my folded up holiday tablecloth. Which was on the table, which is a no-cat zone. Gus is most content when he finds a pile of papers to sit on. We try to keep plastic bags out of reach of cats because those seem to be a prize item as well.

All in all, cats are pretty great.

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