Allow me to introduce myself.
I, Sir Pouncelot (a/k/a Pouncer), am one of three felines who allow Observer correspondent Karen Zautyk to share our home. The others are MeowMeow and Cubby, the latter being a relative newcomer adopted earlier this year from a very kind couple, Bill and Paula Hyland, of Kearny, who rescued him from the railroad tracks in Harrison.
MeowMeow was also a rescued feral whom our human found as an abandoned kitten in Nutley. I, myself, had been a shelter cat.
Together, we have trained Ms. Zautyk in the fine points of cat care. She now knows what brand of food we desire, including the specific flavors; our favorite treats, and our favorite toys. I prefer fetching bouncy balls (yes, cats can fetch, and they don’t have to be taught how); Cubby likes furry slippers and especially enjoys hiding one of each pair, much to our human’s early morning frustration; and MeowMeow, easily entertained, is content batting around Q-Tips or scrunched-up paper.
MeowMeow knows Q-Tips as “puffy sticks.” She likes them to be tossed into the bathtub, where she rolls them about and then carries them elsewhere in the house (they are frequently found in shoes).
When MeowMeow developed this attraction to them as a kitten, she had Zautyk tossing a half-dozen or more a day into the tub.
One day, our human said, “I’m going to have to start charging you for these.” The next morning, she found a quarter and a nickel on the bathmat. (I am not making this up.)
MeowMeow (we are a bit jealous of this) is what our human, when she is writing, refers to as her “mews” and her “computer meowse.” All Zautyk has to do is head toward her home office, and MeowMeow comes running and remains curled up on a chair at her side until she has finished being what she believes is creative.
Why am I telling you all this? Because all four of us, including the human, are highly offended by last week’s news report — which made headlines around the world — that “dogs are smarter than cats.”
According to researchers at Vanderbilt University, “a dog’s cerebral cortex contains more than twice the neurons of a cat’s brain.”
“Neurons are cells associated with thinking, planning and complex behaviors, thus strongly related to intelligence.”
Those particular quotes are from USA Today, which felt obliged to note: “Dog people have long known that canines are smarter than felines. The fact that there are no service cats or drug-sniffing cats making that abundantly clear.”
While we cats have nothing but respect for service and law-enforcement dogs, the fact that we do not engage in such activities has nothing to do with neurons. We simply choose not to. Why should we work when we can spend half the day sleeping and still get cuddled and fed? (Truth be told, addiction to catnip could also bar some of us from police work.)
Think about this, too. Dogs have to be “housebroken.” Otherwise they’re going to poop everywhere. Cats, even ferals, know what a litterbox is the moment they see one. No training necessary.
Dogs are happy just running around or hanging their heads out of car windows, tongue flapping in the breeze. (Ever see a cat doing that?) But dogs always seem to get all the attention. Is there a nationally broadcast Westminster Cat Show? No. Are cats allowed to compete in Kearny’s Halloween Pawrade? No. Did Kearny and Lyndhurst invest in “cat parks?”
This is blatant discrimination, but to tell the truth, the lack of “cat parks” doesn’t really bother us. Cats don’t want parks. We prefer libraries. Several have already been established at some TNR colonies.
Felines are fond of literature and learning. Can dogs read? I’ve never met one who has gotten beyond “Run, Spot, run.”
I am currently re-reading one of my favorite novels, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” (You thought I was going to say “Catsby,” didn’t you?)
MeowMeow has joined ancestry.com, is doing genealogical research and awaiting arrival of her DNA kit. She thinks she might be related to Garfield.
As for Cubby, young as he is, he is reading Caesar’s “Gallic Wars.” In the original Latin. If I hear him quoting “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres” one more time, I’m going to howl.
In conclusion: Maybe dogs do have more neurons than cats do. But what good are neurons if you don’t use them?