Happy New Year and Happy New Decade! There’s something catchy-sounding about ‘2020’, don’t you think?
And speaking of catchy, that reminds me of my cats – who love to catch mice. And on the very rare occasion a mouse does break in, I find out about it only when I see the true-life game of cat and mouse, a gruesome but fascinating ritual. The cat catches mousey, bats it around, tosses it in the air and then lets it run around a bit before catching it again. It’s not as fun as it sounds, but it does tell us to find out how the darn thing got in.
Recently, the cats heard a mouse before they saw it. Nickie and Charlie were looking at the wall strangely, following some unseen sound on the other side, their heads turning in unison. The Hearing Husband put his ear to the wall and heard the mouse, scratching and squeaking. Then I put my head to the wall and heard – nothing. Typical. But since Doug heard it, he had to deal with it.
Nickie and Charlie are useful at filling in other hearing gaps for me. When a cat’s ears prick up, you know that some sound, somewhere, has occurred. But how do I judge how important that sound is? I don’t want to push the cat off my lap, get up and go looking, if I don’t have to.
The cat’s next moves will tell me. If the cat’s ears prick and then turn towards the alleged sound, I know the direction it’s coming from, but this is still not enough information for me to actually move. But if the cat then shoots off my lap like a cannon, flying out the room towards the sound, that’s when I get up, thinking “this better be important”. Sometimes it is but sometimes it’s the Hearing Husband opening the fridge and the cats think it’s lunchtime. Or it could be the doorbell, which I can usually hear, confirmed by the cats heading towards the door in anticipation of someone interesting coming to call. The downside is that they can’t tell the difference between the real doorbell and one on the TV. Neither can I, apparently, because for my entire life I’d go to the door or answer the telephone, before my hearing family decides to call out, “It’s on the TV, Gael!” (They found this hilarious every time. I, however, did not and this is the first time I’ve shared this embarrassment with anyone.)
Charlie and Nickie also alert me to wild animals. Since they are indoor cats, this skill is not useful to me when I’m hiking in the woods. However, we live in a forest and when the kitties plaster themselves to a window, it’s a sure sign that wild animals are outside the house: savage squirrels, terrifying bunny rabbits, fearsome racoons or horrifying deer. Feeling safe behind the window, the kittens and I enjoy watching Bambi or Rocky Raccoon which two out of the three of us can hear.
With my cochlear implant, I am now able to hear the cats using their litter box in another part of the house. This is my sound cue that it’s time for some housecleaning (litter likes to spread itself around). I can also hear the cat howling…not howling, exactly, more like a huge meow. This usually only means that one of the cats is lonely and would someone please come and throw a ball for some excitement, or to please go under the couch and retrieve what turns out to be every cat toy we’ve ever bought. Another sign the house needs to be cleaned. Another perk of my implant is hearing Nickie’s purr – which is as loud as an idling car. It’s nice to know she’s happy, but when she’s lying on my pillow as I’m reading, it’s LOUD.
My cats have taught me a big lesson about my hearing loss: there are sounds that I will never, ever hear. And I accept that. As long as someone else hears the elusive sounds, that’s good enough for me. Even if it’s a fur-baby.
Photo Credit for cat at the door: Kenneth Allen