NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: I enjoy your column and have learned a lot. This letter is to share my cats’ vocalizations and to ask advice about my old cat.
My two cats are 17-year-old Simon and 10-year-old Schatze. They are both orange tabbies.
Schatze followed me home one day when I was out walking. Of the many cats we’ve had over the years, Schatze is the most delightful, interactive companion. He loves people and greets everyone at the front door. He has an extensive vocabulary. He talks to us in staccato sounds of chirps, grunts, squeaks, squawks and even little meows. He responds in conversation with us. Schatze is happy as long as he is being petted or hugged.
Simon, on the other hand, rarely made a sound for about 16 years. Since he has developed a tumor behind one eye, which caused blindness, he has stopped eating dry food.
He is extremely thin. I feed him canned food now, and he will eat only the pate, from which he licks all the moisture. We sometimes add beef or chicken broth, and he licks it right up.
He sits in the kitchen and yowls loudly. I have to sit with him while he eats, which he does for only a couple of minutes at a time.
He has always drunk a lot of water, but he has never been a good eater. I know he doesn’t have much time left, but he doesn’t seem to have pain, and he still cuddles and purrs. I don’t understand why he can’t eat enough at a time to be done for a while.
Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you for all your pet stories and advice.
— L.H., Saylorsburg, Pa.
Dear L.H.: Thanks for the account of Schatze’s vocal repertoire. It can be difficult finding the right descriptive names for their various sounds, but behavioral scientists have identified many, including complex mixed sounds.