Monday, June 2, 2008

Learning to count

On Monday morning when Peep woke up, she rushed into the bedroom – no Mommy. It was very early, so she went to find LT and Miss Rudy. LT is so smart, she thought. He’ll know what’s going on.

LT was asleep in Peep’s favorite green chair in the living room. Peep sat in front of him and trilled to wake him up. She knew better than to touch him or meow loudly. He wasn’t a morning cat, although he always denied it. When he finally woke up after a few moments of Peep’s best trills, she asked him if it had been a week yet, because she wanted the Mommy to come home.

LT looked at Peep and laughed. “Peep, you are such a silly little cat. A week is longer than just one new morning. It’s even more than a paw’s worth of new mornings.”

“What do you mean, more than a paw’s worth of mornings? I can’t pick up mornings with my paws. Be serious, LT – I want to know when Mommy is coming home.”

LT jumped down from the chair and Peep followed him outside. LT walked over to one of the porch rails, extended his claws and made a deep gouge in the wood. He held up his paw, spreading his toes and matched up the scratch in the wood to one of his toes. “See, Peep – this is one morning. One toe, one morning. Four scratches, four toes, one paw’s worth of scratches, or mornings. If you make a scratch every day, you’ll be able to keep track of the days. A week is more than a paw and less than both front paws.”

Peep asked, “How did you get to be so smart, LT?”

LT straightened up and wiggled a little bit with pride. “Well, this isn’t something that every cat can do, you know. Cats know how much of something is there by smell, but people do something called counting…”

Peep jumped up. “Mommy kept talking about counting methods. She said she’s not good at counting methods. Does that mean that you’re smarter than she is?”

LT looked at Peep sternly, because she’d interrupted him. “Of course I’m smarter than the Mommy. She’s just a people and I am a cat. But never mind. Their noses aren’t anywhere near as good as ours, so they need to use scratches to count. They make their scratches with those sticks that mark paper. Mommy has a whole bag of them. When I realized that they couldn’t count by smell but used those scratches I listened and figured out how a cat can do it. It’s not as good as smell, because it doesn’t tell you if something is missing, but it’s all they’ve got.

“You know, Peep, you may be a little cat, but you’re not a kitten anymore and you haven’t been for a long time. You need to grow up and be a grown up cat. You’re not stupid, but you act like it sometimes, because you’re still acting like a kitten.”

Peep cowered in front of LT, because she knew he was right. Everyone always said what a cute little cat she was, and she knew she’d been getting by on her looks. She guessed she did need to grow up a little bit. Then she perked up. “LT, I can grow up and make Mommy proud of me when there are two paws of scratches and she comes home!”

LT reached over and licked her head to show his approval. “That’s a good idea, Peep. The Mommy will be happy that you’re an all grown up cat, and not just some overgrown kitten.”

Peep walked all over the house, trying to figure out the best place to make her scratches. They had to be some place she wouldn’t forget about, but she knew that the Daddy would get angry if she made those deep gouges in something he really liked. She found a perfect place. It was so small that Daddy couldn’t get in there, so he’d never even notice. She carefully made one scratch and looked at it. It wasn’t very deep so she deepened it until she knew she’d be able to see it. She spread her toes on one paw and matched it up to the scratch. “That’s good” she thought. “I don’t know what LT meant about one and four, but I can match my scratches to my toes. Who knows, maybe I’ll even learn to count like LT!”

That done, Peep jumped up on the bed and patted at the Daddy. It was time for him to get up and start his day.

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