Answer Your Cat’s Question Day (January 22)
Answer Your Cat’s Question Day was created to remind cat owners to evaluate their cat’s health and encourage them to talk to their veterinarian about the cat’s well-being. I agree that’s important but it’s more fun to take this day to actually answer cats’ questions.
What do your cats think about? Their next meal, cuddle time, and finding the perfect nap spot, for sure. But there must be more going on inside those curious minds. To help us understand I asked some cats at random if they would share a question they’ve been pondering for a long time. These are actual questions as posed by the cats, with responses provided by two dogs, a pony and a pig.
Q: “What is the earth made of?” The first cat to ask a question says he’s very interested in the natural world and how things work and has many more questions besides this one. He listens to everything and everyone to gather more knowledge. “I want to know all weird things”, satisfy his curiosity by learning all he can.
A: One of the dogs, a Pit Bull mix, feels the earth is “round, it’s a sphere. There’s rock in the center.” He knows this because “There’s mountains on top, they go all the way in” to the earth’s core.
A: The other dog is a small terrier who replies the earth is made of “ground and sand and swim water.” How is it held in place? “There’s more air on top that holds it down.”
A: Pony admits “I don’t know. It’s round and it’s hollow in the center. Some molten material fills it, that’s all I know.” He says he used to wonder this too and learned the answer by asking the question in his head. After thinking on it for a long time the answer came to him. Besides, “it feels soft underfoot, it must have a soft center.”
A: Pig feels the earth is made of “sunshine and warmth and love and sky.” The ground beneath us is made of “dirt and spiders and crawly things. It’s made up of bits and particles. The earth is HUGE.” In the middle “there’s a wheel that turns it, that spins it. The earth goes in circles.” He knows because “the sun and the moon pass us by.”
Q: “Why are there no trees in the sky?” This cat adores trees and plants and thinks the sky looks a little empty without them.
A: Pony: “They would have nothing to hold on to. They have no roots in the air!” He knows tree roots are long, thin, white, and go deep into the ground and that the trees use their roots to hang on.
A: Pit Bull also thinks it’s a silly question for a different reason. If trees were in the sky “where would they put the air?”
Q: “Why am I on this earth? Why am I not human?” He can’t understand why his family are all humans and he is not. He feels he doesn’t fit in and that he can’t participate fully in family life because of his species. He’s quite serious about wanting to learn the answer.
A: Pony’s advice to this cat is “You should know two things: there’s love, and there’s heaven/afterlife” and so it doesn’t matter what species you are. “You were placed to do your thing. Whatever you have to do, you do on earth”, you’re needed on earth for a reason even if you don’t know what that reason is. People were put here “by their choices”, they chose to be born as humans. “You’re the curious one, so you’re a cat.”
A: Pig also feels there’s “a purpose, a ‘plan-for’” in why cat came as a cat. We all have “a specialized purpose” in life and therefore need a specialized body to fulfill that purpose. His advice to cat is “You look to the stars and you ask ‘Why am I here?’ and they give you answers, clues you must follow”, and little by little the reason becomes clear.
A: Pit Bull has a practical view of why we’re here. “You go where you’re born. You go into the form you’re born.” Plain and simple. “There’s no use being sad” about not being a human. Anyway “a dog’s life is better than a human’s”. And being human isn’t necessarily something to be desired, it’s not all good. He points out in a whisper “Humans are the ones who kill us.”
That was some serious food for thought. We shifted our focus and I asked the cats if they have a question they’ve been pondering about another species.
Q: “Why do dogs bark?” Several cats wanted to know this. They don’t understand the point in making all that noise as cats can “be quiet and stealth around”.
A: Pony: “They’re trained to, by their humans, on purpose.” He feels people train their dogs to speak on command, then allow them to bark whenever they feel like it.
A: Pig: They do it “to scare the chickens.” Pig can see the purpose in that. What he doesn’t understand is why “dogs have the whole earth at their disposal and they howl at the moon!” Such a silly waste of energy in his view.
A: Pit Bull: “We use our mouths a lot, to warn.” Barking is used to communicate strength and dominance. Dogs bark “to show our teeth, to show we’re telling the truth”, to back up what they’re saying with their body language. Some insecure dogs bark “to feel more powerful than they are”. Another use is “to ward off intruders, to make them panic and flee”.
A: Terrier feels small dogs get overlooked and must bark to get people’s attention. “If you’re a big dog, you don’t have to”, people see you and pet you without you having to ask. Dogs of all sizes bark “to scare bad guys” and to warn of danger such as “‘Get up, go away, the house is burning!”
Q: A cat who’s learning how to interpret horse body language doesn’t understand the small twitches of a horse’s tail. She wants to know “What are you planning, thinking, when you move your tails like that?”
A: Pit Bull has spent some time near horses but he hasn’t figured it out either. He advises the safest thing is “You better run when they do that!” Be cautious and get away so you don’t get kicked.
A: Pony explains “I talk to you through my tail. If I put it straight up it means I’m playful. If it’s down (limp) it means I’m down (quiet, sad).” If a horse uses small tail twitches “it might mean he’s angry. It might mean he’s worried about you getting too close.” It can mean “Don’t sneak up on me!” or “Get out of my way, here I come!”
Q: Why do horses have flat feet? We (cats) have pads to help us move around.” To her, hooves look clunky and awkward. “You can’t CLIMB with those things.”
A: Pig shrugs. “Why would you want to climb?” Horses have flat feet “so they can dig in the ground”, paw to expose better tasting grass.
A: Terrier: “To stomp around. They like to stomp around.” If horses had pads on their feet “the pads would get sore” from all that stomping. Horses don’t need sensitive feet like dogs and cats because the ground they walk on “is all mud and packed dirt”.
A: Pony: “We could climb if we WANTED to.” He explains hooves are made the way they are “so they touch the earth.” He shows the sole supporting the weight and the frog sensing what’s on the ground. He explains the hooves are rounded so the horse can dig in and push off quickly in any direction.
Q: “Why are there no squirrels around in winter? Why do they roam the yard in summer? Do squirrels eat meat?” This young cat enjoys watching them.
A: Pony: In winter “they go underground” in burrows. “They dig for their food there. They have piles of it” stored in underground tunnels. “They eat food we drop.”
A: Pig: “They winter in the north, in packs. They eat things they pick from the ground.”
A: Terrier: “They’re protected, safe, in their caves/houses. They don’t want to get wet.” If they came out of hiding the squirrels’ coats would keep them warm except their feet would get wet and their ears would get cold.
A: Pit Bull: “They go up in the trees and hide (in winter) and prepare for when it’s warmer and they can come down again.” He shows squirrels have ‘sacks’ of food stored in their tree homes. He thinks squirrels do eat meat, “I’ve seen it. Peanuts and popcorn too. Anything they see. They see fallen things and they gather them.”
Q: “Are pigs and chickens alike?” The cat heard a person telling stories about them, how they both like to preen and keep themselves pretty and she wonders if they really are similar despite appearances.
A: Pig: “We’re ALL alike”, all species big and small. “We all have a heart. We all get along, we all play.” As for preening, he says pigs do like to keep themselves clean and when he does a good jobs of it “I oink when I’m fabulous!” He’s not sure how chickens could keep themselves as clean as pigs do. He knows dirt works its way under their tightly overlapping feathers. He’s watched how they bend their heads around when bathing but it’s still a mystery to him how they can get the dirt from underneath.
Q: “When birds fly high do they crash their head on the ceiling?” This kitty knows if she climbed to the top of the wall in her home she’d bump against the ceiling. She watches birds and has noticed they don’t seem to hit against anything no matter how high they fly.
A: Terrier isn’t sure about a ceiling in the sky but he does think wild birds have a sad life. Living outdoors means “you have room to roam but you’re all alone. They have nowhere to go, no home, so they fly around.”
A: Pony: “If they fly too high their wings might come off”. Birds know this and choose to fly below that threshold.
A: Pig: They don’t fly that high because if they did “they would run out of air”, he feels there’s less oxygen higher up. Instead “they flap their wings and go far sideways.” Pig knows birds are knowledgeable, “they move around a lot, they know things.” They soak up a lot of knowledge being in so many different environments.
The animals continually surprise me with their curiosity and intelligence. These snippets show a small sample of the range of awareness and knowledge that pets have about their world. I never tire of learning what the animals think, and I hope you enjoy reading their comments too.