Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is it real?

This short video has been getting a lot of attention. Taken at face value, it's pretty funny--a cat is barking like a dog until he realizes that he's being watched, then he reverts to meowing like a "normal" cat.

One of the most frequent comments people make is to question whether the sound has been altered--whether the cat could really make such barking sounds. In my opinion, the pitch of the barks sounds correct, and the transition from barking to meowing is convincing, but I don't know for sure.

There are other YouTube videos of "barking cats", but they merely show cats making the short staccato noises cats make when they see birds (that's a subject for another time). This cat appears to be truly imitating a dog.

What do you think?

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Tale of Two Kitties

I just read a new (it's to be released this coming Tuesday) book in which some Ph.D. goes to great lengths to explain how human brains are the most superior of all and no animal can possibly think or react with the same sophistication that humans can.

Rather than bore you with that nonsense, I'm going to tell you one of my favorite stories about my cat, Spike.

This incident involves a laser pointer. The fascination most cats have with the little red dot of light is well known. Spike was no exception, at first. He was a big cat, and seeing his eyes get big, his whiskers point forward and his ears go erect was a joy, as he chased the dot around. Then, one time, and I'm not sure what diverted his attention (maybe it was my laugh), he looked over and saw me holding the laser, saw the red light at the end, and realized that I was controlling the dot. The look on his face changed to one of hurt and dismay, as if he felt tricked and betrayed by me. He stopped chasing the dot immediately, and went into the next room and laid down. From that time on, he never chased the dot of light again. In fact, he would leave the room when I started playing with the other cats with the laser pointer.

Another cat, Arnie, has also made the connection between me holding the laser device and the fascinating dot of light. In fact, since the pointer is attached to a key ring that makes a distinctive sound when moved, no matter how quietly I try to pick it up, Arnie hears the sound and comes running, ready to play. He knows I am in control, but he doesn't mind that, he enjoys the fun of the chase.

As I said, I don't know what triggered Spike's reaction--I probably laughed particularly loud, and Spike never liked being laughed at--but he was obviously hurt by what he perceived as deviousness on my part and he never got over it; he never went back to playing that game. Arnie, whom I know keeps a mental catalog of past wrongs (that's a story for another time), knows the facts of the game and loves it anyway.

Conclusion? They're all individuals with their own personalities.