12 July, 2010

Cunning Kittehs

My cat will sometimes sit somewhere just out of view and howl and yowl like she's trapped, mortally wounded, or otherwise in dire straits.  She does it to see how fast she can make me get up.  She especially loves doing it just as I'm drifting off to sleep.  Apparently, the sight of a frantic, half-asleep human tumbling out of bed amuses her.

Now I see where she gets it from:
Many people see dogs as open, loving, and honest, and cats as duplicitous, cunning, and sly (Fig. 1).  This gross misconception will be reinforced by a paper in the new (but dated July 2009) issue of Neotropical Primates, which you can download for free. The authors, Fabiano de Olivera Calleia, Fabio Rohe, and Marcelo Gordo, show that a wild cat imitates the sounds of baby monkeys  to lure its prey within reach.
And I think she may be related to the cat Jerry Coyne encountered:
Margay babies are sometimes tamed by the locals. I once got to hold a (relatively) tame margay that belonged to a bar in Costa Rica; it let me pet it but then sank its teeth into my silver ring, leaving a sizeable dent. 
That's her favorite trick, too: sucker in the human by being all cute and cuddly so that the flesh is made more vulnerable.  When visiting my house, body armor is a good idea if you plan on getting acquainted with the cat.

The next time she attempts to lure me out of bed by pretending injury, I'll think of a margay somewhere deep in the rainforest luring dinner with baby monkey cries, and go back to sleep.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Our cats do the same thing. Sounds like their tails are caught in a blender. When you come running: 'What? I was just clearing my throat.'