I’ve owned three cats and zero dogs in my adult lifetime. Not that I haven‘t ever lived with dogs, mind you. There was the vicious, abused box terrier my parents thought would be great with three small, eager kids. Fortunately, he didn’t stay long.
And then there was Stinker. The poodle mix with bad breath and an unnatural attachment to my parents’ mislaid belongings. Imagine this. You come home from school starving and having to pee so badly your eyes are turning yellow. Stinker is strategically positioned in the living room guarding Mom’s high heels. He snarls, snaps, and is clearly ready to eat you for venturing anywhere near said precious shoes. You realize the kitchen is blocked and so are the stairs to the only bathroom in the house. You have to make a run for it, but deciding which destination is a challenge. You only have one chance. Food or bathroom? Imagine this scenario repeating itself throughout most of your high school years and you can see why I’ve never owned a dog.
We should’ve known Stinker was going to be scrappy. His lower canine incisors came up in the middle of his jaw. That kind of embarrassment requires a tough demeanor. Late in his life, when cataracts took most of his sight, he often got stuck in a corner. There he was knocking into walls, unable to find his way out. I will admit to feeling a little satisfaction at his comeuppance. He stayed with my parents well past his sell-by date, a testament to my father’s devotion and inability to do the necessary.
I hear you. I just didn’t have a good experience. Dogs are wonderful. If I had a great dog as a child, I would know what I am missing.
When hubby #1 and I moved into an apartment, dogs weren’t allowed. Cats were welcomed. We wanted a pet and got, yes, a cat. So you see. Cats aren’t the first choice. They are the also-rans. The second string. The non-starter.
So I tell myself, this is the reason I am a cat person. It has nothing to do with distrusting canines. I own cats in the same way I root for any underdog. Just as I root for the… (insert your own appropriate sports analogy here. I am not a sports fan.)
In case you think I’ve just never spent time with a “good” dog, I have a wonderful relationship with my daughter’s 65 lb. labradoodle. A sweeter animal has never been born. Once she’s finished eating my wrist, an odd hello that I submit to willingly, and attempting to take me down to the ground, I adore her. I gladly rub my face in her nubby fur and oblige every requested belly rub, but still, a tiny voice asks if I’m being sucked in. Love me. Love me. I wait for the grrrl.
Many years later, Hubby #2 and I wanted a pet. We now had a house and a perfect yard for a dog, and we still got a cat. Actually two cats. Know why? Cats are predictable and dogs are not. I know, not common wisdom, but it’s the truth.
A cat will stalk your counters. Hide in impossible places. Ignore you. Ask for nothing but food. You learn to find the most insignificant behaviors charming. The way it can reach that spot north of the tail with its tongue. The way it climbs into your lap for a tickle, only to change its mind in an instant. You are informed of the change of plans a millisecond before you are sucking the blood off your finger. But you know all this. No expectations. No disappointments.
Dogs, I’m told, transform their owners into servants. Just ask my next-door neighbors who can no longer leave any of their window shades up as their pooch barks incessantly at every passing person. And car. And insect.
The difference is I expect the cats to be mercurial. I am not surprised when they turn on me. It is an accepted part of being a cat, the privilege of going its own way. Dogs, in my limited experience, con you into believing they are one thing, but somewhere you both know it’s really an agreed upon game. I’m going to pretend to adore you up until the moment I tear your face off. You’ll never see it coming.
And that, boys and girls, is where cat people come from.