News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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January 28, 2014

RONN MOTT: Cat Talk

I’d like to be able to speak “cat.” Not Lion or Cheetah, or even the North American Puma, just domesticated cat.  

I feel really stupid sometimes. They meow their heads off and I don’t know if they are hungry, wanting a treat, or if they want to go out. And when they want to go out, I would like to be able to tell them it is freezing cold and even cats with a lot of fur and high body heat will not enjoy the extreme weather. Of course, this misunderstanding always turns me up the loser.

I know there’s been an effort to learn to communicate with certain animals … dolphins, whales and chimps have learned sign language and can almost turn on a sensible conversation. But not my cats.

Now, the two young, male cats have learned to knock at the kitchen door and get the human beings inside to let them in. How they do this is rather simple. The door stop, whether it’s up or down, can be lifted up and knocked against the door. And when we hear this, we come and let them in.

I figure if they’re smart enough to knock, knowing they will be let in, the inability to understand their meows must be my fault. Magic, our short-haired black cat, communicates with the wife on a regular basis. The meows are “I’m hungry,” “I want a treat,” “I want outside,” or “I want to jump onto the sofa with you.” Obviously, the wife is smarter, or Magic is working harder at his communication skills when it comes to her. To say I don’t understand is an understatement.

It would be so nice if I could say, “Guys, just cool it. It’s too cold outside … we’ll make it up to you when it warms up.” No such luck. I know this is something mankind has searched for … this ability to speak to the animals, but we have not yet succeeded, in a total sense, so I guess we’ll have to press on.  

Spring is a few weeks away and with it will come those lazy days of warm temperatures and the kind of weather the cats really enjoy. I will not need to know explanations for as many things as I need to know in the freezing, arctic cold of winter.

The flip side of all of this is some of the things I can hear I may not want to hear. What kind of stuff is this you’re feeding me! You call this bed soft! How come the female cat gets more treats than I do? Look at that big, red bird out there. And so on and so forth.

I’m sure I’m not the only one that suffers the frustrations of not being able to tell their pet dog or cat it is just too, damn cold out there! That’s the reason I’ll really be looking forward to spring and warmer weather this year. Meow, meow, meow.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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