Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Scientific Method in Cats

Who invented glass? Do you ever wonder about that? What on earth were they thinking? What could possibly lead some guy in the near east, like 4,000 years ago, to go, "hey, you think something good might happen if we cooked sand? Let's try it."

I bring this up because Bengals are said to be a bit smarter than ordinary cats, and I believe it. Leela's thought processes seem to be just on the very fluttery edge of abstract tool use. Consider this. She was watching Elisa eat macaroni and cheese a couple weeks ago. Arm, spoon, food. Then Elisa set down the bowl and Leela went to investigate. You could almost see the smoke pouring out of her ears as Leela pushed the limits of cat abstraction past the redline. Her arm, my arm. The silver thing. She gets food...I get food! So she reached out and WHACKED the end of the spoon, sending a couple pieces of macaroni flying. Eureka! Then she ate them. Not just licked off the cheese, but actually ate them whole because she'd earned them.

She's also figured out how to open our folding closet doors, and even closed interior doors. They have handles rather than knobs, so she can just fling herself at them and let her weight drag them down while the impact pushes the door open. She's pretty good at it...

Then there's waking the humans. Sometimes we manage to wear her out and she'll sleep in in the mornings. But usually she wants to be up and around with the dawn. And she doesn't want to be alone. She wants company. She wants to be fed. She knows how to get what she wants. One of her ways to wake us up is by knocking over a bedside lamp. Like so:

Lamp: before, and after cat.

That makes a good whacking sound when the shade hits the wall. Then there's her masterpiece - and this is why I bring up the invention of glass. She licks the wall. Seriously. She licks the wall next to our headboard. Where in the world did she come up with this? It's not like she enjoys the taste of the paint. She never does this anywhere else, or at any other time of day. She's doing it solely because she's somehow figured out that the noise is strange enough that it punches through our defenses and wakes us up. This is cat science at its most mad. It's amazing. I'm telling you, if this animal had opposable thumbs, we'd all be working for her...


Post a Comment

<< Home