Thursday, January 29, 2009

Paying Attention

One of the most common things you hear about cats is that they're aloof, they don't care, they don't listen.

That's not been my experience at all. I frequently have difficulty using the computer because one of my cats is "requesting" my attention. They will bring a toy to me so that I will play with them. They are very responsive to everything I say; even a little "tsk" when something annoys me.

I think the difference between my experience and some other people's experience can be explained by cats' intelligence and by how much attention people pay to them. Cats are flexible; they can be sociable or they can be loners, depending on the situations in their lives. If they learn at an early age that the people around them are not "connecting" with them, ignoring them, they will eventually stop putting forth the effort themselves. Hence, aloofness.

Many years ago when I was a kid, my family was not very tuned in to the pets in the house, and so neither was I. But one day I noticed my cat in the next room looking at me and doing a slow blink. I realized this was not just a mere blink but a deliberate gesture, so I did the same sort of slow blink. She did it again, so I did it again. Then she ran to me, stood up on her back legs, and hugged my leg. She could not have said, "At last! Somebody gets it!" any clearer if she had spoken English.

The slow blink is one of the most basic items of cat language. It has many meanings, depending on the situation. It can mean something similar to blowing kisses. It can de-fuse a potentially bad situation: My kitten knocked something over right in front of me. He froze, wondering if I was angry. I blinked. He blinked in return. No worries.

So basically the blink is an amiable kind of sign, ranging from non-aggression to love. As you pay attention to your cat and the various situations of each day, the blink becomes second nature to you and you become aware of its many shades of meaning. You also won't ever think your cat is aloof and unresponsive to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment