Being a hefty moggie, you would think that Smudge has a deep, penetrating miaow, but surprisingly the fluffball produces soft, high-pitched sounds, similar to descending notes. ‘Ma-ah’ is his morning greeting, although he sounds more like a toddler to me. Then there’s his short, gentle trill, or more exactly a ‘brriil,’ as if he’s saying, ‘What’re you doing? C’mon, let’s play.’ If I accidentally stand on his tail I get the piercing ‘Miaowh,’ or a lower, long-winded version when we are travelling in the car to see the vet, Dr Hindmarsh. In contrast, Smudge’s purr is a deep rumble.
Cats are known for their superior hearing compared with humans, but Smudge often demonstrates selective deafness when: I ask him to ‘come here,’ I order him to stop sharpening his claws on the rug—immediately he goes into Ninja mode and scratches faster—and if I require him to do something. After repeating a request several times I get no positive response, so I clap my hands and yell, “Hey, you with the big fluffy tail.’
Smudge literally stops for a second, his kohl-rimmed eyes turn to slits. ‘What?’ He will continue to shred fibres or ignore me.
I’m fascinated how we communicate with word associations and objects. Smudge knows, ‘dinner’, ‘breakfast’, ‘nigh-nighs’, ‘crunches’ and more… but it’s through his body language, that I feel I can interpret his emotions and intent, or not.
When Smudge frantically lashes his tail, I know I’m in trouble.