Monday, 10 August 2009

MULTIPLY United Friends Challenge #169: Human Language Crash Course for Felines

Potashtam's Challenge

An animal that you know, or your pet, learns to talk.
Describe how they learnt and a conversation you then have with them.

“Now this looks like an interesting task Mrs. Human.”

My big black long furred overweight cat Nera was poking her nose into my computer again.

“What do you mean Nera? I just have to tell everyone how I taught you and your litter sister Tabby to speak and understand what I say.”

“Huh, that I don’t laugh. You taught us what to say? Mrs. Human I don’t remember Tabby and I sitting down and you taking pains to explain verbs, nouns and adjectives to us. It was just learning by doing as far as we cats are concerned.”

Nera was looking at me with her needle like stare, waiting for my further words so I continued.

“Nera what was the first word that I taught you.”

“Let’s just say Mrs. Human that the word we most often heard when we took over your place was “NO”. You said it so often that it just had to stay in our sensitive feline ears.”

“Nera is right” said my short haired striped cat Tabby, who just arrived on the scene. “I remember that you were always saying No when we first arrived and took charge.”

“You took charge! Tabby, Nera, what was the first things you did when you arrived? You sharpened your claws on the carpet and that is definitely No.”

“Mrs. Human” said Nera “that was part of the taking over process. We didn’t mean it personally, we were just leaving our wonderful perfume in certain places to be sure that you knew who this place now belonged to.”

“Nera is right.” Tabby always supported Nera when she said something.

“But cats, I could not have you making holes in the carpet.”

“But you said NO rather loudly Mrs. Human, and so we learnt the word NO. You also said NO when we circled down onto your bed for a comfortable sleep. You even said NO when it was human feeding time and we hopped onto the table to see if we could eat it as well. Our life at the beginning seemed to be a complete NO. Your body language was also quite clear.”

“You are right Nera, as always" said Tabby. "If it is something us cats understand without having to learn, it is body language. We grow up with it from the first lick our mother gave us. Mrs. Human you never licked us. If you did that at the beginning the case would have been clear and we would not have had to learn these stupid human words.”

“Sorry to disappoint you Nera and Tabby, but we humans do not lick each other. We have other ways and means of showing affection.”

Nera looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face and her and Tabby rubbed noses together.

“Mrs. Human” said Nera in an asking tone “that is one of those words where Tabby and I still have problems.”

“Which word do you mean?” I asked


“Affection is when you like someone.”

“Like someone?” questioned Tabby. “What is liking, explain please.”

“Tabby, Nera I like you both although you can be a bit difficult sometimes.”

“Difficult? Tabby do you understand what she is talking about?”

“Not really Nera, I would suggest that you stay with the basics Mrs. Human.”

“What are the basics?”

“Something like eat, sleep, smell, eat, tuna fish, chicken, bird, mouse. Sorry I said “eat” twice, but just to underline its importance in the language. You know the words that mean something to a feline. All those other words like … um…..”

“Tabby wants to say that we need no unnecessary words and that even includes NO. We just learn the important things to get us through life. After all our human servants have to understand our needs.”

“But Nera, Tabby, I notice you can always express your feelings in our language when necessary.”

“That is exactly what we mean Mrs. Human. No good learning things that are superfluous, we just need the rudimentary words to get what we want.”

“Well that was a long word, rudimentary.”

“Mrs. Human we are not stupid. We store these things to make sure we are understood. By the way we would prefer it when you and Mr. Human would remain in one language. It can get confusing when you speak two different languages.”

“You notice that as well, very good.”

“Of course we notice that. You speak to us in one human language and suddenly you change into another. It is a good job you complement it with body talk now and again. And something else Mrs. Human, Tabby and I would be pleased if you would not raise your voice to us. We cats have sensitive ears.”

“I never raise my voice Nera.”

“Mrs. Human, I can understand Nera’s point of view” said Tabby. “You sometimes shout at me as well; always when Nera or myself make ourselves comfortable on the armchair in the evening. That was when we learnt the word “move” and sometimes you even gave us a push. Cats do not raise their voices but just give a swipe with their paw to the offender.”

“Thank you Tabby, yes you are right; nothing more annoying that having a nice cat nap and you are told to move; quite insulting for two noble felines such as we are. So you see how degrading it is to have the first two words in a foreign language being “no” and “move” and Nera stamped her paw on the ground just to make her point.

“But Nera, I like the word “come”. That usually means that food is ready, although the noise of the can opener does just as well” added Tabby

“Actually Mrs. Human, I don’t see the use for all these words really; actions speak much louder and are more precise. The opening of a can means food, opening the door means you can go out, and opening a cage means a visit to the vet.”

“I don’t like that last one Nera.”

“Neither do I” answered Nera.

I decided it was time to end the conversation. Did I say conversation, I sometimes wonder if it was worth the effort to demonstrate to these two felines how to speak.

“Between you and me Tabby" continued Nera, "I think Mrs. Human is right. We cats got on for thousands of years without speech, body talk shows all, with a meow now and again just to keep the voice box lubricated; seems to me that those humans don’t understand each other either sometimes.”

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