Sunday, August 27, 2017
Nothing to do with my intent for this title, but in doing research, I found that women use approximately 20,000 words per day. That's about 13,000 more than the average male. It may be because of the Foxp2 protein - woman have more of it in their brains than men.
If you were able to sit down and do a vocabulary test with your cat, you would find the typical housecat understands 25 to 35 human words. I don't know how researchers determine this. In the past year or two, Izzy and I have come to understand each other's words more.
Going back to our first cat, Smoke - she absolutely understood: food, treat, ice cream, cheese. She apparently had no understanding or regard for the word "no." One wood that would bring her running: "body-slam." Yes, really. We had a little morning ritual where she would hop up on the bed and wait for her body-slam, where I would pick her up and gently put her on the bed on her back. She would hop up and raise a front paw, signaling me to do it again. Even into her elderly years (I was very gentle).
When I would ask her where she wanted to go when we were traveling, the answer was always the same: "Vegas." No idea why, but I could understand that coming from her. She wasn't a gambler and we rarely took her to see any of the shows, but she was a big fan of the white tigers with Siegfried and Roy.
Molly was like no other cat I have ever seen. She understood everything I said, and I understood most of what she said. Really. I would say, "What shirt do you think goes best with these pants?" and she would reply, "Go for the blue one - I think that one's my favorite."
No, I am not kidding. We didn't speak the same language, but we both understood. The only English word I ever heard her say was: "No!" And always when I was about to put her in her carrier. She did not like that carrier, being the free spirit she was. But, I understood her cat-talk.
When we first got little Izzy, the only thing she said was: "Eeeeeeeeee!" No "Meow," just that one vowel. I wondered if it had something to do with the E Entertainment Network, but she showed no interest in that. She is now 9 years old and has been patiently working with me. I understand when she wants to go outside or is ready for her next meal. No question about it, her favorite English word is: "Chow"... it will snap her head around every time. When we're walking, she definitely understands: "This way" and "That way." And to her, "Home" means we are heading back, whether it is to the motorhome, the boat, or the house.
Joan thinks Izzy may be slow to process what we are telling her. I think she is very bright, but it is like talking to a teenager... they hear what you are saying, but they just don't care.
One way to determine the intelligence of an animal is with problem-solving exercises... put something under a blanket and see if they know to go there to find it, or if they think it just disappeared. Not always easy with a cat, because - unless it is food - they don't care where you put something. Walking on a leash is another way... if they get tangled up with their leash wrapped around something, you can assume your kitty isn't the brightest bulb on the tree.
What? Your can't doesn't walk on a leash? Well, that is a you problem, not a cat problem... it may take some patience, but cats are curious and like to see what is going on in the world around them.
We didn't consider walking Smoke on a leash, because if you put anything around her waist, she would freeze, then fall over. While entertaining when you have company over, we didn't push it. When we got Molly, she had been a "free range cat," and used to walk by me all the time before she was ours. When she became officially ours, we put a collar on her, hooked a leash to it, and walked just like we had been. Really, there was absolutely no learning curve. She just liked to be where we were.
It took more patience with Iz. At 9 years old, she walks great now, but it wasn't always that way. She likes to be outside and is quite content at times to just sit outside with us (always on a leash, except on our deck at home). Izzy is generally quite good at not getting her leash tangled around anything. She knows when we are walking to not go around the other side of the tree. She won't go under low stuff (like a chair), understanding that I can't do that. I don't rush her, and we enjoy our strolls.
Today, I was sitting with her outside. The site we are in has a picnic table on the cement patio. I put out a length of leash and she walked around the far side of the table, then came back in through the table legs. I watched to see what she would do... she looked at the leash, saw where it was getting caught, and then walked back around, untangling herself.
Yep, I think my little furry girl is pretty darn smart. She has been patient with my training, but will on occasion need to come over and tap me on the arm to let me know it is time for "chow."
The photo above is a file photo from home - here's one from today out on the patio...