Friday, January 27, 2006

Animal communication

Mary Beth’s comment brings back vivid recollections of a cat I had years ago. She was named Walden to pay homage to the part of Massachusetts where I lived at the time, and also because she was a bit simple. A simple life, in many ways.

Walden took as her mode of communications a small stuffed snowman finger puppet that someone gave me one Christmas. Mr. Snowman sat on the mantle in the living room, but every day it seemed, I would find him face down on the floor. Finally, I gave in and allowed Walden to claim Mr. Snowman as her own. It was then that I began to suspect that I might have underestimated her intelligence.

On the occasional day when I was home at eleven in the morning, kitty Walden would go hunting for Mr. Snowman and beat the stuffing out of him. She would throw him in the air, leap up and catch him between her front paws, then kick his belly with both hind legs, claws extended. Ow.

Mr. Snowman was not only her favorite playmate, he also became a mechanism for communication with me. When Walden was hungry, there would be Mr. Snowman, face down in the food bowl. And every evening at my accustomed bedtime, she would pick up Mr. Snowman, bring him into the room where I sat, and drop him at my feet. Then, like Mary Beth’s old cats, she would lovingly sing us all to bed.

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