Izzie-6a: The Games

Two or three years ago I wrote some stories about our cat, Isabella, and mentioned that cats have the intelligence of a 2 or 3 year old child. Izzie had made up 2 games, “Chase” and “Hide and Seek”, back then, and she still enjoys playing both. Now, don’t be rolling your eyes. I know that pet owners are just like parents in that they think their “little one” is the cutest and smartest on the block. Don’t worry, this is not a challenge and I’m not trying to start a competition. I just want to share some of the things that Izzie comes up with because I think it’s interesting to see what a cat is capable of.

Games seem to take place at our house anytime between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM. Whenever Izzie (or Pat) gets bored, we may have a game. Izzie might be lying on the living room floor and suddenly jump straight up, spin around 180 degrees in the air, and then take off running down the hall. That means that Pat is supposed to jump up and run after her. Izzie might just take off down the hall and leave us to figure out that its play time.

Sometimes, Pat kicks off the action. She’s good at it and gets Izzie’s attention right away. Picture a classy-looking 77 year old woman, down on her hands and knees and facing off with a cat. Their eyes are locked and she begins stalking by moving forward a few inches at a time. Izzie’s eyes are unwavering as her nemesis moves closer and closer. Pat closes the gap and gets to the place where one more move would make it possible to reach out and grab Izzie. Izzie is ready and when she detects the slightest motion she springs aside and goes thundering down the hall. The chase is on! Pat jumps up and whoops and goes charging after her, yelling “Get that cat! Get that cat!” I do my part by clapping my hands and yelling “Git ‘er! Git ‘er!” Izzie will wait just inside one of the bedroom doors and when Pat gets close she will come barreling out and race back the other way. Sometimes as she runs past Pat she will reach out and slap her ankle as if to say, “I’m too quick for you, sister!” It’s funny to think that when Izzie is outside she can walk across a lawn covered with dry leaves and never make a sound but when she is playing on the carpet in the house, she can stomp her feet and sound like a herd of wild horses. 

Izzie has also come up with a “safe haven” scheme when they are playing Chase. If she thinks Pat is getting too close and might catch her, she jumps in her litter box. She stands there in it, with her mouth open in what we believe to be a grin and is pretty proud of herself for getting to the “no touch” zone. Pat always honors it and turns around and goes back the other way.

When Izzie first takes off running, it’s not clear which game she is going to play. That’s determined when Pat runs after her and they get to the end of the hall. If Izzie is in plain sight and charges back in the opposite direction then they are playing “Chase”. If Izzie has decided to play “Hide and Seek” this time, then she will be hiding. Pat starts yelling “Where’s that cat? where’s that cat?” It’s obvious where she is, because she will be behind a door, a stuffed chair, or under a bed and in all cases, her long, silky tail will be hanging out. Pat will pretend she doesn’t see her and wander around the room asking “Where’s that cat?” If Izzie is ready to be “found”, sometimes she will let out a little, squeaky meow to announce her location. Most of the time, she lets Pat start walking back up the hall and dashes out and wraps her arms around Pat’s ankle. Then she runs to the living room and prances around with that little “grin” on her face and acts real proud about being so clever.

Izzie and her ways provide us with a lot of fun and laughter. Each day with her is a pleasure.

Dave Thomas
January 13, 2015


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