Opinion | My Cat’s Watching Me. What’s She Thinking?

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About the editor:

On “What’s going on in my cat’s head?”, By Farhad Manjoo (column, August 29):

Watch your wild kittens closely, Mr. Manjoo. To appreciate the feline awareness – if it’s in there – look at the details of their behavior.

You have surely seen how one hides from the other, lies in wait, jumps out. Could the perpetrator come from ambush without the self-understanding “I am here now”? Without knowing that the target also perceives the world, but from its own point of view? Without goals and sub-goals, strategies and tactics?

Watch the eyes. Do the kittens follow each other’s gaze? Will the perpetrator leave the ambush if they discover they are visible to the target and they are now looking at them?

Your eyes: do the kittens ever look at them? Do they focus on what they see, what you see? Point at something. Are they looking at something or at the finger?

For comparison, watch puppies play and adult dogs make eye contact with people. Watch wolves. Observe children and follow their development. Whatever the mental states of organisms other than ourselves, we can only know them through careful inference from careful observation and rigorous experimentation.

What fun science! Perhaps as lively as a playful ambush.

Gordon Bear
Ramsey, New Jersey
The author is a retired professor of social psychology at Ramapo College.

About the editor:

Having just acquired a cat, I was intrigued by Farhad Manjoo’s column. But let me say that my intentions have been far from honorable.

My cat is cute, but far from responsive, at least compared to dogs I know. Orders, commands and gestures mean nothing to her. Does that mean she isn’t as smart as a dog? Oh, that may be true.

I looked it up: dogs have larger brains and more than twice as many cortical neurons. So my job is to lower my expectations and trust that she will come to me when she wants it, not when I want it. Live and learn.

Elmera Goldberg
new York

About the editor:

I have owned dogs for most of my life. They are great, albeit smelly, companions. I never felt the need to think about what was going on in my dog’s head: it was always evident in the dog’s behavior.

However, last year we bought a “tuxedo” cat: Pika. She is usually adorable, sometimes moody, but always very interesting to watch. Unlike my dogs, which I trained for some time to get the behavior I wanted, Pika trained me to get the behavior I wanted, such as “It’s 6:30 AM; Where’s my breakfast? “

I’ve learned that the old adage is true: dogs have masters while cats have coworkers.

Phil Shaw
Mill Valley, California.

About the editor:

We had a house full of guests on Thanksgiving Day several years ago. In the evening I received a call that my mother had died. Of course I was devastated and really had no desire to socialize with the many people who had gathered. I banished myself to bed to attend to my personal grief.

Who should enter my bedroom except our Brittany Spaniel and our Siamese cat. The dog sat down next to me on the floor. The cat climbed into my bed and snuggled close to me.

Who said that animals don’t “read” people’s personal emotions?

Pearl wax man
Pompton Plains, New Jersey

About the editor:

I enjoy my cat’s company even more and feel that she enjoys my presence in return. As Farhad Manjoo notes, this emotional ability raises the most critical ethical question.

This fact of consciousness in other mammals and birds places compelling moral obligations on us. As the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham noted, the crucial question in our relationship with animals is not whether they can think, but whether they can feel.

This leads to the conclusion that the rearing of animals to human taste, as practiced in factory farming and thus inflicting the torment of billions of fellow creatures, is a very worrying ethical violation. It has also made me choose vegetarianism for the past 44 years.

Joseph Chuman
Hackensack, New Jersey

About the editor:

On “Apple Calls for Child Sexual Abuse” (Business, Aug. 6):

Apple’s proposed measures to protect children from child sexual abuse are urgently needed and long overdue. These images often include sadistic torture and rape of infants, young children, and young children, and they spread at an explosive rate.

A recent study by the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children found that Americans were unaware that more than 70 million images were reported to law enforcement in the past year. The study found that Americans prefer using identity disclosure software to combat them.

Foiling these heinous crimes also means the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children receives millions of new reports each year to investigate.

Congress must provide the means this agency needs to track down and prosecute the producers, distributors and buyers of these images. Identifying them is only part of the complex problem of protecting innocent children from a life of horror and humiliation.

To address the problem effectively, we need to raise awareness, reporting and accountability for technology companies whose platforms are being used.

Mary L. Pulido
new York
The author is the executive director of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

About the editor:

On “Hospital data reveal secrets behind the billing” (front page, 23 August):

This article perfectly refutes the claim that “Medicare for All” or any other payer system is too expensive. What the article calls “the peculiar economy of health insurance” shows that the money is already there, but locked in a system of secrecy, covert negotiation, and huge profits for insurers. I was outraged by the health insurers’ tactics to hide the real cost of care from their own customers.

Why not restart the system and redirect the money you already had into a simple, fair and open individual payer plan that covers everyone? The dollar cost will likely be about the same, but the cost of stress to us will decrease significantly.

Orrie Eihacker
Fort Plain, NY

About the editor:

Our irrational patchwork of hospital prices is based on whether the source of funding is government, insurance, or out of pocket. It is true, as hospitals and insurers say, that a sample of prices charged in a hospital doesn’t tell the full story. However, there is an easy way to complete the story – a unified pricing mechanism.

If hospitals were to charge a fixed price for all services, it would be easy to compare the prices “apples with apples” across hospitals and significantly reduce the insurers’ administrative costs. Medicare is by far the largest hospital customer, and its price list is the standard nationwide. While hospitals complain that Medicare is underpaying, there’s nothing stopping them from negotiating a higher percentage of Medicare tariffs for other payers.

William Rosenberg
Mount Vernon, i.
The author is a retired group health insurance advisor.

About the editor:

On “A new way of thinking about the minimum wage” by Peter Coy (statement, August 19):

A higher minimum wage has an additional advantage: its recipients spend it almost very quickly. It does not gradually trickle down or end up as a savings. It flows in the necessities and gives a sudden boost to the economy.

John Casson
The author is a past president of the New York Association for Business Economics.