Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The things you can learn from a cat...

Insomnia is setting in, so what better time to write up my second blog post? I tend to get stuck in an idea for some things I want to write, and this one makes sense to me - that this will be of interest to normies and to aspies.

There is a something I had noticed a couple years ago with my cat that had escaped me with my first cat I had when I was a kid. In petting and playing with "Bashful" (not his real name, he's a scaredy cat), I will scratch the bed or the carpet that puts him into a sort of hunting pose, all crouched down like he's about to pounce on something. While in this pose, I noticed that his pupils get HUGE. A couple things are going on there that I've learned in the past few years, some things that I believe are similar in human eyes - one of those things that someone with Aspergers wouldn't likely have picked up on unless they were told (like I had been years earlier), and this ties into something I wrote in my first post.
So I'm sure this applies to other animals as well, but I'll stick with what I know. Cats are damn cute, playful, and quirky as hell. That makes them interesting pets for sure, but cats are historically hunters and known for being quite useful for getting rid of household pests like insects and rodents. In able to hunt as effectively as cats usually do, they have to be able to see and focus intently on what's caught their attention. In order to focus on a target with precision, the pupil must dilate. The eye works just like a camera: ever see pictures where the subject is in sharp focus, but the background is out of focus or very fuzzy? That's what you get when the aperture of a camera lens is opened as wide as possible - it lets in as much light as possible to see everything, but it narrows down the distance you're focused on. The flipside is that if the pupil or aperture is very small, light is restricted from coming in, but EVERYTHING tends to be clearly in focus.

So a couple years dabbling in photography have paid off for something useful after all! So where am I going with this? Aspie guys might want to know or try to understand a concept about body language that happens at a sunconcious level, that when women have an interest in someone their pupils tend to dilate wider. This was what someone told me about body language that I had no clue about over 10 years ago.

This isn't fool proof, I'm still trying to figure it out myself. Its a piece of information that CAN be helpful, but some of the problems I've had with it is:

A. I suck at eye conact with people I don't know
B. I make it worse by focusing on someones mouth because...
C. I have a hard time filtering out background noise/sounds
D. I miss other things, to understand the proper context.

I could probably spend the rest of my life writing out "missed connections" listings from situations where I completely missed the obvious attraction until I put 2+2 later (or someone flat out told me about it).

So yeah, there are some things that today I can pick up on from reading a lot of information, which is some great progress I've made... but I can just as easily get completely lost and spend too much time thinking about whether or not the lighting is effecting someones pupils, looking around at others for reference, and looking for other signals. If its not obvious, my tendency is to do nothing to act on an unclear signal, which may or may not be the right thing to do. It saves on the painful embarrasment I've experienced when I've read the situation completely wrong (often tragically wrong) at the expense of missing out on what may have been some good times I missed.


  1. Still taking your melatonin? Now to train your cat to be diurnal and not nocturnal. Marti is mostly trained. Or at least is willing to be quiet enough not to wake me up. My body is currently not listening.

  2. yes, though it's been sporadic lately (ever since I spent the week in LaCrosse). I had started writing this post at least a month ago, but just finished it today. I just sorta guessed when it was and put it down as the end of September.