Wednesday, 22 September 2010

I wonder what real cats actually see and know

because Pluto, paying a very late visit, sat on my lap and appeared to watch a cartoon last night.
I hasten to add that I do not normally watch cartoons but this was a small 'art' type cartoon which was used as a filler between a documentary and the news service. It was quite good fun with little insects buzzing around sounding like motorbikes and lawnmowers.
Pluto had strolled in through our old cat flap, done the usual tour of the house and then settled himself on me for what I thought would be the usual short stroking session. When the cartoon started however he flicked his tail at me to stop the stroking and appeared to turn his attention to the screen. For the duration of the cartoon - about two minutes in all - he appeared to concentrate on the screen. His ears twitched occasionally but the rest of him was quite still. When the cartoon finished he jumped down and strolled out again. Was he watching it? I told myself, "Of course not. Don't be stupid. Cats do not watch cartoons." Or, do they?
I once met another cat who went to church each Sunday. It was a tiny country church. The priest lived next door. It was his cat. When he went into the church on Sunday the cat went too. It would lie on a window ledge for the entire service. It never strolled around the church during the service. It would be ridiculous to suggest that the cat was 'going to church' in the sense of worshipping but it did attend church.
Another cat of my brief acquaintance was introduced to me at the door of a terrace house in London. His owner, a young mother, was worried he might attack me as he had attacked a tradesman the previous day. If the baby was in the back garden then the cat would lie under the pram until the baby was taken in again. It would also be ridiculous to suggest that the cat was babysitting but it nevertheless remained there.
We had two cats when my youngest nephews were very small. Cats and boys rubbed along very well together. The cats were very tolerant, mostly by avoidance. One afternoon however they were playing together on the floor. The cats were asleep together on a chair in the adjacent area. A neighbour who was well known for his dislike of cats and his rather imperious manner with children came to borrow something from my father. He was invited in. Almost instantly the cats had woken. Instead of going out as I expected they went and sat on the floor between the visitor and my nephews. Their fur was up and they hissed when he moved towards the boys. He tried to tell my mother they were 'dangerous'. They were, she said, 'just being protective'.
I still wonder what they knew. They must have sensed the visitor disliked cats. Cats do seem to know that.
So, what do real cats see and know? We can guess but we will never know. All the same I rather hope Pluto enjoyed the cartoon.


Anonymous said...

A cat with good taste in cartoons, especially if the cat comes back to see the cartoon again!

Judy B

catdownunder said...

He doesn't usually turn up at that hour - it is, I suspect, normally his mealtime!

Sheep Rustler said...

I don't know about cats, really. But I do know that my MiL's old border collie used to enjoy watching Inspector Rex and wildlife documentaries. And I have seen both cats and dogs do quite purposeful things, including babysitting. That cartoon is rather good, isn't it!

catdownunder said...

I have seen two of those cartoons now - quite by accident. The animation is interesting and they are really quite sophisticated.
I wonder what the dog enjoyed - must have been able to realise that it was a dog at very least.
Our last cat seemed to understand quite a lot of words - being a cat he refused to obey commands unless he wanted to of course!

Rachel Fenton said...

It's all so utterly bonkers that it must be true! I think cats are probably the smartes animals around - which is precisely why I won't have one! Anyway, I'm a leo - a cat of sorts...