The cat that had to chat

Our cat talked. He was a seal-point Siamese by the name of Alexander.

"Alex, did you enjoy your dinner?"

"Wah," he'd say. Provided, of course, that he did enjoy it. Otherwise, he'd walk out of the room.

"Alex, would you like to go for a walk in the park?"

His reply was invariably an excited "Wah, wah, wah!"

"Wah" was the basic sound Alex made, but with variations. It was an articulate utterance, not a whine or a whimper. He used combinations of wahs to mean different things and express varying moods.

The vowel, drawn out so that the wah had a strained, nasal quality, signified frustration. Wahs, snapped out in staccato fashion, meant that he was terribly angry. Then there was a whole range of tonalities and inflections that became a language through which he communicated his fears, desires, loves, and hates.

Alex answered questions readily, but he needed no prompting to speak out.

When I came home at night he'd greet me with a short wah, meaning "Hi," even before I spoke to him. Or if I sat down after dinner with my newspaper, he was apt to jump on my lap, uttering a mild, almost apologetic wah that meant "Mind if I join you?"

He hated family arguments and would intervene with loud, rasping wahs that clearly expressed his displeasure.

Besides being a very pleasant companion, he was also an accomplished watch cat. No one came to our door undetected. Milkman, mail carrier, UPS deliverer, all were greeted with loud wahs, even before they rang.

Alex wouldn't attack a stranger - he hadn't a grain of viciousness in him - but a thief would have to think twice before attempting to penetrate the noise barrier he set up.

One evening, when we were celebrating my son, Harry's, seventh birthday, we had a fire in the basement of our house. Upstairs, we and our guests were having an uproariously good time, completely unaware of the danger we were in.

Then, above the laughter, clatter of dishes, and shouts of the children "Wah, wah-wah, wah-wah-wah!"

There was Alex pacing furiously in front of the basement door. Only then did we smell the smoke.

Dog may be a man's best friend, but you couldn't prove it by Alex.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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