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Dubai | By Joanna Langley | 23-06-2001
He's really different. According to his owners, the palomino-coloured three-year-old Persian, who lives in Bur Dubai, has a purr-fectly extraordinary passion for numerical problem solving. (To enlarge the photo of Cuty-Boy, click on the photo or link)
They claim to have discovered their cat's uncanny calculating abilities when he was just a kitten, and say their fawn feline can not only count, but add, divide, multiply, subtract, find square roots and even work out algebra.
Hema Mohan Chandra, 47, from Kerala, who purchased Cuty-Boy from a pet shop in Dubai, said she was baffled by her pet's seeming feline genius. "We didn't think there was anything special about Cuty-Boy when we first bought him as a kitten – but as time went on, we realised he was better than the average cat.
"I have grown up with cats in Kerala and adore them but I've never come across something like this. I don't know where he gets this talent from. It is a complete mystery but we've tested him thousands of times and know it can't be coincidence," continued Cuty-Boy's stage mother.
Her son Renjit, 25, recalled: "We realised he had good understanding when he was given a bath for the first time. Speaking generally, we told him he needed to be cleaned up but he clearly understood what we were saying and put his ears back and pulled faces."
Hema claimed once she realised the potential of her puss, she began to experiment. "I started to ask Cuty-Boy if he knew about numbers, and as he's always been able to indicate 'yes' and 'no', it was easy to find out what he could learn.
"I taught him numbers up to 20 and he shows he can count by touching my face lightly with his nose the correct amount of times. He even knows left cheek from right cheek.
"I thought I'd stop teaching after 20 because this seemed like an enormous number for a cat to take in. I left things for a week, then came back to it, and found that he was working things out in leaps and bounds on his own.
"Since then we've progressed to much more complicated arithmetic and he gets the right answer every time. However, some of the numbers are too big for him to count for me, so I display a range of answers for him on cards and he indicates which ones are correct by twitching his tail and looking at them."
To convince sceptics out there of their cat's acute mind, his proud owners also had him tested by a math teacher who supports the bizarre findings. Sahadevan Panicker, a mathematician at the Gulf Modern School in Dubai, described Cuty-Boy as 'extraordinary', saying: "I don't know how that animal does it but he certainly has some peculiar gift with mathematics. I spent just 10 minutes testing him with algebra, geometry, pythagoras and square roots and he was right every time!"
But pressures of fame may yet press too heavily on this temperamental feline's fragile shoulders who has to be pushed by his family to perform in public.
Currently, other academic gymnastics on his educational curriculum include understanding commands in eight different languages, colour recognition and even extra sensory perception. Let's hope there is a happy end to this extremely shaggy cat story.
See: Letter from Libe
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