This Best of Bogue column originally was published Oct. 4, 2005.
DEAR GARY: May I gently discourage my cat when she starts to knead, without causing her psychological harm? I don't mind kneading during the day, but it's painful at night because I don't have on as many clothes.
DEAR LESLIE: You could always sleep in an overcoat, I suppose. Just kidding.
I don't see anything wrong with gently discouraging your cat from kneading you at any time. You don't have to let your cat hurt you.
Just gently remove its claws from your body, and lift it from the bed and put it on the floor while saying good things and petting it so it knows you're not angry.
I've seen a mother cat clobbering an overgrown teenage "kitten" alongside the ear when it kneaded her too hard. I don't believe you need to do that.
I think you can cause an adult cat just as much psychological harm by letting it regress back to a needful kitten stage and then treat you as its mama as you can by gently but firmly telling it to back off when it gets too rough. Probably more.
DEAR GARY: My wife and I were on a trip to the Tioga Pass area when we stopped for a breather. While strolling, we heard a blurping sound that sounded like a sage hen or partridge.
We looked up in a tree nearby and saw what my wife thought was a small turkey. Sure enough, it made a turkey sound. A couple of minutes later, it sounded like a woodpecker. Finally, it made a caw-caw sound like a raven. As it took off we saw that indeed it was a raven.
Can you enlighten us? Can ravens imitate other fowl?
Jerry and Jeanette A.
DEAR JERRY AND JEANETTE: Ah, Tioga Pass. Such great memories, such great high mountain air smells, such great views, such -- oh, sorry. It's been too long, and that place really rings my chimes.
You kind of answered your own question. Ravens can imitate other birds, mammals, human words, mechanical things such as car alarms, cellphones, etc. They supposedly have as wide a sound range as mockingbirds. That's impressive.
The hard part is trying to figure out what one is the real raven sound in the middle of all that mix.
DEAR GARY: Over the past few years ravens have moved in and multiplied at my cabin in Cazadero, Sonoma County. They make a clicking sound. My friend and I are wondering if they are doing this with their bills or throats.
Research turned up nothing as simple as this request. Are they calling to their girlfriends?
DEAR JOAN: Ah ha. Now that's a real raven sound.
They make that hollow clicking sound at the back of their throats. It's kind of like the sound you make with your tongue at the back of your own throat.
Everything I've read about ravens, or learned from my own periodic interactions with them over the years, suggests there's a wealth of meaning to those loud clicking sounds. Tone as well as the bird's posturing as it makes the sounds all play a role in the meaning.
I've sometimes found them alone in the middle of nowhere, high on top of an isolated tree, their wings drooped, neck feathers ruffled, beaks open, and bobbing their heads as they click, click, clicked away.
I wish I knew what it all meant. They are truly fascinating birds.
Gary Bogue has retired after 42 years of writing this column. If you have animal-related questions, contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.