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Is her cat reading her mind?
Dear Dr. Spiegel, I am writing to you about my six year old Bombay cat, "Baby." I have had cats all my life, but never one like him. His intelligence never ceases to amaze me. I am asking you if you can tell me if this is intelligence, instinct, or extrasensory perception. My vet told me we were bonded and we were experiencing telepathy. For instance, when he is out and I want him to come home, I mentally think, "Come Home, Baby." Within five minutes he is knocking at my back door. It never fails. One night my female cat, Mindy, got trapped in a room downstairs in the basement. I'm crippled and in a wheelchair, so there was no way I could free her. After three attempts of Baby running up and down the steps crying and tapping me on the leg to go down and free her, I finally told him there was no way I could get down those steps. He stood there and looked at me, then turned and ran down the steps to the basement. Minutes later Mindy came running up the steps crying all the way. I knew then how he freed her because I've seen him do this before. He stands on his hind legs and puts his front paws on the knob, slides them slightly on the knob and the door opens. I now call him my handyman. He loves to drink water out of the bathroom sink, so I always fill the sink before I go to bed. The sink has a plunger to seal the water. So one night the water was running out slowly. I made sure the stopper was as tight as I could get it but it dripped making the drip drip noise. Baby listened to it, then he stood in the water and put both feet on the stopper, stood there for a minute then jumped. My sink hasn't leaked since. There are so many stories that I could tell about him. One more story. I've always heard that cats know you by smell rather than sight. Is this true? One night we were having company and my hair didn't look good so I decided to wear my wig, which I rarely do. We were entertaining our guests when Baby appeared at our front door. [I need to say here that Baby was my husband's cat. He always sat on his lap, and never mine.] When my husband let him in, Baby ran into the house and stopped dead still in front of me. Before I could stop him, he jumped onto my lap, reached up with his paw, and lifted the wig right off my head and ran into the kitchen with it. Not only did these people laugh, but they still laugh whenever I see them. Now he had never seen me in a wig before. What prompted him to do this? Did he really see me and think the wig was alien to me? My curiosity has gotten the best of me. Is he really intelligent? or is it something like the vet suggested... extrasensory perception? Sincerely, T.B., New Castle
Dear T.B., Thanks for this most interesting and entertaining letter. There is seldom a client I see, or a person I have spoken with, who doesn't have some amazing tale or two to tell about their animal. Whether or not there is some "extra" sensory perception playing into this, I cannot say. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the intelligence and perceptive capacities of domestic animals, and many wild animals as well, is vastly under appreciated by humans in general. Cats recognize you by sight, not smell. So the change in your appearance via the wig could certainly have prompted Baby's response. It would be interesting to know if when you think "Come Home, Baby" whether you do anything else which you may not have mentioned or are not aware you are doing, like going to the door, or looking out through the curtains, etc., which may be perceived by sight or sound (rather than thought) on the part of your cat. Intelligence and good instincts are highly adaptive tools. All animals have them in varying degrees. Some will certainly have more than others. And it sounds as though your Baby has a good share of both.