Have you ever listened to the way someone else talks to your cat?
I don't have a cat, but Sadie the Mistress of the Bookstore is pretty close. Customers are always amazed to see her when they come in, exclaiming, "Wow, look! A cat! There's a cat in here! It's a kitty! She's so pretty! Come here, kitty kitty. Aren't you precious?!"
I kind of want to strangle them.
It's all well and good to talk to a cat, but when people treat Sadie like she's less intelligent than a baby, I think she knows what they think of her. It's something in her eyes and the way she walks away from those people, tail switching self-righteously. She's saying, "I may be small and fuzzy, but even I know you sound like an idiot."
Yesterday there were two cases of this. One: a customer walked in the front door, and before even entering the store I heard him exclaim, "Woooooow! tk tk tk, kitty kitty kitty! Meeeeeooow!" and, hunched over, he ambled out of sight.
Clearly, Sadie was right there, but considering I couldn't see her, I thought he was "woooooow"-ing at the bulliten board in the foyer at first. Or possibly the dirty floor.
Another customer - for lack of a better name, Crazy Cat Lady - comes in on a regular basis - I swear - just to play with the cat. I've only seen her look at books once, and if she can't find Sadie immediately, she asks, "Where's the little kitty?" If I tell Crazy Cat Lady that she's napping upstairs in the boss's office, she will say, "Well, can't you go wake her up?"
No. No, Crazy Cat Lady, I will not leave the store to disturb Sadie from her nap just so you can play with her. First, how would you feel if someone came poking you in the middle of a nap and said, "Time to get up! A strange lady who smells funny wants to make you do acrobatics for her amusement!"
Eff you. That's how you would feel.
Second, I just can't stand to hear another person spout gibberish in Sadie's general direction.
"Sadie-cat! Hi, Sadie! Sadie-sue! Wook at da kitty! It's a pwetty kitty!"
In college, during my semester in Chicago, I took a class on recording and "found sound" in the city. We were given digital recorders to pick up weird sounds throughout the city. Sometimes you run across really cool sounds. Other times, people just say the most bizarre things and you want to record them just to prove to someone else that yes, people really talk like that.
There's something about the way people shoot their voices into the stratosphere around animals, and the way they mimick animal sounds, that makes me think, really? Do you really think that's more likely to make an animal come toward you? Do you think your horribly unconvincing "meow" will make the cat believe you're also a cat?
"Oh, that tall thing with no fur at all is meowing at me! It must be a very strange form of cat and not at all related to those other tall furless things I see all the time! I will now go be its friend."
This is not how a cat thinks. Cats are far too regal for that.
For all I know, when people meow at cats, they're saying something terribly insulting, like, "Got any crack to spare? I'm fresh out." I'm also guilty of meowing at cats, but I at least try to sound like a real cat instead of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
I happen to think cats are smarter than babies, at least up to a certain age. They don't require baby talk.
And for the love of God keep your voice in a normal range.