how smart are cats?

They are seemingly untrainable … you can get a dog to do anything, which isn’t true with cats (although Robin taught Six to play fetch). Does that mean cats are dumber than dogs, or does that mean dogs are dumber because they do stupid shit for people?

Many nights, Robin and I watch TV on the big screen in the attic. We’ll usually watch two episodes, but sometimes only one, or even occasionally three. Sometimes we start watching at 6:00, sometimes 7:00, sometimes even later.

When we watch, Starbuck and Six usually join us. Six doesn’t much like to be alone, so she usually follows us … Starbuck likes to sit on Robin’s lap.

Boomer rarely joins us. She spends much of her day sleeping on our bed, which she seems to consider her turf.

Now, I haven’t done a study, but anecdotally, the following seems to be true. When we are done watching for the night, Robin and I will chat for a bit, and then she’ll go downstairs while I watch the end of a ballgame or something. Given that we watch varying numbers of episodes, and that we start watching at varying times, there is no fixed schedule for when Robin will head downstairs. Last night it was around 9:00 … other times it’s closer to 10:00 … rarely, we’ll start early, watch one show, and be done around 8:00 or even earlier.

Here’s the thing. Robin and I both agree that Boomer seems to know when we are done watching. She comes upstairs about when the last episode is done and we’re chatting for a bit, as if to say, “OK, time to come downstairs, Robin!” I can understand why she does this … often, Robin will go to the bedroom and read, after we’ve watched TV, and Boomer likes to join her there. But I’ll be damned if I can figure out how she seems to know when it’s time to get Robin.

starbuck on shelf

sisters licking

happy birthday, six and boomer

They are six years old today. Boomer is bigger and prettier and lazier. Six is an idiot savant who can’t be lazy because her ADD keeps her busy all day and all night. While we got them from a rescue service, and thus I assume they are the feline equivalent of mutts, they exhibit many of the traits of Bengal cats, enough that it’s clear they are at least part Bengal, probably a big part.

Bengal cats are athletic. Six is big enough that Robin often calls her Fat Cat, but she’s quite nimble. A favorite trick of hers is to climb onto a kitty condo and wait for Robin to walk by, at which point she leaps onto Robin’s shoulders.

Bengals like water. We have never had a cat that liked water. Until now. When we take showers, the two cats come into the bathroom, with Six entering the walk-in shower and Boomer climbing up the side so we can drip water on her. If they hear water in any faucet in the house, they will come running. If you want to occupy them for awhile, you can just turn the water on very gently, and they’ll climb in the sink and play with it. When Robin gets her spray bottle to spritz her hair in the morning prior to brushing it, Six will come, squint her eyes, and wait for Robin to squirt water on her face.

Six plays fetch. She really is the goofy one of the two. There are these two socks that she brings me. Only a specific two … she never brings any other socks. Those socks go up and down the stairs every day. She is especially prone to bringing them to me when she notices Robin is out of the house. Meanwhile, she plays fetch with Robin. Robin has even trained her to drop the fetch toy in a box.

Neither of these cats are particularly affectionate, although Boomer does sleep every night snuggled up to Robin. When Robin works at home, Six becomes her “administrative assistant”, laying across the work desk, getting in the way, knocking stuff onto the floor, “accidentally” pressing keys or the mouse. But she’s not a great one for sitting on your lap.

I’d say the water is the weirdest thing about them, but it must be said, Six does a dozen or so weird things every day. We’ve had cats our entire married life … we’ve seen a lot of them come and go. And we’ve heard enough stories from other people, and we’ve watched the YouTube videos, and we know that everyone thinks their cat is special. Bengal owners KNOW their cats are special. And with Six, “special” most likely refers to “special education”, which is where she’d be if she went to school.

Here are a few representative pictures, all of which I’ve probably posted here before. First, a look at them giving each other a bath. Even after six years, they get along like good sisters:

bath time

Here is the recent picture I posted of Boomer and Robin sleeping at one in the morning:

boomer and robin sleeping

And here is Six in her role as administrative assistant:

administrative assistant

six, administrative assistant

Everyone thinks their cats are weird, and everyone posts pix of their cats online, and everyone gets bored of looking at pix of cats, but I feel the need to document this.

Six is the weirdest cat we have ever had, and this is the latest weirdness. She has apparently decided that if Robin is working from home, she needs an assistant. And so, on those days when Robin is in her home office, Six climbs on the desk and lays there pretty much until the end of the workday. It’s especially odd since Six seems to have ADHD … she is very easily distracted … but in her new role as administrative assistant, she remains vigilant.

administrative assistant

meeting an old friend for the first time

Recently I passed my 6th anniversary of being on meds for anxiety and depression. I don’t talk about them much, because they seem to work, but they don’t have such a huge effect that I’m all that much different on the outside. Those meds are just meds, alongside all the others I take for other, physical, problems.

Back on March 26, 2005, I posted an entry titled “zombie” where I asked if anyone had information on SSRIs … I was about to make a decision on whether to go to the doctor for meds, and wondered, “If you take meds to get rid of lesser personal characteristics, how do you keep from losing the better parts of your person as well?”

A couple of days later my friend Jonathan posted a reply. In it, he wrote about a cat he had that pissed on things, plus Jonathan and Carrie were trying to sell their house, and you don’t want a house to smell like cat pee when it’s on the market, so they took their vet’s advice and put the cat on Paxil. It worked … as Jonathan said, “His meow changed slightly, and otherwise it's like he's the same cat minus the pissing.” At one point, they decided to take the cat off the Paxil, and the cat started peeing again. So “now he's on it for life. Yes I know that's fucked up. But the house sold in one day.”

I loved this story. I saw myself as the cat, peeing on everything, pissing people off, you might say.

My brother posted another reply about Prozac that was very helpful. He said that Prozac “didn't mean I just was able to ignore my ‘social duties’, just that they didn't control me anymore.” (Rereading that, I have to say, that is a perfect description of how it turned out for me.)

Finally, a good friend pointed out in an email that “Being miserable and crazy/funny/fill in the blank is overrated.”

I took their advice; six years later, I’m still on the meds, and, as I say, my brother described it perfectly. It’s working for me. I’m not advertising their use for others, just talking about myself.

Well, last night, we were at Jonathan and Carrie’s house, and who do you think I met? Yep … the peeing cat! He’s still alive … I saw him with my own eyes. I felt like I owed him my life. I don’t think he even knew I was there.

Which is probably how it should be.


Just got an app for my Android called PicSay, which leads me to one of those awful blog posts where I include cute pix from the cute app. It sells itself as a goofy picture modifier, although there are many PhotoShop type features, as well. Here are three examples of what it can do. First, I take a photo of Robin with a look on her face I’ve seen many times, and add a word balloon:

robin balloon

Next, I try to make Six look sillier than usual. I don’t really succeed, but here’s the picture, anyway:

six eyes

Finally, here is my answer to everyone who complains about how I look in family photos:

masoo smiling