This is the first post in a new category, Animal Intelligence, which I’ve started to separate posts about how animals see and perceive from ones about stroke, disability and cognition.
I’ve often seen a very large ginger cat in a lane near where I live. Once or twice I’ve mistaken it for a fox, because the cat has a large bushy tail. It’s quite shy and has always run quickly across the lane and dived into the hedge. No desire to be friends, although I’ve tried.
This evening things had changed. The cat came up and made a BIG fuss. It’s a huge animal, with long thick fur, and I think it is a Maine Coon Cat or a Norwegian Forest Cat. I don’t know these breeds well enough to tell, but this gives you an idea of what the cat I met looks like.
Not quite so large, but almost. I didn’t try to pick him up, because it was raining, but the cat stretched up like a dog and made me muddy anyway. I spent some time with cat and he was most affectionate, we had a lot of rapport.
So have I suddenly become irresistible to cats that shunned me before? A sort of reversal of Thomas Wyatt’s famous line
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
Well here is my theory, and it’s a testable one. Tonight I had a bad right ankle, nothing at all to do with stroke, but the result of wear and tear and many sprains in younger days. So I was using a walking stick, with a spiked metal tip, and it has a special ring as I walk: tock… tock… tock… tock…
I think the cat lives in a home with a family member who walks with a stick that makes a similar noise on the pavement, and he responded to the sound. (After the ice was broken we were friends of course.)
Photograph: Alexandra Thiry, from Wikimedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maine_coon_red_tabby_white_of_10_kg.jpg