Did you see the news last week where a researcher in Japan determined that cats actually recognize their own name? Apparently, these sneaky animals have been faking that they don’t understand us all along. You might say the cat’s out of the bag.
Scientists found that our feline friends are able to tell their names apart from other words. The study shows that cats’ grasp of our words is closer to a dog’s than we think.
“There are so many studies about dogs’ ability to communicate with humans. We think it is important to show cats’ ability,” said study author Dr. Atsuko Saito, from Sophia University in Japan.
Cats hate to be compared to dogs. In fact, I would imagine there are cats reading this who just coughed up a fur ball in disgust. Cats consider themselves to be much more evolved than their canine counterparts. Whether or not this is correct, they truly are different from dogs in many ways.
For example, dogs fetch sticks for human enjoyment, and pull sleds for human competition. Have you ever heard of a team of tabbies winning the Iditarod?
When a dog gets hungry, it will degrade itself standing on its hind legs and begging, much to the amusement of the pet’s adoring owners. If a cat gets hungry, it will just go outside and suck down a robin or squirrel.
And speaking of going out of the house, if you accidentally swing open a door and smack a dog in the head, he will wag his tail, lick you and want to be sure you are not mad at him. On the other hand, should you ever inadvertently step on a cat’s tail, she will, in the form of a blood curdling howl louder than an F-35, let the people at the animal hospital eight miles away know you are abusing her.
Despite these differences, we now know cats and dogs have a similar ability to understand our words.
In other cat news, last week, we learned that Julian Assange’s cat might have played a role in the WikiLeaks founder getting bounced from the Ecuadorian Embassy.
As you know, Assange set up Wikileaks, which published confidential documents and images. To Assange’s supporters, he is a campaigner for truth. To his critics, he is a publicity seeker who has endangers lived by putting sensitive information into the public domain. To his cat, he is just another expendable owner.
Assange took in the cat, which he named Michi, early in his exile. Michi, known as Embassy Cat, became a social media sensation. At her peak, the animal had 30,000 Twitter followers and 6,000 Instagram followers.
Unfortunately, it seems the owner and pet had a falling out and as a result, Assange, the one with opposable thumbs in the relationship, drastically cut back on the cat’s social media posts. In response, Michi decided to trash the apartment, shredding furniture and leaving her own version of wiki leaks on the carpeting.
Assange’s hosts were less than impressed. According to an NPR report, the embassy implemented a series of rules for Assange, including the requirement to be responsible for the “well-being, food, hygiene and proper care of your pet.”
After seven years inside the embassy, Assange was arrested by British police on April 11, when Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said his country decided to withdraw Assange’s asylum status. Many observers suspect the cat was behind the expulsion.
There is speculation as to the whereabouts of Michi. For all we know, she could be in central Vermont awaiting the opening of the new Cat Café proposed for Barre.
Cat cafés started in Taiwan in 1998. While there are different models for these establishments, most cat cafés are businesses which are a cross between a coffee shop and a pet adoption center. Patrons of cat cafés pay a cover charge to play with cats while enjoying lattes and bakery items.
One of the issues with the cafés is that there are strict rules about separating felines from food. Not to raise the dander of cat lovers, but these animals do shed.
“Live animals are generally not allowed in a food service establishment,” said Andy Chevrefils from the Vermont Health Department. I’ll bet there are some lobsters right now looking for an attorney to exploit this loophole. Crustaceans aside, the cat café sounds like it might meet a real need in today’s world of divide and turmoil.
“Why not have a half-hour coffee break where I can sit down and pet a cat who’s going to make me feel at least a little better about life,” said Alexis Dexter, who is planning the Barre business.
If you visit the cat café and see a cat trying to tweet, say hi to Michi. She may ignore you, but don’t be fooled; she’ll know you’re talking to her.
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.