Are cats truly our friends? Are they trusted and loyal companions or merely sly opportunists looking for free meals and lodging?
Ask any anti-cat person why they don’t like cats and one of the more common complaints you’ll hear is that they are snobbish, aloof and generally uncommunicative. This stereotype is not completely without basis. In contrast to dogs, on the surface cats are seemingly less expressive. However, as any experienced kitty-lover will tell you, it’s not that cats don’t communicate… they are simply more inventive and subtle in how they communicate. Content to leave the tail wagging and ball chasing to their domesticated canine counterparts, cats typically find new and inventive ways of making their feelings and desires known to their so-called “owners”. Below is a list of just some of the vocabulary our feline friends have been known to use.
The Stare – A multipurpose tool used to communicate anything from a desire to go outside to a need for stimulating conversation. Commonly the cat will sit directly opposite you, preferably at eye level, and stare unblinkingly and unsettlingly into your eyes until you correctly guess its needs and then promptly fulfill them. This agonizing process has been known to continue for hours at a time.
The Purr – Commonly misinterpreted to be a sign of affection or pleasure the purr is calculated specifically as a mechanism to control the owner’s behavior. The purr dupes the owner into believing that kitty actually cares for them in some way, thereby ensuring that extra treats and stroking will be handed out lavishly.
The “Meow” – Often used as a command, “meows” can come in different tones and inflections… usually they translate to relatively simple commands such as “feed me”, “open door”, “stop reading” or “pay attention to me”, though frequently they may be intended to convey more complex meanings, such as guilt for a yet-to-be-discovered mischief, annoyance, or a need to be scratched two inches South-east below the left ear. Similar to the stare in that meows can keep untrained owners guessing and on edge for hours.
The Newspaperus-Interuptus – The innate ability of a cat to choose to sit, lie down, or otherwise occupy the specific area of the newspaper (magazine or other reading material) that a human is attempting to read. It is unclear whether this technique is used to communicate a specific need or is simply a means of annoying the owner in question. Other similar behaviors include “Computerus Keyboarditis” and “Laptop Paralysis”.
The Gift – Actually a fairly direct means of expressing their needs when you think of it. By leaving an odiferous prize in the unsuspecting owners shoe the impatient cat communicates that the litter immediately needs to be changed. Some people testify that that this technique is also used as a payback for what the cat clearly understands as unjustified reprimand. One woman reported, for example, that after being repeatedly chased down from the countertop, her daughter’s cat left a little puddle of pee in the stove burner’s plate … sufficiently little, in fact, to go unnoticed until the burner was switched on!