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Archive for July 29th, 2007

luther5-06-0011.jpg“Scientists are seeing evidence of higher mental abilities in a wider range of animals than previously imagined” says an article in Parade Magazine. They aren’t willing to concede certain intelligence until proven, however.  I was really getting into this article when a cardinal started banging at the living room window. Was she one of those who flitted from limb to limb staring at us through the kitchen window earlier? Could the bird feeder be empty already? I went to the bedroom to change shoes to go outside. Thump, thump. Now she’s at the bedroom window.  “Just a minute,” I shout.

Okay, birdfeeder is full and birdbath is freshened. Now where is that Parade Magazine?  Here we go.  “Do elephants care?” it asks. Scientists determined they just might show empathy. They surmised this by learning that they recognize themselves in a mirror. Uh, oh, what do I hear in the bathroom? I throw the article down again and see what’s amiss. Good, nothing, except Luther, our Pixie Bob cat, is standing on my sink hoping for a drip of water. He stares at me in the mirror, his eyes pleading for his treat.  Okay, okay.

Now back to the article. When faced with their mirror image “monkeys, cats and rats react as though they are encountering another member of their species.”  I think back to Luther and Emma’s first experience with a mirror. They got their hackles up at first, then swayed, moved and finally touched noses with Mirror Cat, who hasn’t been an issue since. This self-recognition, according to scientists, indicates an animal is capable of empathy. Empathy? A cat? I wonder.  Luther hides under the bed at the sound of thunder or motors of all but one. When Jerry’s breathing machine starts up, Luther leaves the comfort of his nap and lies beside his feet until the procedure is over in about fifteen minutes. Ah well, he’s a cat. Can’t be empathy.

Here in the sidebar we see this: “One study found cat’s power of recall to be superior to that of monkeys and orangutans.” They got that right. You think that unsheathed swat was from out of the blue? Think back. What did you do hours before that your cat didn’t like—or days? Then there is this from Parade. “There are few lab studies of cats, because it’s hard to get a cat to perform on cue for a reward. Another sign of intelligence, perhaps?”  I’ll take it one step further than that. While they have decided dogs learn from humans, I, little me, have determined that humans learn from cats. Uh oh, gotta go. Luther is standing at the front door by his leash and requesting we go for a walk. Cats may not be trainable, but they certainly are good trainers.

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