Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Service of Cats

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Caramelli Cat

I’m no cat expert. Only two have lived with me–I was a dog only person for years–and while adored and spoiled, my felines hardly amounted to a significant case study. However, I’ve lived next door to, observed and cat sat for indoor/outdoor cats and have had countess cat nieces, nephews, step children and friends.

Which is why I am chiming in on the findings Brianna Abbott reported in her Wall Street Journal article, “There Is Now Scientific Proof Your Cat Is Ignoring You –New study finds felines can distinguish their names, even if they don’t come when called; twitching ears.

Josette

Abbott wrote: “At the risk of dashing the hopes of owners who put their hearts into coming up with the perfect name, it is unlikely cats associate the call with a sense of self, researchers say. More likely, cats associate that specific sound with some sort of reward, like food or petting or playing, and come to learn that the reward will follow the sound. That is how most species, like dogs, learn how to assign meaning to specific sounds.”

The researches in the “Scientific Reports” journal study Abbott highlighted hadn’t met Cibier the cat, who lives in Millbrook, N.Y. When he was my neighbor and out and about on our 10 acres, only once when called did he not come bounding over to his housemate, Gerald. That was when he was sick and hiding in the woods. Cats often hide when they don’t feel well. Otherwise no matter what rodent he was stalking or scent he was following, he’d race back home when summoned.

Cibier

“Past research has shown dogs can recognize humans’ emotional states, and the pitch of a human voice can affect dog behavior and how they follow commands. Highly trained dogs can even distinguish between over 1,000 different words or symbols, according to one 2011 study.”

I maintain that cats can as well. A friend rescued a mature cat when its human had died and nobody in the family could take it home due to allergies. My friend was warned that the cat didn’t cuddle and never sat on laps but otherwise was good company. Not long after the cat joined her household she broke a limb and was forced to stay home with leg propped up on pillows for weeks. One day, early in her convalescence, who jumped on the bed and into her lap? This cat.

“ ‘Cats are just as good at learning,’” says John Bradshaw, an anthrozoologist at the University of Bristol, who wasn’t involved in the study. ‘They’re just not as keen to show their owners what they’ve learned.’”

Georgie, a friend’s cat, shook paws with his humans every time they asked him to–in front of me at least.

Abbott also wrote: “There is also research showing that when given the choice between food, toys and human interaction, the majority of cats actually choose human interaction.” They hadn’t studied my Caramelli Cat. Cara was hungry 24/7 and if you put the right food in her bowl, the best toy or softest lap would come in second or third every time.

How did this dog enthusiast become a cat fan? We bought a house that came with a cat who purred and hugged her way into our hearts and the rest is history. This once feral cat turned out to be the Perle Mesta of felines. Mesta, 1889-1975, a socialite and ambassador, was known as a great hostess. I had a houseful of friends one weekend when my husband was abroad. After dinner one night Cat–his name–made it his business to sit on the lap of each friend. I am convinced that as a host, he wanted them to feel at home.

Have you known a cat that displayed atypical cat behavior? Do cats get bad publicity for the most part? Are you a dog person who couldn’t contemplate loving a cat or vice versa?

Oliver

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