Cat lovers are always quick to point out how intelligent cats are. Especially in comparison with dogs. These people ignore the generally cold and vacant stare a house cat maintains through its waking hours and instead focus on how cats are usually very selective with who they “love” and where they poop and what they eat and where and how they sleep.
Cat lovers generally use the argument that if cats seem unintelligent it’s only because we, as humans, are so dumb we can’t adequately stimulate a cat’s imagination. That’s why they usually want little or nothing to do with us.
Dogs are considered dumb perhaps because they truly are very much like us and we just happen to be dumb. I guess that’s why dogs are considered “man’s best friend”—because stupid people generally like to hang out with each other much like how when people are drowning they start mistaking each other for pool floaties. Maybe the cats are laughing at us when we play our clumsy caveman games with our dogs, games like “fetch the bone” and “chase me and then with no real transition I’ll chase you!”
But how smart are cats, really? Just because they keep to themselves doesn’t prove anything either way. It’s easy to say that cats are so smart that stupids like us can’t relate to their quiet disinterest. A little too easy.
I’m not knocking cats. I like cats. I like how they seem a little annoyed when I try to pretend they’re a baby, because this way I know they’ll never get too attached to me—I know that when the time comes and I want my freedom there’ll be no awkwardness between me and the cat. The cat’ll be happy, if anything. If I’m not mistaken, isn’t that a man’s definition of an ideal relationship? And you couldn’t say the same thing about a dog. When it’s time to “dump” a dog the poor thing cries and sobs and seems to want to die, and so that makes you want to die maybe too. It’s a messy breakup.
So yes, I do like cats, but just for shits and grins I thought I might offer an alternative perspective on what goes on inside a cat’s “brilliant” mind.
What Your “Smart” Cat is Really Thinking…
Scenario 1: You stir from sleep to the sound of a cat’s baby-like whine. It seems to want something, probably food, but you’re too tired and let yourself doze back to sleep. You wake again to the sound of a picture-frame crashing to the ground— it seems the cat won’t take “not now” for an answer. It really wants its food and it knows exactly how to manipulate you; the picture it destroyed was of your girlfriend, who the cat HATES! What a smart cat! Finally, you get up out of bed and head for the kitchen to feed the cat.
What’s really going on inside the cat’s mind: “The warm blanket cluster needs to feed me. The warm blanket cluster feeds me when I am hungry, why will it not feed me now? Oh look, the warm blanket cluster stirs, but still it doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to me. Maybe the warm blanket cluster is scared of the computer desk. I will fight the computer desk and kill the computer desk so the blanket cluster has nothing more to fear! Yes! That worked! The blanket cluster is now very tall and moving towards where the food is!”
Scenario 2: You are sitting on the couch and your cat hops up onto your lap from the floor. You stroke the cat’s fur for a few moments and then notice that your cat’s nails have grown a little too long. So you reach over to your coffee table, grab the nail clippers, and start trimming the cat’s nails. The cat seems to be playing along, it seems to like the idea of being groomed. It seems proud of its appearance, and willingly gives itself over to your efforts. You do a great job until you cut the very last nail just a little too deep and the cat shrieks and runs away.
What’s really going on inside the cat’s mind: “Hmm, I’m getting tired and cold here on the floor, I wonder if the couch has a big warm lump again. Oh yes, it does, I can see from here! Ah! That’s better—the big fat lump that warms me and soothes me and makes my fur move. Interesting, the lump seems to be hungry, it’s starting to eat my nails. One by one it eats my nails. That’s fine, it doesn’t hurt me none so I guess it can eat my nails as long as it stays warm. OUCH! Okay, now it wants to eat my whole paw–Not cool! I’m outta here (until I come back).”
Scenario 3: You walk through your living room and notice that your cat is sitting expectantly at the floor in front of your tall oak cabinet unit. It seems like the cat wants to play around on the unit’s top shelf (one if its favorite places to play). The cat stares up at the shelf with sad, longing eyes, occasionally making calculations for a clearly-impossible jump. The top shelf is a little out of your cat’s jumping range and you both know it. You smile, thinking that your cat is once again consciously manipulating you, getting you to pick it up and put it up there on the shelf. Which you do. What a smart cat!
What’s really going on inside the cat’s mind: “I want to be up there at the high place. Why can I not fly? Sometimes I can fly through the air, I can fly around the house. And other times the best I can do is to jump with my legs, but that’s not going to be good enough in this case. Why are my powers so inconsistent? Oh wait no they’re not! I’m flying! My powers seem to be back! To the top shelf I go! Made it!”