Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Cat Who Used Figures of Speech

My 11-ish cat Tyrone demonstrated, at four o'clock this morning, that he knows how to use a figure of speech.

We have worked out a little vocabulary between us, mostly in body language. For example, when I'm reading on the couch with a blanket over me, or sleeping in bed likewise, he may climb up on my chest and paw at the hem of the blanket, purring loudly. This means he wants me to lift the hem and let him crawl under the blanket with me. Adorable cuddling ensues.

Sometimes he does this when I'm not under a blanket. Instead, he paws at the neck-line of my T-shirt. I generally take this to mean Drunk Kitty has forgotten the difference between a blanket and a shirt, and wants to snuggle up inside my shirt. This usually proves to be awkward, because there really isn't room for him to crawl down the neck of my shirt while I'm wearing it. Sometimes he tries crawling up from the lower hem, but usually stops halfway to play the "attack the hand through the fabric" game, favored by cats worldwide.

This morning, however, Tyrone found me sprawled in bed with neither a blanket nor a shirt covering my hairy mountain of flab. Nothing dismayed, the cat stood on my chest, purred, and pawed at my collarbone until I woke up. I correctly interpreted this gesture as a request to pull the sheet and blanket over us both. A minute later, Tyrone was curled up next to my knee, snoring. And I was wide awake, thinking: "My cat just used a figure of speech to communicate with me. Metonymy, to be exact. The bare chest for the blanket that covers it..."

No comments: