The other night I was sitting in the family room and our (formerly) male cat, Zack, was sitting on my lap enjoying me showering affection on him. As I’m petting him I’m talking and, mostly, using his name and telling him how much I love him and what a good cat he is . . . and he is, perhaps, one of the best cats I’ve encountered in my life. He is one of those cats that craves human company and follows us around the house seeking it. He’s really a great cat.
I was just relaxing, no doubt getting as much out of giving affection as Zack was out of receiving it, and I found myself thinking about how I communicate with him. He clearly knows his name, or does he? He responds when I call him, frequently by loping over from wherever he might be to receive a quick pet or a scritch. However, he’ll do that pretty much regardless of whether I’m saying his name or using some other term of endearment – and there are many, including just cooing at him in stupid, abject drooly-talk.
He seems to recognize all of them, so is he responding to his name, one of his many nicknames, some blathering expression of unbridled affection, or just the sound of my voice, which he no doubt also associates with food? Actually, given that I’m not really engaging him in meaningful conversation, does it really matter? He seems to always get the message. Maybe it’s just that he’s a slut for affection. I know all about that :).