Our Universal Language
By Tricia Bowden
I will never look at my eldest cat, "Mr Chimp," again in the same way.
Neither will my youngest cat, "Dallas Rollo Junior," either. Both are very
young. Two years and one year old, with completely different personalities.
Mr Chimp, our black and white cat, goes out day or night, rain or shine.
He's always bringing mice back to me as a sign of his appreciation. Dallas
Rollo Junior, our black, youngest cat, is completely different. He only
goes out at night as he's too scared of the noises in the daylight. He
doesn't like mice and acts like a dog, rolling over on his back as you
greet him, and being permanently attached to my right leg as I potter
around the house, often giving me the gentlest bite on my ankle for a
After receiving humpteen mice, dead and alive, on what I call the "murder
stair," which is where all the mice are placed, just near the top stair
leading to my bedroom, I decided to keep the cat flap shut permanently and
get the cats into a routine. Every night I let them out through the kitchen
window until 5 am. This is when Dallas Rollo Junior (we call him Dallas for
short) meows frantically up at my open bedroom window until I go downstairs
and let him back in. When I wake up by my alarm at 7 am I open the kitchen
window so that Mr Chimp can stumble in when he pleases, after his
This has been working out great. No more mice! One Thursday morning after
my alarm woke me up for work, I realised that Dallas hadn't come home and
it was light outside. He's so scared of the daytime that he would rather
hide all day than risk the journey home in fear of a noise or people. As
your average worrying pet owner, I quickly dressed and went looking for
him. Time was of the essence as I needed to be at work soon; so after
looking long and hard, I surrendered and had to get on with my day. The
working hours were very long. All I wanted to do was find Dallas. He's
such a big baby, so scared of the world, he will only explore during the
night. Such a big pussy cat. The day was finally over and I raced home to
start looking again. I'd left my kitchen window ajar all day in hope that
he'd crept back through. I was prepared to be burgled as long as I had
my Dallas Rollo Junior back.
Mr Chimp was waiting for me upon my arrival, or should I say, he was
waiting for his tea from his food master. I fed him and dropped my bags
off and changed my shoes so that I could have a good look around the area.
Picking up Mr Chimp, I spoke to him. "We need to find Dallas, Mr Chimp.
Your little brother's lost and scared, and we need him to come home.
Will you help me find him"? Mr Chimp looked at me and meowed.
Locking the door behind me, I left and Mr Chimp followed through the kitchen window.
"Meow meow meow meow meow!" he said, while looking up at me outside the
front door. "Meow meow meow meow meow!" he said again. He was obviously
telling me something.
"What's wrong, Mr Chimp? What is it?"
Mr Chimp was walking away while meowing frantically at me. I had to
follow, only a fool would not see his body language ordering me to
This was quite a moment for me as I've never understood anything he or
Dallas has said before. Now here I was following a cat that was clearly
telling me to follow him, not knowing whether this is just silliness and
have it all wrong, or that Mr Chimp is leading me somewhere. Having
nothing to lose I followed and he lead. Every couple of hundred yards he
would turn round and meow like crazy to make sure I was following him.
Then he would carry on. At one point he was walking so fast I had to run
to keep up as he went down a street, through a ginnel, down a hill and
past a big gym until we both finally came to a set of big, overgrown
bushes at the side of the gym car park about 5 - 6 minutes from home.
"I'm sure I could have gotten here an easier way," I thought, as I was
looking at the bushes to see what this was all about. Mr Chimp looked at
me and meowed again, but this time in calming mannor. This was the place
he wanted to take me to, and now I could see that his task was fulfilled
successfully. I looked at the bushes and called out Dallas's name.
"Dallas! Dallas!" After a few seconds I heard nothing, my wide eyes about
to reduce to tears in defeat. Then out popped Dallas's head, and he meowed
liked the biggest baby you ever heard.
Dallas Rollo Junior was found and
all because of Mr Chimp, his step brother. This moment I will never forget
in my whole life. Mixed feelings swam around my head of astonishment,
gratefulness and clarity towards my cats and how much they really do
understand me. I praised Mr Chimp as he laid on the floor all cool and
collected. Rubbing his head and giving him the praise that he so
Picking Dallas up to take him back was harder than I thought. It was still
daylight and there was no way he was being carried back at this time, even
by his trustworthy owner. Meowing and pushing his way out of my arms, Dallas threw him self back into the bushes.
"Silly cat," I mumbled.
Still stunned by this miracle event and staring at the bushes, the best
idea that I could come up with was to leave Dallas here until it became
dark, at which point he would come running back to the kitchen window. He
was safe which was the main thing.
As I walked away Mr Chimp also decided to stay with his scaredy cat
brother. Again, I whitnessed a cat helping another cat that was in
distress. Something I've never seen before. After returning home and
calling people to tell them this amazing story, I decided to go back to
check up on the cats. They were fine, still in the same place.
Quite a few more hours went by and it suddenly dawned on me to get the cat
carrier. Why didn't I think about this before....
It was early evening at this point and soon the darkness would set in. I
returned once again to the bushes with the cat carrier, and Dallas went
straight into it without a single meow. Returning home with them both, I
let Dallas out of the carrier and he strolled around as though nothing had
happened. The story doesn't end there or should I say the story began
before here. Before all of this happened, Mr Chimp was quite limited with
his affection. He changed when we brought Dallas home for the first time as a kitten.
Over time, he has come around to Dallas and they have a love-hate
relationship. Always fighting one minute, licking each other clean the
next. On the morning that Dallas went missing, Mr Chimp was overly
affectionate towards me, how he used to be. I was puzzled by this but
nevertheless, responded in a positive loving way. Since Dallas came back
last week, Mr Chimp has reverted to his old self. Loving and affectionate.
If I had to put my finger on this behavior I would say that Mr Chimp was
slightly put out by the arrival of Dallas and withheld his love after this
point. Mr Chimp saw how distressed I was about losing Dallas, and he must
prefer Dallas being around to having a distressed pet owner. Mr Chimp is
more loving to Dallas too. Something has changed with the cats. The
dynamics are far better and Mr Chimp seems happier.
Maybe, just maybe, they had a big heart-to-heart that day in the bushes.
Maybe cats know so much more than what we think!
Mr. Chimp and Dallas
Tricia Bowden lives in the U.K. where she looks after -- and writes about
-- her feline friends Mr. Chimp and Dallas.