Just how does a cat’s mind work? Do they think things through or do they rely totally on instincts? Are they a thinking being or is it all conditioning? When they take action (stalk a bird, go out through the doggie door, playfully attack another resident cat, climb up into your lap) is it thought-driven or impulse? Do they operate from thoughts or instincts? Is there a difference? And what does it matter?
I don’t know how much time scientists have spent studying the cat, but in the articles and reports I’ve read, researchers often admit they don’t really know much about the domestic cat. Maybe that’s because cats are complex.
Think about it, they know how to calculate distance before leaping up on the counter top or leaping when you toss a paper wad. They know when it’s meal or treat time as if they have a built-in clock. Do they get cues from us—they know that when you walk in the door from your workday it’s time for a treat? Ours seem to take clues from the TV. When the news comes on, it’s close to dinner time and they start preparing us so we’ll remember to feed them. Our cats don’t embrace the daylight savings time thing, especially this time of year. They tend to want their meals according to the old time.
Most cats figure out the routine in a household. They notice that the people get up at a
certain time most days and that they get fed shortly after. But what if their person sleeps in? If a cat owns you, you know darn well what happens. The cat won’t stand for you to get extra Z’s. She demands that you stick to her routine. If her sweet prrrts and gentle face nudging doesn’t get her what she wants—breakfast—she might resort to dive bombing, clawing, and a little noise-making. Lily, for example, bats the blind cords so they clink against the wooden blind slats. Or she’ll knock something off the dresser. Crash!!! Yeah, that’ll wake me up. For those of you who are new to cats, beware of what you set on your headboard. If you do something that doesn’t please the cat—like try to sleep in—he’s liable to knock that antique lamp or heavy alarm clock onto your head.
Cats have been known to save their families from a burning house. Some have alerted another family member when someone’s in trouble. Is that an instinct or does the cat actually know more than we give them credit for? Our cats seem to understand what we say; or is it what we think? I’ve had some incredible experiences using mind-talk with animals. I included these stories in my first cat book—a book of true cat tales, Catscapades. Available at Amazon.com or here, in case you’re interested. http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.html
Here are a couple of new true cat stories I’ve heard lately. Gumby is a huge cat belonging to a friend of mine. He lives with a couple of smaller females who tend to fight a lot. Lately, when he’s had enough of their carrying ons, he’ll break up the fight and walk one of the cats away—to cool off, perhaps.
I read a cute story on the Internet just yesterday. A gentleman adopted a cat from the streets. He already had several cats in his home and this one, we’ll call Tommy, eventually adjusted and even figured out how to get more of what he was enjoying. Every morning, the cats lined up for petting. Well, it didn’t take Tommy long to learn that if he went to the front of the line, he’d be petted first. It worked for him. But pretty soon, that wasn’t enough for Tommy cat. He was an observant guy and he did love the petting ritual—so much so that he started a new routine. After he received his petting at the front of the line, he’d move to the back of the line and get even more attention. At this writing, who knows, he might have figured out a way to slip in between each pair of cats for triple or quadruple the affection.
Do cats think? What do you think?