Bushwhacked | No simple way to crack the feline code

For reasons long since lost, we live with cats and dogs in the Whacked household. Oh, and the chooks, naturally.

This means we are forever pondering one of the fundamental questions of modern life: which are smarter – cats or dogs.

Our friends are no help on this.

People with cats say cats and dog owners swear that not only are dogs smarter, but their particular dog could have completed a uni degree if the professors hadn’t minded a bit of poop on the classroom floor now and then.

We’ve even followed a wide range of international scientific tests about this.

Up until about 10 years ago, science seemed to think the answer was so clearly dogs that few, if any, bothered to test cat intelligence.

Since then, there have been fairly rigorous tests in the US and Japan to seek the answer.

It seems to be that cats are probably as smart as dogs.

The Smithsonian reported that there were two parts to the answer:

A: cats are probably as smart as dogs.

B: cats don’t care what you think and won’t make the testing easy.

Tests in different countries reported that it’s really hard to compare them.

Dogs will fall over themselves (and often do) to please you and show they are part of your pack.

Cats just can’t be bothered what you want.

That old joke is true: dogs have owners and cats have servants.

In our multi-species household, they all get along most of the time.

The dogs sniff the cats’ butts while the cats wipe their butts over the dogs’ noses.

Dogs gobble their food.

Cats taste theirs and look at you as if to say: “Is that the best you can do? Harrumph.”

But there was an interesting indication this week that the cats may be smarter than they usually let on.

It’s been literally freezing these past few nights and the male cat, Boof showed a complex understanding of temperature control.

VENTING: Boof has discovered the wonders of the ducted heating system.

VENTING: Boof has discovered the wonders of the ducted heating system.

To quote Blackadder, Boof’s usually as thick as a whale omelette.

Handsome, but very stand-offish. He has his moments.

For example, he loves going on walks with the dogs and when he’s had enough, he wanders off and hides in a pipe he knows we have to walk past on the way home.

Then he’ll shoot out of the pipe like a Cruise missile and head straight for home.

But back to the heater.

Boof has colonised the laundry at nights.

He commandeered a small plastic basket about half his size and performed a sort of feline origami, folding himself into it.

It sits next to a heating duct, but when it’s really cold, and the heater kicks back in, he unfolds himself and stretches out full length on top of the duct.

The dogs don’t do this and have an annoying habit of chewing holes in their sleeping mats.

The younger dog, Max, has one other intelligent, but concerning, trick.

He’s learned how to push the button to open the back window in the car.

We now have to engage the child-proof lock.

On every trip.

He’s retaliated by smearing slobber over the glass.

The dogs also show one hint of intelligence when it comes to Boof.

They stay out of the laundry at night.

WAYNE GREGSON 

Bushwhacked appears in the Bendigo Advertiser every Friday.