I once read that a cat will have the intelligence of a two to three year old child. I believe that. Both learn quickly and the first things they learn are those that are good for them. To guess what they are trying to talk about you can rule out politics, world affairs, and religion. In other words, it’s generally going to be me, me, me. I had two experiences the other day that were based on two little girls trying to entertain themselves.
Our great grand-daughter, Quetzal, will be 2 ½ years old this month. She has been using just one word at a time like “Mama” or “Dada” but recently decided to start putting several words together. However, instead of going from words to sentences she jumped from words to paragraphs. I admire her ambition but her vocabulary hasn’t grown fast enough to support it. Yesterday, I answered the phone and all I heard was a little girl speaking gibberish. I picked out the words “book” and maybe “school”. She stopped to take a breath and I jumped in with “Is this Quetzal?” She took off again with one of her excited word storms. I wasn’t picking up much but interrupted with “are you playing with your dog?” In a stroke of genius I had decided that I could identify her through her dog. She was chattering again so I interrupted again with my brilliant “what is your dog’s name?” Well, that really energized her and I was able to pick out the word “dog” but didn’t hear any name. About this time I’m starting to hear a more mature voice in the background. “Where’s your Mama” I said. “In the kitchen” she answered very distinctly. “Let me talk to her”, I say. In a few seconds I recognize Michelle’s voice as she says “hello”. “Your kid just called me” I said. Michelle recognized my voice and laughed. “I was busy in the kitchen and she got bored and said she was going to call somebody. I guess she wasn’t kidding” says Michelle. We talked a few minutes and hung up. I don’t see well enough to use a cell phone but Pat can do all that stuff. I asked her how a little girl who can’t read can call people on the phone. Pat explained that Quetzal had learned to turn on the phone and bring up the “Contacts” list by watching her parents. You can scroll through the list and by touching a name can bring up a profile page for that individual. If the owner of the phone has been diligent in putting together the profile, it will contain a picture of the individual. Quetzal recognizes all of us from the many Skype calls we have made so she just thumbs through the pictures until she finds someone she wants to talk to. Quetzal and her Grandpa Russ are pretty tight and I guess she was driving him nuts with her phone calls at work and any time of day. Michelle had to remove his picture from the phone so he could have some peace.
Isabella or Izzie the cat is our next communicator. I can certainly attest to the fact that cats are as smart as toddlers. They generally communicate in more subtle ways than kids and you have to be alert to their body language, the twitching of the ears and tail and their overall demeanor.
Izzie has decided that she is ready to talk. Like Quetzal, she’s not expanding from words to sentences. She’s jumping straight from words to paragraphs. She used to express herself with just one meow but now she cuts loose with a string of them and tells the whole story. It goes “meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, and meow”. And, it’s just like listening to Quetzal in that I don’t understand a word she is saying.
The other day after I got the phone call from Quetzal, Izzie tried her new vocabulary on me. I should tell you how this incident developed. Pat was working in the kitchen and Izzie came in and sat down next to the sliding glass door to the patio. Izzie meowed once to say that she wanted to go outside. Being an “inside” cat and not to worldly regarding coyotes and fast-moving traffic we don’t let her out by herself. We have to put the harness on her and attach the leash and then be prepared to follow her as she explores. Pat was busy so she just told Izzie to “wait a minute”. Izzie gave her another “meow” and got the same response from Pat. Well, Izzie blew her top. Her ears went back, her eyes narrowed, and she read the riot act to Pat. It’s coming out like a machine gun…meow, meow, meow, meow, and meow. Then she got all stiff-legged and stomped out of the kitchen.
Meanwhile, I’m in at the computer, blissfully ignorant of what has transpired between Pat and Izzie. Izzie comes in and jumps up on the desk, walks up and turns to face me and cuts loose with some sad story and the words are coming a mile-a-minute, just like with Quetzal, only they are in “Cat” language and I don’t understand that any better than “Baby” talk. Meow, meow, meow, meow, and meow. I can see that she is terribly upset so reach my hand up to stroke her back. She dodges my hand and jumps down from the desk and huffily stomps toward the door. As she reaches the door she looks back over her shoulder at me which is always a signal that I should follow her. So, I get up out of my chair and take off after her. She leads me down the hall, looking over her shoulder a couple of times to make sure I’m following and then goes into the kitchen and over to the door to the patio. About this time Pat bursts out laughing and says “I wouldn’t do what she wanted so she chewed me out and stomped over to you and told on me. Then, she convinced you to get up and follow her to the door so you could take her out. You talk about a spoiled brat!”
Well, there you have it. Two young entities, still novices as communicators, but both thinking they are really laying down some words. I admire their efforts but can’t understand a thing they are saying.
March 30, 2014