Little Buddy got a great gift for me this Christmas:
The text reads:
Dear Cat Dad,
Thank you for being my dad. If some other man was my dad, I’d piss on his shoes, claw up his face, and go find you.
Such a heartwarming message! It brings a tear to my eye. (Although I’ll have to talk to Buddy about his punctuation. We don’t use the Oxford comma in this house.)
Like any proud parent whose kid takes up a paper route or an after school job and buys presents with his own money for the first time, I beam with joy knowing Buddy sold enough catnip to neighborhood kitties to buy this mug for me. My little one is growing up!
We know the meow originates as a way kittens communicate with their mothers, and adults generally don’t meow to each other. In fact, the iconic vocalization — which is the cat’s actual name in some languages — is a feline’s attempt to communicate with us, their human caretakers.
Give the little stinkers the credit they deserve: They know we don’t read tail, whisker, ear or even feline facial expressions very well, and they know we communicate verbally, so they meow to us.
We also know house cats develop exclusive “languages” with their favorite humans, forming personal and proprietary ways of exchanging information.
They’re even capable of meowing at the same frequency as a human baby’s cries by embedding the infant-like call in their purrs: Because we humans are hard-wired by evolution to respond urgently to those frequencies, our feline friends quickly realize their “solicitation purrs” are the most effective way to get our attention.
Clearly they’re manipulating us, not the other way around.
Have you decoded your cat’s repertoire of meows and other vocalizations? In addition to the meow — which comes in several different types and forms — cats can chirp, trill, chatter, growl, chirrup and purr.
Buddy is a very vocal kitty, and he likes to use trills to communicate. Here are Buddy’s favorite “words” and sentiments:
Hrrrruuuhh – “Okay then”/”I have no idea what you’re talking about”/”Sorry, not interested”
Brrrrr! Brrrrt! – “I don’t like this!” or “I don’t know about this!” (Heavy trill sound.)
(The brrrrt sound goes all the way back to Bud’s babyhood, when he wasn’t litter box trained and got nervous every time he had to eliminate. To this day, he makes that sound when he’s nervous and unsure of what to do.)
Brrrrruuuup! – “I’m fast! Watch me run! I’m running!”
(A vocalization that serves as a prelude to an energy-expending burst of activity.)
Rrrrooow! – “No!”/An expression of annoyance. May also mean “Get away from me!” in certain contexts.
Ahhhhmmmm – “Interesting!” High-pitched.
Hurrrrr – Affirmation. “Bud, do you want turkey tonight?” “Hurrrrr!”
Mmmmohhh! – “Oh, but I want to!” (Reserved for when he’s told not to do something, like scratch the couch.)
Excited chatter – About to receive catnip or one of his favorite foods.
Mrrrump! – Straining or jumping down. Often heard as he hits the ground when jumping down from a couch or bed.
Nyeeea – Okay, I’m awake!
Mmmyeoowww! – I WANT FOOD!
Mrrrrrrrooww! – I WANT FOOD!
Mrrooww! Mrrooww! – FOOD NOW!
Bah! Bah! – You jerk!
Mnyakk ak ak! – A chattering sound. “I see birds! I see birds and I can’t attack them!”
Incessant crying – Open the door so I can come in, and after five minutes I’ll cry again until you let me out. Then I’ll do it again until you let me in…
You, dear reader, have your own private language with your cat(s) too, whether you’re consciously aware of it or not. If you haven’t given it much thought, pay close attention to the sounds your cat makes and the ways you respond…and don’t get too freaked out when you realize who really runs your home. 🙂
Big Buddy: Nothing much, just looking at some NBA box scores before bed.
Buddy: Can you go back to the comments on that last story about me? The one where you exaggerate how I wait for you by the door…
Big Buddy: How exactly was that story exaggerated?
Buddy: I don’t wait for you by the door when you leave. I merely take a nap in proximity to the door. There’s a difference.
Big Buddy: Uh, okay then.
Buddy: Just read the comments!
Big Buddy: Okay. Wow, this one is very complementary: “Buddy is the most handsome tabby alive. Stunningly beautiful! Those eyes…”
Buddy: I like that one. More!
Big Buddy: Okay here’s one that says “He’s an absolutely beautiful cat,” and the next comment reads “What a sweetheart!”
Buddy: It’s true, isn’t it? I’m almost too handsome and charming. More!
Big Buddy: All right, this one says “Buddy has exquisite eyes.” Here’s another that says “What a gorgeous cat!” Oh, and you’ll like this: “Buddy is quite the hottie!”
Buddy: That’s what I’m talking about! People are finally recognizing my good looks! More!
Big Buddy: All right, what do we have here? “Buddy is a vain little jerk. I bet he rolls around in his own poop!”
Buddy:WHAT?! Who wrote that?
Big Buddy: Someone named LosGatos13. Pfffft. Wow. Listen to this one: “What a fat bastard. The police would throw him in jail, but he’d just eat his way out.” Ouch. Oh, this one from ChickMagnet217 is even worse: “Buddy is so fat, I took a photo of him last year and it’s still printing.”
Buddy: WHAT?!? Let me see that!
Big Buddy: Is that steam coming out of your ears?
Buddy: Buy us a plane ticket, now!
Big Buddy: Uh, why?
Buddy: Because you and I are going to fly from the internet to find this ChickMagnet217 and beat him up!
Big Buddy: You weigh 10 pounds. What are you doing to do, shred his ankles?
Buddy: No, I’m going to wait for you to beat him up, then I’m going to jump on top of him and slap him silly!
Big Buddy: That’s an assault charge, little dude. If I’m buying a plane ticket it’s gonna be to someplace warm where they put little umbrellas in cocktails, not to some nerd’s house.
Buddy: I’m sure they have umbrellas and cocktails wherever ChickMagnet217 lives. This is important. I order you, as my servant, to buy the ticket!
Big Buddy: No.
Buddy: Buy it!
Big Buddy: Nope. Calm down. Go take a nap or something.
FOUR DAYS LATER…
[There’s a knock at the door. I open it to find two unamused police detectives standing in the apartment hallway.]
Big Buddy: What can I do for you, officers?
Detective: I’m looking for a Buddy…
Big Buddy: You’ll have to be more specific, I’m afraid…
[Detective holds up a turkey-stained envelope in an evidence bag, with ChickMagnet217’s address and my return address written in sloppy crayon.)
Detective: Are you familiar with the Interstate Fecal Transport Act of 1972? It’s a federal offense to mail shit across state lines, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Big Buddy: Could you hold that thought a second? Thanks.
Buddy! Come here, Bud, these nice men are from the cat food company and you’ve just won a years’ supply of Savory Turkey Entree!
[Buddy comes tearing toward the door and skids to a halt, looking up at me and the detectives.]
Buddy: A whole year of turkey? Wow!
Big Buddy: Yup! You’ll just have to go with these two gentlemen here. They’ll take you back to the, uh, pet food headquarters to sign some paperwork for your turkey. Bye, Bud!
For a paltry $2,700 (we told you they’re obsessed), all you need to provide are some good photos of your feline master, and the totally normal people at My Family will craft and ship your creepy-looking kitty visage right to your home.
Here’s our totally accurate translation:
Step 1: Put on your cat mask:
Step 2: Pick up your cat and traumatize him or her for life:
Step 3: Prepare to be bitten and clawed.
Just look at the cat above. He’s not saying “Hey! There’s my beloved owner, and he looks like me now!”
That cat is like “WTF dude get away from me! Put me down! I cannot unsee this!”
We ran the idea by Buddy, and while he says my wearing a mask of his face would be an improvement (hey, he is handsome), he would certainly bite me if I spent $2,700 on a Buddy mask instead of a Roomba.
My humans are good people who serve me well despite their abysmal hunting skills. Every now and then I kill a juicy mouse or a lizard, you know, to show I can provide and pull my weight around here.
Sometimes I leave my gift on the kitchen counter, and sometimes I leave it on one of their pillows in their my bed. High visibility places, you know? Nothing says “You have been serving me adequately, have a delicious meal on me!” quite like leaving the gift where you know it’ll be stumbled upon.
Unfortunately they’re a bunch of ungrateful jerks! They start acting all dramatic, they put the fresh kill in a paper bag like it’s toxic waste and they throw it out. That’s just adding insult to injury.
Why can’t humans express gratitude?
– Maxwell in Maryland
I know exactly what you mean! I used to groom my Big Buddy, using my saliva to shampoo his hair, but he acted like I was the disgusting one.
Well, I solved the problem, yes I did! I wait and quietly groom my butt until my human falls asleep. Then I give my butt a few more thorough licks before climbing on top of my Big Buddy and grooming him, starting with his beard and working my way to his upper lip.
I find that grooming his beard immediately after grooming my butt is best because my poop gives the bristles on my tongue a more malleable quality, which is good for grooming human hair. Plus it leaves his beard smelling nice and familiar, like our home after I use the litterbox!
Humans are just ungrateful creatures, Maxwell, but night time affords many opportunities to help them when they don’t realize it. Why not drop a mouse into your human’s mouth while she’s asleep? Who knows? She might like it!
Your friend, Buddy
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.