Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Magpies and our Cat


“The fox, when it sees a flock of heron or magpies or birds of any kind, suddenly flings itself on the ground with his mouth open to look as he were dead; and these birds want to peck at his tongue, and he bites off their heads.”  —Leonardo da Vinci

I don’t always have to Google the world to find good stories about animals. Sometimes the most astounding, cutest, funniest antics of animals can take place right in front of me, right in my own back yard!

This day I was lounging in one of our deck chairs on our patio when my attention was suddenly attracted to a corner of our yard near the shed, where two Magpies were making quite a ruckus. I glanced over and here was one Magpie limping, screeching its distress call (its version of help?), fluttering its wings like it was injured and couldn’t fly. It was doing this quite near to where one of our cats was sunning itself in the grass. Naturally the cat thought this a good opportunity for a fresh, feathery lunch and lunged for the bird. However, no sooner did the cat get within a few inches of the Magpie, when the Magpie flew up and perched itself on the fence, screeching (more like cackling) in delight in their high pitched shriek that they have, which, to me, sounded like it was laughing its silly head off at having just fooled the cat.

Meanwhile, the second Magpie flew down and landed just a few feet from where the cat now was, the cat looking a bit dazed and confused, because in its mind, the “wounded” Magpie should have been firmly gripped between its paws, not up there on the fence. The second Magpie repeated the first Magpie’s ‘injured’ prank. Sure enough, the cat fell for the trick and lunged for the second Magpie, and the Magpie also flew away just as the cat got within inches of what it anticipated to be an easy lunch.

The two Magpies repeated this caper, much to their own ‘kinky?’ delight at having so completely frustrated the cat. One Magpie would play injured, then fly away just as the cat got near it, then the second Magpie repeated the first one’s ‘injured’ play, then fly away just as the cat again got near. I finally ended up intervening, for had I not interrupted this little fun-play, I’m sure the two Magpies would have driven that poor cat crazy.

I know Magpies are very intelligent birds and are capable of the most intelligent, creative behavior patterns that I’ve ever seen in birds. But I also know that cats are very intelligent and usually not easily fooled, so why did it fall for the play of these two Magpies? I can only conclude that it would be for the same reason an otherwise seemingly intelligent human falls for the nefarious pranks of a scammer!

Sometimes we are the object of the joke, and sometimes we are the joker.

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Tom, the Virginia’ Vet Association’s pet


Intelligence will never stop being beautiful

I first published this short article in the Temple City Star on 18th of January, 2018

Dogs aren’t the only animals that serve men in the military. Cats, also, play a role. Tom—yes, that’s what the vets have named him, “… is a tomcat that’s established himself as the facility’s feline therapist” in the Salem, Virginia’s Veterans Association Medical Center.

“[Tom] arrived after some hospital staff read a book called “Making Rounds with Oscar”, by Dr. David Dosa, a physician who treated patients with medicine and with his therapy cat, Oscar. They (Salem VA hospital) knew they needed a cat just like Oscar, so they adopted Tom.” Writes

Because some visitors aren’t exactly friendly to cats, the hospital has a “No Pet” zone, but Tom doesn’t mind. He makes friends easily, so more and more non-cat lovers are relenting and starting to pet him and bring him treats. There are some heartwarming tales written about the many ways Tom has helped long-term veterans deal with life, and Sharon Herndon, whose late father was a vet in this hospital, even wrote a book about him, titled, “Tom the Angel Cat.” She wrote, “Tom is the final salute to a job well done. He’s serving our country’s heroes by acting as one himself.”

Isn’t it nice when we treat animals as companions in our world we live in, rather than  treating them as a nuisance.

“Intelligence is the ability of a species to live in harmony with its environment.” — Paul Watson

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Cleo the Cat


Cat reunites with nursing home elderly

This story was first published in the Cardston Temple City Star on 30th November, 2017


Cleo, the cat, certainly proved that he was not your average adoptee, and that he loved his owner, Nancy Cowen, more than anything else in his life.

Nancy and Cleo were the best of friends for eight years, but Nancy’s health started failing, so she was forced to move into the Bramley House nursing home in Westcott, Dorking, in the UK. Unfortunately, the nursing home—at the time! —had a no pet rule, so Cleo was reluctantly adopted out to the neighbors. But Cleo had other plans. He missed Nancy, and he was going to have no part of that separation! Two weeks after Nancy moved, that furry fella showed up on the Bramley House doorstep. At first, no one payed attention to the cat. Thinking it was just another stray, they just fed it while it spent its nights under the benches placed around the home for its residents to enjoy.

Then, Nancy’s sister came by to visit and spotted Cleo.  Long story short, arrangements were made with the nursing home to allow Nancy and Cleo to be happily united again.

The puzzling question is, how did Cleo know where Nancy had moved to? Do the bonds of love extend beyond material boundaries?

Is your love for animals Selfish or Unselfish?

My wife and I are animal lovers–more correctly, all-of-God’s-creation lovers, and we’ve adopted and fostered quite a number of pets in our time. A person (I forget at the moment who it was nor the circumstance. Doesn’t matter) once commented to me on how well animals, especially cats and dogs, seem to respond positively to my touch: they seem to gravitate towards me and love to be held and caressed by me. Yet, for him, animals didn’t seem as friendly, even though he claimed to love animals. Unless he held out food to them, they didn’t want to come to him.

I’ve sometimes wondered if should have told him why. Would it have made a difference, or would he have been insulted? If I’d have told him that the way one loves makes all the difference. For example, did he find that little puppy dog cute that a  friend held out to him, and, because of its cuteness, wanted to hold it and pet it–or did he see that the little ball of energy needed someone to care and give it assurance that it was loved?

Let me explain. I’ve already mentioned that my wife and I have adopted and fostered quite a number of pets in our time. Some of the pets, especially cats, found their way to our doorstep already fully vetted. That is, they already were either neutered or spayed and had received all their vaccinations. At first, we were a bit puzzled about this. Why would someone give up a pet that already was fully vetted? That also meant that they must have bought the cat from either a  licensed pet store, or from one of the local animal shelter  groups. Another observation was that these cats, although adult, were all under a year old. Then, on a chance encounter with a family that had just adopted a young kitten, the puzzle came together.

The daughter of this family had been bugging her mother for a pet, so one day, off they trundled to a pet shop. There they found a mother cat that had fairly recently had a batch of kittens. I imagined the scene that must have taken place.

“Oh look at that cute little calico kitten!” the girl exclaimed excitedly. “It has such beautiful little round blue eyes! I want her, Mommy! Please!”

So, of course, Mommy bought the kitten and they took it home where, for the first couple months, the girl spend endless ours playing with it and making sure that it was properly fed. As that ‘cute’ kitten gradually grew into an adult cat, the novelty of owning a ‘cute kitten’ wore off and the young girl no longer was interested in caring for it, and the mother certainly didn’t have the time to clean litter boxes so, out the door went the cat! Find yourself a new home!

And that, my friend, is the difference between selfish and unselfish love for pets. One loves animals because it pleases the person, while the other loves animals because it pleases the animal.