Sunday, December 12, 2010


Gentle felines, I have a problem on my paws. My human cusses like an alley cat.

Yes. It looks pretty bad. It does indeed. But let me set the scene for you, and then we'll talk solutions.

I make it a point to talk to my human. I do so as slowly and distinctly as possible: feeed meeeee. Brussssshhhh meeeeee. Purrrrrrr. Sometimes I have to get a bit sharp when I'm speaking to her, in order to get her attention, but I find that a stern MEOW! usually does the trick and that the firm paw of guidance can be mostly restrained. The other day, however, she surprised me. I followed her into the kitchen to see why she was taking so long about my dinner, and when she failed to immediately acknowledge me, I stood on my hind legs, poked her with my paw and said MRRROW! as loudly and clearly as possible. And then what did she do? She looked down at me...and tried to answer me. In Cat. Not Human. Cat.

I was startled, but I was willing to work with this. This is going to sound foolish, but I had a sudden thought that perhaps, just perhaps, if the poor dope could be taught to speak properly, her training would go much more smoothly. I mean, kittens are born almost entirely able to articulate their needs; my human is significantly slower-witted than a kitten; but nevertheless, blooming late is better than not at all.  Maybe, I thought, if I could get her to speak properly then we could sit down and I could reason with her; if I could do that, then I could sort out the rest of her training and turn her into a human who would be a credit to me.

So I listened, carefully. I meowed again, distinctly, encouragingly, and when she answered me, I paid close attention. At first, I found her heavy human accent to be charming, albeit incomprehensible. However, the more we meowed back and forth, the clearer it became, and...gentle felines, she cusses like a pirate with a wooden leg full of termites.

I was horrified. I have no idea where she picked up such language. I know, she does leave the house. And Bast only knows what sort of unsavory cats she might encounter in the course of an average day. I've smelled a few on her shoes when she gets home. She has this human friend who lives with four cats, by my count, which strikes me as very strange. I mean, four cats? In one house? Either that house has a lot of human issues that require a full-time guidance contingent, or the hierarchy structure and discipline there are very lax, indeed. Who is in charge there, is what I want to know. I am a solitary researcher, thank you very much, and I cannot imagine a situation where I would want three assistant felines, unless I had a very unruly human staff comprised of 50 spectacularly stupid people. But I can't tell just by smelling them if these cats have been teaching my human poor manners or not.

The conversation went from bad to worse:

ME: Meeowww.
HER: @#$!
ME: Mrrroww?
HER: #@!!!!
ME: (stunned silence)

I had to forcibly pull my paw back from the soap dish.

Now, she's way too big to swat. That does no good at all. I've tried. If I ignore her, it doesn't seem to register. This is despite the fact that, as we all know, when training a human, negative consequences get results. It is difficult, however, to know which negative consequences will be most effective. I mean, I can't ground her. She just leaves anyway. I can't withhold her favorite treats. She has thumbs, the ape. If I punish her she may attempt to rebel, and I'll wake up to a bowl of low fat kibble. If I ignore her completely, she'll just keep hanging out at the docks or the wharves or wherever it is that she's learning this bad behavior, and then I'll have to go to the docks myself. In disguise. To take ship for some far place where no cat will ever know that I was responsible for her poor education.

I think the thing to do in this case, however, is take a deep breath and just get back to work. I started this morning. I figured I would get to her while she was waking up, so that a.) she could get my breakfast, and b.) the first words of cat she would hear would be graceful, positive ones. So as usual, I climbed up on her pillow shortly before daybreak, and began poking her in the face as I always do, purring away. She did eventually open her eyes, and scratched my ears. Very nice. I purred encouragingly at her, and she smiled, scratched my back, and said:



  1. Well, it was said that the unspeakable is the easiest to learn in a new language. This seems to be true! LOL!
    Well, our human lives with 7 of us. ;-)

  2. Oh noes, our hooman trys to make the meowwws wif us too but they may as well be speaking woofie MOL!

  3. We have two truly cretinous apes. It takes all 13 of us, working full time in shifts, to keep them in line. Consider yourself lucky that yours merely cusses in Cat. The female here dons artificial ears and prances around, pretending to BE a feline. It's atrocious.

  4. Hmm, cuss words do seem to be the easiest to learn in human langwijes too. We haf tried to let our humans know dat dey is not suppose to say doze werdz. We don't think dey know what dey is saying so we try not to be to hard on dem. Our mom once sed 'mrrr roooo' to a total stranjer dat showed up in our back yard. He just stood der wif his mouf open and a look of surprise on his face. We don't think mom knew what a bad thing she sed.

  5. Puss-Puss, I am almost as speechless as you are at this revelation. It is encouraging though that you admit your human is failing. At least you are a wise cat who knows when she needs help!

    I had this problem with my human a while back, and it took a lot of work, but you can overcome it if you are diligent. It's all in the tone of the miaow. I have it on good authority that humans think they are trying to be friendly when they miaow at us. Bear this in mind,, and, as hard as it is, turn a dear ear to the swearing. Believe it or not, and let's face it, bearing in mind their limited brain capacity, it's easy to believe, they don't actually know they're swearing at all. To them, one miaow sounds exactly like another when their training is first begun. Once you've worked this out, tuition becomes much easier. Just as you would teach a kitten, you must take things one step at a time. I began with making each mew very slow and long, innunciating very carefully. Then I moved to changing the tone. I made it sound different when I felt it was time for me to share the spoils of the hunt and fill my belly, when I'd used the box and wanted to let her know, just in case she'd get the hint and come use the propper place too, when I wished for her to pick me up so that I wouldn't have to go to the trouble of jumping onto the bed at dark o'clock at night. It took time, but eventually, she began to interpret the miaows correctly, and even to respond with the same shifts in tone. From that point, I could gradually shorten the mews back to the length they should be, and my human followed suit. It's a very slow process (humans are generally slow creatures) and she does tend to slip up sometimes,but the swearing is becoming less now. And although she can only speak a few kitten words, she does understand a lot more by ear now. Give it a try and let me know how you get on. If all else fails, resort to that firm paw of guidance. Claws out usually does the trick.

  6. Perhaps there was something lost in translation?

    As to the questions of who is in charge in a 4 cat household, I can speak with some authority on that subject. There is no question that, as Senior Cat, I am in charge here!