My Irish Up: Cat proves smarter

EP 29 corrigan columnBy Mike Corrigan

BN Columnist

I know, I know, your dog is smarter than my cat, or so you say. But can he comprehend complex sentences, draw moral conclusions and adapt his actions to your mandates and proclamations? Thought not. My cat can, though.

Here is a picture of the cinnamon wonder (actual life size). Notice that it is absorbing through its forepaws Webster’s Dictionary. (After I took this picture, she moved on to squat upon Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, which even I haven’t gotten through yet.)

Now, I know, just because my cat has exotic reading habits doesn’t mean she’s smarter than your dog, but let’s try an experiment. I challenge you to call your dog over, and (if it comes), look the beast squarely in the eye and say: “Goofball, I need you to go out into the kitchen, get my hammer out of the drawer, trot out to the shed, get some nails, and repair the mailbox. Could you please have this important task done within the hour?”

Now, wait an hour. Mailbox fixed? Ha! Not unless the cat overheard and decided to take matters into its own hands.

I knew my cat, Socrates, was intelligent, perhaps even an intellectual, yet even I seriously underestimated its mental capacities. This was because most of our conversations until recently have gone like this:

Mike: Is she a good kitty?

Cat:

Mike: Is she the bestest kitty?

Cat:

Mike: Is she a good good good kitty pity kitty-poo?

Cat:

I mistook its silence for a lack of comprehension. I see now that Socrates took me for an idiot (a common perception) and just couldn’t be bothered to respond.

I finally figured this out last week. I had been afflicted with allergies all day and the cat took my subsequent hacking and unsightly drainage as a signal to come sit directly on my nose. Now, I am mildly allergic to cats, but we’re cool as long as they don’t choose to sit directly on my nose.

It was about midnight and I couldn’t sleep so I turned on the light and regarded my curled-up fluffball from a distance of six inches and gave this heartfelt speech:

“Socrates, we need to talk. I am having trouble breathing and I can’t get to sleep if you’re all up in my face. Now, I love you and you know I like having you around, but you need to get away from this end of the bed while I’m trying to sleep. Okay?”

The cat got up, stretched, hopped off the bed and disappeared.

Mike: No hard feelings!

Cat:

Mike: Love you!

Cat:

The next day, I couldn’t find Socrates! It wasn’t for 20 hours or so I discovered it hiding in the closet. I talked to it and told her she was cute and nice and all, and that it should come out and sit on my lap.

Cat:

It stayed in the closet, in its little box, sleeping and mewing once in awhile — for five days. Five days! I finally had to remove the vacuum cleaner and sit beside the box Socrates had commandeered and pet the cinnamon sweetie and talk to it and say how much I missed it out there in the real world. It still did not come out, except for a couple of minutes at suppertime, and to use her litter box once a day.

Tuesday, when I caught the cat out eating, I closed the door of its closet! She scratched and mewed pitifully. I ignored her protests. Later, she jumped up on my lap. Last night, it slept on the bed — away from my face. Purring contentedly.

Mike: Is she the best bestest ktty-kitty in the whole wide world?

Cat:

Mike: Forgive me yet?

Cat:

Socrates remains Mike’s second-best cat ever. Were it more talkative, it might move into first place.

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