Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Cat's Language

I never had a cat in Vietnam and my perception of cats was that they were aloof. My landlord's cat in DeKalb, IL, reassured me of that perception. For a dog lover, cat's aloofness was perfectly fine with me. However, that image of cats changed when Wes's cat Samantha welcomed me and sat with me the first time I visited him and his grandmother in Seattle. I was impressed by her friendliness and began to like cats.

Then, Hermia our cat transformed me into a cat lover. Her attachment to us, especially to me, is amazing. She follows me everywhere I go in the house, even to the bathroom. I also begin to pay attention to her language. She makes different sounds for different "occasions," such as seeing birds on the deck, letting me know she wants water or food, feeling upset when I tell her to go away because she's become a nuisance, alerting us to get up in the morning. The noises she makes all sound different. I remember years back, I ran into a book in a bookseller's catalogue called How to Talk to Your Cat. At the time I didn't care about cats at all but thought it interesting.

Now, do I want to learn how to talk to Hermia? Probably not. I think we communicate well enough that we know each other's wants and needs. For example, when I don't want her to follow me around in the house, she understands what I say. On the other hand, when she sees birds outside, I know she wants to go out there and catch them. Unfortunately, she's an indoor cat, so she has to stay inside. Now that I'm laid up with a knee injury, I believe she's happy that she wasn't home alone all day long until we returned from work in the evening. Now we enjoy each other's company, especially when I'm done with my writing and Wes is still at work.

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