Yesterday evening I learned something new. Cats communicate with a lot more ways than meows, although since Cleo has grown out of Kittenhood and is a grown-up cat now, she chatters at me all the time.
I was writing with some music playing in the background. Cleo was in for the night, and, as is my habit when I am writing, I don’t pay her much attention. I was too busy writing to bother with her, and I ignored her.
She turned around, her tail resting on my keyboard. Her tail, accidentally on purpose, lay across my keyboard so I could not see what I was typing. I never learned to type by touch, but my typing is fast enough to suit me. I moved her tail aside and kept on working. Here came the tail again. Cleo’s tail is furry, and it is large enough it covers half my letters. The third time I placed her tail where it should be, away from my keyboard.
I knew she was telling me something, but I didn’t have a clue. I tried typing with my right hand while I held on to her tail. Like a furry snake, it slipped out of my grasp and lay on the keys again. I finally got the message; she wanted my attention.
At last stopped long enough to pat her head, scratch between her ears, chuck her chin a time or two, and pet her. Satisfied, she jumped from the table, went to her bed (the box of writing reference on my dresser with an old thick sweater for a mattress), and fell asleep.
When she wants to go out and play, one of the ways she tells me so is with eye contact. She sits where I cannot fail to see her and stares… at me. She does not blink. Her yellow eyes, as big as saucers, bother me. I am forced to rise from my chair and do what I know she wants; to go out and play.
When she is outside and wants to come in, she tells me with a cat sound I never heard before from any cat. It is nothing like the standard cat ‘meow.’ That strange sound is a high-pitched keening as if coming from a hundred miles away. It is a sound beyond the normal human hearing range, but it has the power to make me pay attention fast.
That ten-syllable jawbreaker just about begins to explain all the other several gyrations Cleo uses to talk to me. They are simple messages because Cleo is a simple cat. She is happy with her kitty bits, a place to sleep at night, and occasional attention in the form of head petting, back-scratching, and supervision of whatever job I’m working on.
Her modes of communication are legion. They range across the chart. If nothing else works, she claws and lifts the foot-square piece of carpet where her food bowl and water bowl sit. Or, she will raise up beside my chair, look me in the eye and dig her claws into my trouser leg. Or, she follows me as I make breakfast and shows me the way to go outside by racing ahead to the door. She believes I have forgotten how to go outside. Cleo takes on the responsibility each time of showing me the way.
Her vocabulary may be limited, but Cleo has no trouble telling me exactly what she wants.
© 2017 PAL PUBLISHING/USED BY PERMISSION
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