Catap (definition): 1. the scratching, tapping or knocking sound a cat makes when he or she wants your attention, entry or release; 2. a cat’s act of scratching, tapping or knocking.

According to catalogists, felines develop unique catap signatures. You and the cats often know one another from their catap. In my household of four beasts, the cataps are distinctive.

  • Tucker primarily uses the pull method as his first effort. This creates a heavy thud. Being a big cat who employs brute strength for most endeavors, his knock, when it comes, is loud and heavy. He usually vocalizes a broad, upset, “Mrrerow,” when his request is ignored.
  • Quinn, being small and light, exhibits a fast signature. Scratching is his first choice and will be done in a fast series of scratches with both front paws that last about forty seconds. If that doesn’t work, he takes to tapping. His taps are likewise fast, uses both front paws, and go on for about twenty seconds. He also vocalizes if ignored, issuing a soft, “Mew, mew.”
  • Boo is a large cat. Preferring to stand on his back legs, his cataps are higher on the door. He deploys a hybrid method of scratching without extending his claws. His cataps are a short bongo solo.
  • Being a pretty smart little cat, Meep uses a simple catap of three to four knocks. Tap, tap, tap. Pause. Tap, tap, tap. He taps with one paw, but his claws are out.

Watching the cats react to one another’s catap is interesting. All fear Tucker; when he cataps, the others sit up and go on alert. The rest of the cataps generally draw casual interest. Quinn, who cataps more than the rest, and who is the smallest, lightest, and least-combative, generally draws little interest at the door.

It helps me to know what name for me to yell from my sleep for them to stop if I don’t want to get up. Of course, that works as well as peeing into the wind.


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