When Pets Use English, or, Sometimes it’s a Mistake Not to Focus on the Cat

 

 

Our Cardigans are learning to walk nicely. Cai, the two-year-old, is pretty good most of the time now; Fergus, almost seven months, still pulls; and the two of them together on their way to the park have the strength that could turn a limestone quarry into prime arable land. Where’s a plough when you need one?

So they’ve been hearing the word “Sit!” a lot. Apparently, “sit” in Cardigan means to lower one’s tail to the ground for the length of time it takes a human to say the word “sit”.

So they’ve been hearing the word “wait” a lot too. “Wait” means to gaze intently at a door until it opens two snout-widths, and then swarm it.

So they’ve been hearing the phrase “Ex-cuse me, guys!” a lot as well. This phrase is the cue to snap at one’s sibling in the attempt to make Mummy believe that it was said sibling’s fault.

Something else I tried today was inspired by one of Dennis the Vizsla’s videos. Cai has gotten to know that “Bring it!” means he needs to set the toy at my feet before I’ll reach for it to throw it again. Today, I asked him to sit, stood in front of him, and turned my back to him before throwing the toy. Pretty comical. Every time I got turned around, I would find Cai shifted to my left, keeping his eyes on the prize.

 

Cai was much less fidgety once I started standing with my feet apart and holding the toy down at his nose level. Then I announced, “Get the toy!” and threw it sideways. Cai liked this game. And look! He’s learning more English!

Now compare this with what happened earlier this morning. When Cuca, our four-year-old cat, woke me up, I stumbled downstairs, opened the laptop and turned it on, set Cuca’s little saucer of wet food on the table (the only way to keep Fergus from stealing it), started the coffee, and took Fergus for his potty break. On arriving at the table myself with my cuppa, I saw that Cuca had entered something on my Google home page:

ngf gg

I smiled indulgently. Aww, how cute! And just for fun, I googled it.

The page is copyrighted, so I’m not supposed to reproduce it without permission, but it’s probably okay to describe it: a scholarly paper by six anatomists describing the development of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in facial nerves and geniculate ganglia (GG) of developing quail embryos.

Ah, here it is, thinks Cuca. This section makes it clear that the more a bird twitches its 14th ganglion, the more nervous it’s becoming. If I can keep an eye on the 14th and the 6th — the one signalling imminent flight — I’ll know at what moment I need to strike…

Street kitties. They know how to survive.

9 Responses to When Pets Use English, or, Sometimes it’s a Mistake Not to Focus on the Cat

  1. livingisdetail says:

    What a clever kitty! Obviously a feline research scientist. I wish my cat would Google something – I wonder what it would be? She is quite interested in human behavioural development. Hmm.

  2. lavenderbay says:

    Yours too, Livingisdetail? Uh-oh. I wonder if they’ve opened G-mail accounts yet; there may be some international correspondence going on that we don’t know about. And to think I never really believed Dennis and all his wild tales of Trouble’s coup!

  3. Mutual friend Jane says:

    It’s not to be wondered at. When eg and your good self were in the Antipodes a few years ago,
    we observed CuCa playing the harp; it was sort of a concerto for dangling strings.

  4. lavenderbay says:

    That’s right, Mutual Friend Jane, I’d forgotten about his musical career!
    And I think, from examining the pictorial record of this morning’s adventure, I may also have a photo of Cuca’s dental practice to post for next week’s Wordless Wednesday.

  5. Is there anything Google can’t do?

  6. Shelley says:

    Did anyone else notice the domain the link goes to?

    http://cat.inist.fr/

    Is that a French Cat Institution or a French Cat House?

  7. lavenderbay says:

    Not yet that I’ve found, James.

    Aaaaaaahhhhh!!! They’re everywhere, Shelley, they’re everywhere!!!!!

  8. themarvelousinnature says:

    When I first read this paragraph:

    When Cuca, our four-year-old cat, woke me up, I stumbled downstairs, opened the laptop and turned it on, set Cuca’s little saucer of wet food on the table (the only way to keep Fergus from stealing it), started the coffee, and took Fergus for his potty break.

    I dropped the first “I” out of it, so that it read:

    When Cuca, our four-year-old cat, woke me up, stumbled downstairs, opened the laptop and turned it on, set Cuca’s little saucer of wet food on the table (the only way to keep Fergus from stealing it), started the coffee, and took Fergus for his potty break.

    And I was thinking, what a talented kitty! I need to train my cats to do that!

  9. lavenderbay says:

    I think you’re right, Themarvelousinnature! If Cuca can study avian embryology, he can darn well take Fergus on his potty breaks! 😀

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