In Our Own Backyard...Cats have nine lives - and six sensesCats have an uncanny way of telling time. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, but when 5:55 a.m. rolls around, one of our two cats will be sitting next to my pillow staring intently at me, while the other winds up and down the length of the bed purring lustily.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Cats have an uncanny way of telling time. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, but when 5:55 a.m. rolls around, one of our two cats will be sitting next to my pillow staring intently at me, while the other winds up and down the length of the bed purring lustily. If I don’t stir, the one nearest my pillow will reach out one paw and poke me tentatively on the side of the face.
If I still don’t stir, the next poke is accompanied by a subtle “kneading” motion of the paw, which of course means the claws are activated ever so slightly – just to get the point across, of course.
And if that fails to send me pitching out from under the covers to fill their food bowls, the big male cat, Mufasa, piles his entire 14-pound frame onto my pillow and sits on my hair!
(I have to confess I’ve never made it past this stage to see what comes next….)
And at precisely 9 p.m. that night, pretty much the same thing happens all over again, except in the living room, or the kitchen, or wherever we happen to be and whatever we happen to be doing when it’s time for the cats to have their evening meal. The starving creatures care not a whit if the Vikings are leading by a field goal in the closing minutes of the game, or if the judges are about to announce the top winner of American Idol after months and months of auditions, or that we have a houseful of company and we’re in the middle of opening gifts on Christmas Eve.
They stare, and they purr, and they put on the pressure to be fed. Because for them, food is what life is all about and it has to be eaten at precisely the same time every day.
Cats must be hard-wired to know precisely what’s going on around them. I’ve heard it said that in addition to the five senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing, there is also a “kinesthetic sense,” which involves being aware of your surroundings. For example, if someone walks into a room without making a sound behind you and you know they are there, it’s because you sensed them subconsciously.
A cat’s intuitiveness is uncanny. When we are going away for the weekend, the cats are hasty to leap into my suitcase as soon as I open it up on the bed. But if it’s time for their annual trip to the vet and I bring out the cat carrier, they bolt away to parts unknown and don’t resurface again until I put the darn thing away.
And when I have been away at work all day, I always spot their chubby little forms silhouetted through the glass of the front door, waiting for me and somehow knowing exactly when I pull in the driveway! And they can count, too – if one of us is home and the other isn’t, they pace restlessly around the house and refuse to settle in until the other is home, too.
Likewise, our cats have been conditioned to respond to the sound of the can opener (as most cats are), in hopes of gleaning a handout between meals. It seems they equate the sound with savory images of pink salmon, smoked sardines or better yet, canned tuna. It makes no difference whether I’m opening a can of sliced water chestnuts or tomato soup – they’re there in a heartbeat, in hopes of a handout.
To be sure, cats are creatures of habit, but what happened the other day has me convinced they can actually read as well.
I had decided to make tuna hot dish for dinner, and I was assembling the ingredients. First I took out a can of mushroom soup and then a can of sliced mushrooms. But it wasn’t until I pulled out the can of tuna – with no sign of a can opener yet in sight – that the two cats began swirling around my legs, purring mightily and giving me “the look!”