Friday, January 13, 2012

A Friday the 13th Tale: Crossing the Line

This tiny tale has no spook factor except, perhaps, for its starring black feline. (And truth be told, when you stepped close to her, you could see she was more auburn than black.)

A purebred Sable Burmese, she entered my husband’s life after being abandoned by a second set of human “guardians.” When my husband’s life expanded to include me and a couple of other cats, her indignation rang loud and clear. She kept to herself and was easily annoyed by everyone around her. She had a range of strident, nails-on-a-blackboard vocalizations that we all dreaded and, as she aged, she added barking to this repertoire.

One evening we were watching television. The two younger cats were amusing themselves elsewhere and, in a rare moment, the Burmese deigned to join us. We gave her a treat—the last bit of yogurt on a spoon. Placing the spoon in a bowl, we set the treat on the floor for her.

Heaven! She was all over that spoon! We’d made her one very happy kitty.

But then she made such a racket clanging the spoon against the bowl that we couldn’t hear the television. As we turned to watch her, she stopped. In the quiet, she uttered one of her signature “Hrrmphs” and next, as if it was so-ooo-oo beneath her, she picked up the spoon with her right front paw, brought it to her tiny mouth, and licked the last bit off—the bit that had resisted her during all that noise.

My husband and I looked at one another, then back at the cat. She returned the spoon to the bowl and, satisfied, walked away.

We witnessed it only once, but it was enough to convince us that the Burmese was capable of anything—speaking five languages, roller-skating, leading Special Ops. Of course, these are mere Human activities and she crossed the line only when she deemed it absolutely necessary.

Animals are a great deal smarter than humans give them credit for. Just ask the Burmese. But don’t expect an answer.

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