Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Conversations With A Cat

Rannie is allowed on my desk; after nearly twenty years of various cats napping on or behind the monitor, how could I not. However, I often eat breakfast in front of the screen and Ms. Rannie struggles mightily with her impulses, staring at the plate like a fashion model eying a box of chocolates. Often one stealthy paw will start to reach out, closer, closer, while she darts glances at me to see if I'm paying attention.

Me (putting a hand out to block, which of course she smooths on): "Anh! Rannie, no."

Rannie: "Wuhrmiiiooow!" [Aw, c'mon, you haven't even touched that stuff for the last fifteen seconds!]

Me: "No, Rannie, that's my breakfast. You already had yours."

Rannie (pushing harder against my hand): "Wrmiiieeeeeee!" [It was kibble. Eww. Want yours!]

Me (now pushing hard enough she's about to have to leap off the desk): "No! Curried eggs are not for cats!"

Rannie (as she jumps down and does a 180): "Riaaaow!" [Bird's eggs! It's exactly what cats should eat!]

Me: "Cat, prove me your kind invented even the frying pan, let alone cooking, and you're on."

Rannie (jumping gracefully back onto the desk, attention on my plate): "Mmmmroooo!" [That's your job, monkey-girl. Eggses! WANT!]

Rinse, lather, repeat. I've tried growling at her but she just looks at me like I've gone loopy.

Meanwhile, Huck spent the morning alternating between:

A) Rolling on his back, grabbing at his own tail, which (of course) flips the other way. He follows, looking like a giant woolyworm trying to flip right side up, faster and faster until he springs up, looking surprised.

B) Hunting Rannie as if she was some kind of oversize, pointy-eared tortoiseshell piney squirrel. (The pineys have non-bushy tails; poor things look like one of their parents went and married a rat!) She runs from this, of course, and Huck has to give chase. (If I could train him to go after stag or fox, I'd get rich!)

C) Plopping down in the middle of the floor and gazing regally around at his domain. He is serenely confident that, as the only male in the house, he is In Charge. I've tried explaining to him that it doesn't work that way even for an all-cat population, but he won't believe me.*

If they both hunted my breakfast, I would probably lose out every morning. As it is, I can count on him to help distract her.
*I'm not even sure I do. Based on the behavior of strays in my old neighborhood, while small, matrilocal communities do form, with the Best Mommy in charge -- oldest with the most offspring -- the toms had their own range and hierarchy. A wandering knight would show up, adopt the little cat-community in the back yard and fight off all comers, but they tended to patrol the far marches most of the time. The tom's range might include multiple little households, some of which hunted and played outside the area the tom claimed. This arrangement doesn't have a "boss" of either gender in total control of the whole thing. Complicated, though it does make character motivations in C. J. Cherryh's "Chanur" books easier to follow.


Drang said...

Got home from work late the other night and had a sammich and some potato chips for my midnight lunch. Sparrowbane was sprawled on my lap, because Mrs. Drang was already in bed sleeping,m and what I was doing was more interesting. At one point he reached out with one paw and swatted some chips out of my hand so he could have a taste. Well, they're salty and oily, so I can see a cat wanting to, but he could ask nicer...

LabRat said...

Domestic cats actually have an interestingly flexible social structure, which varies depending on the density of cats, which itself tends to depend on the density of food supply.

Your observations are accurate.

Ian Argent said...

There is little that compares to the entertainment to be found by watching Cat A go tearing past Cat B for unknown reasons, seeing Cat B give chase because that's what cats do (chase the fleeing prey or something, I guess), and then Cat A sits down... Cat B will generally come to a confused halt and wander around aimlessly looking for his prey. Cat A will regard him with that look that signifies the looker believes that lookee to have misplaced his marbles.