Experts warn us that it’s wrong to anthropomorphize animals, that is, we should not attribute human sentiments and behavior to critters of the wild, like thinking your Pom-eranian can actually guess the answers on “Jeopardy!”
However, it sure seemed like a compassionate human gesture when I found that partially eaten cherry in my chair outdoors the other day. I can’t help but think that the robin who dropped it there, possibly offering me dessert, was thanking me for not letting the cats out. Robins are thoughtful that way.
Actually, I have been keeping my cats in as much as possible to help protect the birds and to keep them from using my garden as a litter box. The cats have been very unhappy about this, and they sit at my feet while I’m reading the newspaper and make faces at me.
Sometimes I hear them talking behind my back. I don’t speak or understand cat language that well, about as well as German, but I know they’re talking about me when I hear them say, “Mama,” although it sounded more like “Mew-ma.” There’s no denying that cats can be catty sometimes.
Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, one of the cats, Mickey by name, slipped outside the other day and didn’t come back home for hours and hours.
I started to worry after a while and took several trips around the neighborhood trying to locate him. “Mickey, Mickey,” I called, but even though I could not hear a peep, I was sure he was hiding out under somebody’s garage, sniggering under his breath that he was causing me so much grief and paying me back for keeping him inside the house.
Part of the reason I was so worried is because I know some people can be cruel to cats. I have heard of people who go around kidnapping cats and using them to train their bloodhounds to tree bigger cats, like cougars.
First of all, what kind of person wants to tree and capture a cougar? From what I hear, they make terrible housepets; they often eat the other animals in the household, including the humans.
Second of all, what self-respecting bloodhound would chase after somebody’s pet cat? Dogs were meant to chase tennis balls and squirrels up a telephone pole and that’s about it. How would they like it if somebody’s pet cougar treed them?
Back to Mickey. It was nearly nightfall before he returned home, acting like nothing was amiss and expecting supper, which, of course, he got. I questioned him severely to find out where he had been all day. He just smiled and walked away, leaving me frustrated and bewildered.
This is the reason experts tell you not to anthropomorphize animals — they’ll just make a monkey out of you.
Hedberg may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 983-2326.