Norie Understands

Black cat with beautiful coat of fur
Norie and her shiny coat.

Norie is my thirteen year old, black cat. As two old gals, we pretty much understand how to live together. I have always tried to learn and respect her likes and dislikes. I also never try to scare her or lie to her; so she trusts me. If I accidentally step on her tail or foot, I apologize and tell her how sorry I am. I thank her when she does as I ask her to do. When I want her to understand something I try to use the same phrases or words to help her connect them to an action.

In the mornings I open the curtain to our screened in porch. When it’s warm I tell her the sun is shining and it is nice and warm outside. She loves to go outside and watch the birds, squirrels and occasional rabbits that I scatter seeds for. Of course she also loves to lie in the sun.

Black cat in sunshine.
Norie on the porch.

When it’s cold in the morning I tell her, “Norie, it’s really cold outside. You can go out if you want to.” Usually she will go out for a few minutes and come right back in. One morning with temperatures in the 20’s she slowly walked to the door; stuck her head out and pulled it back in. She may be learning what I mean. She also likes for me to open the closet door on the porch and goes in there to sleep, unbothered by passing cars in the parking lot or people on the sidewalk.

Sometimes she wants me to wake up earlier than 7 AM. (Like 5:00 or 5:30). I tell her, “Norie, it’s too early. It’s not time to wake up.” Usually she will leave me alone to sleep longer. But normally she has an uncanny ability to wake me up at or around 7 AM.

The other morning she wanted me to wake up early and woke me up by pawing my arm. I told her it was too early and she left me alone for a minute. Then I heard her pawing on the blinds in the bedroom window. She has done this before a few times. Usually since she could damage them, I tell her firmly, “Stop. Just a minute!” and open the blinds for her to look out the window. This time I added that “it is too early to wake up. I will wake up in a little bit.” She stopped and got down from the stacked drawer boxes in front of my bedroom windows. I praised her for stopping and told her she gets a treat for letting me sleep longer.

There were a few times in the past that she would lie down on her back half under the bed and scratch on the boxsprings to get my attention to play with her or wake up. When I tell her to stop, she just looks up at me with an expression like “Will she play with me or will she just get up?” When I try to go back to sleep she does it again! I used to tell her, “One more time and you go out in the hallway with the door closed!” (Referring to the hallway within my condo.)

Sometimes Norie and I go out in the lobby of our condo building to look out the front door. Sometimes she is startled by someone coming into the building and wants to go home. So I always place an old pillow in our door for her just in case. She is curious about the outdoors but has never bolted towards the door. A few times when someone comes into the lobby and we start talking in the hall, Norie walks towards the closing front door but I stop her. I seriously believe she is just curious about “beyond the door”instead of wanting to run away.

So one day I was talking with a neighbor outside my door and Norie came out too. She headed towards the stairs which is in the opposite direction from the front door. I told her, “Norie, come back. I am not going down the stairs with you now.” She paused and came back! She doesn’t like to go downstairs alone. But she understood. My neighbor was amazed!

But sometimes we both go out in the hall and go down the stairs. Using the stairs is good exercise for us both. Norie enjoys going with me to visit with a lady downstairs because she loves to walk around and explore her condo. Also there is little traffic down there and she can sit on the neighbor’s mat and just listen to her watching TV. I think she, like me, needs a change of scenery every other day or so.

One day we followed one neighbor to the other neighbor’s condo downstairs. We talked a few minutes and I remembered something I forgot to bring downstairs. I told Norie, “I will be right back.” She was lying on a mat and just listening to the conversation. When I came back a few minutes later, the two ladies commented on how she was so calm while I was gone and didn’t try to follow me. I was so pleased. Norie does know these two ladies but rarely if ever has been left alone with them away from home.

I use the terms, “I’ll be right back” when I pop out to check the mail or get something out of the car. When I am running an errand I tell her, ” I will be back in time to feed you.” Or “I will be gone for a while but I will be back,” if I will be gone for a few hours. She never seems anxious when I come home. In fact sometimes I have to find her sleepig wherever she is nesting.

I believe Norie is a very smart cat who has been conditioned by my using the same phrases for the same actions. I never had a cat before Norie. But I believe at least some cats are trainable and intelligent. Please feel free to share stories about your cat. I am curious about how you trained them too. Thank you.

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