Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Talking to Cats

I have lived with two cats since November 2002. When I first adopted them from the Larimer County Humane Society, they were personable but quiet. They purred when caressed and occasionally meowed (Guinness the brunet more than Herbie the blond).

Just as cats are supposed to do.

No one else lives with us, so I talked to them. I let them know when I was about to fix a meal (they really picked up on that one) when I was going to go upstairs (to work at the computer) when I was going to make the bed (Guinness especially likes to help [play] with that) when I’m going to read or lie down (Herbie loves to come cuddle) and when they had done something wrong (like eat flowers or knock over glassware – actually that was more like yelling). And so forth.

As time went on, they began to respond. Even Herbie (although he ‘talks’ so rarely that it still makes me jump). Increasingly.

Now in the morning, when I look into the study to tell Guinness I’m going to make breakfast, he responds. It doesn’t feel as though expletives are involved. Nothing like ‘Well it’s about time!’ It’s more like ‘Good morning, I’m looking forward to it.’ Very civilized.

I always feed them before I fix my meals. I’m not stupid.

When I’m fixing my dinner, Guinness often will bring a toy into the kitchen and meow. I’m supposed to throw it. I do. He brings it back. I throw it again. If he brings it back and I don’t see it, he meows again (‘please pay attention, lady’).

So far so good. Or at least acceptable.

But it seems to be getting worse. Now sometimes Guinness will be in an entirely different part of the house – meowing. I have no idea what that’s about. I don’t know if he’s crying, complaining or just philosophizing. It’s actually sort of annoying.

But it’s my fault. If I hadn’t started talking to them, they would most probably not have become so vocal.

For the most part it’s harmless – a gentle experiment in inter-species communication.

You can certainly try this at home. But be warned. The more you talk, the more they will ‘talk’ and it may be a slow decline into cacophony.

Now you know.

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