We love our cats. We endlessly observe them. And we marvel at the things they do, their reactions, their habits and new activities and interests. But we can only judge our cats by our limited intelligence. Do you ever get the idea that your cat has outsmarted or out-thought you? If you’ve had more than a handful of cats in your life, you know how different they can be. Each of the cats you’ve known have had different personalities and aptitudes, right? They express their cleverness in totally different ways. Even in something as common as their eating habits.
How does your cat approach food? Is she a beggar? Does she devour her meals or pick at them? Is she willing to share food or does she bully any person or animal who comes near while she’s eating? Does she steal food from the other pets in the household? What cute (or annoying) ploys does she use to get her meals? Does your cat seem to have a built-in clock when it comes to mealtime?
In our household, Sophie is a private diner. She won’t let you see her eat. If you happen to walk through the room while she’s eating, she will bolt. So when we feed her, we have to sit quietly until she’s finished eating.
Lily, on the other hand, is obsessed with food. Food is high on her list of priorities. I’d venture to say she lives for food—and maybe petting and other creature comforts. She joins us in the kitchen when we’re cooking or cleaning up on the off chance that something edible falls on the floor or we take pity on her and give her a morsel. She lets us know when it’s time for her meals. And she’ll eat under practically any circumstances—except thunder. Thunder sends her under the bed or into the closet.
But as fanatical as she is about food, she doesn’t mind sharing. And she will help herself to Sophie’s food if we don’t’ watch her.
Lily is also a beggar. She watches me while I eat in hopes of getting a handout. And if I become distracted while I’m eating, she’s not above stealing a morsel from my plate. She has quite a palate. She will eat just about anything I eat. And since she’s on a special diet for a low-functioning kidney, she can no longer eat from the array of human foods.
Our white odd-eye cat, Winfield, was our food monitor. He knew our nightly bedtime routine and he had a routine of his own. He’d go to the service porch and check his food and water bowls. If they were full, he’d amble off to bed. If they were less than half full, he’d wait next to them until we walked through the room turning off lights, etc., and he wouldn’t let us pass until we filled them.
I’m no scientist, but, like many of you, I’ve spent a lifetime observing and loving cats. It sure seems to me that cats can plan ahead. They can think beyond our comprehension. In fact there was a book published earlier this year called, “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal. As clever as we think we are in figuring out what our cat’s needs are and what they’re telling us, I wonder if we are really ‘getting’ them. It occurs to me that we just haven’t yet learned to speak “Cat.”