Friday, May 11, 2007

Cat whisperer

YouTube, aka,, has this video which more or less illustrates the content of my conversations with the Hemodynamic Cat, except this guy has two.

Ms Hemodynamics is off on vacation with her mom, so I am staying in the Hemodynamics HQ with the Hemodynamic Cat. The Hemodynamic Cat is a Siamese cat, and like many others who share her ancestry, she has a strong personality. She also seems to have strong opinions which she expresses quite forcefully with sometimes unstoppable loud meowing.

The meow-screeds are sometimes especially unrelenting when Ms Hemodynamics is away. She was Ms Hemodynamics' cat before I came into the picture, and initially waged an incredibly stealthy and devastating terrorist campaign against me to try to stop me from dislodging her from her place as Ms Hemodynamics' BFF. We get along very nicely now that she realizes that even if I dislodged her from her pillow, I would never dislodge her from Ms Hemodynamics' heart. Still, I think she is just slightly more uncomfortable with me, so that she can not decide whether she wants me to reassure her in Ms Hemodynamics' absence, or whether she just wants Ms Hemodynamics to return now and wants to express her opinion about this, or whether she would prefer that I leave her alone to think about Ms Hemodynamics on her own.

This can sometimes become upsetting. When I can not seem to satisfy the gnawing discontent in the Hemodynamic Cat's soul, and she keeps yelling despite my best efforts, I sometimes wonder about the wisdom of becoming a father. (Her meowing can become intensely distressing, and seems to have evolved to resemble the cry of a human baby. It takes real determination to ignore it.)

There are a few tactics which work, but I've recently discovered one that works the best, but is kind of distressing. And it reminds me of a nasty doctor trick.

When cats are content, they make a big long blink of the eyes. And for cats, this signal is contagious, like a yawn, and it seems to be strongly communicative. At some point in the last two days I started doing this to the HC when she was on a tear of yelling. And most of the time she has this reaction:
1. Looks at me insistently, and meows one or two more times loudly.
2. As I continue slowly blinking, she sits and looks down at the floor in a kind of gesture of disappointment, like when we leave the apartment and she realizes that we are leaving.
3. Meows a few more times, but with a quieter, sadder, hoarser tone.
4. Gives up and walks away.

In other words, I think I've figured out how to communicate in cat terms: "I'm content. What's your problem?"

Which, really, is not very nice. It's like when people come in to a doctor's office all freaked out and worried and the doctor says, "I'm not worried at all. You are 100% healthy." And then won't elaborate.

I started feeling a little bad, and now I resolved that there have to be many repetitions of "pick cat up, cat purrs, cat wriggles out of my arms, cat walks around the house, cat comes back and starts yelling again" before I try this tactic. After all, since she's yelling, I'm not at all content. And it's not nice to lie--especially to cats.

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