Does your cat like to watch Tarzan movies on television? Does he/ she wash down his Friskies Buffet with vintage Beaujolais, use the toilet instead of a litter box and purr in time to Pachelbel's Canon in D Major?
If so, your cat may be a genius.
On the other hand, if your favorite feline walks into walls, falls asleep in his food dish, locks himself in the linen closet and can't tell his left paw from his right, you may be in need of some help.
These two books, the latest words in kitty literature, will answer that burning question, how smart is your cat -- really?
E.M. Bard, described as a "practicing school psychologist" has come up with an I.Q. test designed to measure the overall intelligence of your cat. wBased on four areas of development -- coordination skills, communication skills, reasoning ability and social behavior -- the examination asks over two dozen questions and, based on the test score, rates your cat from below normal to genius.
i asked Miss Piggy, a 1-year-old, gray-and-white short hair, if she would care to be tested. She yawned and fell off the window sill. A perfect subject.
The first question was easy. Does your cat request food on a regular schedule? Always, I answered. Piggy got 5 points. Keeps tail flat on floor when eating? Another 5 points. Sleeps in the same place every night? Go to the head of the class.
She breezed through a dozen questions: shows awareness of odors in her immediate surroundings (time to change the litter box), is able to watch moving objects with eyes only, reveals mood through position of tail, favors one paw over the other, and is aware of the passing of time.
The performance test was more difficult, especially No. 8.
"Slowly move the pencil along the floor toward your cat:
Touches pencil with paw (s) -- 1 point
Touches pencil with paw(s) -- 1 point or more times: -- 2 points"
Piggy scored a zero. She chewed the pencil.
Although not toilet trained (4 bonus points), she is able to balance on hind legs for at least five seconds, especially when eating the living room plants. That's 2 extra points. She does not, however, constantly sit, stand, step or sleep in her food dish (deduct 1 point), or go to sleep in a drawer and end up trapped inside (deduct 1 point). Nor does she jump onto the toilet when the seat is up and fall in (deduct 1 point).
In fact, she scored 140. Miss Piggy, I said, apologizing for once accusing her of having an I.Q. of room temperature, you are a genius.
Since then, she's done nothing but watch the MacNeil-Lehrer Report and paw over old Wall Street Journals. Next, she'll be hounding me for an application to the Mensa Society.
Bard's book, however long on fun, is short on information. What makes some cats smarter than others? Why are males considered more intelligent than females? Siamese smarter than short-haired?
Grace Pond and Angela Sayer, in their nicely written, well-researched book, present a more serious study of the cat's mental prowess.
Beginning with a short history of the domestic cat, and ending with a chapter on cat psychology, the authors offer a series of simple ways to increase your pet's brainpower. With memory experiments and problem-solving tasks, the reader is able to rate the cat's I.Q. while learning how to stimulate the the animal's nervous system and how to deal with odd behavior or stress.
Still, there are unanswered questions.
"Dull cats get their heads stuck inside cans; bright cats use their paws to scoop food from narrow necked containers," according to the book. "Do dull cats become roadside casualties more often than bright cats? Who know? Maybe the bright ones look right, then left, then right again, but no statistics are available."
Actually, a more interesting book might be one testing the cat owners' I.Q. Does your owner go to cocktail paraties and tell cat stories? Does he/ she coo in your ear and call you Snookums and Puddy Tat? Can he/ she empty the litter box and hold his/her nose at the same time without knocking over your water dish?
Miss Piggy, put down that typewriter.