I’m afraid that I have done nothing this weekend.  I could and should have – the sun has shone and I could have done some gardening, or at least got on in the greenhouse, but I pottered about relaxedly instead.  I say this with no excuses and no shame or guilt – I see nothing at all wrong in taking time off or not doing much if I don’t want to.

I suspect it’s something about being brought up with dogs.  Certainly, I’ve always described myself as more than half dog.  But if you look at a dog, it will concentrate hard on what it wants or needs to do and then it sees no reason at all not to lie in front of the fire for several hours, sleeping.  And then it eats dinner and lies down again, probably being cuddled by its human companion.  Dogs have got things sussed.  Cats have too, but they’re not as bright as dogs, because they know everything that they want to know already while the average dog admires its human and wants to learn.  I read recently that a dog is the only animal, other than a human, that can follow the direction of a pointing finger and understand what is meant by it.  If that’s so (that is, that other primates can’t do it too) then it’s really remarkable.

I like cats, very much, and I’d be quite happy to have a cat live with us (though the Sage wouldn’t), but it’s the open mind of a dog that I really appreciate and understand.

I’ve a feeling that cat people won’t agree with me here.  But does your cat follow the line of your pointing finger?

If the answer is “yes”, I withdraw my case.  But I’m still more than half dog.

24 comments on “Zowgli

  1. zIggI

    I have been pointing things out to the cats and they are not looking in the indicated direction- they are looking instead at my finger and looking at me as if I am mad.

  2. zIggI

    horses though, really try to do what you want, I don’t know if they’d look in the direction indicated, you can certainly ‘think’ them into a direction you want. I guess it’s subtle body language of which they are masters, but it feels like magic sometimes!

  3. Z

    That’s it with cats – they don’t understand, so they assume that you’re wrong. And yes, I agree about horses. It’s different from dogs, where either you or the dog is the leader. A horse can become an extension of you.

  4. Alienne

    My cats think I am mad, but then, so do my kids. Interestingly the cats do learn though. The eldest one has long had a repertoire of tricks some of which he had before he came to live with me and some of which he has learned here – rolling over for attention, opening cupboard doors, patting or poking me when I am in reach either for food (he sits on the table behind me when I am preparing food) or attention. And, over the last couple of years, the other two have been watching carefully and imitating though they struggle to open doors. One of the others actually patted Lenin today looking for attention, which is the first time they have tried that trick.

  5. martina

    Cats will pay attention to a pointed finger only if the remaining fingers are covering the palm-which has cat treats. My first dog was a member of the family from the time Mom was expecting until I was six. She (the dog) was a wolf hybrid. I’ve always found it easy to understand dogs, which the poodles appreciate. Cats however appear to just be annoyed when you can’t read their minds.

  6. mago

    Any cat with a little selfesteem rather bites itself in the tail than looking in the direction the can opener points to.
    On principle.
    This link should lead to some nice cats. I especially like Number five.

  7. Marion

    Like Alienne’s cats, mine will pat to request something from you and one can open cabinet doors. They do learn from each other if the effort will bring desired results for them. But no, I have tried pointing out things and they refuse to look.

  8. Dandelion

    A friend of mine one day came home early and caught his cat on the loo doing a poo. When he walked in on it, the cat became embarrassed and ran away. I find that weird. I wouldn’t want a cat.

  9. Dave

    I read the other day that dogs too can’t understand the pointed finger, and just look at the finger itself. That clearly is a generalisation – they may not understand instinctively, but some may learn that you are pointing something out; perhaps because you’ve been pointing to food in the past – that’s certainly how mine learnt, as I pointed to food dropped on the floor.

  10. badgerdaddy

    I don’t know how Millie learned, but she understands pointing well. Surely dogs like pointers must understand pointing, because they do it…

    Anyway, Millie is great at it. I point and say, we’re going that way, and she goes, even if she was facing the other way. Clever dog.

    Most dogs though… I don’t know…

  11. Z

    I think we’re all agreed that dogs learn from us and cats normally won’t, though they might learn from each other.

    The person who wrote what you read, Dave, must be going by one particular dog, because every dog I’ve ever lived with has quickly learned to look where I’m pointing, not at the finger – except one, my mother’s greyhound who, poor thing, neither understood people or dogs. Sweet but not of this world.

    All those eyes, Mago!

  12. Sarah

    Tilly has a huge vocab of in excess of 35 words but doesn’t take notice of a pointed finger. She’s busy concentrating on the hand behind your back!

    My cat is very Zen-like, serene and medatative. We communicate with eyes rather than fingers.

    Most dogs learn through association rather than understanding. But don’t we just love’m for it?!

  13. Z

    Dogs are not nearly as afraid of me as people are, Dave darling.

    I think the things that dogs understand, rather than have learned, such as when you need comfort, are what they know by instinct.
    I can communicate with dogs by eye, but I’ve never been able to read a cat’s eyes.

  14. Roses

    I’m a cat person.

    I find dogs too clingy and needy.

    I like that I am merely a cat worshipper.

    Cats train humans, not the other way round.

  15. Z

    As I said, I like cats, but I’m certainly not going to worship one or be trained by it. I don’t expect a dog to be needy, but I expect it to follow house rules – my rules, as with a cat.

    Are people who worship cats needy, then? The thought hadn’t occurred to me before.

  16. Four Dinners

    Firstly. Doing nothing what so ever is the glorious right of any human being. A right I defend and demonstrate as often as possible.

    Secondly. I wanted a dog. I stated categorically to Carol that I wanted a dog. Within five years we had 18 cats. That is what happens when a man is honest with a woman…;-)

    Mind you, I’ve loved ’em all to bits. We’re down to 4 now.

    One day I will have a dog.

    Ideally a Westie as I had one as a child and he defended me against The Dragon until the cow ran him over.

    MacTavish II will one day enter my life.

  17. Z

    Of course, a cat can relax as thoroughly as a dog, or any other animal. Only some humans feel guilt about it.

    I’ve got a little cat and I’m very fond of that,
    But I’d rather have a bow-wow-wow

    After our dog Simon died, the Sage didn’t really want another and it took me three years to persuade him and another to find Chester. Then it took an hour of solid persuasion to get him to agree to take in Tilly. But we got there in the end.

    When I see a long haired blond boy puppy in need of a home, he will come here and his name will be Huckleberry. The Huck we had when I was a child was the sweetest dog I’ve ever known.

  18. luckyzmom

    I once had a black and white cat named Sidney. He was the smartest cat I’ve known. He would run to me the instant I called his name. I’ve missed him for over forty years now.

    Though I hadn’t thought about it before, I have always had both dogs and cats and I have felt that the cats were much smarter than the dogs and needed less attention.

    I think cats and dogs are like children. You can’t love them the same because they are different.

  19. Z

    The Huck of my childhood was Huckleberry Hound, the blue dog of the cartoon. And there’s Huck Finn and “my huckleberry friend”.

    LZM, cats make us believe they’re smarter, but they don’t have so much capacity to learn.

    Dand, aw,,,

  20. Roses

    Cat worshippers aren’t clingy or needy. If they were, they’d be a neurotic mess. Cats are too perverse for that.

    I just don’t like being clung to, or needed. Which is why I’m living the single life.


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