Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Serious Talks with Cats

by Tory Butterworth

I used to post a Silvia cartoon on my office door titled, "Serious Talks with Cats." Unfortunately, I lost it when I left my last job, so I'll have to paraphrase. It pictures a woman eating a hamburger with a cat looking on hungrily. She says, "It appears you have problems with personal boundaries, distinguishing what is yours from what it mine. Have you ever considered intensive psychotherapy?"

I'll admit it, I have serious talks with my pets. A few nights ago, just as I had gotten into bed, I heard a crash downstairs and then a strange brushing sound. As a single woman living alone and a mystery writer, this type of noise tends to put me in mind of burglars invading my premises. I'm proud that I managed to convince myself it was Thora and fall asleep nonetheless.

The next morning I looked around to find what she had pushed over, and discovered a metal glasses case on the floor with the glasses, thankfully unharmed, a few feet away. The case had also contained a pair of clip-ons in a velveteen sleeve. I searched the downstairs and the basement, to no avail.

"Thora," I said, mustering my serious cat talking-to tone, "I understand that you find my glasses much more fun to bat around than the twenty-odd cat toys I've supplied you for that purpose. I know cats need to keep busy and active, and I appreciate your mischievous nature. But I really need those clip-ons. Where did you put them?

What do you know, half an hour later, I once again heard that strange brushing sound. Thora was pawing the bottom of the refrigerator. Investigation with a long, thin stick under the fridge revealed the clip-ons, still in their case.

Score one for human-feline communication!

I had a less productive talk with Thora regarding our weekly adventures in "clipping butt." As neither of my Persian cats will let me brush them, weekly knot clippings are a necessity. Pansy tolerates them, looking forward to her canned salmon reward. Thora has taken to hissing and growling when I get too close to her rear end.

"Thora," I say, "I understand that you take my desire to clip your knots as a personal affront. However, if you don't let me near you, you will soon become one big dreadlock. Not only will this destroy your impressive good looks, but the knots will pull and ruin your playful disposition. Will you let me proceed?"

Score for the week: one for the humans, one for the cats.

A friend of mine once told me about a child-rearing book that deeply influenced her experience of motherhood. "You don't have to win all the battles," it said. I'm hoping the same is true for cat motherhood.

Fess up, how many of you out there have serious talks with your pets? Is it the same with dogs as with cats?


Joyce said...

My cat Shadow, (that I lost in May) and I used to carry on complete conversations. I'd say something and she'd answer. Sometimes we even knew what the other one said!

My son's cat, Layla, comes when she's called. She's kind of flaky but she knows her name and she knows the word "hungry."

Since the cat is the only other female in the house, it makes sense to me that we stick together!

Annette said...

Tory, haven't you learned yet? ALWAYS look under the refrigerator first for missing objects. It's the goal in all kitty hockey games.

Samantha and I have lots of long conversations. They usually involve me trying to explain why I can't stay home and play with her all day. Or why we must take yet another trip to the vet's office. I seem to do a lot of explaining. She, on the other hand, gives me a look that clearly states, she's not buying one word of it.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Our catch-all is under the stove.

Your post freaked me out, Tory. Do you mean we're not SUPPOSED to do this sort of thing?

Nancy said...

I do miss my dogs. They were the only audience that ever gave me their undivided attention.

brenda roger said...

I sometimes get caught talking to Lulu and Marley and David says "are you talking to those dogs again?"

What can I say? Lulu understands me like no one else!

Tory said...

Glad I'm not alone!

Annette said...

One thing, though, everytime I read my stories out loud to Samantha, she falls asleep.

Everyone's a critic.

Cathy said...

My problem is that sometimes I forget to communicate to the darlings (two cats, one dog). It always goes better if I clue them in. When I'm desperate, I use telepathic messages (pictures in the head). The great animal trainer Barbara Woodhouse (did I spell her name right?) used telepathic commands in her work.

Maybe we can send telepathic commands to the husbands who snore.

Anonymous said...

LOL! I'm coming in late to the conversation, but very funny post, Tory! I talk to my dog all the time and I swear he can understand me even though my husband thinks differently. He does has selective hearing, however.

Anonymous said...

I should clarify that my DOG has selective hearing, not my husband.

Tory said...

Kristine: Thanks for the clarification, I was wondering!

Judith said...

I also talk to my dog Daisy and she definitely responds. She also knows the names of all her toy stuffed animals and will retrieve the right one when I say... Where is..... I have also taught her directions so if she is chasing the ball and needs to go left, I say left and she turns. I think animals are much smarter than we give them credit for being.