Sunday, September 25, 2005

kitty love

just now, i led our cat, sarin, into the bedroom to greet the husband. she has a little ritual with him on weekdays, where she waits outside of the bathroom door for him to finish showering. when he comes out, she will start chattering incessantly until he starts for the kitchen to feed her. on weekends he sleeps in more often so i end up feeding her. i can tell she's ok with this, but isn't stoked about it as much as she about him feeding her.

when we got into the bedroom, she went over to his side of the bed, where he had left his clothes from yesterday in a pile. he did some yardwork yesterday, and said he forgot to put on deodorant. this = dirty hippie stink all over the shirt. sarin went nuts, treating the shirt like it was sprayed with catnip. she sniffed and chewed the armpits, then flopped down and did the hind legs rabbit routine on it, just in time for him to come in and watch.

this is a recurring theme with sarin. every time there's been a man in the house with her she's taken to them like a giddy schoolgirl. she'll follow them everywhere, hop up on their laps often and sleep on their side of the bed. she makes nests for herself with clothes that smell like them. i will admit i am somewhat jealous because she likes girls ok, but nothing like how she responds to males. i've had her since she was 8 weeks old, and have been the only constant person throughout her whole life. when i come home she might greet me if i happen to go into the room she's in, but when the mister comes home? she runs into the room and starts up with meowing and the face rubbing on his pant legs. it's not me, it's that i'm a girl and she can smell that on me. i have nothing to offer her.

so it makes me wonder how strong is a signal between two species? i always thought they'd at least be different enough so that you wouldn't have tons of useless attempts of interspecies mating going on in the wild.

(as a side note, there are real hybrid animals, but it's between two species that are pretty damn close evolutionarily speaking. still though, a wolphin!?)

wouldn't you know? they've done studies on this type of thing:

"Recent evidence suggests that vomeronasal sensory neurons may be narrowly tuned to specific molecules (Leinders-Zufall et al., 2000), unlike the main olfactory system, so why would one species respond to another's pheromones? Foreign pheromones would be unlikely to carry mutually beneficial information for another species, but they may have common chemical components. Hamsters probably also share a similar repertoire of functional VR genes with other rodents, as is the case for mice and rats (Dulac and Torello, 2003). Common chemicals would activate common receptors but could be components of different blends, each blend a pheromone only for one of the species. It is also possible that the VNO may have receptors (specialist or generalist) for nonpheromone substances. For example, snakes use the VNO to detect predators and prey (Halpern and Martinez-Marcos, 2003)."

now, this study used hamsters, but it gets my point through. if there are common molecular components to the pheromones of cats and humans, sarin's response could be due to some part of the human male sweat that reminds her of boy kitty scent. it's a response i've seen in her reaction to three different men. it's been the strongest in the husband, but when my brother and i lived together with her, she did exhibit the same behavior with him, and still does when he comes to visit.

i don't know if it's purely sexual, or related a deference to males in general. it's hard to swallow that last part if you know sarin, because she's really not the type to play submissive to anyone. at the very least, it highlights how her interactions with our family may not be merely based upon the promise of some more wet food, but as a necessary social interaction. and they say cats prefer to be alone!

since we're talking about kitties-we are in preparations for getting another cat. it's gonna be a boy kitten, and we should receive him as soon as he's weaned, which will probably be another couple of weeks. i think she'll like him. but he's very cute, very laid back and kinda chubb for a 4 week old baby. i'll post pictures when he gets here.

8 Comments:

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