Skip to content Skip to footer

Adaptive intelligence

I’m remembering Mo this morning. Mo, and an experience that opened my mind and had me in awe of intelligence, in its many manifestations. See, Mo was a cat of mine. He joined Larry (my gargantuan, very male, orange tabby) and I as a youngin’, and we both loved him in our own ways.

Mo was quiet. Monk-like. He loved cardboard in any form. And he was an adept and avid hunter.

Well, early one morning, I woke to two distinct and overlapping sounds coming from under my bed. One was a peep-peep-peep. Chirping, like a bird. The other was that peculiar sound cats make when they’re getting really excited about eating something with a beating heart.

I looked down, saw what appeared to be two little bird claws hanging on to the underside of my bed and, bravely, reached down to capture the thing with the beating heart making the peep-peep-peeps.

Score! It was a little bird, small enough to cup in both my hands. It seemed in good stead as I carried it toward the front door to release it.

Now, here’s the fascinating part. The day prior, a friend had installed a cat door for me, and after figuring out that it was safe — nay, fun –to go in and out of said door, Mo apparently had got to thinking–thinking, cat style, that is. Now, as much as a cat can play “cat and mouse,” there really isn’t much to the game of “cat and bird.”

But, Mo, in his particular cat brilliance, had somehow figured out that if he brought the bird into the house, he’d limit its fly zone, and he’d be able to keep it in a moderated realm of possibilities. Even more fascinating, he knew to bring the bird under the bed, immediately reducing its “sky,” so to speak, and rendering it more like a mouse, and something he could play with.


I’m reading Secret Life of Lobsters now, and this morning read a bit about Umwelt, the concept that an animal’s behavior can only be understood from the animal’s perspective. So, this perspective could, of course, all just be my story and fabrication. Though I will say, my deep, soulful respect for God, the Kingdom of Animals, and, at this particular moment in time, Mo, grew by leaps and bounds that morning.

Leave a comment