Monday, 16 December 2013

Cat: Nine Lives and Six Senses!

Preamble

     It's an old saying that a cat has 'nine lives'. Quite untrue, obviously, but cute all the same. All this saying betrays is the fact that a cat has an uncanny knack of surviving in the oddest of circumstances!

     As far as the sixth sense goes, cats do just seem to 'know' things instinctively. They 'know' when someone is a cat person. They have incredible body clocks and 'know' when it's time to appear for food. They also 'know' when it is that you're about to return home from work.

     All in all, there are so many things that contribute to this magical property cats have. Just the other day something happened that made my neighbours laugh their socks off and made me feel like a very important part of Pusia's life, indeed!

You Can't Keep a Good Cat Down

     Cats are master communicators. Well, I'll qualify that a bit. Cats are master manipulators. They know what they want and they know how to get it.

Whenever Pusia wants attention she'll find a way of getting it!
     Any time of the day or night (literally), whenever Pusia wants attention she'll place herself in my path and make it an inevitable fact that I will have to stroke her. She knows that I'll drop whatever I'm doing and give her the attention she's craving. She knows that I'm a cat person.

     Those less disposed to be the playthings of a cat's fancy will try to ignore the cat. They'll look away and attempt to avoid engaging with the cat at all costs. This, however, is a mistake. The cat instinctively 'knows' that this person is not a threat. Take, for example, a cat hater rather than a mere cat disliker. The venom that pours forth from the cat hater is like a sonic barrier to a cat. They're most likely to run and hide behind the sofa to preserve one of their nine lives as their natural survival instinct kicks in.

     The weaker willed cat disliker is, for a cat, easy prey. Their weakness is betrayed by their sideways glances and their reluctance to meet the cat eye-to-eye. For this body language is very submissive as far as a cat is concerned! It conveys a lack of fighting spirit and a wish to be accepted by a fellow beast who is recognized as being superior.

     The cat 'disliker' is ripe for dominance by the common Felis Silvestris Catus - this is a much grander and preferable term than 'Common House Cat'!

Rescue Me

     I think that part of this 'nine lives' business is enacted in today's sad situation where so many cats are either unwanted or abandoned. Pusia was a very much loved and wanted pet but as her humans were emigrating to Canada she desperately needed a new home. Most people are reluctant to take on adult cats. They don't have that cute factor that a kitten possesses. 

     Personally, I'm more inclined to adopt a fully grown cat as they're such graceful and beautiful creatures. The moment I saw Pusia I knew she was going to be my companion. Since I adopted her and brought her out to West Cork she has blossomed into a vivacious and lively farm cat. She's taken advantage of another one of her numerous lives and put it to good use.

Pusia has plenty of excitement on the farm.
     Living on the farm, however, has presented plenty of opportunities for Pusia to experiment with the 'nine lives' business. I've seen her in all kind of scrapes most of which I'd rather forget. But, in the end, she's a cat and she loves to explore and protect her territory.

While the Human's Away

     Inevitably I have to leave Pusia alone from time to time. Mostly it's just for a few hours. On those occasions when I do have to leave her overnight I'm lucky enough to have neighbours who will check on her and feed her. She's such a sociable cat that I hear reports that while I'm away she craves the company of the other humans around.

     As I live in a remote farming area the lack of humans is quite pronounced. It fluctuates as a few people have holiday homes around here but on the whole there are four or five of us who are always around as 'nominated humans' so to speak. We are the few favoured of the species with whom the cat will readily socialize! (Unless the stranger happens to be a timid individual who attempts to look in the other direction, in which case they'll become the next unsuspecting victim of the cat's dominant streak!)

     One of the things that helps Pusia identify my comings and goings more than anything else, however, is my car!

Sometimes it's all about the wheels.
     Sometimes I find this quite surprising. I can arrive home and Pusia will ignore the roaring engine and race down her ladder to greet me. Either that or she'll be waiting by the car door as I open it to wail at me for being away so long.

     But the other day after an overnight stay away Pusia did something that surprised everyone!

Supersonic Hearing

     When I'm away Pusia tends to spend a lot of time indoors, so my neighbours tell me. She obviously has to venture out to do her business occasionally and when I'm away for prolonged periods of more than a few hours then she seeks the company of other people around.

     She's a sociable cat but she prefers to be in the vicinity of people rather than actually draping herself across strange laps and the like.

     On one such occasion Pusia was hunting around in the undergrowth doubtless looking for something to kill. This was occurring in my neighbour's garden whilst they all sat on the lawn and drank coffee.

     It was a very calm and domestic scene. Where I live is at the end of a very long and lonely farm track. There is no noise pollution and literally no passing traffic. You may hear the occasional cow moo or horse neigh but little else.

     This idyllic setting was suddenly disturbed by a frantic rustling in the bushes which shook madly. The neighbours, slightly alarmed that Pusia may be wrestling with a rat or something similar, hesitantly approached the bush.

     Without warning Pusia burst from the bush and charged past them. If you've never seen a cat run in earnest then all you have to do is imagine a leopard in full flight. Even the humble domestic cat can achieve similar gracefulness and power.

     Assuming that Pusia had been startled by something they peered into the bush but found nothing. Pusia, however, rocketed across the expansive lawn and slowed to a trot at the gateway to the neighbours' property. There, she stopped completely and lay down calmly staring up the lane.

    My neighbours were mystified by these events. Had she been startled by something? Was there a predator lurking in the bushes? In any event, peace was restored within moments of the commotion.

   Then, as they all sat back down to drink more coffee, a distant rumble became apparent. As it grew louder Pusia became more excited but didn't run away. The sound was the roar of my car engine approaching!

Welcome Home!

     As I pulled up the last few hundred metres or so I was greeted by the sight of Pusia sitting alert and excited to see me return. I stopped the engine and she ran to the car door, meowing at me before I could even get it open!

     I know, of course, that a cat has extraordinary hearing. Their range of hearing exceeds that of any other mammal, including dogs and bats, and they can discern many subtle differences in the quality of a sound.

     But to have the ability to differentiate between these sounds and associate them with specific favoured characters in their lives is a very special thing indeed. Pusia's welcome home filled my heart with warmth and love.

     A cat is a sensitive creature in so many ways. Its ability to evade danger and its seemingly extra-sensory abilities are astounding. If you're lucky enough to be a human who's sensitive to a cat's needs, then you'll find that the cat will relate to you in a very special way. It's a reciprocal thing.

     Even one of my neighbours who has some reluctance to befriend Pusia has finally relented and made friends with her. My neighbour is, after all, an animal lover to her heart and Pusia 'knows' this. That's why she spent hours grooming my neighbour by perching on her window sill and observing her from outside!

Pusia knows when it's worth persevering...
     Don't believe the people who tell you a cat is selfish. This relationship brings out the best in everyone concerned...