(originally published in the 7-24-09 edition of Free Ads Weekly, Florence, Alabama)
There was an article in the news recently that said a study was done which proved that cats are in control of their owners. This causes me to wonder if there’s a gaggle of scientists somewhere who sit around all day thinking of ways to spend money on obvious things. I could speculate on a wide variety of subjects that would make for easy studies, such as finding out if the sun really does rise in the east, but my cat wants me to stay on topic.
The study says felines have a particular way of mixing a purr with a cry when they want something like food or your favorite shoes, and this somehow reminds their owner of a hungry baby, causing the human to stop whatever they’re doing and look for a bottle and diaper. I’m not smart enough to make this stuff up. My cat, Jack, makes this precise sound whenever I get up in the morning, and it works like a charm. I toss him one of my favorite shoes so he’ll shut up and let me have a peaceful cup of coffee. I think he’s got me trained well, because I know what will happen if I don’t give into his demands: he waits for me to get comfortable and then pounces out of thin air to use my leg as a scratching post. I’ve tried tricking Jack by putting scratching posts where my legs should be, but it’s hard to get comfortable when you’re hiding your legs behind your back, all the while trying to cross your scratching posts. In times like this Jack looks at me as if I’m brain damaged then sneaks around behind and shreds my bent, folded and spindled legs.
Have you ever tried to get a cat to do anything? They know who rules the roost. Jack will toy with me by standing in front of any closed door and making that hungry baby sound, but when I run over to open it, he just stares at me as if he has no idea why I opened the door that he’s refusing to go through. Whenever I call him by name he acts like I must be talking to the doorknob, so I have to resort to inhaling helium and yell “Here kitty kitty kitty!” Usually by the time he saunters over to me, I’ve forgotten what I wanted him for. It’s no fun getting old, especially if you’re slave to a cat.
My son told me about this cartoon he saw once where this dog and cat were laying side by side and thinking. First of all, I know it must be a cartoon, as any respectable cat will tell you that dogs don’t have the capacity to think because all they have in their cranial cavity is a huge drool gland. Secondly, it is highly unlikely that a dog and cat would lay side by side. The cat demands top billing and must be at least two feet in front of the dog in the event the dog’s drool gland activates. Anyway, my son said that in the cartoon, the dog was thinking, “My human feeds me, brushes me, bathes me, plays with me. He must be a god!” The cat has similar thoughts. “My human feeds me, brushes me, bathes me, plays with me. I must be a god!” Even though the cartoonist’s fundamental message is sound – that dogs looks up to us and cats look down on us – I would never have imagined a cat thinking such things. Instead of thinking “my human”, the typical cat regards us more like minions created to serve. Finally, I’m not going to mention the obvious logical flaw that a cat would think his minion bathes him. I’ve got permanent scars on my arms from the only time I attempted to bathe Jack. A co-worker asked me once what was up with my arms, and instead of humiliating myself with the truth, I said I had been involved with an industrial paper shredder accident. I still haven’t figured out what to say about my legs, though. There’s no way a paper shredder could attack both my arms and legs, unless a couple of them ganged up on me. Now that’s a disturbing image.
The study quotes a Karen McComb of the University of Sussex who says, “Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom.” That’ a funny phrase, “solicitation purring”. I can just imagine getting a knock on my front door and finding a cat there trying to sell me a magazine subscription. I probably would but a subscription to Cat Fancy just to make the cat stop that sound.
Any respectable cat slave will tell you that cats are just too smart to go around soliciting in public. They get the humans to do that for them. I bet behind any successful salesman sits a cat on his or her throne, pulling the strings. Home is another matter altogether, though. Jack does not hesitate doing his cry-purr thing whenever he wants the refrigerator door opened, for instance, or when he wants the toilet seat left up. That reminds me of the time I found him squatting over my can of Mountain Dew one day, and when I confronted him about it, he answered with, “Well, you do that in my drink bowl.” Since then I’ve switched to bottles. I hope he doesn’t know how to unscrew a bottle cap. On the other hand, any creature that can manipulate a human as much as cats do would find a bottle cap child’s play.
Time to go. Jack’s making that purr-cry sound again, and if I know what’s good for my legs, I’d better to attend to him quickly.