Jasper Beorn, my Sphynx cat, is an ancient soul. He is also extremely intelligent. He lives with me in a small cottage house along with his brother, the rescue dog Maurice, who is, through no fault of his own, a few pickles short of a hamburger. Maurice is not the reason J comes across as very bright. Jasper reflects genius based on his own merits.
Some of Jasper’s accomplishments are as follows:
He has a “baby” that he adopted. It’s really just the stuffed ‘pound puppy’ that I had on the bed when I first brought J home. The moment he saw it, he responded to it with a parental affection that came from who knows where. He proceeded to drag it into his cat bed in the living room where it has stayed, tucked in with a small terrycloth blanket (we had to go through five of these before Jasper was satisfied that this was “the one.”) He checks on the baby at least hourly, repositioning the blanket which actually never moves unless J touches it because I’M not allowed to touch the baby. The last thing J does every night is tuck in that baby. First, he brings me his own jammies which I put on him. Then he uses the litter box, gets a small drink, checks on the baby. In that order, every night, like clockwork. Heck, even I forget to take off my makeup periodically before hitting the sack.
Jasper can say hello, a simple meow, to people who say hello to him first. He can also shake hands, so the basic social graces are covered. He will also bow after special performances (to be discussed later.)
Maurice, on the other hand, can clear a room in a heartbeat. Our military could use him for chemical warfare and we would win, immediately. The opposing army wouldn’t stand a chance, much less remain standing. Also, if we were ever invaded by aliens, Maurice would be our best defense to a hostile takeover by extraterrestrials. The commanders could give him some cheese and keep him supplied.
Every other day, I practice yoga first thing in the morning. Jasper is right there to keep me company. He excels at downward dog, cat and cow, and can extend his back legs one at a time in such a way that would make any yogi stand up, take notice, and feel ashamed of their own physical ineptness.
Laundry days are a particular treat for J, as he likes to show how helpful he can be. So, he gets to carry a sock or a bra into the bedroom from the laundry room with head held high because he is so efficient. On occasion, he has escaped with a pair of panties along an alternate route. I really try to avoid this, as he has a penchant for chewing on them thereby putting holes in the crotch. Which now that I stop and think about it, provides an actually quite refreshing sensation.
I made the mistake of teaching Jasper to sign for treats. This can sometimes be a big pain in the neck. He’ll tap my arm, then tap his mouth. This is my cue. If I am particularly senile that day, he’ll tap harder until he can tap no more. J doesn’t understand what ‘no’ means.
I believe he thinks it means in a little while. There’s a daily relentless effort for treats and only a person of extremely strong resolve can stem the tide. If I weren’t a Taurus, it would all be lost.
Jasper plays a mean game of Parcheesi. You more than likely think I’m making this up, but on my honor, he can play. Of course, I must throw the dice and do the space counting for him. But once I point to his square, he will use his paw to move his piece (identified by a small ribbon tied around it) onto the proper square. If my piece is already on his new square, I don’t even need to remind him anymore to knock me off the square. Who taught this cat to compete so fiercely? Of course, I usually let him win which presents itself as a lot of clapping for him on my part and a great big smile (yep, he can do that too) on his part. And, of course, the bow.
Jasper’s favorite song is “Little Green Bag” performed by George Baker back in the 1970’s. J wasn’t around for the songs debut, but he sure loves it now. I discovered this one day while dancing as I cleaned the house. J caught me in mid-twist and he joined in the fun. His dancing is an almost mirror image mimic of my moves. Quite entertaining to watch, exhausting to do with him. On occasion, he has stood in front of me and done the first couple of very distinct moves from the song, thereby letting me know it’s time to crank up that tune.
The best example I have of J’s scheming is an anecdote in which Maurice also plays a part. While napping, Maurice was awakened by Jasper’s insistent tapping him on his head with his paw. Being a dog and a tired dog, Maurice responded with a doggie response and as Jasper began to turn away Maurice promptly nipped J on the back right paw. Jasper then swung back around and delivered a nip to Maurice’s right ear.
Therein a fight ensued, a tussle really, with lots of yelps and rolling around on the floor. There was no more biting, but there was anger. I got them separated and then I made my big mistake! I should have just dusted them off and sent them on their merry way. Instead, I pulled out the Band-Aids to trying to appease them. I slapped a Band-Aid on Maurice’s ear and he laid back down and went back to sleep. You see, the fun was already over for him.
Jasper on the other hand, continued to look pitiful, so I ended up procuring and putting a bandage over his Band-Aid. BAD IDEA. He went into limping mode for the next two hours around the living room, holding his back paw tightly to his stomach as long as I was L-double O-kaying at him. Otherwise, he walked around like a normal cat.
After two hours, the bandage had loosened and both the bandage and the Band-Aid were hanging by a thread. At this point, Jasper proceeded to drag his paw like Quasimodo, or Igor, the Egyptian mummy. I personally and sincerely believe he was trying to emulate all three at the same time. It was a pretty pathetic sight.
After a while, I decided to do my own scheming. If I could stare at him long enough, getting him to keep this up for a while longer, I could get him to dust the entire hardwood floor in the living room with these rags on his paw!
Who says animals don’t teach their human friends anything?