Friday, November 17, 2006

Attention Demanding Mammals

Last night it was cold, although not as cold as it will be as winter sets upon us. Still Alex made several demands to go outside. Each time I opened the door for him, he sat and stared, but refused to go out. Of course, an open door allows expensive heat to escape from my house. So when he refused to step out I shut the door until, after a few minutes, Alex would stick his claws into my leg and, after getting my attention, go to the door, which I would open, and through which he would stare. This event repeated itself several time during the evening.

Alex has always seemed to me to be unique. You must realize that he is the first cat who has ever owned me; I am more accustomed to living with a dog than a cat. People own dogs; cats own people. If a dog wants something, it may bark or run to the outside door or stand forlornly by its dinner dish and water bowl. There are acceptations, of course, including my old dog, Muffin, who was a true con artist. Someday soon I shall share stories about Muffin.

Alex is not a con artist. He just makes demands and for the most part, I have no idea what he wants. Being a cat, he is usually reluctant to inform me. Or, perhaps as it was with my ex-wife and certain other females of my acquaintance, Alex may have no idea what he wants until, after harassing me enough, he and I stumble upon it. I have previously told the story (Rain, rain, go away) of his reluctance to accept that the fact that, if it is raining outside the front door, it is usually also raining outside the back door. I have also suggested that that, where outside and water is concerned, he may be not completely sane (My Master is Non Compos Mentis).

But I digress from my hypothesis. Perhaps Alex and Muffin are not the only mammals (other than Homo sapiens, which are a given) who use manipulations to gain what they want. For example, there is Panbanisha the bonobo, a resident of the Great Ape Trust of Iowa. According to a story, twice in the past two months Panbanisha set off a fire alarm to obtain the attention of the people who were ignoring her. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, the lead scientist at the Great Ape Trust, has explained to Panbanisha that she can cause problems by pulling the lever that sets off the alarm and Panbanisha has promised not to repeat her prank. I’ll not go into further detail about this mammal; you may click this link and read the story yourself. (Be sure to watch the video).

So I was mistaken in believing that Alex is unique. Other mammals also learn that they can manipulate us intelligent humans. The problem is that I, as an “intelligent human,” have not learned ways to prevent my cat from manipulating me. And I suggest that, if the folks at the Great Ape Trust do not find a way to protect the fire alarm lever from Panbanisha, she’ll pull it again, even though she has promised that she will not.


  1. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh believes she can change a monkey's behavior by reasoning with him?

  2. Hi, Nick! Great post! I enjoyed the links to the older posts, too. I love hearing about Alex and would love to hear about Muffin as well.

  3. Some times in the not knowing lies the joys.Life would be so monotonous if we had all the answers if we knew everything and had nothing to fetch for fend for and find for.Don't you think?

  4. I'm looking forward to your dog stories about Muffin.

  5. Panbanisha looks like my ex-girlfriend. Acts like her, too.

  6. Alex's actions sound about like a bad grandchild. :) ec

  7. You are certain that Alex isn't female, aren't you?

  8. Alex sounds just like a typical cat. They have us wrapped around their little paws ... they know what they want, and use their wiles to get us to do what they want, when they want it, and not before !! Haven't you ever heard of "Dogs have owners, Cats have staff !!".. Too true !!
    Have a great week.
    Take care, Meow