A lovely story cropped up the other day about Santino, a male chimp in a Swedish zoo that has been collecting stones and stashing them away, so that he could later use them to throw at visitors.
Researchers have said that it’s evidence of non-human animals planning for future events – precious little of which had been found previously.
But I’m sure many pet owners see amazing behaviour on a regular basis.
The Other Half and I got home rather late yesterday evening – to find that the Queen B had decided to break with her usual habit and not come to greet us.
The routine is that we have to go into the bedroom, where she jumps on the bed and we all say ‘hello’.
We walked into the bedroom, sans the cat, to find that there was debris all over the floor. A little glass lampshade that we’d bought years ago, put on top of a bookshelf and then forgotten, had crashed to the ground and shattered into smithereens.
Boudicca likes getting on top of that particular bookshelf, so it seems reasonable to conclude, in true Holmesian fashion, that she had been up there while we were out and had knocked it down.
But what is fascinating is that, on the basis of her out-of-character reluctance to engage in our usual greeting ritual (and cats love routine), it seems that she realised that she’d caused it to fall down and was worried in some way about it – possibly even worried what would happen when we got home.
We had to go into the living room, where she was crouched down watching us from behind a chair, to tell her that everything was alright before she came out to get her usual ‘welcome home’ fuss.
The idea that non-human animals are not really sentient has been taking knocks for some years now. Although anecdotes don’t count as scientific evidence of anything, personally witnessing such behaviour is absolutely fascinating.