It occurred to me today that accommodation is a two-way street with cats, probably more often than we credit them for. I was home sick today, and re-reading Naomi Novik’s In His Majesty’s Service at the dining room table, when Callisto jumped up to say hi and get some pets. I scritched her into a happy cat puddle in no time, and spent several blissful minutes reading and giving her forehead and cheek pets. After a while, though, she became restless, got up, and walked to the edge of the table, looking ready to jump off. I, however, wasn’t quite ready to give up my fluffy buddy petting time yet. (Fluffy buddy petting time is almost certainly the title of a porn video somewhere. Bet you a dollar.)
Anyway, I made a plaintive complainy noise that sounded kind of like “Marr!”
She immediately turned around and looked at me.
“Marr!” I said again, and petted the spot on the table where she’d been lying just a few moments before.
And she came back, laid back down, and submitted to a couple more minutes of scritches, though she got more and more and more restless, evidenced by her tail (whip-whip-whip-whip-whip) and her increasingly aggressive nibbles on my fingers as I petted her. And then she plain couldn’t take it any more: she jumped up, made a grumbly noise at me, and leapt off the table. But it struck me then that Callisto, for many moments, put up with an activity that wasn’t particularly rewarding for her in response to nothing more than me making nonsense sounds and gesticulating at her.
I’m not saying that my cats don’t ignore me when it suits them. (Most creatures do—humans are most certainly not exempt.) I’m amazed at how two very different species can find ways to express affection that are intelligible to each other, and I think people who talk about how cats do things solely when it suits them either:
- Don’t know cats very well;
- Have dicks for their cat companions;
- Haven’t been paying very close attention to how their cats accommodate them in their own feline way; or
- Are falling prey to confirmation bias.
Or some delicious combination.
Cats: more caring than they get credit for! (Admittedly a low bar to clear, at least as far as pop culture is concerned.)