The Intelligence Of Cats & Other Thoughts

Last night it rained again. Again!

Earlier I was standing on the patio waiting for Charlie when I saw lightning darting out from behind a big bulbous cloud.

Lightning flashed every few seconds. It looked like someone with a giant flash light was pointing the light at the edge of the big cloud. I’ve never seen lightning quite like that before.

It was kind of mesmerizing.

It lit up the sky. But there was no thunder. Later I looked out and the sky was clear. But it rained later on while I was sleeping.

Yesterday I went to physical therapy. It was the first time I’d been out since Friday’s physical therapy.

I have not been wearing the ankle brace for four days now. The sock that helps with inflammation I wear most of the time, but it felt great not having to wear the brace after three months. And I was pain free.

After PT I drove over to Barnes & Noble and walked around a bit and that didn’t hurt.

So the culprit must be driving. I’m trying to brake with my left foot, but it’s a bit awkward. I suppose I’ll be ordering my groceries and whatever else I can order until things get better.

Hell getting old, isn’t it? Things don’t always heal right. And when they do heal arthritis is usually just a few steps behind.

While at B&N I found a book on clearance called “What Your Cat Knows.” I haven’t had time to dig into it much yet. I thought it might give me more insight into Ivy.

On the front it says: “Tap into your cat’s intelligence through the world of feline cognition.”

This morning she was playing with the remains of the furry mouse toy. Now it’s just shapeless fur on top of plastic.

It would be nice to know what Ivy is thinking when she throws her toys two feet up in the air and jumps up to try and catch them on the way down.

Another curious thing is when she turns her head just so, and acts like she is hearing something that I cannot hear. Or there’s some presence she feels that I don’t.

Sometimes after being still with ears cocked listening to whatever she hears, she will then leap up and run like a dog is chasing her.

When you open the cover of the book, it says: “What is your cat thinking as she eyes you with her inscrutable stare? What is she plotting? Is she happy?

“What Your Cat Knows examines the five basic senses and presents a cat’s-eye view of the world, helping you to understand and communicate with your own kitty. It presents practical tests and activities that will help you gauge and even boost your cat’s intelligence.”

I know you can teach dogs. But I wonder how easily you could teach a cat something? They seem pretty set in their ways. In my experience when you try to get a cat to do something, they do just the opposite.

“Never try to outstubborn a cat.”
― Robert A. Heinlein

“We think we know our cats and their world, but honestly, we know nothing. You may not realize it, but you are living with one super-sense feline friend.

“Extra-sensory stuff: How do they know a storm is on its way, an earthquake is about to hit, or even that somebody is about to die?”

I’d actually never thought of that. I’ve never heard that cats can do that. This should be an interesting book.

Now Charlie is pretty straightforward. If you ask him if he wants to go outside and he does, his ears will perk up and he will run around.

If he is outside for a few minutes and you open the door and say “do you want your egg now” he will dash inside because that is the highlight of his day.

When I am reaching for my keys or look like I’m about to go somewhere, he sits erect and stares at me with great hope in his eyes. If I can’t take him, I tell him I’ll be back real soon.

If I can take him, I tell him let’s go and he gets real excited.

I am going to make it a point of watching the behavior of Ivy and Charlie. Take note of how the two of them react to things and compare them.

Just out of curiosity.

And just so you know, I don’t believe curiosity killed the cat. Because Ivy would surely have been dead a long, long time ago.

“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”
― James Herriot


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  1. I think cats are quite intelligent. We have a white cat and she is deaf. I have taught her some basic sign language. If I open the door for her and she just sits there I count to 3 on my fingers so she can see and when I get to 3 I shut the door. She has now learnt to come in before I get to 3. I also use hand signals to call her and she comes pretty much every time unless something else has her attention.

  2. I love the communication I have with my animals, especially the dogs. And as you just expressed so well, we do develop language with them, our routine conversations that are absolutely understood. When I pick up the keys to my jeep, the dogs sit up and stare at me to see if I’ll say – Let’s Go. Then they’re hell-bent for the door, wagging tails and wiggly butts. If I say “I’ll be back, my puppies, you be good”… they settle back down looking a little forlorn. Cats seem to be more of a mystery – have fun sorting it out!

  3. Gosh, you mentioning the book on communicating with your cat makes me think I should read it before euthanizing my Rhoda cat. I mean, to me, euthanizing is such a grave decision. Despite the incontinence problems she’s having she’s still eating and comes to me for affection. But, on the other hand, her labored breathing hasn’t gotten any better. Maybe I should wait on the euthanasia. But then, when the vet saw her yesterday she said not to wait until Rhoda was in crisis. Not sure exactly what she meant, though. I am so torn. I truly wish Rhoda could tell me what she thinks.

    If you have read more of the book by now maybe you have learned something that would be useful for me in making this decision. I will also look the book up and call my bookstore.

  4. We used to have a wonderful cat who curled up to my daughter’s back the first night we had him. (she has scoliosis) He knew she was uncomfortable and purring warmth makes it feel better. Also she is severely retarded and he would play a game with her pretending to try to bite her finger and letting her pull it away in time. It always made her giggle. He used to attack big dogs if I was outside. He would come when I whistled. I miss him so much. I have a feeling that he is in heaven sitting on the right hand of Jesus.

  5. Hi Brenda. Do you have one of those handicapped parking tags? With your ankle it would seem like you would qualify for one. You probably have to have a doctor’s statement about your ankle condition.

    About cats — I once read a newspaper article about a nursing home that had a pet cat that was allowed to roam around. Someone noticed a pattern — whenever a resident passed away, the cat was on the bed. The cat seemed to have some instinct regarding patients that were close to death, and it would lie on the bed close to the person as if it provide some companionship in the final hours. I just looked it up — it’s Steere House nursing home in Rhode Island, and the cat is named Oscar if you want to do a search. It’s pretty interesting.

    In the morning, our little cat likes to hang out with me in the kitchen as I start breakfast, and the older one visits with my husband as he does some stretches for his back. If they don’t show up, it seems a bit weird and we go to see where they are. It usually means they have followed one of us into the room we use as an office and gotten left behind when we walked out and shut the door. We keep that door shut to keep the little one out because he likes to bat things around and makes messes. He will chew on papers and magazines too. He does that sort of thing instead of playing with toys.

  6. I have always heard that dogs try to please their masters. Cats, on the other hand, don’t care if they please anyone or not. And, I am amazed at how animals are able to predict the weather. A half hour before a storm aporoaches, my Nina begins to grow restless and searches for a place to hide. Odd how they can sense those things.

  7. There are hand activated equipment available so you don’t have to break with your foot and reinjure. Contact the office on aging and they can tell you of rehab training for people with a disability, as you now have a permanent condition. They can help you learn to use the equipment. They can also evaluate you to access what will assist you in driving without injury. They will tell you what kind of prescription you need to get an evaluation, equipment and after instillation, training. Or, It might be as simple as lengthening and/or widening your brake pedal.

    I’m in Maryland. We have an excellent rehab training center. Most states have one or something like it. My son is a lawyer but also drives with a disability. The rehabs evaluation and training allows him to live independently and function as a highly regarded attorney. Insurance paid for everything.
    Good luck.

  8. Animals of all kinds do seem to have some kind of extra-sensory perception, something I don’t think we understand or think about. It is well known, for instance, that they can feel drops in air pressure well before humans notice them (if we even do notice them) – that often can signal a severe change in weather coming; likewise, they can usually pick up on “something” when an earthquake is about to hit. It’s well documented that animals in zoos start to get very restless and agitated before bad weather is about to strike or an earthquake is brewing. There is a long history of anecdotal evidence of humans being affected by the waxing and waning of the Moon, and different theories about why this may be so. If humans are affected by the subtle pull of the Moon’s gravity, surely animals with their often keener senses of sight, hearing and smell can sense many things that mankind cannot. I always know when a bad storm is coming – not because I can “sense” it but because the birds go all quiet (maybe they’ve flown elsewhere temporarily!) and the squirrels are not out hunting for food, working down their teeth on my composite patio steps or lounging on my patio waiting for me to throw out a handful of hazelnuts, they are in their nests and hidey holes and nowhere to be seen. The animals can tell us a lot, if we only pay attention to their “sign language.”

  9. That book sounds great to give you some insight into Ivy. I have only had dogs with Terry being allergic to cats. You are right dogs can let you know and communicate their wants a little easier than cats. Enjoy reading that book.
    Have a great rest of the week.

  10. I’ve never tried to train a cat but it sounds interesting and must require patience. I have two feral cats I’ve adopted and I’ve learned patience with them and to allow them to develop trust in me on their own time line and schedule. Now after a few years it sounds strange to refer to them as feral. It did take time though for both of us to understand each other. I also have one cat I adopted out of a Walmart parking lot and he is a complete love. I watched him attempt to eat some potato salad someone had dumped on the macadam and I thought poor baby I can do better for you than that. He’s a sweet boy who eats and then demands to be held, loved, brushed and talked to. He has celadon green eyes that are mesmerizing. I hold him every night before bed while I have a cup of hot tea and read my book. I’ll never understand how he ended up there or why. He’s a big boy I’ve named Moose and he’s a devoted loving boy. I miss having a dog and keep trying to find a match for me. I look at the shelter photos often. Usually strays have found me so selecting a dog is hard. I want to save all of them. How do you go and just pick one ? Rainy and overcast here in SC but we needed the rain for the plants and grass so I’ll not complain. Plus the temperature is good so I’ll just say thank you God and carry my umbrella. I enjoy your posts so much, Brenda. It’s like checking in with an old friend and seeing how they are doing. Keep posting and we’ll keep reading.

  11. I love Ivy’s face! I had a real personable cat named Lucky. She wasn’t exactly trained, but if there was some type of behavior that occurred in the household (i.e. turn tv of, turn out light – that means it bedtime and she would run in the bedroom and jump on the bed), she just picked up on it and would be like a clock, ready for the cues to do the same things each time! I just love cats.

  12. B~
    WHO says cats cannot be trained?
    Bella, my bobtailed rescued feral has proven that statement wrong.
    I’ve attached BELLS to the front door..
    when she want’s to go out, she reaches up and taps the bells!
    I open the door, and out she goes!
    She knows her name, and responds to my whistle when it is time to come inside!

  13. I love how cats hide under the bed, but their tail is sticking out so you know where they are. They think because they cannot see you, you cannot see them. Silly cats!

  14. Our one cat will lay on her back and when you tell her roll over she complies back and forth. It is so funny. Now the yr old kitten is doing the same thing. I love seeing Ivy all relaxed in the chair. She is certainly a laid back cat.

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