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Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

Cat Intelligence

Monday, December 7th, 2009

I’ve always known one of my cats was much smarter than the average cat.  She’s very social, and I’m fairly certain that she believes that either she’s a small human or we (her owners) are very large cats.  She never hesitates to let her opinion be known in any conversation, and, whenever we have visitors, she always makes sure to show them where the litter box is in case they need to use it.

She’s definitely learned a few tricks too…such as coming when called by name, how to get someone to play with a particular toy, “no claws” (as a verbal command when she plays too rough), “come on” (when she wants to jump in my lap), and “let’s go” to leave the room.

Back to the litterbox.  Showing newcomers where the litterbox is was the first non-trick display of intelligence my cat had shown.  I believe this stems from when I first took her in.  She was a stray in our neighborhood, but was the friendliest (and most vocal) cat that I’d ever seen.  When I finally decided to take her in, the first thing I did was show her where her litter box was.

Not too much later, I went traveling with her for the first time.  When we got to our destination, the first thing I did was show her the new location of her litterbox.

The next time we had visitors, she began escorting them to the litterbox immediately after they took off their shoes.   The fact that she was considerate of others, and remembered this time after time, is very impressive.

However, while I’m obviously a big fan of my cat, even I was pleasantly surprised by her intelligence one morning a few days ago.

Working from home that day, I had just gotten off a two hour call with a colleague, where we’d tried to work through a complex problem.  After the long, intense work session, I was ready for an early lunch.

Immediately upon opening the door to the office, my cat, who had been laying right outside the door, greeted me with an insistent, “Iknowofsomethingthatneedsyourattentionnow” meow.

Feeling something like a character from Lassie, I followed her–from her insistent meow, I could tell she thought it was important.

She led me down the hallway and around the corner to the room where we kept her litter box, but went to the opposite side of the room.  As I followed her, she led me directly to the corner of the room, where a small piece of poo lay–apparently, it had been knocked out of the litterbox.   For those who don’t have cats, the occasional stray piece does get knocked out of the litterbox, so this wasn’t completely unexpected.

Now, showing me a mess soon after it happens is impressive enough for me — I’m grateful when either of my cats tells me that there is a problem, preferably before it stains the carpet.  However, she had gone a step further–she had apparently found some used tissues (presumably from the small wastebasket nearby).  The tissues were neatly arranged around the poo so it would be easy to pick up without getting my hands dirty.

She has definitely seen me grab a nearby paper towel in the past to pick up a stray piece of poo in the past.  However, this is the first time that she’s ever attempted to help me clean it up.  I have to admit, I was somewhat stunned by the carefully placed tissues, and praised her profusely.

Watching her grow in intelligence is somewhat akin to watching a child grow–it’s amazing to see how much they can do.  She’s only three years old, so I look forward to watching her continue to grow and develop into (hopefully) an ever-more intelligent cat.  You may see more updates about her (and our other cat, who has his own personality) as time goes on.

A Warrior Fights the Battle of His Life

Friday, November 6th, 2009

He’d dodged bullets, eluded enemy capture, survived torture, but none of that compared to the battle he faced today.  He’d stared down death, rescued friends wounded in the course of battle, and even been wounded three times himself.  Even so, he never hesitated, never flinched, as he dove back into battle.

As he’d gotten older, he continued to fight battles–moving from the physical battlefield to a battle of wits with others more skilled.  Eventually he moved into politics, the battles becoming more public, with more fervor, with more at stake.  Even so, he never felt fear, never was concerned that he might lose.  The possibility he might lose had simply never entered his mind.

Today was different.

He’d just gotten the diagnosis:  pancreatic cancer, and 3-6 months to live.  For the first time since he could remember, he felt real fear.  The years of surviving multiple battles on the battlefield, the decades spent fighting in the political arena, thousands of people’s lives affected by the decisions he made–all of it seemed so distant.  He’d spent his whole life fighting battles, but how does one win a fight against the cells in one’s own body?

He didn’t want to give up–that wasn’t in his nature.  However, for the first time, he felt like he was not in control of his life.  Instead of being in control, he needed to rely on doctors who knew more than him.  There was nothing he could learn in time to help himself–and from what the doctors said, there wasn’t much they could do to help him either.  The cancer had been caught too late.

He had often fought alone, but had never felt so lonely.

His wife was there, holding his hand.  She’d stood behind him through the years…waiting for him to return from war, standing behind him as he took the microphone through countless political battles.  He knew that she would be lonely when he’d gone, but, for the moment, his mind, so trained to fight battles, was racing around this one problem…how to fight an enemy he couldn’t see, touch, or otherwise sense.

Even knowing that the attempt was useless, his mind kept attacking the problem, trying to find an opening.  He found none.

Time went by, and he grew to accept his fate.  He decided to take what time he had left and enjoy life–the only way to defeat his impending death was to not let it kill his spirit before his body.

He and his wife sat down, and made a list of all they wanted to do.  They started at the top, and worked their way down, making it to number thirty-three before the end.

And he died free.

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