Our cat is very talkative, as Bengals seem to be. She has a variety of vocalisations, and she’s perfected the art of disdain as well. The body language of a cat with her back turned to you is pretty obvious. But what might a deliberate and prolonged yawn actually mean?
It may, of course, be just a yawn. But there are yawns and yawns, and as I looked at her yesterday evening, all warm and cosy in front of the fire, I thought, nah, there’s more to this than meets the eye.
When I propped my legs up on the coffee table, making a nice comfortable lap, the answer was obvious. Ah ha, yawn at me, will you! I haven’t made my lap inviting enough, have I then? And so we settled into a semi-doze as the fire blazed, and the big screen filled with images from around the world.
Apparently, so our daughter tells us, there’s now an app for translating cat-speak into human. It’s not so far out as we might assume: a new piece in The Guardian’s Science section outlines how an astonishing array of animals (!and plants!) emit sounds at frequencies far below, or far above, the capacity of human ears to appreciate. Perhaps, the author suggests, perhaps one day there’ll be a GoogleTranslate for these sounds too.
As Richard Dawkins has expressed, in his book Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, we humans love to be delighted by the wondrous mysteries of the unknown. The revelation of the provenance of these mysteries (for example, why do animals emit such sounds?) does nothing to minimise the joy. Rather, there’s more joy to be had in pursuing further questions. It seems that every reveal opens a door to more wonderful mysteries.
For now though, I’ll just be content lounging around in the cosy living room with a contented cat, who has yawned her way into our hearts, if not always onto our laps at her every whim.
Sometimes, of course, we understand her only too well, and the answer has to be: you’ve been fed already!
Leave a Reply