Friday, July 28, 2006

Feline/canine miscommunication

I'm not really a 'dog' person, but there are quite a few dogs living in our small street, and a particularly friendly one next door. He's a nondescript grey with wiry fur, about the size of a cat, and loves to greet everyone who goes past.

He would also love to be friends with our cats. I can see his little face, eager with longing, as he spots one of them lounging on the car, or up the steps. Today, we were trying to mop the front porch (most of our neighbours use hoses, despite a water shortage and request from the Water Board not to use them for cleaning patios and porches, but we can't bring ourselves to do so) and Sophia came to join us. The neighbour's dog was delighted! He ran into the street, just outside, and in true doggy fashion stared right in her eyes, inviting her to be his friend.

Sophia, being a cat, interpreted his direct stare as a sign of aggression. So she stared back, challenging him (knowing her humans were around to ensure her safety).

The dog, naturally, thought she was returning his friendly look, so he began wagging his tail in delight at an approaching new friendship.

Sophia, taking this as the typical feline sign of extreme displeasure, started swishing her tail from side to side too.

The dog, thrilled at such a welcome reception, started trotting towards her.

Sophia's ears went almost flat. Her tail took on a life of its own. And as the dog got to within a metre of her, she started growling....

At last she had discovered a language they both understood in the same way. The dog stopped, looked at her in amazement, and then - as the growls got louder - slunk away. Probably convinced, yet again, of the fickle nature of cats.


mreddie said...

That is such an ancient rivalry - sounds almost some people I know. :) ec

Susan said...

It's been interesting to watch cat behavior and language with having the kits and Asher. Grace seems to understand when she needs to back off, though she is so facinated by Asher that her curiosity sometimes gets the better of her and Asher has to hiss to get her to back off.
Noah, just does not seem to know cat language or posturing at all, he tried nibbling Ashers tail this morning - not a good idea!
Thanks for visiting my blog. And I love the photos of your cats.