First let me say that I love animals – ALL animals big and small. I have a not-so-secret desire to live on a hobby farm with goats, dogs, horses, pigs, etc. Just ask my husband. He’s heard my pleas. Problem is, he wants just the opposite – to live in a penthouse apartment, no responsibilities, no fucking mess (as he puts it).
So like most married couples, we compromise. We live in a regular house, in a regular neighbourhood, and we have cats – the least demanding and cleanest of all “you can at least engage with me, and I’m not a farm animal” pet. That doesn’t stop a girl from dreaming, planning, and plotting though.
Anyway, cats are easy for me as I’ve had them all my life. If I think back, I’ve had over fifteen felines, many who met untimely demises due to one reason or another. A few got hit by cars (as cats who go outside often do); a few died of cancer (one ate plastic bags and rubber baby bottle nipples, no wonder); a few died of old age; and one actually got hit by the train that ran behind our house. THAT is quite a story. I’ll give you the shortened version…
Monte (short for Montague) was NOT content to be an indoor cat. One day, he clawed his way through the screen in the kitchen window, and escaped. On his very first foray into freedom, boom – he was dead. He got hit by that train I was talking about – his back broken, and one of his hind legs amputated.
To this day, none of us can figure out how a cat (of all animals) – they are smarter than most non-cat owners think – could get hit by a train. I speculate that he was roaming about in the bushes – chasing squirrels and bugs and such – and upon hearing the loud sound of the engine, he just bolted, sadly, in the wrong direction.
My husband found him later that day (because we went looking for him because he had escaped) stuck in some brambles, covered in maggots, unable to move, but still meowing – loudly. He was a Siamese, and they are big talkers, even after being hit by a train apparently. It was like his top half was fine, but his bottom half was destroyed. Of course, we rushed him to the emergency vet, all three kids in tow, the cat in a shoe box wrapped in a blanket.
Heartbreakingly, he didn’t make it. Our choices were put him to sleep, or be stuck with a cat who’d never walk again. It was clear what we had to do. And yes, my husband – a medical student at the time – asked if he could administer the lethal drug himself. We then brought the cat home in the very same shoe box in which he’d left, except this time, he was on his way to being buried in the backyard [sniff, sniff]. The whole thing was super traumatic, hence the reason we now have a “cat” fence in our backyard to keep our lovelies contained, and hence the reason all of our current neighbours think we are lunatics because we walk our fur babies on leashes. Honestly – after all we’ve been through, that last “train” incident taking the cake – I couldn’t give two shits what the neighbours or anyone else thinks.
Anyway, that’s my story of cats. We now have three – a number that qualifies us a “crazy” cat people according to my husband. As for dogs, I’ve never had one, though – as I said – it’s always been part my “creating a zoo” plan. My husband (the party-pooper) says we are “too busy” which is partly true. Thus, I’ve never pushed the issue too much.
No, I’ve never had a dog, that is, until now. OK, that’s not even true; I don’t have my “own” dog; I have a “grand” dog. My younger son got one. And so far – it’s been just over a week – I can see that this is a good way to quench my desire for canine companionship without completely owning one myself. It’s part-time and totally non-committal. When he poops on the floor – which is quite often, at this point – I don’t have to clean it, unless of course, I’m puppy sitting. I can handle that every once in a while though. I’ve raised three children, after all.
No, it hasn’t been long, and I can already see a huge difference between cats dogs. Not that I treat them any different. They are ALL spoiled rotten. And I know you say, “That’s not news. Everyone knows that dogs and cats are different.” Yes, I knew it too. I just hadn’t witnessed HOW different first hand. It’s shocking, to be honest.
First off, dogs don’t just want to be with you, they NEED to be with you.
Cats on the other hand, while they may want to be with you – like my two younger ones follow me around all day long – it’s different. With cats, it’s more of a “I can take you or leave you” situation. Like yeah, I may “choose” to spend time with you, but I could “leave” at any time and I’d be perfectly fine.
Cats are the girlfriend who has her own life and things to do. She’s got her PhD, and hell no, she doesn’t need you to support her. And if you ever catch her just staring – like cats routinely do – you will know it’s not because she is daydreaming about new shoes or the latest eye shadow; it’s because she is performing mental experiments on you by way of telepathy, experiments that are WAY beyond your comprehension, and that have the potential to fuck you up ten years down the road.
Conversely, dogs NEED to be with you – as if you are the oxygen they breathe. If you don’t honour their company, they will pee on your most expensive clothes, chew on all your shoes and computer cords, and possibly destroy the walls, because hey, that’s what you do when you’re deprived of an essential life-giving element: you go nuts.
Then there’s the “laying down with you” issue. I mean, both cats and dogs show affection. They just do so in different ways.
Say you are sitting on the couch or lounging in bed. A cat will come along, circle you slowly, look over at you for a few minutes from three feet away – assessing if all is right with the world, and it’s safe to get closer. If the stars are aligned, they will approach cautiously, take another few minutes to decide where the appropriate and exact spot is to get comfortable, rethink their decision a few more times, and then – if and only if the wind is blowing in the right direction, AND the dollar has a good trading value, AND the president is someone they like – they will grace you with their presence. Be aware however, any loud noise like the front door slamming or the phone ringing, and they could be gone.
Sure, not all cats are like this. My one cat Sasha would run across the room to come lay with me anytime I sat down. She did this more so when she was dying of kidney disease. A real bitch, it was – kidney disease. The fact that she laid with me was a gift, and it was the least I could do for her. Seriously, nobody wants to die alone. She didn’t anyway. Most cats though – good health assumed – tend to be uber picky.
But this puppy – this little two pound bag of bones, ultra-enthusiasm, and white fur – if he sees you, he will literally jump on your face, lick you to death, and then plop down on your chest/neck area like a lump. There is no thinking about it. No humming and hawing and decision-making. He’s like, “Hi human. We are sleeping together. Deal with it.”
There are other ways that cats and dogs are different as well. To me, the following is the biggest one…
See, cats have this aura of sophistication about them. They are the kings and queens of the world. Fur-covered royalty really. They stipulate, “Pat me. Feed me. Let me in. Let me out. Let me in. Let me out, etc. etc. etc.” They are clean freaks as well, and definite stunners. They can mesmerize you with their beautiful and often scarily glowing eyes. With them – as humans – we do what we are told, or we suffer the consequence of being shunned, and/or killed in our sleep by one slash of a claw to the throat – both terrifying thoughts. No, we want to be loved by these elegant, yet oh so selective creatures.
Conversely, dogs are like frat boys and rugby-playing girls. The put on no airs; they are down-to-earth and laid back; they are like bulls in a china shop; they eat things they shouldn’t, and they get dirty – really really dirty.
Yes, dog and cats are definitely different, but I can see the benefits of having both. When I want to be worshipped, I’ll call my son to bring over the dog. But when I want true “I am less than worthy” love, I’ll call my cats… “Here kitty, kitty, kitty…” They may or may not come, but hey, that’s all part of the fun. Finally, I’m one step closer to my “farm”. 🙂