Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Does your cat meow back to you when you talk to it?

My two cats don’t, but some do.

I’ve had cats that did. And I could introduce you to one that does.

This is Sally. She’s the official mascot at the Brookstown Inn in Winston-Salem, N.C., one of my favorite hotels in the area. I was doing some work for them a year and a half ago, and we’ve ‘spoken’ quite a few times.

The Historic Brookstown Inn - Timeline

Sally is a hotel cat, and the almost perfect hotel cat at that.

(One of the things The Algonquin in New York is famous for — besides the Round Table and the $10,000 martini — is an even more famous hotel cat, Matilda. She gets lots of fan mail — the hotel g.m.’s administrative assistant and ‘chief cat officer’ helps her out with answering it, since she ‘doesn’t have thumbs and can’t hit the space bar’ — she has her own Facebook page, and they have a big birthday party for her every year in the ballroom.)

Sometimes, Sally likes to make new friends, and will come up and introduce herself (or you can approach her and introduce yourself) and you can pet her. Sometimes, she’s a bit standoffish and wants to be by herself (whether hidden away somewhere, curled up in a chair in a more isolated guestroom corridor, or in plain view in the lobby) and left alone — well, she is a cat, after all; and she has to sleep sometime.

And sometimes, she just wants to talk.

She’ll walk up to you, look up at you, and say, meow. And you reach down to give her a few rubs, but she’ll back away one or two feet, then turn around and look up at you and meow, again. And if you meow back at her, she’ll do it again, and again. This can continue for several minutes, if you’re willing to hang out with her and play the game.

She and I have had several ‘conversations’ . . . :-)

I’ve seen very few cats — and my late cat, Ralph, that I had for nearly ten years until we lost him a little over five years ago, was one of those — who could carry on a conversation with you, even if you spoke English instead of ‘cat’. He’d walk up to you and meow, and you’d say, “Oh, yes?”, and he’d meow again, and you’d maybe respond, “well, I do that all the time, too”. And he’d meow again, and maybe turn a little and start to walk away, and you’d say, “Well, I’m just going to come along and check that out for myself”, and follow along, and the conversation would continue on into the next room. Maybe it mattered what you said, maybe not, but he’d respond, and seem to understand.

(Even if you insulted him. One of my cousins got into it with him once . . . Meow. “Is that really true?” Meow. “Now, you know you can’t believe anything a black cat says . . .” Meow . . . Maybe he didn’t know what Neal was saying and was just playing the game the way he thought the humans wanted to play; maybe he did understand, but he also knew that Neal was just teasing him and didn’t really mean it . . . He was so good at the game, who could tell?)

I’ve seen him do it with several people over the years.

(Ralph was never a hotel cat, but when we lived for a time at the YMCA in Nazareth, Pa., he put in for the job . . . )

(. . . and acquired quite a few fans: they had after-school programs there for the kids.)

Originally appeared on Quora

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